Do they really read long copy?

Guest Post By Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero

One of the more popular questions I get about copy from subscribers is, “Do they really read long copy?” Of course they are talking about the online long copy sales letters you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom to find out how much it costs. These letters can be from 5-15 pages or more in length and they flat out bug some people.

The answer to the question is, “No. Yes. And maybe.” It all depends on where your prospect is mentally in the buying process. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First let’s take yourself as an example. Are you currently in the market to buy a car? If you’re not chances are you don’t pay a lot of attention to the car marketplace right now (unless of course you are a car aficionado). So it wouldn’t matter much to you if a certain car got better gas mileage over another or came with an Island Blue paint job. But when the time comes to get serious about buying YOUR car you will focus intently on every little detail. You will scour every word you can get your hands on about the specific make and model you want parked in your garage.

Detective_GirlSo back to them – will your target market really read all that copy?

  • Some people will not ever even find your copy in their universe. Billy Joe in Iowa is more concerned about his next day off from the construction site so he can party with his friends. Billy Joe is not your target market and there is no reason to waste time trying to reach him. I only bring up Billy Joe to illustrate everyone has some natural drop off of potential customers. Everyone can NOT be your customer.
  • Some people will simply not be interested in doing business with you for whatever reason. Jane is in the market for a water filtration system. You sell them. Unfortunately Jane will only purchase from Pygmy goat farmers in Norway and you don’t qualify. Go figure. You can’t do anything about it.
  • People read your copy when they begin to recognize a need for your product/service. This is called the peripheral interest stage. They may not be focused on buying what you sell today but on some level they are interested in how you can benefit them in the future. Say you sell a vitamin supplement for hair growth. Your prospect, Archie, has noticed some premature thinning but he’s not overly concerned about it yet. If he stumbles onto your sales page he will skim through your copy, looking for nuggets that will help him make a buying decision later. For now he may just buy a hat and continue to check out options as he comes across them. He’s just not urgently motivated right now.
  • People read your copy when they are ready to make a buying decision. This is called the deep investigative stage. These are the serious contenders. And they will read ‘all that copy’ because they are ready to trade dollars for your product/service. It doesn’t matter whether the purchase is for $37 or $397 or $3997. No one likes to make a bad investment. Veronica has been looking for a business coach. If you provide that service and she finds you online, remember you are not there personally to answer all her questions (but she will no doubt have them). That’s the job of your copy – to fully represent you when you’re not there. So you need to make sure you overcome all of her objections IN WRITING. She will have an internal dialogue in her head of frequently asked questions. Your copy had better anticipate and answer every one. Trust or mistrust is conveyed through your copy too. (As you know, no one will do business with someone they do not trust). She must visualize how her life will improve with your service. Your copy can convey that by focusing on the benefits. Do you have a guarantee? Are there sign up bonuses? Who else have you helped? When you are thorough it doesn’t take long for the copy to get lengthy. There is a distinctive pattern to keeping your prospect informed while maintaining interest. As advertising front man David Ogilvy said, “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”
  • If Betty stumbles onto your site out of the blue without a predisposed idea to buy what you sell. Your copy is informative, interesting, and entertaining. She finds herself mesmerized, pulling her credit card out of her wallet to rush and order your product. This is a rather rare, though not unheard of, action. Especially when the copy follows the proven formulas of the masters.

Long sales copy exists because it works. If it didn’t work it would go the way of the dodo bird. As it is, it shows no signs of losing its effectiveness. In test after test long copy outperforms its short copy brother. The Wall Street Journal has been sending out a four-page direct mail sales letter with great results for decades. Then just a few years ago they pit the four-pager against a longer letter to see which one pulled in more subscriptions. The longer letter won. In fact in every industry the long copy format has been introduced it has been a rousing success. Again to quote David Ogilvy, “If you tell, you will sell.”

Long copy can work in your industry too. But I have to let you in on a little secret. A long copy sales letter is the kingpin of your marketing campaign, but it does not perform on its own. By itself it is not strong enough to get the cash flowing for your business. There is also support copy that is often ignored in the copywriting process yet it is just as critical to the overall success of the sales letter.

Lorrie_Morgan-FerreroLorrie Morgan-Ferrero of Red Hot Copy is a pioneer in the world of copywriting when it comes to selling to women and conscious entrepreneurs. Her background as a journalist and an actress prepared her for the level of wordsmithing and psychology necessary to build her decade-plus long career. Her list of clients reads like a Hall of Fame list of marketers and corporations such as Office Depot, NAWBO, Ladies Who Launch, Ali Brown International, Braveheart Women, Glazer Kennedy, and more. Author, speaker, and creator of “The She Factor Copywriting Bootcamp,” “The Conscious Copywriting Formula,” and “30 Day Storytelling Challenge” (free on Facebook), Lorrie knows what it takes to build rapport for long-lasting relationships. And more importantly, she knows how to SELL with copy!


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