According to David Ogilvy, a drop letter in the very first paragraph of the copy increases readership by 5%.
Again, it’s a case of attracting the eye. A drop letter stands out. And it’s often (though not always) used in books and magazines. It’s familiar to readers and signals: “Begin here.”
Four chances to tell your story …
In any ad, you have four chances to tell your story to the reader.
The first is in the headline, which should telegraph the offer and attract the reader’s attention at the same time. If David Ogilvy is correct, and if for every person who reads the whole ad, nine read just the headline, then 90% of your effort should go into the headline.
And that accords with the experience of most direct-response copywriters.
Your fourth (and last) chance is in the body copy itself. This is where you can tell the full story.
(I stress this as your fourth chance – because most people think of headline and copy as your only two chances. And miss out two other chances which I will come to in a moment.)
There is no fixed rule for the length of copy. Since I’ll only advertise in one place in The South China Morning Post page 1 of the business section —there’s a natural limit on the length of ads I run there. That doesn’t apply in other places.
In the States you’ll see l6-page direct mail letters.
You’ll often hear comments to the effect that people don’t have time to read long letters – that a one or two-page letter is best.
That’s complete rubbish.
The only rule for copy is that it should be as long as necessary – and as short as possible.
People read l000-page novels. They read abstruse non-fiction tomes. When you’re interested in something, it’s always too short. (Ever finish a L-O-N-G book and feel disappointed that you’d come to the end …?)
In test after test, long copy beats short copy. Not always, of course – provided the long copy is longer because it has more information and more compelling reasons to buy than the short copy.
John Caples said: “The more you tell, the more you sell.”
Because – remember – the only people who are going to read your ad are the people who are interested in buying. And if they’re interested, they want to know as much as possible.
– Brad Sugars –
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