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When it comes to our copywriting word count, there is a natural tendency to think we need to use more words to express ourselves. I should know, I’m 100% guilty of this.
The logic makes sense: my product/service offering has a whole variety of features and different shoppers have different pain-points. We need to use this opportunity to cast the widest net possible.
The trouble is that this mindset leads to word-count inflation.
We often end up with a message that’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
But all aspects of our differentiation are not created equal.
Usually, just 1 or 2 things contribute to 80% of our appeal.
The role of copywriting isn’t to “cover as much ground as possible.”
The role copywriting is to “get to the core of what makes you the absolute best choice for a very specific audience.”
This distinction is a big deal.
If your team is focused on the first point then that copy style will influence every aspect of your business. It might be good for SEO (I’m told) but it will be utterly boring for actual human beings.
The second strategy forces us to only think in terms of details that really matter. And that mindset doesn’t only impact how you write copy, it’ll influence every aspect of how you think about your business. It’ll make it super easy to know what does and doesn’t fit your core vision.
Looked this way surgical copywriting is really a business optimization strategy. I hadn’t considered that before.
Let’s Look at an Example
I’d like to end by sharing an example: I’ve been seeing this LinkedIn ad for the last 5 years and the design has remained the same.
I love it. Their central pitch is that when you take money from an investor you give up equity.
With just 2 words and one algebra symbol they are communicating a powerful idea:
Lighter Capital understands, at least with this ad, the effect their copywriting word count can have on readers. Their message is concise and easily understandable. A simple, almost universally recognized symbol (≠) helps send a message without the user needing to read more than 2 words.
That specific ad stands out and it appeals to me as an investor. Whoever created the ad knows what they are doing!
Glad you liked it, J. I really like this example from Lighter Capital.
I certainly agree that copy should be written with a point in mind. Every word must carry its weight. But all the copy testing I have run for email marketing has shown that long copy always outsells short copy. (Not simply usually, but in every case). I have shared this observation over the years with some professional direct marketers at the top of their industry and they concur.
My theory as to why long copy always outsells shorter copy (and it is only a theory) is this: A genuine prospect is interested in the subject area in which you make your offer and will read a lot. He or she gets value from the additional information and is even excited to be thinking about a subject he or she cares about. The uninterested prospect stops reading as soon as he or she knows what is being talked about.
The uninterested prospect does not become interested because the copy is short and the interested prospect does not become uninterested because the copy is long. With respect to the interested prospect, quite the opposite appears to be true. The interested prospect sticks with the copy and becomes increasingly warm to the offer. I place CTA buttons in my long form emails and always track which CTA button the reader clicks. Most read to the end or very nearly to the end.
All of this is not to say the long copy works better simply because it is long. The long copy has to be compelling. But an accomplished copywriter can keep the attention of an interested prospect for thousands of words. And along the way, in all of those words, will pitch every benefit, beginning with the most compelling and working his or her way down to the least compelling. If the prospect is still reading, and every indication is that the interested prospect will be, why not sell all the benefits?
Thanks for the newsletter and have a great week!
I couldn’t agree more. If you visit my homepage (https://www.frictionless-commerce.com/) you’ll exactly how much I agree with you.
The most valuable thing I own is a reprint of an 1897 Sears catalog and it has a lot of long-form copy.
In fact, I remember from our chat about the long-form emails you would send at Branders.
I just really liked this Lighter Capital example because they got to the heart of their USP.
But I love long copy. —Rishi