The Copy Question: Short VS Long

Posted on September 2, 2011 in Copy Chat, Marketing Tips, Marketing Tips

It’s a debate that never ceases. Which works better –short copy or long copy? The answer: Long copy works better, providing, of course, that long copy is appropriate and done well.

THE WHEN
When it’s appropriate to use long copy.

Recognize that not all situations are suited to the use of long copy. Here are some examples of opportunities for long copy:

Expensive/Luxury Products – When you have a high-ticket product or service and you want to close the sale (as opposed to directing the reader to another venue to buy), long copy will prove more effective.
Information/Education – When selling online education courses, seminars and programs or some other form of informational product or service, lengthy copy helps demonstrate the value of your offering.
Feature-rich – When the product or service you are promoting is blessed with a vast array of features, don’t be afraid to explain them all, and be sure to articulate the benefit of each feature.
Innovative/Original – If your product or service provides a new experience, or solves a problem with a new approach, readers want plenty of information to learn about it and answer their questions.
Online Marketing –Because prospects can’t enjoy a hands-on experience of what is being offered, long copy is the way to provide all of the factual and emotional information possible. The online experience can be compared with the long-form infomercial in many respects.

THE HOW
How to make long copy effective.

While the WHEN to use long copy has a lot to do with WHAT you’re selling, the HOW to use it has more to do with to WHOM you’re selling. For example:

  1. Marketing to “sales representative” types allows for the use of bright, vibrant colors, exclamation points, and yellow highlighter, because that’s the environment that makes this audience comfortable.

 

  1. Selling to an audience of IT professionals would call for an elegantly-engineered and functional style that these highly-educated people have come to respect.

Context is the determining factor.
Long copy works when people want as much benefit-oriented information as they need to feel comfortable and confident about making the purchase. Some won’t read much before buying. Others will read every word.

The presentation —copy and visual elements working together — must be matched to the context. It needs to look and feel they way your audience expects content to look and feel.

Maintain context and tell as much as you need to sell.  And don’t forget to validate by testing.

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About Steven

Steven, a native of Los Angeles, is an advertising and marketing copywriter with over 20 years of writing experience in a wide range of subjects. An eBay addict, Steven has way too many hobbies and arcane interests – but it all makes good cocktail party conversation.

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