By Haydn Rowe
The other day I lay down on the floor with my 6-year old son to pore over the pages of the Lego catalogue that he has.
As we lay there, slowly turning pages, dreaming 6 year old dreams about exploring the outer reaches of space in the amazing Lego rocket (complete with launch pad, transporter, moon buggy, two spacemen (with moon walk suits)) and leafed over to ooh and aah over the full Lego Police Station complete with cell for “baddies” - it took me back.
In fact, it took me back more than 40 years.
Back to a time when as a child I too read well thumbed catalogues – for Matchbox, Airfix, Hornby. You name it, my brother and I read them from cover to cover.
And we dreamt. And we saved. And in time – we bought!
Some of those well-loved toys my son plays with today.
And today, he is the also the proud owner of a brand new full on Lego rocket and launch pad (£39.97 from Tesco – purchased with some carefully hoarded Christmas money, plus pocket money and some well timed Tooth Fairy money to get him over the line).
It was a lot of fun (for both of us) then and now – but also a powerful and timely reminder to me of a great truth in marketing. That is...
Buyers are Readers.
I watched it with my son - he pored over the catalogue, made me Google it and show him the listing on Amazon, eBay and Tesco – and then he bought.
My brother and I did it to – we read, we dreamed, read more, we talked, read more, we saved and then we bought.
Great marketers know that buyers read. They read almost everything they can get their hands on. They read it multiple times. Which is why...
Long Copy vs. Short Copy - is no contest
Great marketers know that long copy outsells short copy - consistently.
They know that “while a picture is better than a 1,000 words” – "a thousand words outsells a picture every time".
Which is why it amazes me to hear people (usually self appointed marketing experts but all too often professional marketers) saying things like...
“we need to keep it short and to the point”
“it needs to be tightened up”
“it’s just too long – no one will read it”
"no one will scroll that far down"
It amazes me because the only issue with most marketing and advertising is there is not nearly enough copy.
Not enough copy by a l-o-n-g way...
Not enough copy to tell a great story.
Not enough copy to add advantages and benefits to features (it gets edited down to a list of features to make it short or to look better).
Not enough copy to be compelling and describe what it is like to own and experience and benefit from your product or service – just a dull and bland summary.
Not enough copy even for Google to understand what the web page is about or to place any value on it for indexing (they need at least 250 words)!
Ads and marketing don't have to be dull and bland.
They don't have to be a concise or a cut down version of what you’d love to say.
They don't have to be all pictures and no words.
They don't have to be art!
They can (and should) be exciting, vibrant, compelling – they should educate, inspire, create desire and get across the full emotion of what it’s like to have and own and experience the product or service that you are trying to sell.
You see, if 'short and to the point' is loved and appreciated by buyers and consumers, then tell me this...
Why aren’t short stories topping the Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists when compared to fat full length novels that take hours to read?
Why aren’t the best Oscar winning movies 15 minutes long instead of 90, 120 or 180 minutes?
Why aren’t 10 page magazines with 100 word articles flying off the shelves – why are they fat and filled with 3, 4 and 5 page articles?
Why are device manufacturers making ever better screens and batteries, with higher resolution, that work in full sun, that we can read with for HOURS with no eye strain and that hold thousands of books on their hard drives?
Folks the reason is that WE LOVE TO READ!
We love a good story. We crave information. We’re hard wired to NEVER stop looking, listening – reading.
Is it only me, or have you ever experienced what I call...
The Cornflakes Box Syndrome!
Imagine this scene.
It’s breakfast time. There’s just you at the table. No one else. No cat, no dog, no canary. No newspaper, no iPad, no radio, no TV – not even an old Readers Digest.
Just you – and the Cornflakes box.
Can I ask you - what gets read? Is it only me, or have you ever read the Cornflakes box from cover to cover as well?
Riboflavin's, Niacin, the Royal Warrant – I'm guessing that like me you've read the lot?
You see, I thought so!
As a species we love to read. We don’t (and possibly can’t) ever switch our reading ‘habit’ off.
And we do more than only read to entertain, inform and amuse. Of course we do do all of that, but we also read to buy. Or more to the point we read BEFORE we buy.
You see, buyers have two needs – the second need is for the product or service that they are thinking about purchasing or need, the first is for information.
Often the seller who satisfies a buyers need for information – the first need – is in the box seat to satisfy the requirement for the product or service, the second need.
And today buyers want, nay expect, information more than ever before. Google has taught us that we can find out whatever we want before we part with our money.
Which is why long copy almost always beats short copy - hands down.
Long emails usually outsell short.
Long web pages outsell short web pages.
Long copy Ads out pull short copy Ads.
Long (3, 4 or 5 page) direct mail letters outsell 1 page letters.
The trick to making long copy work is to understand that when you are writing you’re not writing for the thousands that read that magazine, visit your website or get your direct mail – you’re writing for the handful who are buyers today.
Your targeting, headlines and pictures attract the attention of scanners, your opening paragraph, sub headlines and captions turn “scanners” into readers and your compelling “full fat” LONG copy turns readers into buyers.
Have the guts to tell your story. All of it. Test long copy.
Make sure it is compelling, full of features-advantages-and- benefits, includes proof and case studies and a great offer, strong call to action and response mechanisms, and watch your sales climb.
Now, those Matchbox catalogues – they were really something else. I could read them all over again...
Thanks for reading.