More Copy or Less?

March 13, 2012

Question: People don’t take time to read stuff anymore. I know I don’t. Shouldn’t we make sure we keep our marketing copy a lot shorter?

My Answer

This is a debate that has been raging in advertising circles for ages. And the answer is clear to those who are willing to test it. More copy outperforms less copy.

Decades ago, Gene Schwartz, one of the most successful copywriters of his time noticed that “the more you told, the more you sold.” In other words, the more relevant, compelling information he could cram in a piece of physical mail, the more likely it was that the customer would buy. One thing we know about Gene and a long line of direct response copywriters who followed him is that they tested their assumptions. And the results are very clear. More is better.

Yes, the online world has made everything instant. And the prevailing “crowd” wisdom is pre-disposed to Twitter-sized marketing. But, if someone is interested in what you have to offer, and they want to learn more because it will shape their decision, giving them the least amount of information possible is not a great strategy. Think about it. Is that what you do when you have the perfect opportunity to sell someone something? Do you just give them three short bullets and say nothing else? No! You give them enough information to make their decision.

People do not read long copy or consume copious amounts of content when it is irrelevant to them or if it is BORING! But if it is relevant and compelling information, presented effectively, more content consistently outperforms less content.

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