Gail our resident copywriter was telling us about a writing
assignment that for most would be from Hell.
She said, “In all I expanded the copy four
times. The client said the short brochure had worked
pretty well but could I expand it. I did. It worked better so they asked me to
expand it again. And that one did better still.”
I asked, “What do you think made the longest copy the best performer?”
Charlie, our web jockey jumped in, “It’s simple. You never
really know which way of saying something is going to connect with the target.
So the more ways you give them the better off you’re gong to be. At least that
is what happens on line. Every test I’ve ever run shows that long copy beats
short copy—if it is good long copy. Drivel doesn’t cut it. It has to be stuff
that people will scroll on until they click through and buy.”
Gail nodded and said, “Right Charlie, except for Twitter.
And it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re talking on line or off line.
Sometimes repeating yourself is the best thing you can do.”
I asked, “The same exact words?”
“Yes and no,” she said. I start as a friend puts it by
sitting down at the computer and opening a vein. I just pour out everything I
think, feel and believe about the item and then I look through all that for key
words which I search and then make notes of especially the different viewpoints
I find. I look for research data and surveys and hard facts to incorporate. And
I listen to what the client tells me in the briefing about who they think the
customer is and the benefits they deliver. I often find that they aren’t really
sure who that ideal client is so I take it with a grain of salt and let the
research lead me.”
“But how do you expand the copy?” I asked.
“I have a few tricks that help you make your content soar:
Turn some facts into charts or
graphs and explain them in copy and captions
Find photos that support your
argument and place them judiciously in the copy
List companies or organizations
that have tried or used the product or service
Look at the benefits and turn them
into a list. Make ‘em bullets or number them.
Turn benefits or facts into
challenging questions or quizzes
Look at the impact of the product
or service on a timeline
Include a case history or success
story or two or three or more
Extend your description of just who
the product is for or the kind of company and/or problem. Tell ‘em the need use
or occasion it is for.
Include an executive summary or a
front end synopsis.
Note or list the key information presented in an
intriguing way related to the page it occurs on so if they want to skip around
they still get the message.
Remember that you are going to have
linear readers, scanners and that you have to appeal to both curiosity and the
need to simplify at the same time.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to
ask for the order. You can even do that in multiple ways.”