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Almost every week I’m asked the same question “Why do all the big direct marketers use long rather than short copy. Surely no one has time to read all that copy?” Until recently my response has always been the same – “In every test I have ever seen in direct mail long copy always beats short copy hands down”.
The logic here is that very few people read the whole letter word for word but have the knowledge that if they have any questions they can always return to the text and read it more carefully for the answers.
In short copy you can’t possibly cover every objection a reader may have and, if you don’t, they may feel that you have something to hide. I would very much doubt if many buyers read the whole letter, that’s why sub heads, border notes and underlining are often used to help the reader skip large parts of the copy but still focus on the important bits.
I recently read a letter from a long standing client who had just written an excellent long copy letter for a new product. Most of it was explaining his very simple concept but even I felt it was too long.
My solution was to go with the long copy, but mindful that people these days are always short on time, we agreed to include a precise of the letter in bullet point form in a quarter page portrait box at the foot of page 1.
Will it work? Well in a month or so I hope to be able to let you know as we are testing this approach against the long copy without the box. In theory we should also be testing a one page letter too but we’ll have to leave that for another day.
I’m meeting this week with our online copywriter who tells me he has some interesting thoughts on the optimum length of online sales messages. I hope to be able to share these with you next Monday.