Marketers Note: Longer is Better

Seth Godin makes an interesting point in this post about longer video being better than shorter commercial spots. His point, in a nutshell, is that airtime (provided by the ‘Net) is cheap (or free), so why not use it and the longer format to make your point?

Not a bad thought. It reminds me of many conversations I’ve had recently where I’ve been essentially arguing on behalf of longer copy in a whole variety of situations: direct mail, email, online, etc.

“Nobody reads!” you shout. “Hogwash,” I reply. People read all the time. The key is to write something worth reading (which, in reality, is also the tough part.) Tough, but not impossible. Here are a couple of things to remember:

First, write directly to the reader. I could write all day about “we” and “all of our customers”, but I really want to talk to you; about you. I’m reminded of a story about young copywriter who was trying to get hired by Maxwell Sackheim. Sackheim wasn’t all that impressed with the man until the writer bet him $10 he could write a full-page newspaper ad, solid type, that would be compelling enough to get him to read every word. To convince him, he showed him the headline:

This Page Is All About Maxwell Sackheim

He won the bet and the job.

Next, use enough space to tell the story and fully explain your product, service, concept. Don’t be held to someone else’s idea about what is long or short enough. Use the space necessary, but edit relentlessly.

Finally, lest you think it’s not important, Marketing Sherpa regularly reports that the single most effective way to raise response and conversion is not with graphics or frequency or a better offer. It’s by writing better copy.