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Classic direct response copy .... direct mail and print .... was always long copy....


"Mail order" was part of the culture long before the Internet, television, and even radio. There was much less competition for the prospect or customer's attention and time, way fewer pieces in the mailbox.
In general, attention spans are significantly shorter these days. But with self-help products, and in the investment advice and health newsletter arenas, for example, people still wade through a tonnage of persuasive, "reason-why" copy. And what works in direct mail (print unfortunately being a dead medium for most direct marketers) is transferable to email and to Web sites.
But some copywriters, entrepreneurs who sell services to copywriters, and even some clients believe that no matter who the audience is nor what the product or service... the only way you can get a response on a Web site is to present the reader with a Dickensian barrage of copy. It doesn't take a (Uriah) Heep of thinking to wonder: "Are there circumstances in which the marketer would do much better with short copy?"
Understand that when I talk about a tonnage of copy on a Web site, I'm referring to how much is on a single page. If the copy is relatively short on each page, but there is justification for multiple pages getting deeper into the subject, that is not Dickensian copy but James Pattersonian copy.
My attention was called to a site that offers a marketing system to small restaurants. The one-page has about 2,500 words on it. The writing is spectacularly good, and the design helps .... but 2,500 words? Will the guy running a pizza shop have the time or patience to wade through this? I think not.
I'd love to see a test that takes sections of the immense letter and breaks them up into separate Web pages. You'd have some links between the pages, but the major push would be to get prospects to the response device.
MarketingSherpa applauds the trend to base copywriting and offers on persona research. Their research deals with business technology communications, but could well be applied to any audience. Picture your prospects. Will they really read through all that copy in one fell swoop on the Web? Make a mistake and you could be working in one Bleak House.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Marc Stein is a direct marketing consultant and copywriter with over 40 years experience. He has developed and executed direct marketing programs for a wide variety of marketers in the publishing, insurance and financial services, nonprofit, technology, and business-to-business arenas. Current clients include Effectiveness Solutions Research, Entertainment Publications, Long Island Children’s Museum, National Grants Conferences, Rickard List Marketing, Travelers Insurance, and a number of direct response agencies.

As a direct response agency executive, Lee worked with companies like Chase, Colonial Penn Auto Insurance, Dial Corporation, Hertz, Mead Johnson, The Money Store, and U.S. Airways. He also held marketing management positions at Standard & Poor’s, BusinessWeek, and McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company.

Lee taught at NYU and Hofstra, and has spoken at 100+ industry conferences. He was a Founder of the Long Island Direct Marketing Association, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island.