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January 29, 2009

One Size Does Not Fit All when It Comes to Writing Copy

I shake my head every time I read one of these blanket statements. I’m amazed at how so many people still think that one size of copy still fits everyone. It’s just not true.

Here’s an example. A while back, I read, “Prospects hate being bombarded by text-heavy pages, especially on a home/landing page.” This is coming from Internet Marketing Report in relation to business-to-business (B2B) websites. I’m sorry, but I completely disagree.

Just because a website is B2B does not automatically mean every single one of its visitors will “hate being bombarded by text-heavy pages.” The product or service itself, how familiar the product or service is to the market, the target customer’s preferred communication style and a dozen other factors contribute to the decision about whether or not long copy or short should be used.

On the other hand, we have direct-mail experts who’ve taken their style of copywriting (sales letters) online. And, just like the ultra-short copy suggested by the Internet Marketing Report article, long copy has its audience.

If you ask direct marketers, they’ll swear that the long, scrolling, often hype-filled sales letters are the end-all, be-all of copywriting. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. The same reasoning applies to those who say you must use a sales letter as opposed to those demanding short copy.

DISC Helps Us Understand

You may have heard of the DISC model that categorizes people into four primary groups (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance). There are others as well, including Myers-Briggs. No matter how you group people, the point is that everyone is not the same.

So then, how can one style of copy possibly fit everyone? It doesn’t. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you have to know your target audience and communicate with them in the way that they will be most receptive.

For instance, people high in Steadiness traits on the DISC model prefer longer copy. What’s more, those high in Steadiness make up over 40% of the population of the U.S. Those high in Compliance crave details. They, too, would want longer copy. Dominance types want the bottom line first and possibly details later if they deem them necessary. And Influence? Those high in Influence move at the speed of light and make decisions on a whim. They aren’t much into details either.

Combine with these four styles the additional factors that being male or female add and you’ve really got your hands full. Want to get extremely precise? Toss in some persona/profile elements that deal with lifestyle, convictions and more. It’s enough to make your head spin at times.

Use Your Judgment

Before you buy into a blanket statement about consumers – whether it pertains to writing copy, setting prices or anything else – use your judgment. Does what’s being suggested really make sense for everybody? Is it possible that all people across the entire globe respond in the same way? No.

We all communicate differently. We shop differently. We make decisions based on different criteria. We respond to different stimuli. If there’s one common denominator, it is that we’re all different.

Karon Thackston – Looking for a better way to learn web copywriting? Karon’s SEO copywriting course teaches you how to improve conversions and rankings. Complete with assignments and feedback. Get the new 5th edition today at