Testing shows that long letters usually work better than short letters.
This is yet another example of how direct marketing is “counter-intuitive.”
Common sense would seem to dictate that short letters and short presentations would work better.
Who has time to read a four-page or eight-page letter?
But all testing shows otherwise.
Long ad copies work far better than short ad copies 85 percent of the time.
A four-page letter will work better than a two-page letter.
An eight-page letter will work better than a four-page letter.
This is a general rule.
There are, of course, exceptions.
The reason is this: About half the people who answer your letter with an order will have read every word.
The other half who answers will have scanned your materials.
The scanners read the first line, the P.S., and the reply form, your headlines, and perhaps some of your underlined phrases.
And they will review the guarantee.
Your scanners don’t need a long letter.
But about half your buyers want all the information before they make a decision to buy.
These people can’t get enough information.
And if you fail to answer all their questions, they won’t buy.
You must write for both audiences: Your scanners as well as those who want all the information.
Of course, there comes a point of diminishing returns.
A 16-page letter is overkill in most cases, and may drive your cost up too high, yet some 16-page letters have turned out to be very successful.
The fact that it’s 16 pages is enough to get a reader’s attention, and suggests that the writer must have a lot of important things to say.
Generally, a 16-page letter will out-pull an eight-page letter, but not enough to make up for the increased cost.
But there are important exceptions to this rule.
Subscription and membership renewal notices should be short and look more like invoices than letters.
A one or two page letter works best here and also keeps your cost lower.
If the service, product, or cause does not need much explaining, a short letter will work best.
A dentist might send you a reminder that it’s been more than six months since your last check-up.
No need, in this case, for this notice to include a long letter describing all his or her services.
If the President of a country is writing to his supporters asking for contributions for his reelection campaign, he does not need a long letter.
The need is obvious.
It does not require explaining.
Everyone knows who the President of the country is.
Everyone knows political campaigns cost money.
Besides, a Presidential election is in the news every day.
In a case like this, a long letter will be a distraction and will likely depress returns.
Credit card offers are usually short.
Everyone knows what a credit card is for.
All that needs to be explained is the offer.
What is the interest rate?
What is the annual fee?
What are some of the incentives and benefits?
This job can be done on one or two pages.
Long letters will almost always work best in prospecting.
Since, in a prospect letter, you are writing to people who have never bought anything from you and who know nothing about you, more explaining will be needed to persuade your reader to try your service.
Your letters to those who have already bought something from you can be a mix of long and short letters, whatever is appropriate.
The length of your letter should be determined by how much you have to say.
The rule is to answer all the questions your reader might have.
If this requires eight pages, write eight pages; if it requires four, write four.
Don’t waste words.
Make your message simple and compelling.
Don’t bore your reader.
Pull the reader through the copy.
The easiest step a reader can take is to stop reading and go on to something else.
Your reader will know if you’re not saying anything of much importance.
Every word should count.
Every word, every phrase, every sentence should have a purpose.
All superfluous words and sentences should be ruthlessly cut.
But don’t cut your marketing copy just to make your letter fit on two pages or four pages either.
Tell the whole story.
But there’s another side benefit of the long letter.
A very long letter, eight pages or more, is attention-getting in itself.
It adds weight and heft to your package.
If you’re sending a physical mail, it Kind of makes your envelope, stuffed full of paper, feel like a brick when it arrives in the mailbox.
“I wonder what’s in here?” your readers will ask themselves.
Don’t write an 8-page or 12-page or 16-page letter just to do it.
Make certain you really have enough to say to fill up all the space.
But the attention-getting aspect of a very long letter is a factor to consider.
Many of my most successful physical direct mail packages land with a thud when dropped on the kitchen table.
The longer you hold your reader’s attention, the better your odds of getting the sale
The car salesman wants to keep you in the showroom.
He knows that if you leave the showroom, the chance he will ever get the sale is almost nil.
If your reader puts your letter aside, thinking “I’ll come back to it later” — you can be near 100 percent certain he or she will never be back.
If he or she ever comes back, it’s a bonus.
On the other hand, if you can write in such a way that captivates your reader (just like how the American author, Stephen King writes); you have a great chance of getting the sale.
The longer your prospect reads, the better chance you have of getting the order.
There is only one reason your prospect will continue reading your letter:
You are striking a chord with your reader.
What you are saying is of intense interest to your reader.
Your reader will continue to read only if it’s more difficult for your reader to stop reading than to continue reading . . . because what you are saying is so fascinating.
I hope you learned a new thing from this post? Drop your opinion about the post in the comments section below.