If there is one subject I’ve seen debated more than any other in the world of copywriting it has to be the question of what works best:
Long Sales Copy or Short Sales Copy
The advocates of short copy will say that no one has the patience to read a long form sales letter, online sales page or will anyone sit through a long-form video presentation.
They feel you need to get right to the point with your sales message by using a quick, maybe funny or catchy tagline or catchphrase.
This style of sales copy is more along the line of “brand advertising” which is what you will notice big corporations like McDonalds’s or Coca-Cola will utilize.
And sure, if you have the millions, upon millions of dollars to spend on an advertisement and getting it in the sub-conscious of most consumers than it can work fine over time.
Most businesses these days are small businesses.
This makes it vitally important to be wary of the (often) outrageous costs of advertising as they can’t afford to spend millions “hoping” a campaign will work out positively.
Things are very different in “Direct Response Advertising”.
Direct Response Advertising is all about getting immediate, measurable and scalable data so that the success of an advertising campaign can be determined almost right away.
Then through testing your sales message can be tinkered with and adjusted until success has been accomplished.
Now, traditionally, most professional copywriters in the direct response world have believed on an almost religious level, that long copy always works better than short copy.
This is due to the line of thought which comes from the sales world of…
“The More You Tell, The More You Sell”.
This means it doesn’t matter how long your sales copy is, if it…
- Tells the full story of your product and what it will do for your prospect.
- Answers any objections you anticipate your prospect will have against buying your product.
- Spells out a clear and compelling reason why your prospect should buy your product and what differentiates it from all your competitors.
The only caveat to this would be that you can’t drift away from your sales message.
You can’t ramble on about anything which isn’t relevant to your sales message as you will bore your reader, which will kill any chance you have of getting the sale.
But is that enough to keep your prospect’s attention to the point they will sit through an 8, 10 or 20-page sales letter…
… or a 30-minute, 60 minutes or 90-minute video presentation?
I think you need more.
Now, I still fully believe in the fundamentals of direct response copywriting. So, I do agree with the merits of long sales copy.
However, I also feel we must accept the fact that we are dealing with our general population having increasingly limited attention spans.
Does this mean that long copy doesn’t work anymore?
What is needed though, is for us to pull out everything we have in our copywriting bag of tricks to make sure and cover every possible element of our sales message that could seal the deal in getting our product sold.
But it must be done without being packed with dense copy that’s hard to read or that runs on without sticking to the main point or just make it hard for your prospect to pay attention to.
I decided to write out some specific steps I feel are important in telling your full sales message in a way where you won’t lose the attention of your audience.
This isn’t a complete guide to writing copy but will help you make sure your full sales message is read or heard and that you are not doing anything to drive away possible buyers.
The Important Steps in Writing Long Sales Copy
Always start with research. You need to dig as deep as you can into the psychology of your target market to find out everything that is of importance to your prospect.
Then it’s time to analyze your product or service and find each feature which will be important to your potential buyer and how those features will benefit them and fulfill their needs.
- Let Your Mind Rest
You have now completed the most important parts of the copywriting process and it’s time to allow your mind to absorb everything you have studied.
This is where you should take a step back, put aside your pen and paper (or laptop) and let all your new-found information “simmer” in your mind.
Give yourself permission to not consciously think about your writing.
Just sit back and tell your subconscious mind to “Go to Work” to determine a clear and compelling sales message. One which will be the center of your copy and ultimately will drive home the sale.
- Brainstorming Time
Okay, now we’re going to write down every possible idea for your main sales message your subconscious mind came up with.
Listen to exactly what your subconscious is telling you will best persuade your prospect to buy your product.
Sometimes, you will know right away what it is. Other times you might have a list of four or five or more ideas.
So, keep your list in hand and start asking yourself which of these will appeal most to what my prospect desires the most and decide on your core sales message.
Don’t get hung up on this as you can always go back and test other main themes. For now, trust your “educated instinct” and pick what feels right and move on to the next step.
- Tell Your Inner Doubting Thomas To Shut His Trap!
When you reach the point of being ready to start writing you want to put all thoughts of perfection out of your mind.
Silence your inner critic. And keeping your “core sales message” in mind just let everything spill out of your brain as you WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.
You want to put everything you can on paper…
… Every thought …
… Every benefit …
… Answers to every possible objection …
… All premium bonuses you can add to “sweeten” the deal …
… And an ironclad guarantee which eliminates all worry of risk that might be on your prospect’s mind.
- The KISS Method
You should now have three or four times the amount of information you will actually need for your sales letter, landing page or VSL.
So, we’ll now go to work at trimming ALL the fat which isn’t needed.
Think KISS. No, not the rock band (although they are my favs) but the acronym which means…
Keep It Simple Stupid.
This means that copy should be easy to read and simple to understand.
I once heard the legendary copywriter Dan Kennedy say something very profound that stayed with me and I keep in mind when I write.
It went along the lines of when his daughter was around ten years old he would have her read his sales letters out loud just to guarantee his average readers would fully understand every word of his sales message.
If she could read through and understand the copy without any problem, that copy would stay.
But anything she didn’t understand or couldn’t properly pronounce would be edited until she could read it and comprehend it without a problem.
How do you make your copy easier to read? We’ll start by getting rid of all the long words which can be replaced by shorter words.
Use words that anyone in the 6th grade could understand, as that is the average reading level of most Americans.
Then break up large chunks of copy into shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs with plenty of white space around the paragraphs.
This makes reading your copy easier on the eyes.
The easier we make our copy to be read… the more it will be.