The Penultimate Word

Long Copy vs. Short Copy

Intro: What Really Sells?

When was the last time you bought a car based solely on an ad in the paper that showed a picture of the vehicle, the price, and a short sales pitch that read, “The latest in engineering excellence. Buy yours today!”? Probably never. So, tell me … why are business owners afraid to use long copy to sell their products?

Keep it short. No one reads long copy.

I hear that all the time. The truth is people do read long copy IF (1) there’s a need or desire for the product, and (2) the material is well written.

Interest level

To reach <em>buyers</em>—people actively looking for your product or service—you need more than a picture and price.Let’s say you’re in the market for a refrigerator. Fuzzy mold is sprouting on your food as we speak. As a serious buyer, you need more information than you’ll find in a simple ad with a picture and a price. You need to know:

  • The dimensions of the refrigerator. (Will it be able to hold your cream-filled sheet cake?)
  • The colors. (Will it complement your kitchen décor?)
  • If it has ice and water in the door. (Who wants to fill ice-cube trays?)
  • If it has a water filter. (You don’t like that tap-water taste.)
  • If it has an Energy Star rating. (Lower utility bills … YESSSS!)

The higher the desire or need for the product—especially an expensive product—the higher the desire for long copy.

It’s been proven time and time again that long copy outsells short copy. Why? Because long copy targets serious buyers—those people who are ready to make a purchase and want to make informed decisions.

So who’s your target market?

Content quality

Let’s face it, no matter how high the reader’s interest level, if the content is poorly written, you’ll lose both the reader and the sale. 

What makes good content? The answer to that could fill a book. Suffice it to say, good content captures the reader’s interest and leads him to a sale.

Granted, long copy is not appropriate for all types of products and services. I mean, seriously, how much can you say about stationery, fence posts, or bacon. But computers, financial services, and vacation time-shares … that’s another story. Over the next few articles, we’ll look at various factors that determine the best length for your copy.

Read Part I of “Long Copy vs. Short Copy.”

Read Part II of “Long Copy vs. Short Copy.”

Read Part III of “Long Copy vs. Short Copy.”


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