Marketing Copy: When to Go Short and When to Go Long

Written by: Phillip Nones

Marketers have long debated whether advertising and sales copy should be long or short – and that debate certainly didn’t start with the dawn of the Internet and e-mail communications.

The answer is … “it depends.” For print and online display advertising, generally speaking you’ll want to present one or two primary benefit points along with eye-catching graphics. Anything longer risks failing to get the viewer’s attention.

But for direct marketing and sales literature the opposite is often true. Copywriting expert Bob Bly outlines several key reasons why:

  • The most qualified prospects are information- seekers who are inclined to read longer copy, because they want to understand what they’re purchasing and to feel confident about the product’s performance and quality.
  • Often, those who read longer copy are better- qualified decision-makers. They tend to be easier to sell, too.
  • Your more-qualified prospects seek answers to their questions – and longer copy can provide those answers right out of the gate.

Lastly, even if you include longer copy in some of your MarComm materials, you can structure it in a way that viewers who many not want to “know all the details” can glean what they need by skimming the copy thanks to subheads, callouts and photo captions.


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