Magazine advertising is not what it used to be. Ads are so visually focused, it seems like graphic designers control the advertising industry now.
I’m not complaining. There are some incredible designs that can say a lot with colours and contours. But when someone discovers a new product, they have hesitations and insecurities that need to be addressed. Even a two page fold out graphic can’t help prospective customers through purchase fears.
Mind you, illustrations are smart along side technical ad copy, in brochures, or on landing pages. Readers, who are interested in the details about function and process, love illustrations.
But graphic ads won’t answer questions or qualify a lead. Words do that.
It’s hard to test the most effective elements of a graphic ad. However, the impact of each word in your copy can be tested.
They may not be as prominent, but successful companies with an established marketing history place a high value (and make a lot of money) on long copy ads.
What do they know that the rest of the world is missing?
Here are 6 assumptions about long copy ads. Clear up these common misunderstandings and start taking advantage of long copy advertising for your own business.
1st Assumption: People don’t have time to read long copy.
If an advertising agency ever tells you that people now have the attention span of a goldfish, take your business somewhere else.
Granted, there is a heavy demand for your reader’s attention. That’s why you get to know your target audience intimately. What headline will trigger their gut reaction? What do they want to give their attention to?
Don’t be cheap with your headlines (click bait), but use language that your audience uses. Once you’ve gained their attention, if you offer copy worth reading they will read through the entire article.
2nd Assumption: Lots of words means lots of fluff.
Thinning out copy on a website or in advertising is common practice. The reason is often that companies want to eliminate the fluff from their copy.
That’s a lazy excuse. Take the time (or pay the money) to craft copy that is going to address your clients objections, answer every possible question, thoroughly explain the purchase process, and paint a vivid picture of the reader living with all the benefits your product provides.
Ok. Long copy isn’t always necessary. In fact, for less expensive offers and certain products (like food, high heels, or jeans), short copy typically works better. But test it for yourself.
If you’re avoiding long copy because you don’t want to spend the money or you don’t want to invest the time, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of revenue from prospects that needed the extra time and care to make a purchase decision.
3rd Assumption: Long copy has to be hyper salesy.
All copy has to sell. And there are certain proven techniques to writing copy that makes money, but that is not “hyper” salesy.
Selling is communicating value. If you’re constantly pitching your product, the reader isn’t gleaning anything valuable from you.
Advertisements should lead readers to the conclusion that your offer is valuable.
The minute you say, “This product will change your life!” most people will tune you out. The reader should be able to see themselves with your product, living a better life. Lead them through that visualization.
That’s not salesy, it’s selling.
4th Assumption: Long copy is only for expensive offers.
When you are asking people to part with a lot of money, longer copy will present the full value of your offer. But that’s not the only time you want long copy.
New products may need longer copy at launch. Give people the necessary time to fully assess your new idea. Help them see how it fits into their everyday lives.
Fresh ideas should be distilled to their simplest form. Once you’ve capture the reader’s attention, they’ll start asking questions and you have the opportunity to answer every one.
Selling a training course, seminar, conference, study kit, or guide takes more copy as well. When the customer isn’t walking away with something in their hands, it takes more time to demonstrate your offer’s value.
Offering software products or services is more function oriented, but the reader will still want more proof of value.
If the value of your offer is hard (or impossible) to demonstrate through physical function, longer copy will help you out.
5th Assumption: You have to make a sales pitch at the end.
Technically, the entire ad is a sales pitch.
You are building value and positioning the ad as a solution to the readers problem. That’s a sales pitch. If you wait until the end to make the pitch, you won’t get much of a response.
The end of your ad is better used to explain your risk free guarantee that sets the reader at ease. Or throw in some extra proof, stories of success, and how lives have changed because of your product.
Ask for the sale, do it more than once, and do it before the end.
Test the best positions for your call to action. Test how many times it’s safe to ask for the sale. Get to know your audience so that they don’t feel like they are being pitched while reading your ad.
6th Assumption: Long copy always performs better.
It doesn’t. There are plenty of cases that have proved shorter copy will win a greater response.
But don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that your audience wants shorter copy. Don’t assume that 1500 words will work better than 700 words.
Research and test your audience. They may want longer copy for one offer and shorter copy for the next. There is no black and white in this area.
Claude Hopkins, an advertiser in the early 1900’s, would test products out in smaller cities before spending money on larger campaigns. When he failed, he lost a little money. When he won, he made a LOT of money.
Disregarding long copy because you don’t think people have the attention span for it could mean you’re loosing out on two or three times the revenue. But test first. Be sure of your audience and be sure of your numbers.
There are a lot reasons that people choose to use graphic heavy advertising. Many of them are valid. But make sure that your decisions are informed. Basing business decisions on assumptions like the 6 listed above are why businesses fail.
You know your product and the value of your offer. The smartest move now is to know your audience and what they respond to best.
Assume nothing, test everything, and people will be telling your success story for years to come.