Your Marketing Page is Your Best Salesperson

A well-written marketing page sells your product 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all around the world. Marketing copy doesn’t take days off, and it doesn’t call in sick. Your marketing page is your best salesperson.

But proponents of short copy insist customers won’t read long sales pages. This isn’t a new phenomenon. People who think there’s an ideal length for sales copy believe it should be short. Really short. Like, 50 words, tops.

Why? What would any interested prospect set a predetermined limit on how much they’ll read?

People who want short copy and only short copy are burnt out on their sales message. But the sales message isn’t for the people who built the product. It’s for customers.

I read Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins recently. Here’s his take on how long sales copy should be.

Some say “Be very brief. People will read for little.” Would you say that to a salesman? With a prospect standing before him, would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap. So in advertising. The only readers we get are people whom our subject interests. No one reads ads for amusements, long or short. Consider them as prospects standing before you, seeking for information. Give them enough to get action.

If I’m interested in a subject, there isn’t a limit to how much I am willing to read about it. If I’m looking to spend a lot of money, I don’t stop after the first paragraph. I don’t stop after the seventh paragraph. I stop when I’m sold, or when I’ve ruled out a sale.

This is how people work. Proponents of short copy underestimate how much information someone will want before converting. It’s impossible to overcome every possible sales objection in 200 words. Short copy has its place - no question. In PPC ads. In Tweets. In a quick announcement for a new feature.

But long copy sells. Hopkins knew that back in the 20s. If anything, long copy is more important today. The internet is a wonderful research tool. Text is cheap and easy to store, and no one’s paying by the inch to print these days.

And your headline counts more than any other element of your marketing copy.

The purpose of a headline is to pick out people you can interest. You wish to talk to someone in a crowd.

Hopkins is talking about mail-order advertising here, but this principle applies to all marketing. The headline the most important piece of any PPC ad. It’s the most important piece of your marketing page, your landing pages, and every other piece of copy. You want to grab the attention of the right people. Copy should turn a half-interested visitor into a warm lead. A headline must be focused, and it must be direct.

And you can’t afford to be boring.

People will not be bored in print. They may listen politely at a dinner table to boasts and personalities, life history, etc. But in print they choose their own companions, their own subjects.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in sales copy on the web is a heavy focus on the product and the people who made it. Line after line of copy about how cool the product is, and how amazing their company is.

Bragging feels good, but it doesn’t work. Bragging doesn’t influence sales. Benefits drive sales. The more space wasted on boasting, the less opportunity you have to talk about benefits. Your customers care about what you can do for them.

Copywriting is about sales. It’s about talking to one person at a time and convincing that person that your offer will improve their lives in a meaningful, measurable way.

Measurement counts. If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing. You’re guessing, at best.

Almost any questions can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that's the way to answer them - not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort - the buyers of your product.

Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising in 1923, and he knew that advertising must be scientific, tested, and provable. The principles Hopkins wrote about hold true 92 years later - test everything, and treat marketing like sales. Treat your copy as the hardest working member of your sales team, because that’s exactly what it is.

I'm Tyler, and I blog about marketing, programming, writing, and things I'm working on.


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