"Oh no one actually reads printed literature any more do they? And if you're writing a sales letter you can't present any more than two or three paragraphs before folk nod off can you? And as for website copy, you can't have more than a few lines of text... "
Perhaps you have come across one or more of these statements or uttered them yourself. You see it's tempting to judge the buying habits; the processes that people go through before they commit to a purchase through your own eyes when you are not actually in the buying zone yourself. So if for example you are not considering a major investment in a new IT infrastructure, should a random mailshot drop on your mat from a provider of IT infrastructures, the likelihood is that you’ll aim it squarely at the bin. However, if you are in the information gathering zone for a new IT infrastructure because after all that's where you start – gathering the facts and figures as opposed to waving a cheque - then if that mailshot is well written and builds a favourable impression of the provider and their ability to satisfy your needs - the fact that the letter is two pages long will actually count in its favour.
When decision-makers in the B2B sector are looking to buy products or services they are motivated by the following:
- Reduction of Risk - they don't want to look stupid in front of their peers by making the wrong decision, nor do they want to risk their reputation, their financial security and their brand by choosing a dud. Both online and off-line communications must amply communicate that this business can be trusted.
- Access to information - when looking to buy products or services, the bigger the purchase, the more information is needed from the provider for the buyer to arrive at the conclusion that they are a match made in heaven. A couple of lines of text; a website that focuses solely on graphics; sales letters that are no more than a few hastily scrambled paragraphs are not enough to chip away at the coal face. Access to information entails providing sufficient information of the right quality and at the right depth to enable the potential buyer to move along the continuum of behaviour - from awareness to evaluation, desire and action in as compressed a timeframe as possible.
The same principles apply to your website too. Of course, if your potential clients are confronted with huge slabs of text in a tiny typeface set against a dark background, it will feel like too much hard work to venture beyond that page. You'll be tempted when appraising the bounce off rates from your website to conclude erroneously that the sheer amount of text was the problem when in fact it was the distinct lack of readability! Contrast this with a decent amount of text evenly spaced out in a size that makes it eminently readable and... your visitor can choose how much or how little of the text they read by hovering over it and the likelihood is they’ll read away merrily before contacting you to progress to the next stage.
So, don't fall into the trap of believing that if you’re not selling your brand in 100 words or less you’re putting people off. If folk want what you’re selling, they’ll want to know plenty before they sign the cheque.