Long Copy Advertisements
The case for long copy advertisements
I’m forever being asked whether long copy adverts work. Often, I’m confronted with statements like, “People won’t read all that copy - they’ll grow bored or skip it and go on.”
It’s true that some, if not many, people will choose not to read the advert and many will grow bored and move on, but here’s the thing - they were not your buyer anyway. You cannot expect everyone to be interested in your product or service. It is only those that are interested who will read through every fact, feature and benefit. If they are a true prospect and it’s good copy, chances are they will devour the content in their quest to be convinced to purchase.
Oh, I hear you saying, “I asked around, my work colleagues and my friends. They all said they wouldn’t read the copy.” Yes, that might be true – yet they wouldn’t read the copy because they are not interested in making a purchase.
Think about it this way. If you were going to go on a cruise, enrol in an educational course or embark on major surgery, you will have an insatiable appetite for copy. Knowledge is power and you will read just like you read a magazine article.
You’ve read this far and you’re thinking that this is just my opinion and you’re not convinced. So, let’s take a look at what some of the experts have said…
David Ogilvy (1911- 1999)
David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, is one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. Author of: Confessions of an Advertising Man in 1963 and Ogilvy on Advertising in 1983.
• Research shows readership falls off rapidly after 50 words of copy, but drops very little between 50 and 500 words.
• Direct response advertisers know short copy doesn’t sell. In split run tests, long copy invariably outsells short copy.
• There is no law that says advertisements must look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract more readers. Roughly six times as many people read the average article as the average advertisement.
• Long copy sells more than short copy, particularly when you are asking the reader to spend a lot of money.
John Caples (1900-1990)
John Caples is a legend within the advertising industry and authored Tested Advertising Methods and How to Make Your Advertising Make Money.
• Ads with lots of facts are effective. And don’t be afraid of long copy. If your ad is interesting, people will read all the copy you can give them. If the ad is dull, short copy won’t save it.
Claude Hopkins (1867-1932)
Claude Hopkins author of Scientific Advertising
• Some say, “Be very brief. People do read, but very little.” Would you say that to a salesman? With the prospect standing before him, would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap. So, in advertising, the only readers we get are people whom our subject interests. No one reads ads for amusement - long or short. Consider them as prospects, standing before you, seeking information. Give them enough to get action.
Bob Stone is the founder of Stone & Adler, one of the leading direct marketing advertising agencies in the world. He also authored Successful Direct Marketing Methods.
• Do people read long copy? The answer is yes! People will read something for as long as it interests them. An uninteresting one-page letter can be too long. A skilfully woven four-pager can hold the reader until the end. Thus, a letter should be long enough to cover the subject adequately and short enough to retain interest. Don’t be afraid of long copy.
Craig Huey is a California-based direct response advertising expert.
• Long copy works. The more you tell, the more you sell. In fact, the reason ads don’t do as well as direct mail is you don’t have the space to tell your story as strongly. In just one study, McGraw-Hill reviewed 3,597 ads in 26 business magazines. It found ads with 300 or more words were more effective than shorter ads in creating awareness of the product, prompting action, and reinforcing a buying decision.
Jay Conrad Levinson
Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the number one bestselling marketing series of all time, the Guerrilla Marketing books.
• Many of the most successful print ads are long-copy ads with headlines that begin with the words “How to.” Prospects hang on to every word. Don’t be deluded into thinking people won’t read long copy. They will if it interests them, and they will if it solves one of their problems.
So, there you have it excerpts from the gurus, long copy sells.
SIX things you need to know when writing long copy
1. People will read long copy IF they are interested and if the copy is engaging.
2. The people that don’t read long copy were not your buyers or you bored them to leave.
3. Your copy should focus on the consumer’s self-interest. They are only interested in how you can solve a need or provide a benefit.
4. Long copy adverts that look like editorial are far more effective than long copy that looks like an advert. Research suggests up to six times more effective.
5. Think of your long copy advert as if you were face-to-face with a customer pitching your product. Your copy should be laden with benefits, facts and persuasive arguments.
6. Long copy adverts are particularly effective where the consumer is being invited to make a significant decision. This could be the purchase of a high value or complex product, a health service or a high trust service or product.
In writing this article, I relied heavily on a source article by George Demmer. The full article can be found here.