Tom Andrews — A Sales Letter “Non-Debate”: Long-Form Copy Vs Short-Form
Hold up, you dirty-minded so and so.
I know exactly what you’re thinking.
But I’ve got some (bad?) news. Today I won’t be discussing penis size.
Instead, you’re gonna find out the truth about how long should your sales letter be.
Before we start, let me tell you…
I get wound up when talking about this. You see, the number of copywriters who say long-form sales copy is dead because people have short attention spans, is crazy. And, quite frankly, these people aren’t fit to call themselves copywriters.
(In my humble, yet accurate, opinion.)
If people are interested in something, they’ll happily read up on it all day long.
Heck, when I was at uni and wanted to get some muscle, I’d be on the bodybuilding.com forum about 3–4 hours a day, every day.
Couldn’t get enough of it.
And no doubt you’re the same. Think of something that excites you. Something that gets the juices flowing.
Would you really get bored reading about it?
You wouldn’t, you say?
See, told you so.
Anyway, a copywriter who tells you that long-form sales copy is dead, is, quite frankly, unfit to call himself a copywriter. Bit harsh? Nope. It’s the truth.
If they can’t hold their ideal prospect’s attention with long-form copy, then they’re as good a copywriter as Frodo Baggins is with a sword.
(On a side-note, Sam was the true hero in Lord of the Rings. Frodo was a pussy.)
Now, is that to say you should purposefully make every piece of copy you write as long as possible?
No. In fact, making it longer than it needs to be is stupid. And will actually hurt your sales.
But at the same time, you have to tell your whole message in your sales letter.
If that means you’ve gotta write 20,000 words, then you write 20,000 words.
However, there’s 3 main factors you’ve gotta take into account when deciding the length of your sales letter.
Here they are:
1) How much your prospects already desire the results you are promising
You have a supplement that can help heart attack patients recover faster?
Well, someone who has just had a heart attack in the past month will clearly be interested.
Someone who had a heart attack 6 years ago and has been fine since? Yeah — still potentially interested. But they’d need more persuading.
Which means more copy.
2) The social status your product will give someone
People know that if they drive a Ferrari, they’re gonna have more “social status” than if they drive a Ford.
So a sales letter selling a Ferrari wouldn’t have to be long.
Yet if you were selling a Ford, you’d need more copy.
3) How much people already believe in what you are saying
What I’m now gonna tell you is vital.
If you take it on board, your copy’s gonna get stronger overnight.
A lot stronger.
Here it is:
People don’t buy until they believe what you are telling them.
It doesn’t matter how much they desire your product…
And It doesn’t matter how much social prestige they’ll get…
If they don’t believe what you’re telling them.
However, changing somebody’s beliefs is about as hard as climbing Everest. And if you do manage to do it, then it takes time.
So you start your sales letter by agreeing with your prospect… Even if they believe something you know is a load of crap.
You can do this by telling a story about how you (or one of your customers) used to believe the same. And then, gradually, you get to the point where you start questioning those beliefs. But question their beliefs too early (or worse, tell them something they flat out won’t believe at all), and your sales letter is doomed to fail.
For example, if you’re selling fish oil for heart health, then people already believe it does the trick. So you won’t need much copy proving it works.
But what about if you’re selling a “secret herb the ancient Greeks used” that no one’s ever heard of?
Then you’re gonna need to write enough copy so your prospects believe you.
You can do this by using studies, testimonials, stories from history… There’s plenty of ways.
And the more convincing someone’s gonna need about your claims, the more of these proof elements you’ve gotta use.
Anyway, if you’re selling an iPhone, then you don’t need much copy at all.
Heck, a headline telling people the new iPhone is out and then a list of features is gonna be enough for Apple to make billions.
Yet I can put my testicles on the line when I say that your product isn’t gonna be quite as easy to sell as this.
The more you need to build someone’s desire up for your product…
The more you need to persuade them of the personality traits your product will give them…
And the more you need to make them believe your claims…
Then the more copy you’re gonna need,
PS- Always keep this in mind:
The purpose of every line of copy is to get your prospects to read the next line…
And the next line…
And the next line…
And… yeah, you get the idea.
So if your copy bores them, then they’re gonna stop reading. And in this case, a long-form sales letter will actually be a bad thing.
So for crying out loud:
Either pay a copywriter to write your sales letter.
(And, by the way, if you want the best results, do not hire a cheap-ass copywriter from a freelance site. You know, the ones who charge something stupid like £500 for a sales letter.
It makes a mockery of the industry. And, most importantly for you, it will be like throwing £500 down the drain on a rainy day. Gone forever.
Instead, invest in a great copywriter. Yes, you will pay a lot more upfront, but you will make this back — and more- many times over.
Or, if you don’t wanna do that, then spend the time to get great at writing sales copy yourself.
Sure, it will take hours and hours of practice (I’m talking daily practice for well over a year until you even get “decent”). But, if you’ve got the time, it’s an amazing skill to have.
PPS- If you enjoyed this article, then make sure you check out Tom Andrews’ other free copywriting tips and direct response marketing strategies at: