Long Copy in the Era of the Twitterverse
“The addictive nature of Web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds,” reported the BBC in 2002, “the same as a goldfish.”
Persuading Someone to Sit Still Through a Long Presentation Is Tough
In the days before the Internet, more money was spent on direct mail than any other form of advertising. Here was an intimate sales message arriving in the mailbox along with such highly personal items as bills, letters from the kids in college, results of a health procedure and an invitation to a secret surprise party.
After myriad tests over the years, it was proven that once the envelope was opened, the linchpin of direct mail is the letter. Here is a highly charged, emotional message from one writer talking to one reader in the privacy of the home promising exciting benefits that will enhance your life and broaden your horizons with absolutely no risk.
The most successful advertisement in the history of the world was a letter—the “Two Young Men ..." effort that freelancer Martin Conroy wrote for The Wall Street Journal—first mailed in 1974. Over the next 25 years this masterpiece was responsible for more than $1 billion in subscription revenue.
The letter consisted of just 781 words on two pages (one sheet of paper printed front and back).
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the traditional direct mail letter ran two-, three- or four pages of typewriter type. However, to sell newsletters offering investment advice, the premier copywriter was Long Island freelancer Gary Bencivenga who said, “The more you tell, the more you sell.”
As a result, Bencivenga’s letters grew from four to six page pages. Eventually he began writing 8-page behemoths of mesmerizing prose that were filled with fascinating factoids and offers of irresistible free premiums.