The Great “Long Copy” Myth

Quick, what do these three things have in common?

1. The world is flat.
2. Man will never be able to fly faster than the speed of sound.
3. People will not read long advertising copy.

You’ve got it: they are all basically false ideas that have been proven incorrect a long time ago.

The funny thing is that there are still a lot of people who hold to the idea that advertising with a lot of information simply won’t be read. When I’ve talked to people about this, I usually hear, “I get lots of emails and I see lots of ads that I just don’t bother reading. People just don’t read long advertising copy.”

Here’s the difference: people will not take the time to read something that is not relevant to them or is incredibly boring.

In fact – if you look – people are reading now more than ever. I challenge you to visit any large national bookstore chain and tell yourself that people are not reading. In fact, with the internet, more people are reading more than ever before.

When someone becomes highly interested in buying something — like a new camera or a new car — they become a sponge for information. They will read reviews. They will do online searches. They will buy product magazines. They want to know a great deal about the desired product. In other words, they read like crazy.

If your advertising offers a strong benefit that’s relevant to the reader and you provide them with good, solid, in-depth information, they will read (and hang on) every word. They want to know more. You have their interest, you have their attention, and they want to know more. What could be better?

If, however, you have a wrong appeal – or even worse, no direct appeal – you will find that people will glance at your marketing materials for about two and a half seconds and then drop them in the trash can. Also realize that not everyone who actually sees your ad or gets your mailing is interested at that particular moment. That’s okay. What you are targeting is the segment of this group who are interested; who do want and need your product. What you’re working for is to get them to an even higher level of interest.

Realize that long copy sells. Irrelevant or boring copy does not. In fact, one of the maxims of the direct response industry is: the more you tell, the more you sell. Direct marketers know that every word matters in converting a prospect into a customer.

So don’t be afraid of providing lots of good information once you have a prospect’s interest. They want that information.

A number of years ago, one client told me, “long copy in an advertisement never works. No one will read it.” “Really?” I responded. “I will bet you $100 that I can go home tonight and write a 3,500 word ad, and that you will read every word of that ad.” He looked at me rather skeptically. I added, “I even know what the headline is right now! Do you want to hear it?” He said, “Sure.” “The headline is: All of the Wonderful Things You Should Know About George Liu.” George smiled at me, and said, “You’re right. I’d read it.”

So, in your marketing materials, look for content that is of interest, make sure it is communicated in a strong and informative way, and you will find that your prospects will hang on every word and your sales will increase accordingly.
(By the way, George offered to pay the $100. I couldn’t take it. After all, I knew it was a sucker bet.)

To your business success,


If you would like to discuss improved follow-up strategies for your company, call Sentium at 1(800)595-1288 to schedule a free half-hour telephone consultation.

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Richard Wilson is the Founder/Chief Marketing Strategist for Sentium Strategic Communications which helps companies craft the right message for extraordinary results. Over the past 31 years, his clients have ranged from start-ups to major technology companies.



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