The year is coming to an end and it’s getting colder outside (in some places). So what’s better than sitting around a warm fire? The end of the year is a time to reflect on what happened in the prior months and purge some of those bad habits. Whether you sit around a bonfire and physically burn old papers and junk, or just sitting inside by the hearth, lost in thought, there are some common things we all can agree we need to get rid of.  Here are 6 writing and marketing habits that need to be thrown out now before 2016.

1. Procrastinating

I am the worst offender of this, I admit. Why do now what you can do later, right? This is one of the worst habits for good writing. It causes us to write a little sloppier. We don’t have as much time to look over our writing several times before publishing. It also causes undue stress. I started setting finish dates for written pieces a week before they are actually due so I have plenty of time to think, write and edit. It is also bad practice to fly by the seat of your pants in marketing, and not follow a well thought out strategy.

2. Not Double-Checking

Along with procrastinating comes sloppy writing and editing. I have seen several social media posts go up in a haste to be edited hours later, after people have commented about grammar mistakes. Generally, people like to point out flaws and will take any chance they get to say that you spelled “there” instead of “their”. Give yourself ample time to check and double-check before publishing. Just this week I received an email and then a follow up email with corrected information. It looks bad and can be easily prevented by spending a few extra minutes to look over your work. It never hurts to have someone else look at it too.

3. Spamming Emails or Mailboxes

Especially around holiday time we want to push out our specials or messages to consumers as many times as we can. However, this causes information overload for the consumers. Some companies I receive emails or direct mail pieces from are sending too many messages. It is good to have repetitive and frequent messages, but not too many. I was subscribed to a clothing brand that sent out emails every single day. That is just too much; I don’t want to think about their brand every day. Another bad email habit to throw away is buying or using mailing lists. These lists are full of people that don’t care about your company. It’s better to have fewer targeted messages than many non-targeted.

4. Creating Bad Subject Lines

While you are thinking about all the scheduled emails you should cancel, you should also spend more time thinking about the subject line of your email. Little time is spent on this crucial step of the writing and marketing process. This is your one chance to get someone to look at your content, think about it a little longer, and make it worth it!

5. Thinking Only Desktop Size

Content creation used to be easier. You only had to think about how it looked in print. Shortly after, it was only how content looked on a computer. Now we need to keep in mind the differences between print, desktops, tablets, and phones. Content can’t only be thought about in terms of a 15-inch screen, it has to be sizable and scalable. In the case of social media even fewer words can be used.

6. Focusing On Key Words

Only focusing on keywords is a thing of the past. With Google’s new algorithms it’s not just about keywords anymore, it’s about having good, quality content (which we can help with). Keywords are still important, but should no longer be the main focus of a marketing plan. Having good content around key messages or ideas is more important and will make consumers feel more satisfied.

Believe me when I say I could go on for a while about bad marketing and writing habits to ditch. These are just a few of the most important to stop doing now and come up with better strategies. Do you have any bad habits you wish you could get rid of?

If you enjoyed this post by Elizabeth, check out some of her other blogs

Elizabeth Muckensturm – Communication and Media Professor

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