by Maja Nowak
A general belief circulating around claims it’s short copy that sells more, and not long. The dispute even came to the point where many marketers dismiss long sales letters, saying no one ever reads them. While this statement is applicable in some cases, more often than not, however, it’s long copy that actually sells more.
Of course, everything depends on the product and the service sold. Generally, more valuable products require longer copies to convince the reader because, let’s face it, no one needs three pages of text to be convinced to buy a candy bar.
So two most important questions a marketer has to answer before he even begins writing are: who is the target audience and what is it that is being sold? Answering these two questions will help the copywriter craft the copy accordingly.
Let’s start with the first question.
Narrowing Down The Audience
If the target audience is broad and the product relatively cheap, there’s absolutely no need to write a long copy; however, if there’s a $1,000 product or service on the line, there’s obviously more explaining and persuading a marketer has to do to convince a potential client to purchase it.
This, of course, involves more text. Can you imagine someone investing $1,000 in a service which description has only 50 words? No matter how well written, 50 words aren’t enough to successfully convey the desired message. That said, longer copy is essential for technical products or complex services where potential clients, in order to believe the copywriter, need to have a number of details laid out and explained.
Which brings us to the next point:
Long copy should always be formatted in a way which makes it easier for the reader to pick out the essentials and, when interested, read the body. Formatting the copy according to the Internet standards (bullet points, headers, sub-headers) guarantees the reader will get the message regardless of his patience and attention span. Interested readers will eagerly go over the body of the text, and those less patient will cherry-pick the facts from sub-headers and from the beginning of each paragraph.
But not a single reader will read anything if you don’t…
Dull headers, weak paragraphs, too many adverbs, and usage of passive voice will kill your copy. Thus, to maximize the marketing effect of your copy, you need to grab the reader’s attention with the very first word and hold it until the end. Like in movies where every scene matters, in a copy, every word matters and has selling potential you need to take advantage of. Keep that in mind especially when writing long copy, and be aware that bad writing discourages potential clients like nothing else.
Building Bond With The Reader
Alright, so the audience has been narrowed down, and you have the first draft of your copy ready, waiting for revision. Now the time has come for the potential client to believe your story, and for this to happen, both of you need to connect.
Any form of bonding cannot happen with one short paragraph because it’s simply not possible to bring all of the elements necessary for the reader-writer bond to work in mere few sentences. For a reader to trust the writer and believe the product is good and worth the reader’s money, the writer has to get a little personal in his writing, share a story, or even crack a joke, and again, this requires more words.
The Art of Selling
Let’s say you have a brand new model of car to sell. Your main target audience are males between 30-40 years of age both single and married with kids. So how do you convince a bachelor to buy a car which is also a good choice for a family guy? Of course, you describe the features, but that’s still not going to make the bachelor think ‘I need to have this car’. What will convince him, however, is a story where he can imagine himself as a protagonist with no kids to spoil his fun.
Say, the car is 4×4 SUV; the family guy is already hooked because of the car’s safety, storage capacity, features, etc. In short, his story is marked as done. Now your job is to ignite the bachelor’s passion for the SUV. To do this, you have to make him believe that he just can’t do without the SUV. He needs to know that with this awesome car he can bash the dunes across the desert, conquer barren marshes, and drive up to the ski resort without the wheels ever loosing grip. The moment he sees the more aggressive potential of the SUV is the moment he starts seeing it as his next car and not a mere family ride.
Incorporating the promise of adventure in a copy will not only further convince the family guy that the SUV is a real piece of art but also it’ll make the bachelor perceive the vehicle as something exciting, as something he wants and needs to have.
But there’s no way in the whole wide world you could paint all of those images in the reader’s mind without resolving to long copy, now is there?
Short copy with clever words might increase the sales of new generation of sanitary napkins but will never convince the reader to buy an expensive product, much less an SUV. Successful copywriting is all about breaking the protective barrier in the potential client’s mind and planting a seed of want therein in his brains. This copywriting gardening needs plenty of words to grow and bring the fruit of sales. Appealing to reader’s emotions, making him believe we share the same story all take pages to work.
Before you even begin writing a copy, know your product and target audience. Avoid bad writing, and entertain the reader by sharing something that creates reader-writer bond, but remember not to be boring while you’re at it. Use the potential of each word, and you’ll see that well-written long copy with balls sells more than the shorty.
Image credit: Writing Words by Fabio