The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

Death of the Long Sales Letter?

Frank Kern sent me the latest video from Ryan Deiss, internet marketer extraordinaire.  Ryan is  proclaiming the death of the long form sales letter.  He talked about it in a video format.  (Full disclosure:  I didn't finish watching the video because it kept getting hung up every 8 - 12 seconds and because I couldn't tell  how long the video would be.) 

Oops.  Well, I think we just hit the first problem with video sales letters.  Videos get hung up.  They sometimes download slowly.  If they are the kind that you can't fast forward through (we are living in a TIVO world) then people aren't going to hang around to hear what you have to say.  As technology improves, this will be less of a problem.  But we are dealing with the here and now. 

Besides being cute as a button, Ryan is right that people nowadays don't like to read.  Except of course, for the people who like to read.  If your target demographic is over 50, they are probably more likely to read than watch a video.  The older they are, the more likely that is.  If your demographic is skewed more to females than males, they will probably be more likely to read.   If your product has anything to do with books, writing, reading, etc.  your prospects are probably readers.

If your target market is 12 - 22 year old males into extreme skateboarding, then yes.  They don't read.  Also, extreme skateboarding is a whole lot more fun to watch than a writer sitting there trying to figure out what to say. 

Is the long sales letter still appropriate in some cases?  Absolutely.   People skim long form sales letters, looking at the headlines and sub-headlines and stopping to read what catches their interest.  Very few people read the entirety of a long form sales letter.  (Full Disclosure Again:  I am not completely sure I have ever read all of any long form sales letter I have WRITTEN, much less stumbled onto online.)   If you are targeting - ahem - older people, we are readers. 

All that being said, there's one more important factor, whether you are using audio, video or the written word (I recommend all three).  People are more and more pressed for time.  The news cycle is faster, internet speeds are insane, the economy has people stressed and most people feel like they are rushing just to keep up.  So, no matter what medium you are using, make your point and be done with it.  Just as long form sales letters sometimes go on too long, so do videos and audios.  There's nothing worse than sitting through someone's INCREDIBLY LONG video that is a takeoff on the latest (FILL IN THE BLANK HERE:  JAMES BOND, BOURNE IDENTITY, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, etc., etc.)  movie.  They are always too long, the pacing is slow and the acting (since the marketers usually star - after all, it's their little fantasy) is enough to make you gouge your eyes out with an ice pick.  Doesn't matter if you are using the long form sales letter, audio or video, tedious is tedious.  Make your point.  Then shut up.

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  • Vicki · 04/26/2010 at 3:36 am

    Good observation, as always…and you got right to the meat of it!(Not sure about the gouging your eyes out part), but I get the “point”…pun intended!

  • Mark · 04/26/2010 at 7:10 am

    Excellent points. Something Ryan conveniently left out in the hopes of selling his stuff.

    I have implementing some info videos for my retail stuff they work out for me because of free traffic I get off em’

    Just for the record, I still scan a long sales letter if I’m serious about buying it.

    Good post.

  • Mara Alexander · 06/03/2010 at 10:05 am

    Yes, and no. And yes, I did skim that loooong post (pun intended, but I’m also being serious). I don’t agree that any market under 50 would rather watch a video than read.

    Videos have their place, depending on the product and market, but many times they are more annoying than informative. They also can’t be searched (as online text can) unless they have the right keywords (doesn’t happen often).

    Videos also can’t generally be watched while the user is at work (not everyone is self-employed), and they also interfere/intrude on any music being played by the user.

    In general, YES, people skim they don’t read online, so if you’re marketing, you need to have a point and get to it, fast.

  • Scott Lovingood · 08/08/2010 at 6:16 am

    Sales in any form is the art of saying what needs to be said and shutting up.

    When talking directly with someone you can address their concerns as they come up and the conversation is more indepth than a sales letter/video online.

    Long sales letters pull well because they try to answer every objection anyone could have. This is also the reason so many people skim. We don’t all have the same objections so we look for the answers to OUR specific question. Thus the importance of bolding sub heads and key points down the page.

    The sales video loses that ability but adds in the extra interaction of body language, audio, etc. Since communication is more than the words we use, videos can do a better job of establishing trust if they are done well and have a person speaking that you connect with.

    What I would love to see is a sales video with a Table of Subheads next to it so I can skim the video. Now that would be cool and I think convert like crazy.

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