Copy Tip 39: Can Copy Be Too Long?

Wow, we’re heading into our second straight day of 43C-plus temperatures (43.7C yesterday at nearby Essendon Airport — that’s 110.6F on the old scale!).

Tomorrow’s going to be the same again.

A “sizzler”. A “scorcher”. Sweltering, searing summer heat.

(All those hot summer words beginning with “s”!).

Anyway, while we’re wilting under the summer heatwave, there’s a few businesses making the most of this weather.

Ice suppliers — running at full speed. 7-Eleven stores selling Slurpee’s at astronomical rates (so much so our local 7-Eleven ran out of big Slurpee cups yesterday! But we’re lucky enough to be good customers and were given one even though they’d sold out!).

Wanna buy an air conditioner or evaporative cooler? They’ll be flying out the door too. Same for the ice-cream sales at the beach — especially well into the evening when it’s a bit cooler (low 30’s celcius) and people venture out from their homes.

So here’s my question:

Do you think you’d need a lot of copy to make sales of this kind of product in a heat wave?

Or are your prospects ready to buy?

You’re not gonna need that much copy … although it’s a great time for relationship building as you do the extra things you really should do, even though it’s busy enough not to do them.

Even when it’s a roaring sales period, you’ll do wonders if you invest the time to look after your customers.

A customer will remember the positive experience they had in a time when you didn’t need to work hard to get sales.

(There’s a BIG lesson here of course given the state of the economy at the moment — you know that amongst the “doom and gloom” you do need to be smarter with your customer relationships … the job is easier if you’ve doing that during times of economic buoyancy).

Anyway … back to the length of copy.

Here’s my take — and I’ve heard this from other marketing mentors —

your copy is never too long, only too boring.

In other words, say all that you need to say — and no more.

Air conditioners in a heatwave? You don’t need to say much.

Other times, you’ve got to say more.

For example, sales letters. Some I’ve written are 18 or 20 pages long (I’ve seen one that was 56 pages long).

There are people that’ll instantly say “hey, that’s too long, I wouldn’t read all that stuff.”

And they’re right — because most likely, they’re not a qualified prospect. You’ve got to get the opinion of people who matter … your target market!

(They may also be right because they’re a skimmer — more about that in a moment).

But I’ve also written letters that are just 2 pages long and had a great response.

For example, I wrote a 2-page sponsorship letter for a client last year — just one single letter to just one single prospect. And we got a “yes” answer.

(In fact, a moment to be shamelessly happy — I met the client’s prospect (V Australia, the international airline division of Virgin Blue) in December at the event they sponsored — and they specifically wanted to meet me to tell me that if it wasn’t for how I’d written the letter, they’d have never agreed to the sponsorship! Boy did that give me a buzz!).

In that case, all that needed to be said could be said in two pages.

So long as the copy does its job in getting the attention of your prospect, and getting a response …

it doesn’t matter how long it is!

But back to those who’d say a 20-page letter is too long.

If it’s done right, the copy is “just right” for the job it needs to perform.

Two Types of Readers

And if you apply clever formatting — then a 20-page letter that seems too long can cater to both “types” of readers … those who read every word, and those who scan/skim along (like I do!).


Formatting (which we’ll go into more depth later) helps get across your main message using mini-headlines, graphics, images, captions, handwriting and other elements.

So a prospect could spend just a minute or so skimming through a 20-page letter and still get the message you want them to get.

Imagine Your Copy In Person…

Here’s another point I’ve picked up over the years (I can’t attribute it, it’s been a long time since I heard this) … it’s another great way to look at the “too long” question.

Imagine for a moment you meet your prospect face-to-face.

You say hi. You build rapport. You create empathy.

You’ve got their attention.

You and a happy prospect (artwork by Dean)

They’re interested in what you have to sell.

You start talking about your product.

They want to know more, they’re getting more interested now.


But then — you glance at your watch.

Hey, we’ve been speaking for 3 minutes. That’s enough. Bye!

And just like that, you’re gone.

You’ve left them stranded. Frustrated. And lost the sale.

You wouldn’t do that, would you? Heck no!

You’d keep talking with them long enough to sell your product.

And that’s just like with copy on paper.

You wouldn’t stop after 3 pages if you hadn’t yet accomplished what you needed to say.

You’d keep going until your prospect was convinced and ready to take action.

So, Can Copy Be Too Long?

Yes. You can bore your prospect and lose their interest.

Can 5 pages be too long? Yes. Can 20 pages be too short? Yes.

Your copy should be as long as it needs to be
to get the result you’re after!

Copy Tip 38: Two More Ways To Reduce Your Perceived Price

It’s a good evening for writing … after a rather warm day (over 36C/97F, and with three days ahead all over 40C/104F) the evening is cooler and my brain is more switched on!

So a few blog posts to get into full swing as school holidays end and everything gets back to regular pace.

We’re talking still about “price contrast” — ways to lower the perceived cost of your product or service in the eyes of your prospect.

So far we’ve covered:

  • Stating your price in another way
  • Comparing your price to other ways of getting content
  • Comparing your value to competitors or alternative products (eg silver/gold package options)

And my final contribution on this topic covers two final (and related) price contrast tactics:

1. Showing how your price is effectively “Free”

What I mean by this is clearly demonstrating that the return on investment your client will get as a result of investing in your product or service will be well in excess of what they pay.

You can then show how your costs are met from profits they’re not currently realising — effectively meaning your costs are “free” because the extra profit received is higher than the extra cost.

This is one “LRBN” — a logical reason to buy now — a prospect can justify their investment based on their expected future returns.

They’ll still may need to pay for it now — although your product or service might allow for progressive payments, to help strengthen the persuasive nature of this approach.

Better still, a strong guarantee also helps back up this tactic … you are certain of your results and use risk-reversal to make sure the prospect has no risk in saying “yes” to your offer.

2. Compare to something your client already knows

A final way I want to share with you about minimising the impact of price is to take your price and compare it to a cost your prospect already knows.

You often see this expressed in terms of “that’s like the cost of just a cup of coffee per day…”

But when you’re talking one-on-one with prospects and providing proposals and estimates, you can take this a step further.

It involves you knowing in advance though the profit and returns the prospect will get from your product or service.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you know your prospect earns $500 profit for every new client they acquire.

And you have a product or service that attracts new clients for the prospect.

If your product cost $950 — you could demonstrate that the prospect only needs to acquire two new clients and they’ll already be in front in terms of the value returned from their investment in you.

They’ll then be able to keep using your product or service “effectively for free” because they’ve already covered their costs and now they’re earning extra profits.

(So you can see from this how these two approaches can be combined).

Before You Use This …

This is especially effective — and a great approach — when you know both the likely profits your prospect will earn (so ask them as part of preparing your proposal!) and you can relate that to an easily achievable outcome (acquiring just two new clients).

It also means your prospect needs to know the value of their customers so you may have a little work to do there to get them to determine this important figure.

What’s coming up

Next tip, we’ll look at the common question about how long your copy should be!

Until then, keep smiling!

Copy Tips: Road Map

I’ll start this post with a quote from Alice in Wonderland by master story teller Lewis Carroll …

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don’t know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”

Illustration of Alice surrounded by the characters of Wonderland (Peter Newell, 1890)

In fact I used this quote in the opening of my first business plan when I launched my full-time business venture back in 1998. Here’s one much related also from Lewis Carroll:

If you don’t know where you are going,
any road will take you there.

So today’s a pause on our Copy Tips road to get a snapshot of what’s ahead!

So far, we’ve covered …

  • Each part of the MOOVE formula
  • Headlines
  • Persuasive Sales Factors
  • Openings and Rapport
  • Writing Formulas
  • Effective Pricing Contrast
  • with a few topical tips thrown in along the way.


Once we finish on contrast in pricing, this is where we’re heading …

  • Answering the common question about the length of your copy
  • Language in copy
  • Nine Ways to build Trust
  • Formatting, including some in-depth graphic and design tips
  • The Order and the Close
  • More on Guarantees
  • Sign-off and PS’s
  • Focus on Testimonials …
  • Nineteen ways to use Testimonials
  • Seven ways to capture Testimonials

and I’ll wrap up with three copy secrets that reveal free, easy ways to ensure you continue to learn and develop your copy; and my final secret reveals how to make your copy work much more effectively for you than you may have ever imagined.

So now you now where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going!

Thought A Voucher Was A Better Gift?

… well it appears not everyone wants to use the Gift Card they got for Christmas!

So now comes along “GiftCardRescue” — as spotted in Springwise this month — who allow users to either exchange their cards for cash or another gift card from a different store. The story states the cash payout is 60 to 80 percent of the card’s value, or an exchange can be up to the full value of the card you’re getting rid of.

It’s only US based … for now … but that’s a great business idea that filled a need of a hungry crowd.

On the subject of gift cards…

While I don’t have a source of stats — I have heard in the past (and can verify from anecdotal evidence) that gift vouchers and gift cards are not only sometimes unwanted, but even people who like their present don’t always spend the card at its full value (if at all).

If you’re a retailer, it shows you two things: one — promoting gift cards may earn you unexpected profits from cards that aren’t redeemed; and two — if you were to address that issue in some way, it could be a way to stand out from your competitors.