Copywriting – The Long & The Short Of It

credit card

The debate about which is best, long or short, copy is one that is bound to rattle on for many years to come. Often what it comes down to is personal preference.

Many people claim that short copy will win hands down every time because:

  • Nobody reads long copy
  • If it’s an advert is has to be short copy
  • People are too busy to read long copy

Well for a start someone must read long copy because it does its job (writers arguably make more from long copy that short). Plus, if by claiming adverts must be short, does that mean because people won’t read long adverts they’ll automatically read short ones? And by the same token, just because people are too busy to read long copy do they have time to read short?

Getting it all into perspective

When people talk about long copy they immediately visualise sales letters that go on for eternity. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

A long piece of copy could refer to a two page sales letter as opposed to a ten page one. Or it could equally refer to a twenty line email rather than an eight line email.

Size doesn’t matter

The main importance of any sales communication (whatever form it takes) is that it is relevant to the market. If you wrote a short, snappy and powerful advert that was totally irrelevant to its audience it wouldn’t work. If you wrote a six page sales letter that was completely irrelevant that wouldn’t work either.

Therefore its relevance is more important than its length.

So, when discussing the merits of long or short copy you would consider it as longer or shorter copy. But it is the relevancy of the information it contains that is more important here.

Your sales message should be as long as is necessary to get your audience to reach a buying decision and hand over their credit card.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

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#1 Anne Wayman on 02.02.10 at 10:54 pm

I used to argue that no one reads long copy until one day I noticed that once and awhile even I do!

Yes, occasionally I’ll sit down and read a long sales letter – in print… haven’t found the same thing to be true on screen, but who knows… maybe I’m fooling myself about this too.

#2 admin on 02.03.10 at 8:24 am

Hi Anne,

Thanks for your comment. I think the problem with long copy on screen is exactly that – it’s on screen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t read off screen I prefer to have printed material in front of me.



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