Sky needs no introduction. Their customer recruitment has, for a long time, been driven by a combination of direct mail and TV advertising. Their direct marketing agency, Table19, asked me and highly-experienced Direct Mail art director Tim Bennet to help with a mailing to recruit new customers for Sky’s most expensive TV package. The package we devised became Sky’s most successful ever.
What was the secret? Simple: long copy. Lots and lots of it.
In my job I have a never-ending battle with designers who are apparently genetically resistant to headlines of more than four words and copy of more than a couple of short paragraphs.
Especially digital designers. “That won’t work in the digital space, mate…” is the common refrain, based on absolutely zero evidence. What they mean is “my beautiful design will be sullied, my art will suffer at the hands of selling”.
Google loves long copy, folks!
The opposite of what every digital designer says is now proven to be true, of course. Even Google rewards long, relevant copy with a higher ranking. 300 words or more for a post like this one, for example, shows Google the page is full of interesting stuff.
The real online direct marketing gurus that sell straight from their sites in large volumes use long, long copy on their ‘squeeze’ pages and Video Sales Letters. This is because, like old school direct mail practitioners, they test and test to find the most effective approach.
Most print designers, too, want lots of white space, hardly any words and big expensive pictures. (Especially if they’re not from a direct mail background where response is king.) This means they’re more likely to win an award and the stuff will look great in their portfolio.
Unfortunately, what sells expensive products or services like a Sky premium subscription is lots of information. The more expensive something is, the more information you have to give the punter about why they should fork out so much dosh. Until the reasons to buy outweigh the reasons not to.
So, for Sky, we fought very hard for a mailer presentation that was rammed with all the goodies you got for your money. Lots of small pictures showing all the different channels and programming, lots of lists detailing every detail of the package. And long copy.
The pack certainly won’t win any awards for design or innovation. But it worked fantastically well simply because we applied the tried and tested basics of responsive marketing: tell your customers everything they need to know to make a decision. Be clear about the deal and offers. And ask for the sale, right now.