Imagine that you’re a copywriter and I’m a potential customer for your product.
You want to get my attention and give me your sales pitch. I’m holding in my hand a TV remote. I’m looking for something that interests me. [click, nah] [click, nope] [click, no]. Ah, now here I am. You have my undivided attention. Now keep my attention. You better keep my attention! Sorry! Too late! [click]
What you just witnessed is one of the top blunders that amateur copywriters make: they take too long to get to the point. And so they lose their prospect as a result.
Grabbing someone’s attention with a powerful visual or a great headline isn’t all that hard. The hard part is keeping that person’s attention. As you just saw, you have three seconds, max. After that, your reader is either still paying attention or they’ve turned the page, clicked to another website or changed the channel.
Let me show you an example of copy that is way too long in getting to the point.
This is copy written by a company that manufacturers laser cutting machines. These laser cutters are used by manufacturers to cut metal and plastic parts.
Let’s start with the headline: “Laser Cutting Basics with Bibley laser cutting machines & cutters.” I’m not making this up. This copy is actually written by a manufacturer to promote its line of laser cutting machines. All that I have changed is the name of the manufacturer to protect the guilty.
As you can see, this copywriter makes the classic mistake of writing a headline that doesn’t offer the potential customer a benefit. All the copywriter does is say what the machines do: they cut. This is a mistake because unless your headline gives your reader a benefit or gives them a reason to read your copy, they won’t read your copy.
Now let’s read the copy anyway.
“Welcome to Bibley Laser. Today, laser cutting can be done much easier and faster than ever before and is used in a wide range of applications and industries. Bibley is one of the world’s most important manufacturers of laser machines for engraving, cutting and marking. As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of laser systems, Bibley offers innovative laser cutting machines for diverse applications, such as cutting of acrylic, or laser cutting of architectural models, foils and films, signage, paper, toys, wood, and many more. In all applications and industries, Bibley laser machines stand for clean, fast and high-quality laser cutting.”
On and on it goes. Blah, blah, blah. This is what long-winded copy looks like. It starts off slow, it talks about the advertiser, not the buyer—and it never gets to the point. You and I just read one hundred words, and not a single one of those words gave us a single reason to keep on reading.
Let’s look at the right way to get to the point immediately with your copy. This is an ad from another manufacturer of laser cutters.
Notice the clever headline. Only three words. The headline speaks directly to the potential customer; “Cut YOUR losses.” It promises a benefit: money saved.
Now read the first paragraph and decide if the copywriter gets to the point quickly enough for you: “Our five-axis lasers cut virtually any flat or formed part, with no hard tooling, no handwork and only the simplest of fixturing. You change over from one job to another in minutes. You save time, money and headaches in the process.”
How many words did I just read? Forty. The copy tells me what their laser cutter does, and gives me three benefits for buying it: I save time. I save money. I reduce my headaches.
The first copywriter uses 100 words and never gets to the point. The second copywriter uses 40 words and gets to the point immediately.
Why is this important for you to know? Because the question on every potential customer’s mind is this: “What’s in it for me?”
This is the question you have to answer immediately with your copy. Don’t take your time answering this question. Don’t make the mistake of slowly getting to your point. Avoid the roundabout approach. Start your copy with your most compelling benefit. Fire your biggest cannon in the first line of your copy. Promise your reader a benefit. Give them a reason to continue reading.
Remember, you only have three seconds.