Long Sales Letters

When Long Copy Sucks!

by Pete Godfrey · 14 comments

When Long Copy Sucks!

“It’s too long,” said the client from the other end of the phone. “The copy is too long. No one will read it.”

Arrggg, I sighed to myself, here we go again.

I gathered my thoughts, and then quietly explained why it’s so long, and YES, qualified prospects will read it… and NO, I do not particularly like writing 24 pages to make the sale, and if 2 pages would do, then by golly, that’s what I’d be writin’.

I calmly explained the importance of long copy and how the major sin is to be boring. I finished up saying to test the damn thing first. Then you can either complain or celebrate.

You see, this is why I refuse to deal with clients who do not understand and fully embrace our style of Emotional Direct Response.

I took this guy on as a favour to a colleague and immediately regretted it. Sure, when I was starting out, and getting clients was tougher, I would take on clients who needed educating on Direct Response. Now that’s a tough job, and I spent many hours coaching and teaching, bringing these clients up to speed. (I soon worked out how to get paid for these coaching sessions, but it took awhile.) It’s much easier to deal with people who get it; who understand why we are doing what we are doing.

But getting back to the long copy issue for a moment.

Is it a valid argument?

Can copy be too long?

Well yes, in many cases it can be too long. Because for many rookie copywriters they fall in love with their own words, they don’t know when to shut up.

Same with rookie face-to-face sales people. They don’t realise when they have made the sale and when to shut the hell up.

I’ve critiqued some beauties over the last few months. 24 pagers, 28 pages, even one that was nearly 40 pages long. All with the same problem.

They closed the deal pages and pages ago but they keep coming back with more. And when that happens, you’ve lost the sale.

Get them in, tell your story, prove that’s it true, make an offer, give your guarantee, remind them of the benefits, push for action and close the deal.

That’s how a sales letter works.

But here’s the point. If that takes 40 pages to accomplish, then that’s how long it will be. The only time I restrict myself on the number of words I use is when there is a strict word count applied, such as ads, catalogue copy and so on. Otherwise, I make it as long as it has to be without being one word longer.

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About The Author

Copywriter, Sales Strategist - Pete GodfreyPete Godfrey, The Wizard of Words, from rebel without a clue to one of the most in demand and highest paid Copywriters and Sales Strategists in Australasia… all with the power of his emotionally charged words that sell… Discover the “Secret Weapon” to increasing your Sales and Profits by downloading the valuable report "The Ultimate Copywriting and Marketing Secret" While you're at it, follow Pete on Facebook

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Glenn Twiddle February 7, 2012 at 7:07 am

As always PEte, PERFECT !!!

And another point, to get me to this article you had to stop me in my tracks, distract me from my unbelievably massive mission, and get me to invest my 10 minutes reading and considering this (and writing this comment)

Another testiment to your wizardry !! Talk soon mate, back to my evangelical mission !!!

Glenn Twiddle
Free Real Estate Training

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Pete Godfrey February 8, 2012 at 6:48 am

Glenn I know you’re busy with your seminar that’s coming up real soon… I hear the numbers are incredible…well done! So I pleased I caught your attention.

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Michael Yardney February 7, 2012 at 7:17 am

Great post Pete
I thought you were going to “trick” us and present a long post.
What you’ve shown is that your post should be long enough to get your message across and no longer. Well said

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Pete Godfrey February 8, 2012 at 6:50 am

Great obseravtion Michael… knew you’d see it… but it’s a great way to teach isn’t it? The content becomes an example of what the content reveals…

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Louise Bedford February 7, 2012 at 8:33 am

Ditto.

(That was short enough for my purposes).

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Pete Godfrey February 8, 2012 at 6:51 am

Ah Louise, you nailed it!

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Bonnie Power February 7, 2012 at 8:39 am

….and as you’ve said in your Master Class Training….if the product or service is solving a major problem in the reader’s lives, then they will probably read most of the letter.

They’ll be looking for the detail, and the reassurance from previous buyers so they can be confident to sign on the dotted line and purchase the product.

The ones who aren’t truly qualified as prospects will drop off, because the product was never going to be a good solution for them anyhow.

By the way, I bought about 10 books that you recommended on the Master class DVDs, and Dan Kennedy and Mal Emery really do have some great content, ideas and philosophies – no wonder they have been your mentors for so long! In addition to Amazon, it was good to see the local library also had a few of their books.

Look forward to speaking with you one day soon!

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Pete Godfrey February 8, 2012 at 6:54 am

I’m glad you are comitted to on going education Bonnie. The money is in the mastery. Fact is, you bought the master class, took it home, actually opened it up, and made damn sure you went right through it. Many folks don’t. They have a cursory look. Skills are honed by going deep. I’m looking forward to our calls as well… they wil no doubt be interesting.

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Warren Kruger February 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

Hey Pete, I have the longest copy in the Yellow Pages. No one comes close. And the ‘geniuses’ at Sensis keep telling me the reason the ad’s “NOT working” is because of the long copy. I have to tell them it’s not working or else everyone who advertises there will go for long copy. So, this item of long copy is working, working, working despite Yellow Pages being on Death Row!! Cheers.

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Pete Godfrey February 8, 2012 at 6:56 am

Talk about on going education! How long have we’ve known each other now Warren? How many years? Mate, you could live off that YP ad for many years to come. But you still choose to part of Mal’s group, still get my newsletter! Thanks for jumping on here Warren… I know you’re a busy boy, especially with the way your advertising works. Thanks for sharing with the crowd mate!

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Pete Godfrey February 8, 2012 at 6:58 am

Just wanted to say how many smart people we’ve got on this thread. Folks who are doing real well. And they all get my newsletter http://www.emotionaladwritingletter.com Is this some freak accident? Or is there more to it?

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Bret Thomson February 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

Another great post Maestro…
It’s true in any sales situation… face-to-face… on the phone… writing copy… whatever.
I see it a lot… the strange necessity of “rambling” too much when selling. It comes across as desperate and detracts from the sale. I always make sure I hit every emotional hot button, but with brevity & clarity. And yes… sometimes it can spill over 20+ pages.
Love your wizardry buddy. Keep em coming…

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Francis Ardi March 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Yes, long copy usually outsells short copy because it leaves the reader more engaged and less likely to leave unanswered questions. But how long is too long. A good guide would be the size of the vertical scroll bar button. You’ve probably seen that the longer a page is the shorter the vertical scroll bar button. When a web user sees a scroll bar looking like a tiny horizontal rectangle, they might think right away “this might take too long for me to read – maybe when I have more time – which is most likely never. So… don’t let them see such a small vertical scroll bar button. If you do, see what you can cut out.

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Kerry McKenzie November 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I am several months late on this site – but this topic interested me. I KNOW copy needs to be long, but scrolling down through pages of “stuff” bores me to tears personally. I may need some selling on an idea, but making me keep reading when I am trying to make a quick decision(e.g.because I have lots of other emails to read in a short time) is more likely to make me “put it on hold”, ie never come back to it.
Of course I could always hit the first Buy Now button – but I rarely do so – I might miss something important!
Or, I can scroll to the end, scanning as I go(usually preferred option) – but I am still annoyed at the length of the copy.
But look how long I have taken to make my comment!

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