Short copy rocks.

Choose between long form copywriting and short-form copywriting

When I sing the praises of short-form copy, I often get pushback.

Particularly from some of my fellow copywriters.

I’m told that short copy isn’t up to the job.

For the tough jobs… the heavy lifting… only long copy works.

I’m not so sure.

I think short copy can also get the job done.

In fact, I think some of the most powerful copy is really, really, short.

Some lessons from politicians…

Back in 2016, when Britain was about to vote on Brexit, Boris Johnson used three words to make his case…

Take Back Control

Meanwhile, Donald Trump was running a little long with 4 words…

Make America Great Again

Although he did tap into the power of the three-word line with…

Lock Her Up!

Fast forward to last year, and Boris Johnson won the election in Britain with…

Get Brexit Done!

Funny thing is… these lines were used to win votes on issues that were amazingly complicated.

Deciding to leave the European Union is a much more complex issue than choosing your next coffee maker.

Same with choosing your next President.

But that’s in the realm of politics, not business…

OK. Let me introduce you to a few more really, really, short lines.

Where’s the Beef?

Got Milk?

Just Do It.

Because You’re Worth It

Think Different

Turns out that short, simple lines have extraordinary power.

And not just to make an impression, but to drive sales and change minds.

How many hundreds of millions of dollars do you think were made on the back of “Just Do It”?

And how about being able to change the course of an entire nation with “Take Back Control”?

Long copy is sometimes lazy copy, or just filler…

There are certainly times when long copy is what you need.

But I’ll often read long or medium-length copy and think, “There’s a lot of filler here. A lot of description and explanation that really isn’t needed. In fact, it’s getting in the way.”

So why do copywriters write long, when short would do better?

Sometimes we’re just filling the space… like on a webpage.

Other times we think long copy looks more substantial, serious or authoritative.

And occasionally, as copywriters, we want to show our bosses or clients they’re getting their money’s worth.

“Just 3 words? And how much do you want me to pay you for THAT?”

It takes hard work and courage to write short copy…

It’s not easy to write short, effective copy.

Much easier to write the long, rambling stuff.

But writing short can deliver the most powerful copy of all.

And in a digital world where we’re writing copy for apps and promotional text messages, short-form copywriting is becoming an increasingly valuable skill.

NOTE: You can find out about the various copywriting courses I teach here…

15 thoughts on “Short copy rocks.”

  1. It takes a lot more work to write short copy than most people understand. I think it is more memorable. It gets to the point. It makes a statement. Just Do It! and Where’s the Beef? stick in our memories and our collective consciousness a lot longer than a boatload of long copy.

    Reply
  2. Absolutely right.
    It’s about having a conversation. If someone rambles in a conversation and won’t get to the point, we lose interest (as well as develop a strong urge to resort to violence).

    So why do it in copy?

    Reply
  3. Does anyone else remember the Burmashave roadside posts? That was hugely effective short copy of the 1950s.

    The problem I have with short copy is that it won’t work if the audience isn’t already informed.

    Take back control of what?
    Lock who up and why?

    So what should the buildup strategy be?

    Reply
  4. As a copywriter for a digital marketing agency for over 7 years, I find short copy to be the most-effective and the most difficult to write!

    Direct email headlines, landing pages, H1 headlines on webpages – all of it requires you sum up the value of services or message in under 7 words (on average).

    Not easy, but incredibly powerful.

    Reply
  5. This article clocks in at 455 words.
    Sometime a single sentence is enough. Sometimes you need a tagline and supporting words to explain what you mean and why you should care.
    But by all means give us the single sentence first and often!
    Slogans like you mention here are some of my favorite writing. They take such skill.

    Reply

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