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How Long Is Too Long?


How Long Is Too Long?

Rami Abughazaleh, from copywriting agency Yala Creative, talks attention spans and advertising.

  • There are multiple mediums for your message, but each requires its own approach.
  • Attention spans are in high demand – adapt accordingly!
  • Good creative involves managing the content load wisely.

The importance of customizing copy

The art of marketing has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years – a sea change that comes with good and bad news for anyone with a product or service to advertise.

The good news? There have never been more ways to reach your audience directly.

The bad news… Numerous platforms do not make marketing any easier.

When planning your campaign, it’s important to consider every piece of the puzzle separately, customizing copy for web, social media, print media and TV or radio.

Simply cutting and pasting content across the board won’t cut it. A radio spot works differently than a YouTube video; a press release and a social media post are not equivalent. While your message may apply across all media, it needs careful adapting in each instance.

Sometimes less is more

With so much content to consume, attention spans around the world have decreased.

Copywriters have always focused on getting to the point. Now they write for readers with even less time to spare.

While it’s still possible to explain in detail, your content should be handled wisely to retain the interest of people in a hurry.

During the briefing, consider which media suit your message best. Do you have a lot of products to feature? A brochure allows for bulleting dense information and may make the most sense. Is the brand story the key? A clever, well-planned website may be the ideal way of telling it. Starting there, a good copywriter will adapt content to suit other formats.

Don’t be afraid to leave things out. A common mistake is an insistence on cramming everything in regardless. The resulting jumbled mess is sure to scare off the most patient reader. Trust your agency’s recommendations on what to include. Each format is best played to its strengths – together, they tell the full story.

Help customers focus with structure

Reading habits have changed in our online world. A majority of reading now involves scrolling a screen. Consumers expect to skim content, so the information needs to be broken down in a way that helps them navigate easily.

Copywriters structure content by theme, using clever headings and subheadings to engage the reader and encourage them to stay. When information is particularly technical or feels like a list, it’s most effectively presented in bullet point form. This also helps break things up visually.

Know when a picture is worth a thousand words

Okay, we’ve just used a cliché in our headline – but only because it’s a timeworn truth!

Despite the digital revolution, some things remain unchanged. Visuals convey emotions and influence consumers in ways copy cannot. An effective combination of good design and smart writing is as important to your campaign as ever.

Part of what we do is ensuring our writing enhances its visual context. When graphics are primary to your message, it’s important that words not get in the way. Avoiding clutter is important to keeping a consumer’s attention – that’s why juxtaposed images or a busy design require a lighter touch in the copy. Conversely, a simple image may need a bit more copy to help bring it to life.

Some rules of thumb for length

Beyond the art, there’s a science to marketing. Research reveals some optimal lengths for your materials. While there are always exceptions, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • TV & radio ads: 30 seconds
  • Brochures: 200 words per page
  • Press release: 300-400 words
  • Facebook post: 40-80 characters
  • Websites: more variable by nature

The takeaway: make length a campaign strength

People today have far more content to absorb, and less time to do it in.

Treat each piece in your advertising portfolio differently, and avoid trying to say everything at all times.

Think of your campaign as a buffet, laid out in bite-size pieces. The agency is there to present your offerings in a way that tempts people in for a taste and leaves them wanting more.

You can follow Rami on twitter @RamiAbughazaleh.Opinions expressed in this piece belongs to the author.

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