How To Put The Right-Sized Copy to Work for You


It’s been proven time and again that long copy converts more people than short copy does.

Yet, die-hard short-copy people refuse to believe it.

They complain that long copy wastes their time, and argue that since everybody these days is too busy, then everybody wants to read short copy.

They have been arguing this for years, and some companies find it simpler, easier and cheaper to give them what they want.

But what if their incessant demands for short copy are simply distractions diverting attention from their true motivations?

Short Equals Limited 

Short copy is to a doughnut hole as long copy is to the biggest, baddest, tastiest bear claw that’s out there.

The latter is a palate and stomach satisfying meal, while the former is little bit of barely memorable flavor on your tongue.

Written from a limited perspective most short copy ticks boxes, but not much else.

It’s a tad difficult to get emotionally invested in short copy and possibly the real reason so many people like it.By Glane23 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

If a piece can’t grab you emotionally, then it can’t grab your money either.

So is the true reason people demand short copy because of limited time, or fear?

And is it just fear of their emotions being strummed, or fear they’ll be done to death by boring long copy?

I admit that if a long copy piece of copy has as much appeal as a week-old bear claw,  I’m skipping and scanning my way through it without much hope of finding anything fresh or flavorful.

You want good long copy. The type that has a well-formed argument, thoughtful reflection, and problem resolution, or in a sales piece, one that speaks to people.

Which is where well-done short copy can actually help.

If you’re not convinced that long copy converts better, test out your theory by using short copy to focus on one part of a larger subject. It’s good medium for going half-an-inch wide and quarter-mile deep.

Keep in mind that with short copy there’s little or nothing to scan through. That means you have one chance to get and keep someone’s interest. Increase your chances, with excellent headlines and relevant pictures.

Long Has Everything for Everybody . . . Or Not

When you settle down with well-written long copy, not only do you have your bear claw but you’ve also got at hand a hot cup of your favorite coffee to go with it.

Long copy contains everything about a product. It gives you features, benefits, emotional highs and lows and multiple reasons to buy.

It answers every question that comes between you and your decision to purchase.

It doesn’t assume you know anything about the product.

It doesn’t assume what information is going to get you to say yes.

It doesn’t even assume that you’re interested but it wants to help you intelligently self-select.

When long copy is setup correctly, you can jump to the sections that interest you, or you can read the whole thing, as many people do.

And please, don’t create long-winded, boring copy like engineers do when they’re writing for other engineers. Not that engineers aren’t wonderful people, but think about your audience (including those who are in the second and third tier seats!)

And don’t waste peoples time with long copy such as white papers that provide background and high-level information but little else that’s useful. You’re not doing them or yourself any favors by creating the following three types of copy.

3 misses with border

Would you want to do business with a company that promises they can help you but gives no evidence as to how they can do so?

Your Marketing Is Incomplete Without Multiple Types of Copy

If you’re not using multiple ways of of keeping your name, services and products in front of peoples’ eyes, then you’re missing opportunities to cement your relationship with your customers.

What kind of use are you putting brochures and postcards to? Are they the run-of-the-mill, creatively memorable, or unusually helpful?

Drip email campaigns can be very effective. Surprise your customers by mastering the five-sentence format that author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki is a proponent of.

If your marketing hasn’t undergone any significant changes for more years than you can remember, then look to other industries and businesses for inspiration and ideas.

Here are a few that I know can translate to just about any industry including manufacturing!

  • One company impressed Sydney B. Barrows, author and expert on how to create positive user experiences, when her first purchase from them arrived. From the interior wrapping paper that was used, the personally signed note of the person who packed her order, the note that contained a discount coupon that she could use for her next order, and more, they made her feel that they valued her business.
  • A local farm stand gives their customers a glimpse into what happens out in its fields with pictures and information about the critters that also enjoy what they’ve planted.
  • One tech company ensures their customers successfully put their products together by creating colorful warning signs and imaginative but easy to follow directions.

Using different types of copy and formats, these communications not only enhance the customers’ purchasing experiences, they make the companies standout.

In what ways can you put the right-sized copy to work for you?