Quiz #7. Hot New Prize, Too…


Thursday, 10:11pm
Reno, NV
“Ain’t it hard when you discover that he wasn’t really where it’s at… after he took from you everything he could steal?” (Bob Dylan, “Like A Rollin’ Stone”)


This is gonna be good.

And a whole lot tougher than any previous quiz I’ve given.

I’ll explain the prize in just a sec.

First, the set-up for the question:

I find it shocking that so many wanna-be-rich marketers out there still think the question of “short copy vs. long copy” is unsettled online.

I can tell you this: For the top guys — the ones sloughing off the vast majority of the moolah being made by entrepreneurs on the Web — it’s settled.

Whether you’re primarily using video, or email, or websites, or social media…

… the Main Big Damn Rule for getting people to part with their hard-earned money in trade for what you offer hasn’t changed since the first caveman traded up to a new cave with a view for a slab of mastodon meat:

The more you tell…

… the more you sell.

Hey — I love a good argument.  Don’t get me wrong.

And I’m always open to hearing someone out on this subject.

I realize that — for many people unsullied by actual experience in the biz world — it’s just plain tempting to believe that the rules of the universe have suddenly changed.

And you no longer have to be so… vulgar… to make a sale anymore.

Because, you know… the Web has changed everything.  Social networking has somehow mysteriously short-circuited the old skepticism, doubt, and fear of getting “taken” that has marred the smooth exchange of money in the past.

Now, hey, we’re all buddies on Twitter and Facebook!

Mi casa es su casa.

How much do you need?  Here, take my wallet…


For anyone paying attention to what the entrepreneurs actually making money online are doing…

… there is zero doubt that classic salesmanship still is in operation.

The “long copy” may be broken up into half-a-dozen emails, or several shorter videos, or multiple blog posts, or webinars…

… but it’s still long copy.  You start at the beginning of a classic pitch.  You explain who you are, why you’re credible, why other people endorse you, what you’ve got, why it’s such a big thing, why you need to jump on this opportunity now…

… and exactly what you need to do next to pay me for it.

That final part — the “close” — is one of the most complex human-to-human transactions there is.  It’s simple when you get clued-in and learn the step-by-step process…

… but until you get hip, it’s just damned difficult to convince someone to give you money for what you offer.

If you can find a way to get through this process of persuasion with a few clever bon mots, avoiding any mention of actually (horrors) asking for money… then congratulations.

You’ve just entered a parallel universe.  Where webinars last two minutes, no email is longer than five words, and entire launch processes involve just saying “hi” and waiting for the money to pour in.

Okay, I’m being a dick here.  Nobody’s seriously suggesting two minute videos can do entire sales jobs.  (Are they?)

But this is a point that often deserves a bit of ridicule.

No matter how many times people who know discuss WHY long copy is still king… it never seems to sink in for the majority of newbies out there.

Which brings me to an interesting insight.  It may explain things — finally — in a simple way that makes it too obvious to ignore anymore.

Here’s that insight: There is a very important psychological reason for using long copy that hardly anyone ever discusses.

It’s a glitch in the way almost everyone’s brain works.

And it’s especially prevalent among folks who have become Zombified in their daily lives… lost in a trance caused by too much incoming stimuli from the modern world.

This Psychological Glitch is something that permeates nearly everything that people do…

… and it’s the main reason the world continues to operate pretty much on a permanent Self-Destruct “Who The Fuck Is In Charge” Mode.

This Psychological Glitch affects most of the decisions people make each and every day, all day long…

… on both mundane topics and issues that will decide the rest of their lives.

You see it in effect in the halls of Congress.

You see it in the pages of every newspaper and magazine on earth.

You hear it in every bar, and at every family gathering.

And — most of all — you encounter it every time you try to complete a simple capitalistic exercise in selling stuff.

So here is today’s Quiz Question:

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

Yeah, I know it’s not obvious.

I want folks to think a little about this.  Real critical thinking, based on experience and observation and deduction.

When I reveal the answer, I’m pretty sure two things will happen:

1. You’ll slap the side of your head and say “Of course!”

2. And, you will wonder why this fact of life hasn’t been more prominent in discussions about marketing.  (Not to mention international politics, sports, the making of movies, and why your dumb-ass brother-in-law is always so adamant about his opinions at family dinners.)

So give it your best shot in the comments section.

Come on.  It’ll be fun to exercise your brain a little bit.

I know it’s not multiple choice.  Just roll with it.

The first dead-on answer gets a prize!

Now, because this question is so centered on copy, let’s make the prize relevant.

So: I’m giving away a nice, fresh copy of the legendary Freelance Course.

It’s everything I know (from 25 years at the top of the game) about making the Big Bucks as a respected, feared, and sought-after freelance copywriter.

Yes… it’s that same course that has been off the market for years at a time… because it was generating too much hot competition for working freelance copywriters out there.

This course has sold for up to $5,000 (back when I included personal coaching).  And never less than several hundred bucks (when available at all).

Every single writer in my “Stable O’ Copywriters” (the new semi-secret service we’ve created offering biz owners the immediate services of “Carlton Recommended And Supported Copywriters”) has devoured this course.

For anyone who’s ever considered the adventure, huge money, and total independence that a scorching career in freelance copywriting offers…

… this is the Holy Grail.

And I’m giving away a free copy to the first “best answer” to this puzzling question I’ve just posed.

This quiz will run all weekend long.

I’ll give a hint on Saturday if folks are having too much trouble thinking this through.

On Monday, I’ll reveal the intriguing (and rarely discussed) answer on this Psychological Glitch in folks that makes longer copy so damned important.

Don’t be shy.

The last quiz started a mini-riot (despite the correct answer coming in via the third poster).  Nearly 250 responses.

That was fun.  A nice online brawl.

Now, this question may throw many folks (and dampen responses).  I think you should still give it a shot, anyway.  (You have just as good a chance of accidentally scoring here as anyone else.)

Remember: This glitch is rarely included in discussions about short copy vs. long copy.  Or in talks about how to use social media.

It’s psychological.  That means it’s connected to how regular people think.

So consider how you, and the people around you, ponder stuff like “Should I buy that?”

Okay.  Here’s a hint: Check out www.snopes.com, and see if any of the urban myths revealed to be wrong on that site… were ever part of your belief system.

If so — and nearly everyone answers “yes” to that question at first, by the way — ask yourself why you ever thought such an obvious myth was ever true.

Okay, I’m giving away too much now.

Let the quiz begin.

Silence, please.

Brains, begin cogitating.

Stay frosty,


P.S. Watch this “P.S.” space for the hint on Saturday… if no one has given the right answer by then.

Monday, I’ll reveal all.

UPDATE & HINT: Okay, it’s Saturday.

And I’ve gotta tell you — there are two (but just two) posts in the attached hulking pile of comments that are close enough to be declared winners.

And no, I’m not gonna reveal which ones they are until Monday.

This is truly evil fun.  I’ve got several high-end copywriters privately emailing me with their answers (because they don’t wanna risk being wrong in public).

And they’re close enough to be pissed off about not nailing it exactly… and  far enough away to not be able to sleep.

Look — I told you this wasn’t gonna be an easy quiz.  I hope you appreciate the opportunity to think hard about communicating with prospects at this deep psychological level.  You win just by trying.

I’m still gonna give another hint for those still playing.

Here’s that hint: Look at the photo up at the top of this post.

It’s a lighthouse in Australia.

Now, ask yourself: What do you know about lighthouses?

Imagine you’re in a conversation with a group of people, and the topic of lighthouses comes up.  Your brain whirls around and clicks on the file “What I know about lighthouses”.

You mentally open that file, and… what happens?

How does your participation in the conversation proceed?

Consider how you — not some hypothetical person — would engage in this conversation about lighthouses.  What are you doing, using that thin mental file on the subject?

Okay, I’m really giving it away now.

Remember: This is a GLITCH in the way we think.  It’s not necessarily a rational response, nor a logical next step.

(Some folks consciously smother this glitch, but it can take years of practice.  It’s the default position for most people.)

I’ll publish the specific answer on Monday.  Understanding this one piece of street-level psychology will help you more with your next attempt to sell something… than all the reading you could do online right now about copywriting.

See you Monday, then…

Leave a Comment:

Steve says July 17, 2009

Okay, I’ll take a potshot…
Humans are always willing to believe that something must be true if enough people say that it is, even if the facts shout it out that whatever is being claimed is complete crap.
Or something like that anyway…

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Steve. That’s certainly the human tendency regarding “common sense”. But not the right answer. Thanks for trying.

      Jerry says July 17, 2009

      The glitch is people don’t trust themselves. they don’t think they can do it.

    Joe says July 17, 2009

    Hi John, I think the answer is “because people
    love a good story. Storytelling…..Why do people read National Enquirerer, People Magazine, US ect…
    Most people’s lives are so dull and dreary, that they love a good story, to bring a small glimmer of happiness to their existence!!
    You will need my address to send me my 1st place prize…..You want it now or later??!!
    Stay extemely frosty!!
    Love your stuff brudda!!


    Christina Nsiah says July 17, 2009

    I believe that glitch is trust, can they trust what is going on? What is in the situation for them! What are they getting, how is it going to benefit them. Are they going to be able to justify their actions.
    Thanks at least I had a go.
    You are cool.


Colleen The Crystal Dragon says July 17, 2009

O.k. John, I am going to have a go. The answer I believe is that people need to believe what they are reading and the more the see or hear something the more it becomes true to them. So long copy with the constantly repeated information is ideal to cater for the Psychological Glitch which is if you hear it enough it must be true. I look forward to hearing what others have to say and also what the right answer is.
Love and Light
Colleen The Crystal Dragon

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Well, greetings to the Crystal Dragon.
    You and Steve are on the same wavelength, Colleen. Close, but not what I’m looking for.

Juri Saragih says July 17, 2009

Dear Mr. Carlton,
I’ve got to try out myself to answer the quz a.k.a the game of you.

The answer is : The truth, honesty, sincerity, integrity…
…that connect to our “real life experience” … and come to “real event” to our life.

This psychological have been use experts such as Robert Collier, Gary Halbert and else to connect to their reader or prospect.

That’s all, John.


Juri Saragih

Pavel says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
Actually… ? 2-minute video CAN make a sale. That’s what Billy Mays routinely did)

As for the quiz:

I think the Glitch is about good old “personal reality map” (or whatever NLP freaks call it).

The logic of persuasive arguments is always 1) getting inside the reader’s head first, and 2) transform his beliefs and views on the issue — through emotioinal and logical persuasion — towards DESPERATELY WANTING YOUR PRODUCT RIGHT NOW!

People stick to their beliefs and SUBCONSCIOUSLY try their best to find ANY reason for not responding. It’s like a vicious circle of trying to hold on what they believe, no matter what (and even interpreting every peace of reasoning to the advantage of their opinion. Even if it’s false).

So the sales argument definitely takes time and, ahm, extensive COPY))

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Actually, Pavel, you gotta add all kinds of extra “boost” to Mays’s commericals. First, they ran over and over and over. Second, he packed a VAST amount of classic salesmanship into each spot (and used, I believe, speeded-up processing). Third… he carried and made excellent use of extra credibility: He was on TV, he was recognizable, he had a reputation and personality that he built on. Put someone else in those same spots, and you might not get the same results. (Plus, I believe even he admitted that having the time that today’s infomericals have to really lay out his sales pitch would multiply the results.)
    This all applies to the new “pitch meister”, Vince with Sham-wow. Look at what he packs into each spot — it’s about as “anti-short copy” as you can get. Just pure, hard-core pitch. Hardly what the “short copy” crowd is claiming.
    Now, regarding your answer to the question: Nice thinking, Pavel. If I’d phrased the questions differently, you’d be right.
    But I’m looking for another angle from inside the head of people being pitched.
    Remember — it all ties in with the short copy vs. long copy thing.
    Always good to hear from you, Pavel. Nice brain in that noggin of yours…

      Pavel says July 17, 2009

      Ok. Thanks for this piece of mini-coaching. Really.

      Mine was a nice try, anyway)

        John Carlton says July 17, 2009

        It was, Pavel.
        Again, I always like to see you responding to these quiz things…

Christoffer says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

Here’s my guess…

People do think that they want less information. But what they really want is the relevant information fast. That is, the summary that will tell them if they’re at all interested. Once some interest is there… they want to know it all.

However if you tell someone that you’re going to tell them everything before you start they might not “have the time”. They do have the time if they are gently pushed further and further and learning more.

Most people are bad at fast decisions. And they need convincing… A lot. The convincing is not just in thinking it is a good product…

They have to like you… and want to buy from you. That liking is not created by a few sentances… but by a conversation.

Long copy beats short copy because it’s the only way to bond with your customer.


    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Christoffer. Good thinking… but no, not the right answer.
    Again, nice job thinking it through.
    Critical thinking is hard, man…

Tracy Culleton says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

I think it’s the herd instinct.

And the long copy is needed to overcome that automatic herd instinct. That’s why you include so many testimonials.

Best, Tracy

Bill F says July 17, 2009

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Somebody very powerful once said that…either Bill Clinton or Lenin (not John).

Just watch the morph from “global warming” to “climate change” slip by unchallenged. Now we have adults in responsible positions insisting that climate change be stopped. After that, they can work on moving the sunrise to the West, and put an end to this nasty business of mortality (which cause more deaths than smoking).

Anyway, I seem to be too late. Or I am choosing the obvious (ie. wrong) answer.

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Nope, you’re not late, Bill.
    While your line of thinking seems to be cropping up alot early here, it’s not what I’m looking for.
    Thanks for writing.

Joe says July 17, 2009

Okay, the more you tell, the more you sell.

but the insight is, the more you tell, the more you establish yourself as an expert.

The “Glitch” is,
lots of information=lots of expertise.

Perception of expertise creates trust.
No trust=no sale.

Farhad says July 17, 2009

Quite simple really. The more time you spend reading copy, the more likely you are to buy. It’s like visiting a store to buy an appliance. The more time you spend in the store deliberating, the more likely you are to buy the product.

That’s why long copy works. It peels off your reasons not to buy so you eventually click the order button.

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Yes, but WHY is long copy needed?
    That’s the subject here, Farhad. What does long copy DO that is necessary because our brains have this strange glitch that requires long copy to overcome?

      Joe says July 17, 2009

      Long Copy Establishes expertise/trust

      trust is the necessary requirement.

Broc says July 17, 2009

Evenin’ John.

As you wrote in the freelance course “Repetition is the Mother Of All Expertise”

The glitch you’re referring to is something I would call a mechanism rather than a glitch.

The mind is impressed by repetition. And what is repeated often enough becomes believed. And what is believed is “true”. In the case of long copy, this means one big reason that you sell more if you tell more is… you’re making your message more true to the reader if you repeat it.

That principle alone is responsible for 99% of the effectiveness of the brainwashing done in the military. (I’m a Marine, I should know).

In the Corps, we’re taught “ditties”… little sayings that we repeat that remind us of how to perform certain actions. Most actions, in fact.

This goes for everything from close order drill (marching in a platoon) to rifle marksmanship.

In fact, when learning to shoot an automatic weapon, you’re taught to fire in bursts (so you don’t go crazy and fire at the cyclic rate, overheating the barrel) by chanting, “die, little people, die! release…”

You fire for the duration you’re yelling at the little people to “die!” (they’re little because they’re far away) and so you release the trigger when you say release.

We repeated those ditties so many goddamn times in the three months I was at MCRD, I still remember them verbatim today (four years later).

Anyway… I already have the prize to this course (and have used the information inside to land some big clients) so if I got it right you can send it on down the line.

I just enjoy participating and sharing stories.

Sayonara, Dudemeister.

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Broc. Nice thinking… but no, not what I’m looking for.
    I expect this to be hard for most folks.
    Just remember: Psychological quirk, that makes long copy necessary.

Broc says July 17, 2009

P.S. Holy Manic Readerships, Batman! 15 replies in the time it took me to write my post.

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    I know. It’s cool, isn’t it, to be part of such a vibrant online community…

Christoffer says July 17, 2009

Ok then, here’s my second try…

If you spend long time reading up on something, you will have wasted a lot more time if you do not act upon it than if the copy was shorter.

Therefore. If you make the customer “spend time” on you, you are making them want to do something to not turn that time into wasted time that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Mikhail says July 17, 2009

The path for readers of Sales Letter:


The long copy is most important for:


So, involvement – is my answer from 1 word 🙂

Tina says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

The glitch is doubt, based on fear of being wrong, and so losing some form of acceptance.

Tony Finbarr-Smith says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
through this fog of what is either regular man-flu (a cold) or swine-flu, here’s is my entry…

the more time your average Joe invests in a topic (i.e. by reading a lengthy sales letter), they are committing themselves to that idea, and it is a bit of a wrench to not follow through with the idea (idea buy the product). If they didn’t buy the product, this would mean they have wasted a butt-load of time reading (investing time) in the idea and would make them foolish.
Nobody likes to be foolish (even in their own minds), so they follow through with the purchase to ease that inner conflict. To NOT follow through creates a ‘niggling’ feeling.

Hope I’m right (and first)!

Thanks John,

Tony. UK. Full of a cold 🙁

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Wow, great thinking, Tony.
    But not the answer.
    Man, this question is really bringing out some excellent brain activity. Deep and thoughtful stuff (despite the occasional head cold).

      Tony Finbarr-Smith says July 17, 2009


      Never Mind, I’ll keep thinking…

      FYI the first person who comes out with a swine-flu home-testing kit will become a billioniare overnight haha 😉

      Now THAT’s a product that a 30-second video WOULD sell, so I do feel that the more expensive the product, and the less ‘necessary’ it is in the minds of the prospect, then the longer the letter needs to be, to show them how much they really need it.

      anywho, good luck with the contest, everyone! 🙂

        DocMercer says July 19, 2009

        Hey Tony,

        Rather than, or in addition to, a home test kit, how about a safe, inexpensive and easily accessible home remedy for swine flu.

        Swine flu, by the way, is more of a spin for fear and profit than anything else.


        P.S. Tony, how the heck did you get your photo up in here? I didn’t see any way to do that. Are you a magician?

        Peter says July 19, 2009


        Go to http://gravatar.com and put your pic in there. It should then show in these blog comments.

Heidi says July 17, 2009

How about: as everybody is looking for something different in my service/product, in long copy I can talk to everybody`s wants from the different angles of it.

Blade says July 17, 2009


Long copy works so well because it delivers crediibility. No one will buy anything unless they think it is credible.


Scott Harvey says July 17, 2009

I’m wondering if it could be this simple…

Just like the classic editorial/article-looking advertisements that have been around for a long time, does the appearance of long copy send people’s brains into the “this is like an encyclopedia entry, it must be true” mode?

Great quiz and mind stimulation, regardless – thanks!


Yoda says July 17, 2009

Hmmmmm Here goes

We must assume they are already “Hungry” or they wouldn’t be reading it (the copy) in the first place. Ok..

Short Answer:

“Feed ’em crumbs til you get their bread”

Long answer:

Feed them one yummy crumb…

Feed them two yummier crumbs…

Feed them three irresistable crumbs…

Feed them a whole slice of…

Continue until they are so hungry for your (add whatever) they can’t wait til you stop feeding ’em crumbs and they’ll want the whole loaf ….and give you THEIR bread.

Psychologically they wanted it all along they just needed a taste to assure their mindset.

The more crumbs they devour the more their desire (want) for the whole loaf. 🙂

Denny (Yoda)

Broc says July 17, 2009

I’m going to say… you don’t have enough time to get a skeptical mind to willingly suspend disbelief if you use short copy.

Long copy allows you to do things like tell stories, or… what’s it called when magicians, ah yeah, misdirection… which immediately disarms the audience while you hit the emotional hot buttons, free of skepticism or doubt.

So… how to sum this up all neatly? My second guess is… the skeptical mind can be hacked into by engaging the imagination… which is only available in long copy.

P.S. I would suppose how this ties in with urban myths is that they themselves are stories, not facts, and so we don’t put up resistance as easily?

Mark says July 17, 2009

The more you repeat something, no matter how ridiculous, some people will come to accept it, believe it to be true and promote it. People want to interact with and validate information and ideas. Acquire/own, modify/personalize, redistribute/tell or sell. Example: Oral storytelling traditions.
Spending time with an idea, through repetition, creates comfort and identification, acceptance and, quite possibly, even a passionate defense. Example: Stockholm Syndrome.

Anthony Williams says July 17, 2009

Why do people buy from a long sales letter? That’s tricky.

People buy because they don’t want to feel silly/foolish. If they’ve managed to read as far as the end then they’ve invested a lot of time in reading. In which case they feel silly about wasting time if they weren’t actually convinced enough to buy. Also, if you’ve managed to keep them interested enough to read to the end then they’ll feel silly to turn down the opportunity that you’ve just described to them.

Nick Huonder says July 17, 2009

My take is this.People will be drawn into and read long copy (if done well of course) because of a deep seeded need to be assured and convinced that that someone else or some thing is the cause of their disatisfaction.That the culprit of their pain is a separate thing from their actions and beliefs. They seek the relief that someone or some thing other than themselves is needed to deliver the relief benefit thereby relieving them of the guilt and or pain of taking responsiblity for their outcome.the magic pill the benovolent benefactor to the rescue

Garry says July 17, 2009

There’s no reality, only peoples’ perception.
Everyone sees a situation through their own filter.

Long copy gives you the chance to take each argument / objection and prove to their satisfaction why they should see it your way.

Does that make sense?


    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Close, Garry. But no cigar.
    People, Garry has blazed the beginning of the trail here…
    Nice job, man…

      Garry says July 17, 2009

      I guess, if people have an OVERWHELMING DESIRE to experience the benefits of what a product or service can give them… (be the “hero” in the story)… then their mind is made up.

      Nothing will persuade them otherwise. It is reality as far as they are concerned.

      They are only looking for answers that justify their beliefs.

      What they need is as many proven, cold, logical reasons to reinforce that belief. The more the better. I think the lawyers call this “proponderance of evidence?”.

      Long copy in whatever form, gives them that proof to boost that belief.


      ps I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and can’t wait for the answer (whoever wins)

        Tom says July 17, 2009

        We “buy into” what we already believe.

Colleen The Crystal Dragon says July 17, 2009

o.k. here is what was probably my first thought and then I went with the other one. We need to believe that it was our idea that we we need this particular item. No that we have been sold too.
I really love the way this community comes together and the great ideas that are out there.
Love and Light
Colleen The Crystal Dragon

Broc says July 17, 2009

Hmmm… I’m observing the more I invest in this quiz, the more value I give to participating and winning.

Perhaps Anthony Williams then was the first one to get it? That the time we invest into an interaction is directly proportional to the value we assign to it?

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    No, but your investment is paying off merely by helping you enjoy thinking harder and deeper about this question.
    Fun, isn’t it…

      Broc says July 17, 2009

      It really is!

Michael Vanderdonk says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”


You grab the reader by their emotional brain, and lead them to the decision you want them to make.
If you could write one sentence that fired up the emotions of everyone that read it, then directed that emotion to your product – Profit! No need for long copy.
But because we’re all different, on different emotional seas, blown by the random winds of our lives, the long copy allows us to be sailed into a safe harbor.
Without that emotion, no sale would ever be made.

andrew says July 17, 2009

It’s because people want to hear stories and you need more than a few words to tell a story.

Scott Harvey says July 17, 2009

@Broc – actually, as soon as I posted #18 and saw your #20 a few seconds later, I instantly said “that’s it” and wished I could recall mine. I think you hit it on the head with the “story” angle.

In so many interactions in so many different parts of life – not just Internet Marketing and Sales Letters – a well-told story works when other things don’t.

It can be at once both disarming and emotion-tugging, whether you are trying to give somebody an indirect hint about something by telling a related “story” about a “friend”…or back to this topic…validating something by telling a story and coming at it through the back door, rather than hitting somebody square between the eyes with a pitch.

Bottom line? Stories sell.


Bob says July 17, 2009

Long copy works. Not because it is long; but because it is thorough. My psychological glitch is that I’m always wanting to fill the data/information holes. This desire to fill voids is satisfied by long copy that overflows with relevant information. If my knowledge vacuum is filled by your long copy, then I buy your product because I see/feel/understand/believe that you, first and best, if not only, have satisfied my longing to be complete.

    Robert Scanlon says July 20, 2009

    Well done for winning Bob!

    (If only we’d listened to you … 😉 )

    Joaquin says July 20, 2009

    Congratulations Bob!!…….It’s funny how obvious the answers become when you already know them…..Wish I would have read your beautifully succinct post, but I got to the party about the time the cops broke it up…(sleepless rambling post#500)
    Now the paradoxical question….How were you able to explain the superiority of long copy in seven potent lines??….Curioser and curioser……..J

    Sergey says July 21, 2009

    Congrats Bob! 🙂

Rebecca says July 17, 2009

Ill have a go… though it scould get really complex… we are tricky creatures.

I think humans fear being humiliated, we feel we dont know enough, everyone around us wants something from us and we paralysed with fear. Humans argue their position so they wont feel they are in the wrong…

The longer the copy the more justified we are that we are making a good choice. We can justify why we are wanting to do something, we have proof it will work and expertise to guide us through…just in case we cant do it – there is a money back guarantee – so we wont look really dumb.

Also, because of this fear of humiliation I think we need to be told, clearly, what to do and how to do it because we dont trust ourselves to do it right. We are untrusting but really have no choice but to trust the one who appears to know and the more we get it in our heads that this works ‘this way’ the less out of control we feel, the more empowered we are for reading it and then we get a feel good rush and cant be humiliated becuase we know.

Gosh – its all conveluted. Thats my try – for now : )

Ales Lisac says July 17, 2009

I believe long copy works because reader is under impression that we put a lot of work into it. Long copy is saying that this is a serious product/service/project, and that creators put lots of work into it. So it is worth reading, buying.
Greetings from Slovenia!

Abey says July 17, 2009

I just had this argument yesterday with a client. He is launching a Software As a Service product for the firewall market. He wanted to know if we could do a long copy pitch and I instantly butted in and said “No! Geeks hate long copy!”.

Then I went to tell him how we’d use an AR sequence and break up the website copy into multiple pages organized for maximum impact.

‘Course there was a twinge of guilt at going against what my gurus thunder from the marketing pulpit! But I was goin with my gut.

And now John you tell me its still long copy. Oh sweet blessed relief !! 🙂

I guess Joe got it at #8 – long copy is needed ‘coz you need to build trust. The psyche glitch all us 21st century cave dwellers are seeped in – like chillies in pickle – is skepticism. You need long copy ‘coz that’s when you can plug the correct words (and facts) into those black holes of distrust. This involves demonstrating expertise, social proof, etc etc. Skepticism is a multi-headed monster and there is no way short copy can kill the bitch!

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Nice story, Abey. Glad I could assuage your gut.
    But… no. Joe didn’t get it right.
    However, folks are getting awfully close…
    I’m going to bed now. Let’s see what’s here when I get up…

Allen "Big Al" Wagner says July 17, 2009

I think it’s attention.

Everyone is bombarded by information at a nearly non-stop rate. Our first inclination is to scan what comes at us for anything that applies to us, without really reading in detail.

The long letter gives you more chances to catch the eye of the “scanner” and present more information. Short letter = short scan time . . . and they quickly move on.

Broc says July 17, 2009

If Gary is blazing a trail with that… I’m gonna stick to my guns here about the imagination and emotion.

I’ll take a page out of Paul Ross’ book, “What you can get a person to imagine will be perceived by them as their own thought, and so they won’t resist it”.

Long copy allows you to capture and lead a person’s imagination and evoke the sort of emotional responses that really hit home.

P.S. Thanks for the kudos Scott Harvey!

Christoffer says July 17, 2009

Third time’s a charm…

With long copy you are displaying your thourogh knowledge in the matter. You know more than the customer do and therefore he/she will be more likely to trust your judgement.

Also by meeting the objections with solid argument you further display your knowledge in the matter. The customer will feel that you took great care in writing your story… and since you meet most of their objections at the right time they can feel even stronger that you know exactly what you are talking about.

It resembles a conversation with a teacher.

Steve says July 17, 2009

Thanks for the opportunity to throw my guess into the ring. (and it really is just a guess)

Perhaps the “glitch” is that once someone relays information given to them, either internally or to another person, the chances of them becoming fully committed to that thought, ideal, or belief increases exponentially.

Take your snopes example. We originally had to hear the myth from someone, but once we relay that story to another person, even with the caveat that “I’m not sure if this is true, but I heard that ….”, we somehow maybe become more invested in that particular story. Next time we hear the “myth” from someone else we may just jump to, “Yeah, I heard that too”, and it becomes even more real or believable to us.

From politics to sports, etc. once we make our thoughts known, we tend to do everything possible to back them up and to reinforce our beliefs whenever possible. (brother in law at dinner)

As long as you can get your reader initially interested, and get them to have an internal conversation agreeing with what you have written, they will naturally want to continue reading to reinforce what they have just told themselves. The well written piece of long copy allows the reader the ability to fully back up and reinforce the statement, idea, ect. they discussed in that internal conversation at the beginning of the letter.

We don’t all necessarily want to be sold, but we do want to be right. Once we have committed to agreeing to the copy writer’s premise, as long as he holds our attention, (and of course does all the other things that good writers do), at the end of the long copy we will most likely have fully convinced ourselves that we were right to agree with the original premise, and presumably take the requested action of the writer.

I’m not sure this fully makes sense even to me, but hopefully you get the gist of my thoughts. Thanks again.

Alex Newell says July 17, 2009

Notice how you are repeating the instructions again and again John…this is coz nobody listens

And because nobody listens you have to tell and tell and tell.

We are scanners, we scan the horizon for danger. Those who did not are not here to tell the tale…

In teacher training class we were told that the first time we said something to a class they would not get it -hell, they hardly even heard it. The second time the brain thinks, “Hey he said that before…”

The third time they had a chance of getting it.

But only a chance!

Focussing is hard work because the brain is designed to scan. Tell the story in the subheads, tell it in bullets, tell it in testimonials, tell it in numbers…

Natalie says July 17, 2009

Long copy allows the reader to spend more time persuading themselves that it is a good idea to buy a product or service.

Tony O says July 17, 2009

The Glitch?
It’s quite simple. We are all to impatient. It’s always cut to the chase, how much is it and when can I buy.
Impulse buying.
How many people rushed to the bottom of this post without reading all the other answers. I know I didn’t.
Did you?

Fidelis says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

I think the answer is familiarity – people tend to go for the known rather than the unknown regardless of whether it makes sense or not. The longer you are there the more willing they are to trust you

Colin says July 17, 2009

Sales copy is really directed at the unconscious mind. We want the message “buy me” to by-pass the conscious mind’s critical faculty and plant itself in the unconscious (which is really in the driving seat – the consicous mind only makes decisions by proxy.) The unconscious mind responds best to repitition, and long sales copy gives us the opportunity to slip the message through over and over again in different ways. Once the unconscious has ‘got’ the message, the conscious mind will believe it has arrived at a decision to buy. It believes it’s made a commitment. Once a person commits to something (and is seen to commit to it), they are very reluctant to retreat from that position. Long sales copy gives us the chance to get them to make several small commitments along the way (ie ticking a box to agree to receive the next piece of information) which reinforces the process and makes them much more likely to complete the ‘big’ commitment at the end of the funnel.

Pavel says July 17, 2009


If allowed, I’ll take another try.

In addition to re-shaping the beliefs of a reader, giving more emotional and logical reasonings to overcome objections… Long copy is needed to build the MOMENTUM. To overcome reader’s natural inertia. So that when he’s finally “ready”, the call to action will be supported by the momentum we’ve built.

That’s what product launches do, too, being just lengthy salescopies spread not in space but in time)

    Pavel says July 17, 2009

    Errr… forgot.

    So the Glitch is psychological INERTIA.

Paul says July 17, 2009

I think the ‘glitch’ is that people need to know WHY.

Otherwise knows as Reason Why Copy.

People need to know why you are writing to them, why you are producing/selling this product, why it’s the price it is, why the length of guarantee, why it will work as you say it will, why should you be believed, etc etc.

With newspapers and magazine stories and films, it all seems to be about the why. Not necessarily about the ‘what happened’ but ‘why’ it happened.

And satisfying this need to know why cannot be accomplished in just a few lines of copy, it must be comprehensive and complete.

Hows that John?

Paul Campbell

Miriam says July 17, 2009

OK, this is my try: it’s easy, it’s my first thought about this question, but I’m from Germany, so please be lenient toward me it I don’t express it clearly…

I think: it’s simply the bare person, his reality which must be shown in the writing. It’s all about the person who’s writing the long copy. If it wouldn’t be a real person, nobody would buy. So every reader is eager to find the shimmer of that real person in the writing, his true belief and honesty in regard to the subject – simply to find a reason to trust the writer.

I hope this makes sense…

    Miriam says July 17, 2009

    to be more clear: a writer must show his name, must offer a contact.

    Miriam says July 17, 2009

    OK, I’ve read so much about story which sound really profound. But for me it is still credibility. It sounds real, if you write:
    Eileen B. from Michigan witnessed…
    instead of
    A woman saw … in every urban myth or any testimonial.
    So proving credibility is easier with long copy instead of short. But I’m only half way through the comments now and still curious to read more.

Eugene says July 17, 2009

Because buying is a process, and every human goes through the same process:
Attention > Interest > Desire > Action.

Long form copy is necessary to lead the buyer through the process.

Ken Donaldson says July 17, 2009


Ray Posner says July 17, 2009

The “glitch” is that for eons (probably back to the caveman days) as children we are told stories, which we believed. This creates a conditioning process in our brain where we still want to be told stories, although as we get older we probably don’t want to admit it, none the less it’s deeply ingrained.

Well written long copy is simply a story. If that story is good enough it becomes believable and if it’s believable people buy.

No copy is too long providing it’s interesting with each sentance drawing the reader to want to read the next and the next and so on.

Two paragraphs can be too long if it’s boring but how many times have we read a book that’s hundreds of pages long and not wanted to put it down because we were engrossed in the story.

So, if we want to sell, our copy has to weave a good (truthfull) story thats entertaining and believable and that creates a desire for the reader to want what we are offering.

Rich says July 17, 2009

Maybe long copy works best because people need to think that they have made the decision to buy themselves, rather than having been persuaded to do so.

Ernest says July 17, 2009

Bigger is better. That’s the whole idea

    Cyndi says July 17, 2009


      Cyndi says July 17, 2009

      … and still chuckling at this one

    Comedian-turned-copywriter says July 17, 2009

    So, this is really true?

    *comedian picks up gun, points to head….*

Marlo says July 17, 2009

I’d kill just to snag my own copy of that Freelance Copywriter… I’ve heard in a teleseminar it released the rabid copywriter in Harlan Kilstein…

Anyways, I’d give it a shot.

I think it’s bonding.

The more you spend time on something, the more you value it.

That’s why hobbies are hobbies.

The more you talk to someone, the more he or she gets trusted.

That’s why for most people, the long time friend gets favored over another who you just got to know.

So the more you read, the more you spend time, the more you exert effort, the more you value it, and the time you gave reading it.

That’s why I think long copy almost always out pull short copy.

Mariano Franco says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

Could it be our infatuation with the beginning, a middle & and an end formula that all legendary stories and Ads are built upon…

…which in turns fulfills our silent desire to be lead to completion?

Alvin says July 17, 2009

If I see myself in a situation being described in an urban legend, I’m going to believe that myth. That’s my psychological glitch.

The more I see myself in a situation, the more realistic it becomes, the more I believe it… the more likely I’d buy into it.

Long copy works wonders because it provides “more” opportunities for me to visualize myself using a product and achieving a desired result.

But wait! There’s more! Long copy also supplies me with a truckload of “logical” reasons to justify my purchase.

Rob says July 17, 2009

The answer could well be that 99% of people “just want someone to stand up and confidently and sincerely, tell them what to do”

Dig says July 17, 2009

OK, I suspect that long copy is always better than short because it gives time for the writer to tell a story. This will get and keep the reader’s attention long enough for the writer to put across the call to action in such a way that the reader will be driven by emotion to take this action.
I know this is short copy but… all you need to do now is add my name to the cart and ship that prize to me. Do it now before you forget 🙂

John says July 17, 2009

Ok, I’m not as smart as most of the people in these comments but I’ll take a whack at it.

With short copy most people will have the “it sounds too good to be true” feeling.
With long copy, you can overcome that by giving the prospect a chance to make it makes sense for them and it’s not too good to be true they can believe that they can do it.

Matt says July 17, 2009

One of the reasons people are
so open to accepting political
or religous beliefs is because
of flaws in their own life – and
they are looking for acceptance.

They want to feel justified believing
what they believe – and feeling how
they feel.

That requires two types of sales being
made in the same copy:

(1) Selling to the analytical side of
their brain.

(2) Selling to the emotions.

After that though, if you want to tie
in FEAR – you’re going to make a ton
of sales.

For example, a few years back in the
biz-op marketing I had a prospect say
to me on the phone: I can’t afford it.

I responded: Do you have kids?

Prospect: Two daughters 14 & 16.

My response: Are they wanting to
go to college?

With a deep sigh he responded “One wants
to go to law school and one wants to go
to medical school”.

I said: “So, Gary, how would it feel in
a few years to have to look them in the
eyes and say ‘I’m really sorry I don’t
have the money to send you go a good
school to get you ready for grad school.

I should girls…a few years ago I was
offered an opportunity to make a lot of
money…I turned it down. Everyone made
a ton…so, you’ll have to go to community
college and maybe transfer-in or maybe not.

Odds are you’re life can be better than
mine, but probably not much as you’ll feel
like I have my entire life wondering what
it would be like to live your dreams..and
then one day day with them unfulfilled”.

Did I really say that? Yes, pretty ballsy, eh?

It worked though. He signed and spent $20K.

People will do things to avoid pain and to
be recognized more so than anything else
in the world.

If you want to talk about belief systems,
that’s what people buy into with both religion
and politics.

(1) Look at the War on Terror. You are with
us – or, you are with the terrorist. So, if
you are with the terrorist, you must be a terrorist.

Isn’t that total rejection from a national culture
because you simply disagree with a political position?

If you are with the terrorist, are you safe? Will you
be hounded? Will your bank accounts be frozen?

More fear in play.

(2) Look at the major religious belief systems through out the world. If you disagree with them when you die, you will go to hell.

Now, by definition that could be (1) a place away from God, friends, and family; (2) or a fiery furnace with a very angry demon that is obcessed with his shiny pitch fork collection that will poke, prod, and fry you for all of enternity.

However, you need to make a decision before you leave church, because after all you could die any minute. No pressure though, we are fine with whatever decision you make.

However, before this can work you need to sell them on the idea, and yourself early on in the copy as the authority.

If you can do that – you can close more sales, because people respond to being told what to do.

Talking about the similiarities between selling and religion…which really hits the nail on the head. It’s dead on.

Growing up in churches the message was basically

“You now have the knowledge of the truth, and you have a very important choice to make that’s will determine where you spend eternity..if you
make the right choice you will go to heaven, and live for eternity full of bliss…if not, you’ll be thrust to the gates of hell! Now, you are smart enough to make a decision on your own, so what will
it be?”

Simply put: Sell all the benefits, and then remind them of the paid if they do not make the decision.

Another example for a sex tape (er, info, not Paris Hilton) would be:

“You’re going to discover a way to make love to your woman, and give her non-stop breath taking orgasms…night after night…and you will be amazed at how simple it is to learn these techniques, and in fact you can start using the _____ technique only five minutes after discovering this information…however, it’s not for everyone. This information is extremely limited to the few copies that we have left on hand, and it’s
only for a handful of men that believe that the woman they love truly deserves the best, mind-blowing orgasms she will ever have…and he
not some other schmuck is the one to give them to her…and she will be telling ALL her friends what a INCREDIBLE lover you are after using just one or two of these techniques…even if right now you are the most pathetic lover a woman has ever experienced…

…If you decide however this is not for you, then I highly suggest that you destroy this letter because if she finds out from one of her friends about these techniques…and, then finds this letter, Do you really want her to ask you questions like:

“Why do I not deserve better orgasms?”
“Do you not love me enough to pleasure me like *that other guy* does for her girlfriend?”

Or, she might feel as if you do not love her enough…and decide she wants to discover for herself what true female extacy is like experienced
first hand..and you walk in your front door after a long day of work to hear her moaning from the living room just to find her in bed with another

That’s off the top of my head – however, I’ve noticed increased conversions when writing the fear into the close when they do not take the action I want them to take. It works GREAT in political pieces as well…especially TV ads.

So, to wrap up: (1) Establish yourself as the authority, (2) Hit both their emotional and analytical mind; (3) Close with the fear and tell them what action to take, and throughout the entire piece paint them a mental picture that hooks them emotionally to the end result: if you buy vs the hell you live in if you don’t

    George Burroughs says July 17, 2009

    The need to feel like it’s MY idea – and not that someone else wants me to have it. That would be “selling”. It’s no different than my teenage daughter wanting to go to the beach. She doesn’t ask me if we can go (that would be selling). Instead, she’ll say something like, “I wonder how the surfing is on a day like today”. That gets me to “thinking” and then “I” have the great idea, “Hey, let’s all go to the beach”.
    Dr. George Burroughs

Mike the Thai guy says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
as I understand it people’s brains are wired based on their beliefs and those beliefs are based on years of input from their environment and their own internal wiring. ( It’s a kind of a shitty catch 22…)
So the reason that long copy is neccesary is to

1/ get past the beliefs that your prospect already has, from every conceivable angle that your research can come up with using as many different sensory ways of getting the message across as possible in the language that you use

2/ Most folks are aching for some relief from their pain BUT don’t trust you or your solution. so long copy systematically breaks down every one of their objections and creates a logical argument that will leave them feeling dumb for rejecting your offer.

3/ Your prospect has to be able to justify their purchase/ opt in / raving fan status… not only to themselves… but also to ther friends and family. Long copy allows you to create the logical argument that they use with these other folks. Nobody wants to look like a dork! Or worse still feel like one.

4/ Because folks buy on emotion and wants as opposed to needs they must be able to justify their buying decision based on logic to themself.

I could probably go on but it’s getting late down here and I can feel a cold beer coming on…

Thanks for a very thought provoking post John

Greg Johansson says July 17, 2009

Hi John, Could the glitch be something as simple as little old rationalisation? You know… the awful caveman basic instinct we all possess! (We resist being SOLD) That ancient instinct which can be circumvented, if you can get and hold a persons interest, and eventually, persuasively overcome all rational resistance ie they then convince themselves that this is the best/most desirable outcome/product! John one more point…YOU should be charging folks for access to this forum 🙂

Gary says July 17, 2009

Hi John & everyone else.
Some excellent ideas given through this post.
I think the answer is to do with travel.
With long copy we give an opportunity for the reader to join us on a journy, a journy where we, through the long copy can take the reader by the hand and show them that we can deliver them to their dream destination, their deam of a place/time where their inner core cravings will be satisfied. So long copy gives the reader FAITH. Faith in themselves that they truly can get there, that they can overcome self doubt and faith in the tour guide/writer to genuinley want to help them.

Rob Mc says July 17, 2009

Wow – there really is some very cool ideas and discussions going on here. Here’s my stab.

While studying my MBA we did a huge amount of work on complexity and how people can (or rather can’t) handle it.

Decisions are usually made up of a huge amount of complex variables, but we don’t take all of these into account. We use our experience and then map this to the variables available which then helps us make the decision, but in this process we filter out alot of noise.

This goes back to cavemen days and is the basis of our fight / flight instinct. In order to survive our ancestors had to be able to make split second decisions and filter out things which weren’t relevant. This was based on their sum life experiences, and that which they had been taught by their peers and elders.

The problem this presents is that we are prone to ignore things we don’t have experience of, and even worse make assumptions that things we know about already will have the same result. This is one of the reasons people have ‘lucky socks’ (or other apparell). Because they acheived something great once when wearing this item, they believe it will happen again (and when it does this re-affirms the belief, but when it doesn’t we think “We’ll there’s always next time!”). It’s also the cause of many a bad management decision!

So how does this relate to Long Copy?

Long copy gives more of these ‘hooks’ for us to hinge prior experience on, and if written well it hooks in experience that is more positive to the reader. When the copy is read, and the complexity is filtered, the resultant outcome is more likely to created the desired response than short copy.

The testimonials used throughout long copy further add to the hooking, as this allows us to subsitute the experience of others for us, thus allowing in built complexity filter to better make an informed decision.

Bit heavy, but my first attempt anyway!

Peter says July 17, 2009

Hi John
In long copy the writer is building URGENCY, the condition of being essential to ones needs.

Carlton Drunk

Imre says July 17, 2009

Hi John!
Is it that we tend to think that someone cant lie for an extended period of time?


Robert says July 17, 2009

People want to be told what to do — to be led.
They want to believe.

Ken says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

Long copy is essential…so copy can address the fundamental belief system of the individual reader. What are belief systems? (They are paradigms, the way the prospect sees the world.) You see, we don’t need more “How to” information(short copy), you need to have break through, motivation, action in the copy that produces a large amount of change in a short amount of time. The way to produce a large amount of change in a short amount of time is to address the reader’s fundamental belief systems.
Long copy gives (writers) the ability to discover the readers L.E.N.S. (Life’s Emotional Navigation Systems). Long copy is critical for discovering, removing and smashing the readers L.E.N.S. Once smashed – you ‘break though’ and produce the large amount of change in a short amount of time.
Personally, I do not see how short copy can ever secure all angles and remove all doubt. One ounce of doubt, erodes trust and hinders the highest possible sales level.

Tracy Culleton says July 17, 2009

Okay, second suggestion – it’s the need for stories.


Tian Yan says July 17, 2009

Each of us have our own perception of how reality works. Hence, a lot of communication (including sales communication) is based on assumptions. Problem is, not everyone have the same assumptions.

This makes transferring enthusiam, emotional reasons, and logical arguments to make a purchase a lot harder. I could be saying the
right words according to what they mean to me, but in the prospect’s mind, it could mean something different. Depending on their assumptions of what I just said.

#1 Meaning cannot be transferred perfectly through language alone

Plus, people don’t like to be wrong. We believe we are right because there’s no end to the rationalization of what we do. Hence, we can be very stubborn in our beliefs even if it is flawed. We don’t see what others can see.

We believe what we want, and pick supporting evidence to reinforce it, and then ignore the rest of the opposing evidence.

#2 Beliefs are very difficult to change. We rationalize events to support the fact that we are right.

When you present your sales argument the first time, chances are the prospect will not agree to it. Even if the meaning gets through, the prospect might not make a purchase because he’s
supporting his own belief that the money is not worth the purchase.

Copywriter: You can live a longer and more fulfilled life when your smoking addiction is erased.

Prospect: What does that mean? I’m 89 and I’m rich. I don’t need a longer and more fulfilled life. (Meaning of the argument did not come through)

Copywriter: Plus, you get freedom and are no longer a victim of the urge and shame that smoking brings to you.

Prospect: Excuse me! I enjoy smoking. It’s bliss in every puff. (Personal beliefs are difficult to change)

That’s where long copy comes in.

When the first argument fails, you get a second chance at attacking it again as long as the prospect continues reading. A good copywriter
can dimensionalize the benefits and use different ways of explaining the same point. And if the prospect agrees with one of the points, it
keeps them open enough to question their own beliefs and come to agreement
with the copywriter.

Copywriter: You can live a longer and more fulfilled life when your smoking addiction is erased.

Prospect: What does that mean? I’m 89 and I’m rich. I don’t need a longer and more fulfilled life.

Copywriter: How many times have you been unable to engage in physical activity because you’re too ill and you lack the stamina?

Prospect: Hey, I can’t play with my grandkids, but that has nothing to do with cigarettes. I’m just too old.

Copywriter: In fact, studies from Harvard Med has shown that smokers have 89% less stamina than the non-smokers 10 years older than them.

Prospect: That’s a lie. You just cook up that piece of information to sell me stuff. I know smokers who are 100 years old and practice karate

Copywriter: After all the evidence I explained that smoking is detrimental to your health, could it be possible, even remotely possible, that it’s
harming your health. Even if it’s just a bit?

Prospect: Maybe. I guess it’s fair to say that.

Copywriter: How long have you been smoking? Do you know smokers of 5 years or more have trouble getting out of bed because they are tired all the time? That’s because their body is not pumping enough oxygen to the brain anymore.

Prospect: Hmm… I do feel tired. You might have a point there…

Can you see how longer copy helps in facilitating the persuasion now? I would never use short copy to try to persuade a smoker he’s in a lot
of trouble. They will just say “yeah” and ignore it. But with long copy, the prospect’s belief can be altered somewhat. Just enough to make a sale.

“Ain’t it hard when you discover that he wasn’t really where it’s at… after he took from you everything he could steal?” (Bob Dylan, “Like A Rollin’ Stone”)

It’s because we rationalize everything to believe we are right all the time. “He couldn’t be with me for my money, he still treats me well.” <– rationalization

Why do people debate in the Halls of Congress?
Because we cannot see the same map due to the limits of communication that stops the entire meaning of the message from being conveyed. And we will argue to our death beds that our own beliefs are right. For all we know, they could be arguing about the same thing and disagreeing
over the semantics.

Why do we think obvious myths are true?
Because we’re stuck in our own head about our perceived reality. Based on that reality, we only look for affirmations evidence and
ignore the opposing evidence.

That’s why persuasion in long copy works better than short copy.

Tony Finbarr-Smith says July 17, 2009

Developed from what Garry said:

Reality is a concensus.

What enough people believe is the truth, whether strictly accurate or not.

Long-for sales letters delivered with an air of authority sets the tone for ‘I’m gonna educate you’, and then the billion testimonials ignites the ‘sheep factor’ within the reader, each testimonial further convincing the reader that they were wrong to doubt the product in the first place, with all this social proof and whatnot.

It’s like someone saying ‘Too much rice is bad for you’ and the response of ‘2 billion chinese people can’t be wrong’ turning it round…. (I think the swine flu is affecting my sanity now…)


Tony. UK. Still Ill.

Bruce says July 17, 2009

The “Glitch”?

We have a need to be led.

Sales copy can be thought leadership of the highest order, satisfying and justifying our decision making by leading the reader to the only fulfilling conclusion: “Get my stuff”

(By the way, I’ve always thought of Billy Mays as ultra-long sales copy. He spent years establishing a trusted persona, a recognized voice, a valuable friend with a cool new gadget. So I listened…and bought some stuff)

“We need you to lead us” is basic, primal truth – Thanks, Seth.

Long copy gives more time to lead.

Thanks for your lead, John

Allison Reynolds says July 17, 2009

We are trained to believe that a lot of words must be true… Like the Encyclopaedia Brittanica or Law books, Medicine etc… lots of wrds on a single subject MUST be true

DARLENE says July 17, 2009

First, your are addressing their most pressing need or pain that your can fix, cure or alleviate. And, as Gerbles said it best, If you tell it long enough and loud enough, they’ll believe anything. And they will need what you have to sell them. By satisfying their need, you will be making the sale; but you must convince them first.

Adil says July 17, 2009

Hey John,

No Idea if anyone has wrote this but the psychological glitch we tend to have when reading long copy is that our minds focus on only one thought at a time, but by going through all the long copy, our conscious mind can’t pick up the thing we have wrote such as,
“This is why you need to buy, check out what so-so said about it, this is how much money they made using it, etc”…. Our subconscious mind does pick up on that and keeps in our head.

This way it answers all the questions that may stop them from buying.

That and also the known fact of conformity… This is in the sense of people see others making a success with this or that product, or see that some people are very single minded in one way. So they think like the heard because they want to be self-preserved and not stand out.

Adil A.

Dr. Ben Mack says July 17, 2009

John, glitches often happen when we switch between brains, of which we have 3+.

Long Copy gets the reader into their Reptillian Brain.

It’s as simple as that.

They Live is a documentary and when presented in Scientific America they discuss like this… http://NeuroEconomics.tv

David says July 17, 2009

Here’s my kick at the can…

When the marketing message matches your emotional desire/want, your brain’s intrinsic curious nature — the need to know – wants to absorb as much information as possible. But before purchasing, it first has to overcome its skepticism by justifying (logically reasoning) every possible objection not to buy.

Stan Scott says July 17, 2009


As you stated, the glitch is “especially prevalent among folks who have become Zombified in their daily lives… lost in a trance caused by too much incoming stimuli from the modern world.”

Perhaps the long sales letter bores the reader – hypnotizes the reader – to where he has no resistance by the time he gets to the close.

I had an experence many years ago when I was selling door to door. We were given a long presentation we had to memorize word for word. I would recite it to my potential customers and often they would just sign on the line and not recall what I had told them the next day (I was as bored as they were by the time we got to the close.)

I believe congress passes a lot of things after listening to hours of debate without much thought about what they are passing.

Perhaps going on and on in a long sales letter relaxes the mind and thereby reduces sales resitance.


    Cyndi says July 17, 2009

    Too funny. You definitely have my vote for most clever answer, Stan!

      Stan Scott says July 17, 2009

      Thank you, Cyndi… I think! LOL!

        Cyndi says July 18, 2009

        Cultivating boredom as a sales strategy… THAT’s definitely a different take on things! -cb

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Stan. You do want to induce a trance when you’re selling… not by hypmotizing your prospect, but by painting pretty pictures in his head that allow him to experience the thrill of owning what you sell.
    But no, boredom will kill a pitch. You were bored, door to door, because it became a routine for you. It’s still new to the prospect…

      Stan Scott says July 17, 2009

      Of course you are correct.
      Entrancing the customer to allow him to envision himself as the happy possessor of the product should be the goal of any sales presentation.
      The zombiesque response began to be observed in my prospects shortly before I left the business to return to school. It very probably was caused by my rote recitation of the presentation, but it was effective.

Susie says July 17, 2009

Good morning John! I think I need to start setting my alarm for 3am if I want to start answering these quizzes quicker!

Here’s my “long” answer: (and I only have a few minutes this morning, so I haven’t been able to read others’ comments yet).

Psychologically, we have to go through a process, I once learned as the 6-steps to accepting an idea:
1) total rejection
2) partial rejection
3) partial acceptance
4) total acceptance
5) partial assimilation
6) total assimilation
The more people hear the information (in sale, sometimes called “bids”), the more you take them psychologically down the list to the point they take action.

I believe that is why people comment that customers will buy from you if they “like you and trust you” – because it is easier to get them down the list to assimilation. Then POOF – money pours out of their pockets.

That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.


Cecil Ming says July 17, 2009

People want to be “Right”, with long copy you can make them “Right” by letting them be right as the story unfolds.

I know, this is short copy, but it is my answer.

Byron says July 17, 2009

It’s plain great old fashioned verbal story telling that excites and engages the potential clients wanting, into a must have impatient desire to own and use that NOW!

Cyndi says July 17, 2009

Don’t you people ever sleep!?! Geez….
I haven’t done more than skim the full blog post yet (Sorry, JC. Promise to go back and read it more thoughtfully as soon as I cast my line here). But in keeping with a cultural tendency to want immediate gratification, I jumped ahead to the question hoping to win. (I also didn’t want to be tempted to read the other answers before posting. Plus there are so many!!)

My knee jerk answer was to point to that infamous psychological glitch “The SHEEP Effect”… It’s the one your mama warned about when she chided (with index finger waving): “If everybody was jumping off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too!?!?” … doing something ’cause everyone else it too.
[This is NOT my real answer!]

Long copy is necessary to overcome a buyer’s RESISTANCE…. It handles objections and allows potential clients and customers to feel confident they’re making the right decision… (which actually could really be the answer you’re getting at).

People need to feel CONGRUENCY of their decisions. Once they’ve grown to know / like/ and trust you, then they are more likely to buy from you — now and in the future. It’s the same phenomenon that keeps people in dangerous relationships, bad jobs, and able to maintain prejudices in spite of experiences to the contrary.

Going back to re-read the post and see what y’all are thinking. -cb

Cyndi says July 17, 2009

PS: I hadn’t ever thought about the numerous ‘touches’ as being long copy chunked into a variety of exposures. Makes sense — and fits. Thanks for the tip.

Lisa says July 17, 2009

I think long copy is needed to rouse people from their boring slumber enough to act. We resist anything that requires action because it introduces a new problem. I think the psychological glitch is that we are all asleep, and it takes effort to wake up. Short copy often isn’t enough to identify a problem. We don’t want to know there is a problem.

We look for any excuse to discount what we’re told if it requires us to do something. Long copy needs to identify a problem. We don’t like problems. Urban myths are easily believed because disbelief would require active consciousness and effort to find proof to disprove. We don’t want to wake up. We just want to be entertained and left in our routine lives of quiet desperation.

It’s my birthday. Would love to win! Hope I’m at least on the right track.


Allison Reynolds says July 17, 2009

Actually after really thinking about it… the long sales letter emulates the inner dialogue you have with yourself when making a decision. The words act as that little voice that says “but what if”.

If you can make the written words sound like the voice in our head being asked and answered then you have tapped into the inner decision making process and broken down the skeptical barrier . Pretty powerful stuff because if people in say… politics …. or religion…. grabbed hold of well written copy and had you nodding your head because that IS JUST HOW I THINK, then they don’t need to do much else but keep talking.

You mentioned urban myths and how they sound so plausible…. they too break the skeptical barrier by talking about logical reasonable things… guy goes into a bar, guy buys a girl a drink, guy wakes up and doesn’t remember much of the night before….all pretty reasonable. Your inner voice is nodding its head, been there, done that…. The next steps go over the edge, but you already have the momentum up of “well I would have done all that so whatever comes next is what I would do/have done too”.

So ice and kidneys and bathtubs alone sound really far out there, but when you are running full pelt down a familiar hill it isn’t so hard to end up ringing 911.

Sunny Tung says July 17, 2009

People buy not just because of benefits. They make decisions based on those which offers the least risk.

In People Perception:
“Long copy lessens the buying risk”

Long copy works as long as it’s not boring.
And if your customers are interested in your products/ services, they’ll read everything.

More information positions the product/ service to rank higher in terms of quality, reliability and trustworthiness. Therefore be the better choice and poses less risk to the buyer.

    Sunny Tung says July 20, 2009

    Adding further, people who wants your service or product – always want more information about it not less.

    By writing more, you are basically satisfying this in-built want, which all of us have.

    Like the old saying “The more you tell, the more you sell”

Earnst says July 17, 2009

I bet we have a winner in there somewhere.
Adil A. has a good chance I think. Looks well thought out. The herd mentality is a good choice I believe.
All have great points.

I think the answer may not be in the AIDA model, but the EMMA.

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    There is, actually, an answer close to be a winner in the batch ahead of you, Earnst.
    I probably will still give the hint on Saturday… to see if someone actually states it completely and correctly…

Bill F says July 17, 2009

By George, I think I’ve got it. Or not. But here goes…
We soak up so much information, and actually digest only the very little bit that captures our attention or answers our needs. The 10% of the iceberg above the water.

We forget the rest. That’s why, when people are asked why they hold a particular opinion, they will only vaguely be able to refer to “stuff they’ve read.” They remember that 10%, and kid themselves that the other 90% they forgot was supporting evidence.

So….most of a long sales letter will quickly go down the memory hole. But the reader will remember that there was a whole lot of information there.

So the 10% of the copy they remember almost justifies buying the product. But the 90% of copy (9 times the reasons) that they have completely forgotten hovers in the background as a giant cloud of support. Even if it was nothing of the kind.

I tell myself I am buying a self-tuning guitar for reason A and B. But not just A and B. There’s a whole alphabet of other reasons I can’t remember but I’ve read somewhere. And that’s the clincher. The stuff I forgot gets filed in the support-my-desire column every time.

Does that make sense?

    Janet Beatrice says July 17, 2009

    There are self-tuning guitars? I want one!

      John Carlton says July 17, 2009

      Yeah — the little plastic ones with no strings that come with “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” games…

      Bill F says July 17, 2009

      You can program in alternate tunings and change at the push of a button.

        Janet Beatrice says July 17, 2009

        Thanks for the link – that’s amazing! Now if only they could make one that changes it’s own strings. 😉

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Bill. What you’ve brought up is ANOTHER good reason why long copy works.
    However, it’s not the glitch I’m referring to. You’ll see where I’m coming from when you see my answer Monday.
    And, just for the record… your reader probably only comes away with A or B, not both. If you can get him to remember ONE important point, you’ve done a great job. The other stuff settles into his brain as background, unconscious but “there”.
    Good stuff.
    Thanks for writing.

Mark says July 17, 2009

Prospects are just that and do not TRUST you until you solve the “What’s in it for me” factor. For this reason long sales copy is best to build your story around solving your prospects “problem” with benefit driven solutuons that will ultimately convert that prospect into a paying and trusting customer.

Chad Perry says July 17, 2009

Logic. People buy on emotion, and justify with logic.

While short copy may be able to amp the “emotional” side of the sale – only good, long copy can pile on enough logic to justify the purchase.

Think about it: how many times have you predetermined to buy something – but didn’t pull the trigger until you found the person or medium that packed on enough “logic” to confirm your decision?

Did the person/medium really convince you… or did it/they arm you with the ammunition you need to justify the decision you had already made?

It was logic. And logic ain’t easy to pull off in short copy.

Rob C says July 17, 2009

Because there’s a glitch in our heads that tells us that the person who talks the most is the person in the person who is in charge. So they must be an authority on what they are talking about.

Michael says July 17, 2009

Q: “What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”
A: Greed.

michael p says July 17, 2009

The glitch is the way the brain works. Repetition is the only way you can get through the clutter of all the other stimuli. Until we hear or read something several times, we don’t really get it. So even if it is not true, if we get the message over and over, it goes into long term memory, and we assume it is true.

Maggy says July 17, 2009

Long sales copy is like an obstacle course the prospects have to get through in order to actually buy the product. If you withhold the opportunity to purchase long enough, their impatience will turn into an urgency to buy.

Peter says July 17, 2009

The glitch
The process of creating something sensational, excitement
“Kangaroos racing down George St armed with cartons of Carlton beer chasing terrified tourists over the harbour bridge”

Glenn Y says July 17, 2009

The Glitch (IMHO) is the need to be “RIGHT” in the decisions we make. Long copy gives me the opportunity to make sure I am “RIGHT” in my decision.

Brij says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

Getting inside your customer’s head – or at least triggering a conversation the customer recognizes – is the first part. But then continuing the conversation along multiple threads has the best chance for the customer to think ‘this is me talking myself – yes-yes! this all rings true. AND – I agree with this writer.’ There is kinship here. And intellectual, business, psychological company – someone who thinks like me about my issue and has something valuable to offer. That this is a direct extension and development of my own thoughts. I need this now. ONLY long copy has the room and flow to develop alternatives and create this synch/buzz in the reader.

Well maestro?


Brij says July 17, 2009

Sorry – forgot the glitch: So the psychological glitch is the strong tendency to believe ones own voice (invented here) over those from the outside. To the entent good long copy allows the writer to trigger and strengthen this internal ‘reality’ in the reader, the reader tends to buy a cleaner, nicer copy of his own ‘creation’ from the marketer.


Greg Schmid says July 17, 2009

I think people are overcomplicating their answers. I’m going to take a stab at it and offer a rather straightforward and simplistic answer to your question John…….

I believe that long copy has inherent credibility.

That’s it. Subconsciously, readers think, “Hey, this business person really went to a lot of time and effort to lay out all the facts, features, benefits, etc. and explain all about his company and who he’s associated with, etc., even married the pitch with a story…. It’s got to be all true!”

It’s kind of old-school-thinking, like the pre-web days when basically, if it was in print, it MUST be true. If it’s published in a book, it’s believable.

Are you buying this John? Have I hit the nail on the head or what??

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    If only it were thus, Greg.
    But no, that kind of rational thinking doesn’t happen in a prospect’s head…

GolferPaul says July 17, 2009

Hey John,
Another great and interesting topic. Here’s my .02

I think that the glitch is that we are continually having discussions inside our heads about whatever is occupying our thoughts. During that family outing or meeting, there is the verbal and nonverbal communication, and then there is the internal discussion running deep inside that has unspoken questions. If the conscious discussion does not provide answers, the subconscious continues asking and seeking information. Longer copy prompts this internal discussion, and subtly and continuously answers the unasked. People need completion, and the longer version allows for some closure in these underlying discussions.

Great thoughts everyone – this is a prize already

Stephanie Padovani says July 17, 2009

What a thoroughly enjoyable blog post! Thank you for that.

I’m thinking hard here. I can come up with a few plausible “glitches,” but here’s my best shot…

The psychological glitch is that when we see something in print, or hear something, or watch a video, we believe it more. The more quantity there is of the information, the more credible it becomes. It’s part social proof (“Everybody else is doing it,”) and part authority (“This info is everywhere! It must be true.”)

I just stumbled out of bed, so that’s the best I can manage at this point. Now I’ve got a serious brain ache.

Robert Scanlon says July 17, 2009

Hi John – saw you in Australia (Brisbane) – it was a real highlight, many thanks.

I’d say the answer is simple (I’ve not read any comments yet – preferring to think without influence!):

Because if something is repeated enough times, it must be “true”.

This is nigh-on impossible with short copy.

Let me say that again.

Short copy does NOT allow much repetition.

Even in comment boxes like this, it’s hard to keep repeating that short copy does not allow much repetition and thus “cause something to be true” without sounding like a total jerk.

Which of course I do now.

Love your work!


C Martin says July 17, 2009

There are a number of very good answers already posted. They just don’t answer the glitch question.

Most people are walking around in some sort of trance like state already. The long copy sales letter uses this proclivity for going into these states to produce a persuasion “trance” on its own.


Jane says July 17, 2009

We all know that we are right. If we’re reading a sales letter, we are already sold on the idea of the product or service. We seek (and find) supporting evidence and are actively deaf and blind (like your dumb-ass brother-in-law at dinner) to evidence and opinions that do not fit our model of the world. So repeated iteration of the benefits we want, coupled with removal of anxiety about the risk of loss (by a money-back guarantee) allows us to slip easily to the foot of the page, credit card in hand, confident that we’re doing the right thing…

Brian McLeod says July 17, 2009

Interesting quiz! Like a great piece of long-copy,
there are several different dimensions at work.

Some are huge, towering over the others in their
obviousness (more room to draw out and answer
objections, more time to create affinity).

Others are less obvious, but once combined create
a potent cocktail of influence (social and application
specific proof elements, repetition and reinforcement
of the USP, etc).

But given the very narrow parameters of the quiz,
my answer has to be that long-copy gives the
reader everything they need to rationally and
emotionally JUSTIFY their purchase… and not just
to themselves, but to everyone ELSE they perceive
that they will answer to about buying now.

“I just bought _____”, said Fred to his pal Buford.
“What? WHY? Don’t you know ______”, says Buford.
But Fred has prepared for this moment. He already
KNEW that Buford would say that. He knew it from
the very first pang to whip out his Visa card.

In fact, one of the deal clinchers for him was when
he read that part about how “____ could ____”,
he knew right then that he was SOLD. He could
already picture himself having this little chat.

In fact, Fred could barely wait to shove it right
under Buford’s big, red bulbous nose and let him
take a nice deep whiff.

And sure, the Discombobulator Pro was a little
spendy, at least by Fred’s standards. But he knew
that once he put it to work, he would FINALLY have
the results that have eluded him for far too long.
Heck, just think about all the money and time he’s
already wasted on crappier, less powerful solutions.

Yeah, this time it’s gonna be different. This time, finally,
it is going to be Fred FTW (that’s “For The Win” for
those that are slightly youth slang challenged).

Anyway, fun quiz. GREAT comments from some
mighty big brains. Just reading the post and the
comments, I’ve already won regardless of the
“correct” answer.

Thanks, John!

Brian says July 17, 2009

Long copy gives a buyer more “rational reasons” to explain/defend their true reasons to buy rather than their true “irrational” reasons.

Plus the rational reasons reinforce the irrational reasons.

Does that make sense?


Nash says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

Really intriguing question. At first glance one may say that long copy is repelling because of the instant-age we live in. However I believe this ‘instant-age’ thing is rather doing a favor for copywriting. Too many instant information make us ignorant. Giving ’emotional offer’ and then backing it up by shooting-down their nah-arguments is what still counts.

Also, it is a fact that the long copy is effective with the people who are already interested in the topic and others get actually interested through reading (watching) it.

I would say the key phrases are abundance/scarcity and perception of value. Different people seek for satisfaction of different stimulus through the same solution/product/service. We have to take space to include most of the common psychological triggers with one copy.

Gil-Ad Schwartz says July 17, 2009

I think it’s got to do with psychological heuristics – specifically, the length-implies-strength heuristic (a la Stec and Bernstein).


Gary says July 17, 2009

Long copy lets them belong yes, and become interested, it lets the ADD folks skim, the buyers skip to the chase, the doddlers torment but it all comes down to relativity….. we easily compare things that are comparable and avoid comparing things that cannot be compared easily. People order or buy differently in silence(by themselves) than they do publicly(ordering beers in a group). Wait, I need to finish later……I’ll be right back

Steve Foste says July 17, 2009

Hmmm, I am a newbie. It appears to me that the short copy can only direct you to the long copy. The short copy does not have the ability to sell such as a postcard or 15 second commercial. The short copy only implants the desire to gather more information.

The long copy provides the proof of what we are looking for. It appeals to the emotion, it offers the benifits, and explains ultimately the features. The long copy answers the question of “so what” Whats in it for me, and builds on that emotion until it developes the ” i gotta have it emotional response”.

Paulson and Bernanke sold us a TARP plan based on fear, congress sold us a Stimulus package based on need and fear and that we would get something and better our lives. It was not short copy. President Obamas campaign was the long copy of HOPE.

We percieve immediatly that the long copy has the answers to our needs and that we will find it somewhere in the copy. That one thing that will make my life wonderful, rich and rewarding, easy, and solve a problem.

It is our immediate response to long copy. The answere is in here if I can find it.

Anderson says July 17, 2009

“What’s everyone else doing/believing about subject x that I want to affiliate myself with”

And the group or tribe in question is subject to fantasy. It may be real. Or imaginary.

This idea of “what’s everyone else doing” causes the “Who is in charge” problem…because everyone is looking at everyone else wondering what they’re doing.

Anyway once the thinking process of “What’s everyone else doing” is established and then answered, they stick to it. Because who wants to look out of place right… herd mentality. That and there’s “I’m just plain lazy to change” factor as well.

Long copy is needed for the sales process because its like saying “hey, here’s the answer…”, “here’s my case” in a very authoritative way. And people want to know “how is this answer possible” or “Why are you/this product right (for the client)”

I wana make money
“Whats everyone else (in my family) doing to make money?”
They get a job. Then they get a job, fall into zombie mode because its repetitive (among other things)
By making money, he can provide for his family. He wants to be a good provider. (desired self image, or desired experience)
You come up to him and say “Lookie here, I can make you a million a day with this system”. Long copy then moves in to move him toward that desired self image. Overcomes objections. Establishes belief and credibility. And where there is belief, there is a sale.

Virtually all humans have an image of themselves (as seen by others) they desire and want. They want it expressed. For a significant amount of products and services, the end benefit or result needs an actual benefit (I make tons o cash) and the “expressed” benefit (in this example – I am a good bread winner for my family. It shows because I gots lots o cash to give em”)

It happens in congress when congressmen are looking to each other wondering “okay so hows leadership voting on this?”. “Oh, they always vote yes/no on this type of stuff” – “Okay, I do the same”. Now he doesn’t need to think anymore.

We’re social animals. Our self image, was designed to keep us alive. Nothing else. If it means accepting something that’s not true to stay alive – so be it. The need to believe, and to be certain also plays its part.

And I think this glitch exist because thinking is the hardest thing to do. EVERYONE who commented…will agree. So this glitch probably happens because we’re lazy. And don’t wana do it. So we shortcut as many steps as possible.

I can’t believe I stayed up 3 hours thinking and parsing my own thoughts, and then trying to condense it…to this.

My brain hurts John.

Next time…add a premium (or other freebie) that includes scantily clad women or something. We gota get that tranquilizer shot to the brain so the pain goes away. =)

    Anderson says July 17, 2009

    And since intention forms perception, (usually the intention to attain and show off the desired image of ourselves as seen by others), we begin filtering all kinds of stuff to fit that intention.

    Now, I’m going to bed at 6in the morning in…in SoCal

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Sorry about making your brain hurt, Anderson. Nice thinking. Right direction. Not the answer I’m looking for, though.

Laurence says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”
In all our minds there is a difference between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’.
The Psychological Glitch is our brains deciding a ‘want’ is now a ‘need’.
We might buy if we only ‘want’ but more of us will buy once our ‘want’ becomes a ‘need’.
Short copy might magnify a want but because of its short sharp influence on our minds its lasting, coaxing effect will be short too.
The long journey our brains take to the want/need stepping stone should be an encouraging one. One each side of that mental path there needs to be positive signs all leading us forward. On the road itself any hurdles will be dismissed by the copy in a totally convincing way. No ifs or buts should be left in the prospect’s mind. By the time the prospect meets that ‘Glitch’ it will, at least subconsciously, hardly be noticed if at all.
This long mental process will not be enacted by short copy. There is simply too much to tell, bit by bit, to lead the prospect’s mind, bit by bit, from the start of a convincing mental road, over that want/need step to a final, positive ending – a sale.

Brandon E says July 17, 2009

This may not be the point you were looking for but I have noticed something interesting. Whenever I visit a site with long copy verses short I rarely read all the copy but I get an internal feeling that this person is more knowledgeable and knows what he is talking about. So the more someone says or does, the more he knows. And although my cousin doesn’t know much, when he speaks at dinner conversations the more he is perceived to know something when he blabbles on and conversation is sparked.
Thanks for the good article and I look forward to your feedback!

Tommy says July 17, 2009

Hi John

It is because of the comfort zone (trust, predictability, ability to justify your emotional actions with logical confidence, short attention span, etc.) combined with the involvement level. When someone moves out of the comfort zone, the sand gets loose under the feet. We all need stability and predictability in our lives. With long copy, the comfort zone is taken away, focus is moved, and the involvement, be it a high or low involvement purchase is justified, and the self trust is restored so the image that is created in the prospect’s mind is totally congruent with what the copy tells him to do. This way he is convinced that his decision will be right. You have created in his mind an image of his having or doing what is being pitched, and so he trusts his own instincts to be right, and you’ve got him.(Clever people tell us that an image seen vividly in the mind has the same effect on a person as one that is physically experienced.) The only way to get his decision down from his head (logic) down to his heart (emotions) is to move him out into the open where he feels threatend, make a big noise to give him a shock, and then move him back into the safety of a predictable and safe zone with a different comfort zone. ” A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”, and once you have moved his thinking and emotions into new territory, it is very difficult for him to get back to where he was without discomfort and pain. It is like an elastic band that has been stretched beyond its limits and not broken. It never returns to the same state as before. You have moved his borders, so he feels that within those new borders he can act as he likes with no repurcussion, because new experiences and possessions are within them and there is no demand placed on him. He can just go about his life with a short attention span knowing his life is back on autopilot. And that I think is why long copy works much better than short copy.

Liane says July 17, 2009

…read the blog post…read a hundred comments (where are the other 30?)…adjusted my thinking about 50 times…

and all I can think of now is this cliche:


When we’re told something, we want to see it. When we see it with our own eyes, we believe it.
“Hey, there’s a tiny man selling peanuts on your street!”
“No way – lemme see!”


And long copy allows you to SHOW – to paint the picture.

What if the tiny man with the peanuts were gone? Your friend would have to tell you how he was driving down your street when he suddenly noticed a huge bag of peanuts floating. He slowed down out of curiosity, only to notice a tiny pair of legs under the bags. As he pulled into your driveway, he looked over and saw that the bag was in fact being carried by a very short man in blue jeans and a red t-shirt. As he opened his car door, the short man yelled “peanuts…get your peanuts…”

See the picture?

Grace says July 17, 2009

It’s the infamous curiousity in us all, that makes us keep reading a long piece, looking for the “catch”!

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Curiosity isn’t a glitch, Grace. I’m talking about a definite tweak in the way people process thoughts and come to decisions about stuff.
    Thanks for the try, though.

Janet Beatrice says July 17, 2009

I’m going to suggest it’s our human, egotistical need to be right.

There can be a money-back guarantee, but won’t we feel foolish if we get suckered into a bad deal!

Once I was taken in by a huckster who I trusted, because he was a regular member of Michel Fortin’s board. I felt like an idiot. There were about seven of us, and although I did not want the others to have lost money, I actually felt better knowing that I had good company among smart copywriters who had also fallen for this scam.

Losing the money hurt, but feeling like an idiot may have hurt just as much.


    Janet Beatrice says July 17, 2009

    I clarified this comment, but wow, lots of people have replied since I did, so my reply is a few posts down (number 121). Guess I should have replied to myself instead. Oops.

Joe Sedik says July 17, 2009

The fear of loss.

Jeff says July 17, 2009


The long copy is so effective because it builds the relationship between the reader and writer. I have been in sales for over 20 years and did not get one sale from a cold call (short copy), but got plenty of sales after building a relationship with the customer (long copy).


Robert Scanlon says July 17, 2009

I’m having another go after reading all the posts (good job you guys! This is FUN!).

The Psychological Glitch is that we are constantly looking for proof our beliefs are in fact “the truth”.

In long copy, with all the different angles we can use, eventually …

The reader comes across something in the copy that REINFORCES an existing belief … which is much more likely to strengthen my conviction about not only this belief … but that the sales letter must also be more of the same “truth”.

People will ALWAYS argue for their own “model of the world”.

What a fun conversation John and fellow marketers … tnx.


Peter says July 17, 2009

What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?

People want to know, or need to believe, they are correct in their actions. (i.e. their perception or understanding of right not anyone else’s)

Long copy gives them time to apply their particular perception, or come to think a new line of reason presented is actually their’s. Plus it presents the reasons they require back up their decision to buy.

This is convuluted thinking on my part but having watched my wife for years using NLP on her clients (and me) the psychological aspects of human nature are a fasinating study. Just wish I had the brain power to truly understand people… my writing would improve out of sight.

Keep up the quizes John, they’re a blast.


Lori says July 17, 2009

The glitch is that we don’t question what we believe to be true. It’s just too hard (and costly) for most of us to do that kind of work confirming our beliefs. Others have given great examples of long copy breaking down those beliefs so I won’t try to do that.

Scott Birkhead says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

Everyone truly believes they know what they’re doing – once they’ve even formed an opinion about how to do something, it’s right and they act as if it was carved in stone by the very finger of God himself.

Long copy has the time and structure to knock wrong thinking out of their head a bit at a time. Short copy can’t do that.

Terry says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
Thanks for the great work you do keeping us thinking. I think the answer is that everyone love a story. We’ve had stories since the beginning of time and we still love them.

Janet Beatrice says July 17, 2009

I just realized that I didn’t add something important to my answer: why long copy achieves this.

I said that long copy is necessary because our ego’s need to feel like we are right. So in the case of reading copy, we want to believe that we are right about the purchase before we make the purchase.

Short copy cannot convince us of this. We need to know why this product or service will benefit us. Then we need to know if it really will deliver the benefits promised. We need to know if the value of the product/service is equal to or better than its cost.

I know from experience that it’s incredibly hard, and often impossible to put all the elements of a good sales letter into short copy.

To help the reader feel that he/she is right to purchase the product, you’ll need to, at minimum drill down to the most compelling benefits. That takes time, but it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of copy. If there is one great benefit that is believable and so compelling that it’s the only one needed, you can get away with less copy.

But in most cases, you’ll want to spend some time on the various benefits of your product/service.

Then, you need to offer proof that this product/service will deliver its promise. Without proof, most people won’t feel like they are “right” to make the decision to purchase.

That usually requires at least three credible testimonials and other trust-building elements, like credentials, a photo, freebies like an autoresponder series, etc.

And you need to build the value of the product or service.

Try doing that with short copy, even if you were to skip all the other elements that go into a sales letter!


    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    There’s another lesson about long copy that involves the ego… but this ain’t it.
    Keep trying…

Sean McCool says July 17, 2009

Short Answer: As a reader, the more time I invest reading something the more I need to act on it to justify the time spent reading.

Expanded answer: Time is your most finite resource. You can make more money…

In fact, you can make more of everything except time.

So our glitch, John, is that we must balance our time spent reading long copy with the justification of action as the copy suggest or else we have wasted our most valuable resource…our very existence.

Further, it’s why truly great copy keeps us awake at night staring at the ceiling thinking of the possibilities looooong after we put the copy down.

It’s our psychological glitch that needs to be balanced—action for the time spent reading the copy.

    Sean McCool says July 17, 2009

    I wrote “Gary” in the opening. Sorry John I I was reading a Halbert letter this morning.


      John Carlton says July 17, 2009

      No problem, Sean. Gary and I used to call each other all kinds of things, depending on how pissed off or onery we were. I’m used to being called names.

Paul Ekey says July 17, 2009

Mr. Carlton,
I believe people want to be told what to do and how to do it by someone they respect or believe to be their hero. They want the easy way out of what ever is their issue and want someone of authority to give them the answers. A long copy establishes you as their savior. Tell them What You Got, What it Will Do, and What You Want Them to do Next. I could go on with examples and build credibility and then tell you what I expect you to do – but I would be preaching to the choir!
Thank You for listening. Great success to all your students.

Carl says July 17, 2009

The glitch: A psychological state of desiring to be someone else. Long copy is vital to bring this desire to a state of immersion -the(potential buyer) person progressively views/associates themselves with the product/service being sold….that’s my take.

Some great comments, cheers John.

Walt V says July 17, 2009

The psychological glitch in peoples minds is the fact that….
Consumers reading or skimming through long copy believe istinctively that the long copy MUST answer/address all of their objections to buying and what you are writing must be true.
Versus short copy – consumers think that there isn’t enough information and if there isn’t enough information then “maybe I need to take time to think this through before I buy so I can make sure I’ve thought of all the objections and reasons not to buy and if there aren’t any reasons not to buy then I’ll come back and buy LATER” which will never happen because they will come up with a reason not to buy even if their reasoning is “I don’t think I really need it”.

Michael Sheward says July 17, 2009

One of the basic aspects of human behavior is that we want reinforcement for the things we believe and we tend to discard or ignore thoughts, ideas or actions that conflict with those beliefs or behaviors. We want to be told we are right and are uncomfortable in being told otherwise.
So our perception of an issue, topic or idea becomes our reality.
As a result, it takes a bit of persuasion to convince us that what we believe, and the beliefs on which we base our actions, may not be accurate.
At the risk of getting too technical here, this gets into a theory of psychological phenomenon described in the 1950s by Leon Festinger, the theory of cognitive dissonance–We are resistant to change because what we believe is what we believe to be true and we are uncomfortable with anything that questions or challenges our views.
Whether it’s politics or a critical review of a movie we want to see, for example, we are uncomfortable with the conflict resulting from these divergent opinons and ideas that cast doubts on our beliefs and actions.
When it comes to urban myths, we often fall victim to the belief that enough people are saying it so it must be true. We get into a group think where it’s safer to follow the reinforcement of how the pack thinks than to become the deviant and disagree. We want our beliefs and opinions to be reinforced, not challenged. And there’s safety in numbers in wanting to believe what everyone else believes or at least what our core group of friends and associates believe.
In a sales situation, whether it’s a new car or an online product, we want information that will tell us how we will benefit from making the purchase. In these cases, we often are more open to conflicting information because while we are looking to be convinced that we are right, we are more willing to consider that some other choice may provide a better benefit for us. Why? Because we want our final decision, the actual purchase, to be right for us. So we are willing to be shown a better alternative.
Hence long sales copy provides the repetition and reasoning to first give an individual a reason to question present purchase ideas and then move to reinforce the consideration of those questions. This leads to altering an individual’s perception and reinforcing a change in belief that the product at hand offers the best benefit for the purchaser. Long copy become the persuasive tool that makes the case for the purchase through repetition of benefits and reinforcement that the decision to buy this particular product is the right one. We become comfortable in being persuaded to make the decision, thus removing any cognitive dissonance that could delay or block the product promoter’s desired result, our hitting the “order here” or “add to cart” button.
OK John, have I made the sale?

Peter says July 17, 2009

This is quite a challenge for me, as I believe that for the majority of the time I do not read the long copy. I know I am going to get examples, proof and people extolling the virtue of said product. I tend to take snapshots of the copy and base a decision on that.
In fact, with due respect to everybody, I did exactly the same here :-).

I suppose that most people like to, in some form or other, have stories told to them. The more they get involved in the story, the more that the story becomes apart of them. Instead of being an observer, they become immersed in it and it could be about them. So the step to buying/owning what the story is about becomes the next logical thing to do, when they get to the end of the copy.

Just my two penneth.


    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Peter.
    Guess what? Good long copy doesn’t need to be read carefully. It’s created with the full knowledge that people skim and skip around. Just like infomercials are not linear — they are created so you can drop in at any point during the hour and catch the entire essence of the sales pitch in just a few minutes.
    Thanks for the note.

Holly Lisle says July 17, 2009

The glitch in people’s thinking is that they have two brains, and don’t use either one of them well. The first, the conscious mind, also identified as the left brain, is the part that deals with words, reason, logic (on the absence thereof in a whole lot of cases.)

The second, (subconscious, right brain, Muse—pick your favorite analogy), runs on emotion, believes what it sees, is perpetually about six years old. And these two sides of every person are usually in conflict, because the subconscious mind drives desires it doesn’t have words for, and the conscious mind makes decisions based on desires it doesn’t realize it has, because it’s being fed them by the right brain through the corpus callosum.

So the short explanation is that the glitch in the human mind is that the left brain doesn’t know what the right brain is thinking.

My best shot.

    Holly Lisle says July 17, 2009

    Let me refine that.

    The short explanation is that the glitch in the human mind is that the left brain doesn’t know what the right brain is thinking.

    And most people let the right brain drive the bus.

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Not bad, Holly.
    Close, but no cigar.

John Flynn says July 17, 2009

There are much bigger brains who have already answered above, but I’ll jump in…

It’s the feeling that “this guy knows me.” That’s the trigger; once we feel the sales letter intersects our need with the product / service / etc. that will fix that, then we’re IN. You can’t break down that barrier and be “trusted friend” in short form. That’s why long form gets ’em every time.

    John Flynn says July 17, 2009

    The long form breaks down our suspicion that we’re being “sold to”.

Philip says July 17, 2009

It’s already been said, but I want to sound off… it’s to harmonize with the reader and get their head shaking “yes” so that by the time you make the pitch they are greased to say “yes” to the sale.

Paul Robb says July 17, 2009

Hi John

‘Automatic consistency acts as a shield against thought… we all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided’ — Robert Cialdini

I say you’re talking about what Cialdini described as “Commitment and Consistency” in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”.

Two key aspects to this concept and very rarely do I see them discussed together, especially when people talk about long copy, short copy, and the world of internet marketing:

KEY POINT 1: People desperately want to be consistent with their own self-image, their own beliefs, and their own behaviours.

FOR EXAMPLE: The more money you have in the pot playing poker, the more committed you are to that hand (and the more like you are to behave irrationally and stay in the hand even when it’s a bad idea and doesn’t make sense ‘logically’).

The longer you have been in a relationship the more you will turn a blind eye to acts that would have been considered ‘unforgivable deal breakers’ in the early days because you have just invested so much damn time and energy in the whole thing.

Basically, the more commitment we have made to something the more desperate our “lizard brain” is to hold on and be consistent. Our logical brains confabulate all kinds of logical stories about why we are behaving in such an irrational way, but it all harks back to the principle of commitment and consistency at deeper levels.

KEY POINT 2: You can actually CHANGE someones own self-image and their future beliefs and future behaviors by leveraging this principle. By making small “baby steps” requests that are easy for someone to comply with, make a commitment to, and seem like no big deal on the surface, you can fundamentally change the way people see themselves on a deeper “lizard brain” level. And the stage is then set for automatic, irrational future compliance as people want so desperately to begin to behave consistently with their actions and the new self-image forming deep within their minds.

FOR EXAMPLE: In Internet marketing, you don’t start out by saying ‘hey, buy my widget’, you start out by saying, ‘hey, if you give me your email address then I will give you this free report full of ‘widget making tips’ in return’. It seems like no big deal and something that is easy to say ‘yes’ to because there is a lot of free value in it for us… but by complying with the request we begin to change who we are at a deeper level. Now we’re someone who is into WIDGETS and maybe we don’t even know it yet.

The more content about widgets we begin to absorb the more committed we get and the stronger our desire to remain consistent with our growing self-image as a widget lover becomes.

The more copy we read… the more committed we get.

The more widget makers we follow on facebook and twitter… the more committed we get.

The more videos we watch… the more committed we get.

The more reports we read, the more blog posts we absorb, the more podcasts we listen to… the more committed we get.

Pretty soon buying is an INEVEITABLE consequence of all the little commitments we have made.

So to come full circle back to long copy to finish this off… If you can get someone to a read a 24 page sales letter they are more committed to buying than if you can only get them to read a 2 page sales letter, for example. People might backwards rationalize the purchase in all kinds of ways but the principle of commitment and consistency is at work.

And it doesn’t matter whether you feed someone a 24 page sales letter all in one go or split that content up into multiple pieces pieces delivered via multiple mediums over a 3 week period — the same principles of salesmanship are hard at work.

Actually, it’s a lot TOUGHER to get someone to read a 24 page sales letter all in one go, than it is to engage someone splitting it up into smaller chunks over an extended period of time (which the Internet now empowers us to do easily, because it costs mere pennies for anyone to distribute content via blogs, email, video, etc).

Because to get someone to read a 24 page sales letter in one go requires GREAT copy. People won’t be bored into buying from you and stay engaged just for the sake of it. Just because your sales letter is long doesn’t mean it is GOOD, of course… the content has to be compelling.

But anyway… the bottom line is that the bigger the commitment you can get someone to make the more likely they are to buy because that person will want to behave consistently.

You can achieve this via small pieces of content delivered over an extended period of time via social media etc, or via one big long sales letter delivered in one go. The affect is basically the same, in many ways.


    Cyndi says July 17, 2009

    I think I said this … but not nearly as clearly or well!

    Bravo, Paul!! 🙂

      Cyndi says July 17, 2009

      (… or with the same accuracy and detail you provided. Doh!) -cb

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Nice point, Paul, well-put.
    Close. But not the glitch I’ll be talking about.
    Your point is worth considering, however, by all writers.

      Cyndi says July 17, 2009

      WHAT?!?! 😉

Jim at Toronto SEO says July 17, 2009

I think Jeff (post 115) comes closest so far but perhaps I can get a little closer. I think people are hardwired to believe and trust people they like, after all successful con men are pretty much universally described as having “charm” and “charisma”. Very rarely does a victim of a scam describe the perpetrator as a “snarly bastard who was rude to me”.

I think successful long copy establishes a “friendship” between the seller and reader that can have the effect of making the reader trust the seller and cough up his dough.

Sergey says July 17, 2009

I’ll be short.

If people don’t have “data”… they invent it. This is the glitch.

That’s why information perceived as “new” sells. (back side of the same glitch)

    Robert Scanlon says July 20, 2009

    Well done for winning Sergy!

    Now you’re on your way to multimillions …


    Joaquin says July 20, 2009

    Holy shit, Sergy……..”I’ll be short…”
    I guess you will!!!….I just finished congratulating and complimenting Bob (Your co-winner) on his beautifully succinct seven lines, scrolled down here and see…. that you do it in TWO!!… TWO???…
    WTF??!!… 650+Posts… debating the supposed superiority of long copy and the two winners write a total of 9 lines between them…..Hmmm….I smell a rat (or is it a weasel???..)… I think the old boy is trying to incite another riot…..What do you think??…
    Congratulations, well done!!……..Joaquin (post#500)

    Tom Vo says July 21, 2009

    Congratulations. Short and to the point. I could learn a few things here.

    Well done.

    Tom Vo

    Bob says July 21, 2009


    Congratulations on your insight. Now to use that knowledge profitably.


    Johan says July 22, 2009

    Congrats, Sergey and Bob!
    I think I came pretty close to the right answer myself (137), but you guys hit it first.
    Well done! 🙂

Ellis Toussier says July 17, 2009


Jerry says July 17, 2009

It is their perception
Their Mood

Long copy has the opportunity to alter on or the other or both.

Johan says July 17, 2009

People hate it when questions they have remain unanswered.

Eugenie says July 17, 2009

I’m not there yet, but pay close attention to what John actually says: “…it’s the main reason the world continues to operate pretty much on a permanent Self-Destruct ‘Who The Fuck Is In Charge?’ Mode.”

So it’s something that goes way, way beyond the confines of long v short copy and making a sale. Something that underpins how we respond to other people, our wider environment, and how we arrive at our version of reality. (John also said Garry – #24 – was on the right track…)

It’s also going to be jaw-droppingly simple.

Will return when brain cells have done more mulling…

Kristine says July 17, 2009

Here’s my guess…it’s because people WANT to conform. People will tend to believe what they see if enough people also believe it (testimonials), rather than go against the crowd and risk being the “one left out”.

Mik says July 17, 2009

Hi John.
Been studying your information for some time.

Your Question: “What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

Answer to your question: Zeigarnik Effect / Principle. The brain & psyche must have finality. eg: closure. It’s been ground into our brains ever since childhood with phrases like “finish what you start” and “it’s not over till it’s over”. We simply MUST reach a finality. Until there is a final state reached, the brain / psyche will generate an overwhelming desire to seek that closure. (it’s hardwired into our brains as well, but that is an incredibly long discussion for this forum.) Anyone want to see it in action? Answer the following question…. Did you read all the way through this entire blog to “see” if anyone got the acknowledgement of having the correct answer prior to posting your own thoughts? If you did,….. Guess what, you satisfied the Zeigarnik principle. You obtained closure, in as much as none of the answers posted were in agreement with your thoughts and ideas. So… You posted.

This principle directly affects several of the main ideas posted here and follows with Johns’ suggestion for checking out snopes. Your intellect asked a question about the “reality” of an urban legend, and you had to validate the question racing through your head. Response to closure,…. You checked it out for “hints” to your ideas.

This principle plays heavily into the “heard” or “crowd” mentality as well. You see an “activity” and your brain asks a question. From that point on, desire to “find out” continues to build until you take action. Once you take action, you have closure. If your actions agree with you base, or frame, then you have been sold. Long copy offers the opportunity to “throw out” lots of “hook” type objections until one hits home with the reader. This further reinforces the building desire and BAM! you’re digging for your wallet.

Your comments John?

Loyd says July 17, 2009

The glitch is filters and stereotypes.

We have so much stimuli coming at us every hour of every day, it’s too much to take in and process. So, our mind runs it through filters based on our experiences, beliefs, previous thoughts and more.

Then, it quickly categorizes it and seems to say, yeah that matches up with I know or seems reasonable, etc. Or it induces skepticism, distrust, etc.

That’s why long copy needs to grab the person’s attention, focus it, and then walk them through each stage so it doesn’t automatically get thrown into some filter that immediately stereotypes and classifies it as something we’d rather them not think or believe about our product.

And it’s why we need credibility and proof elements out the wazoo, reason-why, testimonials, explaining the mechanism of how the product works… all the way through to the close and the reasons they should act now.

At every stage, all this information is getting filtered and judged against what the person has already experienced and thought and believes, and we have to overcome that as salesmen.

We’re all hardwired to have instant reactions and judgments that use this process of filtering and stereotypes. It makes it easier to get through life because of all the information we are bombarded with. It’s certainly not always the right conclusion or thought, but it’s how it works.

Long copy or short?

Long, please.

Because we have a lot of filters to bypass and walk through to get the sale.

SO says July 17, 2009

People are stubborn.

Joao says July 17, 2009

I’ve already read in many comments what I would have said to be the reasoning for long copy. But as you, John Carlton, (and a respectful howdie to you) keep saying it’s not the right answer I’ll try and go with something different.

Long copy means long hard work by the company who’s selling the product. Therefore, the reader gets an instant feeling of trust. If the copy is long/good the product must also be good.

Sharon says July 17, 2009

People don’t like to think hard and deep. They like to be told what to do and going through the process of reading long copy brings them to that place of I’m in good hands and can follow this person

Les says July 17, 2009

My idea is that the longer the seller keeps talking (hopefully in an engaging way) the more we think there is a likelihood that they will say something that we like, will want to hear or profit from. We feel compelled to listen or read longer to justify the time we have already spent on it. We get lazy in a way, hoping that this ‘spread of food’ in front of us will contain some morsel we fancy. The bigger the spread then surely, we think, there must be something in here I will like. The glitch then is a kind of ‘throwing good money after bad’, or the gambler’s fallacy.

What do you think?

JC says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
I didn’t read ALL of the comments so it may have been said already.

I believe the glitch is that whenever you focus your mind on anything for a certain amount of TIME something kicks in and says “Ok, I don’t know what this guy has been saying for the last 45 minutes but I want it!”

Staying frosty!

    JC says July 17, 2009

    This glitch is the same one that tells your body you are full after 45 minutes of eating…whether you stretched one hamburger out for 45 minutes or ate for 45 minutes straight.

Matt D says July 17, 2009

Here is my crack at this nut…

The Glitch: People believe the FIRST thing they hear and long copy is needed to overcome that FIRST belief.

How long did it take for you to fall for your 1st love? Not long I am sure. But how long did it take for you to get OVER your first love and fall in love with #2? Oh a heck of a lot longer…

Thanks John for another great contest!

Sharon says July 17, 2009

Also it resonates with being a zombie

Juliefyre says July 17, 2009

At their core, people are devoted to looking good and being right about whatever they believe at any given moment. The length of the copy gives them a chance — literal TIME — to shift their beliefs. That’s only going to happen if the copy appeals to them, of course. But the actual TIME it takes — not the repetition alone — is what’s needed for excavation of their old beliefs and building of new ones based on what you share with them.

LOVING this, btw, John. Tks a bunch for helping wake up MY brain!


carol says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”
Great qustion!
I think that the majority of people are addicted to being right. If they’ve come to your site with the expectation of buying, every bit of information you give them about the greatness of the product or service feeds that addiction and when they finish reading the copy and buy, they have had their “hit” until the next time…they were definitely right in coming to your site and definitely right in purchasing.

Suresh says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
It’s very instructive to go through all the responses to your blog posts 🙂
Let’s see if I can add something useful…
Someone on here said we all have a rational and an emotional side to our brains. In my opinion the psychological glitch is that our rational side (also known as skepticism when overdone) is usually stronger and is what keeps the potential buyer in us in check, while our emotional side (which we don’t trust as much) is eager to fill in that credit card number and go “click!”

Long copy provides just enough appeal to our emotions via all that information, benefits, testimonials, etc. to overcome our rational “brake” and push our emotional “gas pedal” to the metal, greatly increasing the chances of clinching the sale. Short copy is too short to raise our emotions to the point that we can overcome our rational side; similarly, breaks in the long copy usuch as using emails, successive web pages etc. allows our rational side to regain control of our emotions.
How did I do?


Dave Doolin says July 17, 2009

I got to comment #10, and read John’s hint on why long copy is needed.

My answer: people reading long copy make more emotional commitment, that emotional commitment produces the sales. They have to do some work for the sale, so they create the value in their own heads.

Now I’ll read the rest of the comments, which are as enlightening to me as the article! Thanks for a great quiz, John.

David A. Bailey, Jr says July 17, 2009

He knows he wants wants your product…he really Really REALLY wants it…he just to reads your long copy looking for reasons to justify the purchase and explain it to his wife and friends.

PJ says July 17, 2009

My guess would be that long copy helps to stimulate “fear of loss” in people while simultaneously stimulating the reticular activating system (RAS). With rumors often we dismiss them until we see fragments of information repeated over the course of time. The more we see a given piece of information presented to us. The more we tend to believe it as fact. For some reason we begin to question our own belief system if we are bombarded with a piece of information over and over. In essence long copy helps a person to tell a story or paint a picture that invites the reader to step out of their perception of reality into another one. Short copy doesn’t build relationship or engage the reader in that way. Good long copy helps a person believe that they are in control and would be in greater control if they purchase the presented information.

Ross Bowring says July 17, 2009

Length implies strength.



Emrah says July 17, 2009

People hold self-formed convictions (no matter how silly) over evidence of objective reality. Long copy enables an outside story become a self-formed conviction.

Geo. McCalip says July 17, 2009

Everyone is basically insecure. We need sufficient assurance/reassurance that the decision to purchase is correct or we will not buy.

Roger says July 17, 2009

I think the answer you are looking for is playing on the “desperation” of the prospective purchaser and then filling that need with long-winded copy. However this is my answer:

Repetition creates subliminal reinforcement which directly influences said purchaser. The reinforcement comes from the “perceived value” of the item or service being hawked. This is always best accomplished with long copy versus short copy. The psychological glitch being “am I getting enough for my hard-earned money”. Long “factual” copy vs short copy “addresses that with the amount of copy needed to do the reinforcing” by allowing the opportunity to further elaborate on the benefits of an item/service ever increasing its perceived value and reinforcing in the mind of the purchaser that “yes, I am getting a good deal for my money, so I’ll get it”.

Sharon says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
Long time fan. Love you’re style and quizes. Here is another idea that flew by my mind.
some how it works with how we procrastinate

Patricia says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
One of the respondents was right…None of you ever sleep!!!!!…I am going to take a shot..I don’t know if the right answer has already been posted… Buying is and always has been an emotional decision..Long copy not only gives the opportunity to educate the prospect so there is the back up of logic for the decision, but also gives the opportunity for FEEL, FELT, FOUND …which connects to the emotional decision to buy. That’s why stories are so great. I understand how you FEEL (about whatever problem you are solving for them) many people have FELT the way you do and FOUND that (whatever your selling) is the solution. So I’d say that the “Psychological Glitch” is EMOTION. The NEED to FEEL GOOD about what they are buying. The need for the education is to prevent “buyer’s remorse” when logic kicks in. As in “Honey, you bought what?!!”.

Suresh says July 17, 2009

Hi again John,

Having read Garry’s comment (# 24) and your response to it, I’d like to add another theory if that’s allowed 🙂 If not, just go with my first one…
Garry said, “there’s no reality, just our perception of it.”
So then, does long copy pile on enough evidence to move the average person’s perception of reality from their point of view to that of the seller? This kind of ties in with what I said earlier, so maybe a shift in reality perception plus an increase in emotional reaction reaches a critical threshold while reading long copy. And short copy, breaks etc. are too short to do this.
I’ll stop now ‘cos the more I think about this, the more new & conflicting theories seem to pop into my head 🙂

Cheers & regards,

Luke Hawthorne says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
We frequently believe what we read because we are hearing our OWN voices in our heads. A person is much more likely to believe him or herself than anybody else.

Bill Reyes says July 17, 2009

Great long copy, tells the reader that they are not the only person on the planet suffering from being broke, clueless in bed, or having a face that reads like a walking billboard for Dominoes Pizza. Like a good novel it begs to be finished. It appeals to the psychological need to belong… belong to the group of people who have what they want… selfish relief from whatever they suffer from.

Judith says July 17, 2009

Psychological Glitch: Satisfaction.

Cyndi says July 17, 2009

Read post 131, then pick up your marbles and go home. He’s got it locked up people…

Been fun reading all the posts to this point, I must admit. And a fun time is being had by all, it seems…

    DARLENE says July 19, 2009

    John already responded that he was close, but not what he was looking for. Sorry! But I do think there already has been a winning post

Petri says July 17, 2009

First thing that came to my mind to support long copy instead of short copy is that long copy makes people think that the seller has invested lots of time to the copy and therefore they are ‘in debt’ to this seller for this used time. And that debt makes them compelled to buy, to compensate the long effort of the seller.

Jay says July 17, 2009

Is it the glitch that we think we know everything? Most people really cannot get past the idea that their knowledge on something is incorrect or insufficient…that’s why so many arguments become heated and inflamed even when one side is obviously right and the other obviously wrong. So, translated to sales copy, it probably takes longer to dislodge that sense of know-it-all-ism than short copy allows. Getting someone to even give your product/service an honest look takes some knocking down of their resistance to listen to someone else.

Wanda says July 17, 2009

I think people need long copy to validate who they are. They see themselves and their needs in the copy. When you can “become” your customer and provide an answer to their problem they sell themselves. Long copy reinforces self belief.

    Wanda says July 17, 2009

    Still thinking about the question and wanted to add something to my answer.
    If selling is transferring a feeling and we have genuine belief in the value of what we’re selling long copy answers the objections and provides the benefits of owning the object. The close alleviates fears and doubts a prospect has. People don’t like to make decisions and a firm reassuring close helps a prospect act and not put off a decision. People are looking for answers or they wouldn’t be reading the copy in the first place.

Jared B says July 17, 2009

Our brains need new juice to massage our emotions. W/o it, we shrivel up and die inside. Challenges will always be accepted if they occur on a level of importance. Be it the preacher at the pulpit, mom with the family, or salesmanship in print. We need to connect. The more emotional entertaining, the more it drives our brain & the body follows. The glitch in our selves is no man is an island. The void needs to be filled. We use spoken talk, written words, and touch; these are the three NLP’ers where A-V-K operate the psyche. Does not matter which medium one uses, the glitch in our brain has gotta connect and thereby get fed. Our brain has to have something running around in it; that is the glitch of our brain – the VOID that has to be filled. That’s also why you talk to your self or let someone else do it for you. It’s a vacuum that needs filling much like an empty car gotta run on gas, diesel, electricity, etc – something to make IT GO! The more we are sucked in, the more we like it!!! Heck, if it’s a good story, we don’t care if it’s valid. Double heck, our psyche has got it’s radar going 24/7 and latches on to attraction. So, make it so and I will follow or lead sayeth the glitch.

Matt D says July 17, 2009

…adding just a wee bit to my answer…

The first glitch, what I hear first becomes fact, plants the weed and then we base our decisions around that weed, as if it were true.

To use John’s snopes example, people go to snopes to see if something actually is false. They have adopted the idea that the “tale” is true, until proven false.

It is infinitely harder to talk someone out of their first opinion than it is to establish a new one. Hence the need for long copy.

Rebecca says July 17, 2009

Long copy works because it provides the opportunity for the prospect to validate you are indeed focusing on one single thing you do well. Long copy allows the prospect to position you so he can associate that one focused aspect of your service or product and automatically links you (thanks to your long copy) to other “good” he wants.

Tim Hillwood says July 17, 2009

The glitch is that it’s almost impossible for humans to read or involve themselves with something without adding meaning to it. The longer time we have to see and make sense of someone else’s meanings, the more likely we are to adapt them as our own.

Paul Johnson says July 17, 2009

Wow! There are so many brains out there driven by some very high horse-powered engines. Excellent! This response may pale in comparison but I will take a stab at it.
I think that is has to do with “human connection”. The long copy provides the writer the space to to provide the reader with enough content/narrative for the reader to establish in their own mind if they “know” the writer well enough, if they “like” the writer well enough, and if they “trust” the writer well enough to make a financial commitment in this relationship(albeit in their own mind) the reader feels has been established. Once we feel like we “know” someone we then come to a decision as to our “like” for them, (are we like them, sharing many similarities in analytics, emotion, personal challenges, life circumstances etc. and do we like them) and then it is a matter of do I “trust” them. Once we have that “human connection” then we settle in and listen to learn rather than spending energy continually having to discern motives etc. I am sure that there are many elements previously discussed that come into play, but I think that is centers around this HUMAN CONNECTION of KNOWING, LIKING AND TRUSTING. That seems to be the common thread that is attributable to the success of Social Marketing and the high frequency of interactions with one another, which I interpret as long-content (several installments of short content conversations and such.
I will stop now. Fascinating theories and thoughts. Anxious to hear the answer. Regards to all.

Rick says July 17, 2009

Hello John,

I like how Brian Tracey says…Don’t worry what
other people think of you—they very seldom do.

It seems folks are obsessed with this. They want to answer the question to themselves…
“Is this going to make me look bad?”

Tell them it won’t long enough and convincingly enough and they’ll act.

Recently joined your list through Kern. I’m glad to be here.

Richard Samples

Larry says July 17, 2009

You need to express that you an authority on the subject you are selling. You have the answers they are looking for. Trust is also important but unless they believe you to be the “go to person”, you lose

“Authority” is the answer.
awaiting my prize!!!

Walter Daniels says July 17, 2009

I think the comment saying “inertia” is as you say, close. The “glitch” is the mind will always go with works, until there is sufficient irritation to force a need to change. Long copy is a misnomer. It’s copy of exactly the right length that succeeds.
It must be long enough to identify the the “thought/action” to be changed. Then, it must identify how much irritation is there, and finally to show how the new “thought/product/action” will relieve the irritation. In effect the solution must involve less “cost” than the current method/thought.

Valerie Knotts is an Online Marketing Entrepreneur says July 17, 2009

Technology has advanced faster than our capacity to process information and we are unable to thoroughly process it in making decisions. As a result we are seeking shortcuts by looking for one single reliable feature upon which to make that decision. The most frequently used shortcut is based on the principle of Social Proof. Therefore in writing sales copy you want to create an image of popularity based on reliable, quality information that solves a problem for the customer and allows the customer to make a decision immediately.

matthew B says July 17, 2009

We write copy to build credibility. To validate the value of whatever we our selling. But the glitch at work is that at some point, with good (and long) copy, the tables turn, and it is the reader who seeks validation, who wishes to be “accepted.” Subconsciously. A glitch.

And this subconsious desire to be accepted by the seller leads to the desire to purchase. Because at that point it’s not about buying something so much as being validated…almost, being let into the “club.”

Here’s an example to demostrate the glitch that has nothing to do with written copy, but shows what long, repetitive sales processes can do to trip this trigger.

You walk onto a car dealership lot. You’re skeptical, defensive. You have questions. You need answers. You need to be convinced. Someone approaches you, and you put up psychological defense. You judge them, their bad suit, their weaak handshake, their slick demeanor.

But after a long conversation, a test drive, a sit down at the desk, an excellent salesman would have turned it around psychologically so that, however srtange, you find yourself wanting validation, acceptance from the salesperson. You want them to think you’re worthy of buying from them.

Its a glitch we all possess, with varying degrees. And if the salesperson, or copywriter, is aware of it, they can capitalize.

And I can apply this glitch angle to your own selling style, John. I’ve been getting your emails for a serious while now. I can’t remember where or when I got hooked into this. But I don’t unsub. And I read most of them.

And I didn’t realize it until I started thinking about your question here, but you’ve trained my brain into thinking that there is something seriously exclusive and badass about your “group”. Not your products or trainings or systems or teams O’ writers…but being part of your group.

You’ve gotten my glitched-out brain seeking validation, not FOR you but FROM you.

Niels says July 17, 2009

Our brains are like the proverbial frog in the pot of water. Bring the water up to a boil slowly and the frog will stay not realizing soon enough what danger he is in. (I know, that is a myth too, but the analogy works). Our brains are adapted to suffering a situation and remain in our problem state, contend not to find a solution to our problem. The Long Copy is necessary to wack us out of our conservative mode and start acting on what we know we need to act on.
Politicians tend to need a lot of reactions from their constituents before they take action. Look at the yokels running California right now. The state is in a mess, but they are not taking action. Rather than making a decision they know they have to make, they are contend to stay in the boiling water because they have adapted to the misery and no longer perceive the problem as an urgent problem. We need to talk to them a lot, to get them to move forward and take action for the good of the state of California.

Stacey says July 17, 2009

People don’t like to be sold. With long copy the buyer convinces herself to buy rather than being sold to. They get the impression that THEY chose this product/ service of their very own will.

Dwain says July 17, 2009

I think the “glitch” you are tempting us with is the fact that we all like to hear stories. With long copy, a skilled writer can weave a story in between the features and benefits, bullet points and analogies. Copy with a story should be long enough to tell the tale and give interested prospects a complete picture of whatever it is you’re selling

Jordan says July 17, 2009

Is it “doubt” or”skepticism”, and the need to overcome it? I doubt everything until I’ve acquired what I deem to be sufficient proof to the contrary. You are more likely to break down the defenses with long copy and social validation, even if it’s complete garbage.

Jay says July 17, 2009

Based on the idea of a “story” principle and the thread about people remaining “committed” to something the longer they are involved, I’d say that “suspension of disbelief” is the glitch you’re referring to. When you go to a movie in order for you to engage in the story you must first suspend your disbelief about what you’re actually seeing. You must, in effect, tell yourself “Yes, that man in a tight red and blue unitard is climbing up the side of that skyscraper in broad daylight… and I believe he is actually doing it because I can see him doing it”. Your conscious mind accepts this as true or “reality”, even though you have never seen this happen in your “real” life outside the movie theater. You suspend your disbelief about Spider Man’s feats (short circuit your logic) so you can sit back and enjoy the flick. Long copy functions the same way — it allows us to suspend our disbelief in order to buy into what’s being pitched…


Glenn Y says July 17, 2009

Validation. . . . the need to be validated in our thought process.

Just like all of us coming back to see if our answer is correct. Nice going John.

Leslie says July 17, 2009

People want to feel that you know them, that you understand their needs, that you have their best interests in mind. Long copy allows a writer to establish this claim. Humans want to be known and liked.

Ross Bowring says July 17, 2009

length implies strength.

Claire McCarthy says July 17, 2009

Most people crave the satisfaction of being better than everyone else. When we buy something, we want to know exactly how it will make us better looking, richer, more intelligent, stronger and more powerful than everyone else.
Long copy allows the salesman to drive home exactly how we will achieve this when we buy the product.
The reason that we believe urban myths is because they are often about something unfortunate happening to someone, making us feel better about ourselves.

Marvin says July 17, 2009

My brain is hurting :). There are some great comments above; thanks for helping us to think!

I think the NIH (Not Invented Here) factor is something that needs to be overcome. Long copy offers the opportunity to do that by showing a potential buyer the solution in ways they already knew, but adds in factors they may not have realized thus adding value to the product.

Gwen says July 17, 2009

People subconciously believe that the more you say, the more you must know. It’s the same glitch that makes people believe you’re an authority if you’ve published a book (whether or not it was a good or useful one).

Oritseyemi says July 17, 2009

I am late to this party again.
I hate when I do that. I am still going to give it a short anyway!

Here we go.

Skeptism, John. That’s it.

Let me explain.

People can easily buy stuff that is say between 29 -49 dollars without blinking. Hey, it does not cost them that much.

But when it comes to stuff that cost say 99 dollars and above they start thinking “why the heck do I need to give this guy my money”. I really sweat for this money.

To get them to part with that money they are whinning about, you have to address their objections not only by using long copy on your website, you aslo do all of that by breaking your email correspondences into tiny bits by educating them for over a very long time. Offer them valuable content over that long period, with the hope that somehow they are going to part with that money they don’t want to part with the very first time you meet them virtually online(first time they landed on your page) but also to convince them to even spend more.

Here is what auto responder also does that CRM does not do.

It helps you to break through their wall of attitude. People’s attitude [no one talk about this John. No one talk about customers attitude].

Am off the track here?

Anyway, the long series of auto responder break through that attitude problem BUT first you must know and understand your customer personna.

Customer personna? Yes!
The issue of customer personna is not heavily talked about most especially in the Internet Marketing arena but I think it is something that need to be addressed a lot.

Here is my final answer. Attitude!

How did I do john?
Did I win??

Kristopher says July 17, 2009

As a copywriter, I have found that when it comes to long copy – its advantage over short copy stems from the “glitch” that people buy based on EMOTION, then justify their purchase with LOGIC. Neurologically speaking, emotions and logic originate in different parts of the brain. Long copy affords you the opportunity to press a greater number of people’s “emotional hot buttons” – with hopes that you will hit more than just one. Then, you can justify your claims with varying forms of proof to validate and justify the buyer’s purchase.

John Edgley says July 17, 2009

@46 Ken Donaldson has it right – the glitch is fear, which in this case is the fear of “missing out”.

The result of that fear is a state of nervousness, frozen in the headlights, and to escape it we need permission and instruction (permission to do something since we hate to take responsibility for our actions, i.e. to take action “off our own bat”, and instruction in what to do).

This is why you will hear many more stories of why we didn’t do “such and such” (excuses mainly) rather than genuine tales of “derring-do”.

Long copy will include “social proof” (testimonials), statistics (scientific sounding) etc, and the combined effect is to convince us that if we don’t purchase we will truly be missing out on something, and at the same time giving us permission and instruction to purchase (alleviating the nervousness, indecision and subsequent annoyance, or in more trivial cases “scratching the itch”!).

David Lawrence says July 17, 2009

The Glitch – “Yea, but…”

While we read a sales letter or endure any pitch, we can’t help but respond with a, “Yea, but… (insert excuse here – it’s too expensive, my business is different, it’s too complicated, etc). Long copy answers all the “Yea, but…” our prospects might have while they read the letter. Good long copy leaves the prospect with only one response, “Yea, that’s for me.”

Thomas C. says July 17, 2009

“What is this Psychological Glitch in people’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process?”

The psychological glitch is that the brain only has a limited amount of psychological processing energy per day.

Before you write me off, let me explain…

You see, if you are zombied-out, this means you have passed your psychological processing limit for the day—you’ve processed way too many (probably non-essential) pieces of information. And you are therefore forced into mindlessly following your usual routines.

But, here’s how your limited amount of brain processing energy relates to short vs. long copy:
Even though a short copy ad is easier and faster to read (requiring low amounts of processing energy by the buyer during the reading of the ad), it actually takes substantially more psychological energy to fully process the ad and make the buying decision after the fact.

On the contrary, a long-copy ad requires a little more brain processing up front (to read through all that long copy). This is OK, because there is very little brain processing energy needed after the fact to make the final decision.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but isn’t that the whole point here? Now, stay with me here…
You see, short-copy ads, while quick to read, require the prospect to spend an inordinate amount of brain energy trying to understand and process how exactly the product works, what is the unique selling proposition, what is the seller’s background and can he be trusted, whether there is a lot of personal or social risk, etc., etc.

On the other hand, long-copy ads, while slow to read, provide virtually all of the “thinking” for the prospect. If done correctly, the long-copy ad grabs the prospect at a point in their unique reality, shows the prospect the intended outcome, and shows the prospect exactly how the product will get them from Point A to Point B as quickly and easily as possible. A long-copy ad also goes through all major objects, demonstrates results in advance, communicates social-proof, testimonials, and so on and so forth.

So the glaring difference between short –copy and long-copy (in terms of psychological effects) is that long-copy actually does 99% of the “thinking” for the prospect, so when you get to the delicate “close” phase, the prospect has plenty of psychological processing capacity left to simply say “yes”. The long-copy sales letter has done all of the “heavy mental lifting” for the prospect.

Just like a marketer’s product should solve the prospects problem as quickly and as conveniently as possible, the marketer’s sales copy should solve the prospects decision making dilemma as fast as possible. The product AND the pitch should do ALL OF THE WORK for the prospect—this is what makes it easy to say yes.
With short-copy, the prospect must spend a lot of psychological energy trying to figure out, on his own, whether or not to buy. He will be overwhelmed with questions and concerns. And because short-copy puts the burden of “thinking” on the prospect, the prospect will be too burnt out and confused to even come close to making a yes or no decision.

Shame on you! Don’t make the prospect think too hard!

It’s better to go ahead and figure out “everything” the prospect is going to want to know first, and then present all of the information in an orderly, easy-to-read, and easy-to-understand sales letter. This way, the prospect will still have enough brain energy to make the purchasing commitment when he reaches the finish line.

Look. We’re all susceptible to a lack of psychological stamina. And no one is immune. So, it is better to provide people with an easy-to-follow path of discovery about your product and why they should buy.

If you can get your prospect to sit back and relax and listen to your marvelous sales pitch then you will make the sale.

Basically, long copy “pre-processes” all of the heavy brainwork required to actually make the decision about whether to buy.

The burden of proving that your product is worth a damn is unavoidable. But, the top copywriters know one thing… that you should always put that burden of proof on the seller’s shoulders, not on the buyer’s.

The seller should spend his time and his energy proving that he’s got the goods.
Don’t expect the buyer to go out of his way to figure your stuff out. It won’t happen.

We do not buy what we do not understand. And the overwhelming majority of us will not take the time to figure out what we do not understand (especially if it’s coming from a salesman).

Without the “no-work-necessary clarity” that a long-copy sales letter provides, the seller has no chance in convincing a buyer, with limited psychological processing energy available, that it’s the right deal.

Craig Blair says July 17, 2009

People WANT to belong. We NEED to be a part of “it”. That want, that need compels us to act in a way that gets us accepted. This can extend to buying habits too.

Gwen says July 17, 2009

O.K., after my first post I read through more of the comments and have expanded my answer. (I couldn’t read all of them because the copy is just too darned loooong!)

My guess is that it has to do with how the brain processes information. It can only introduce new information in a certain order in a certain amount of time. And new information must overcome prior info stored in the brain’s databanks, therefore enough time must be allowed for the brain to “catch up” with the new concept being sold. Hence, insufficient copy will not allow that process to happen.

Mike says July 17, 2009

I haven’t read all the comments, may be the right answer has been given. But, I’l try to give my own.

So, I think the answer is selective attention.

I give you an example. You have 10 arguments in your sales letter. First
customer will choose arguments 2 and 3 and ignore all others, the second
one will choose 4 and 5, the third one 6 and 9 etc. If there are enough
arguments every customer will compose his own sales letter in his mind
using arguments from your list.

Patty H says July 17, 2009

Hi John,
I believe the answer is that people need to believe they have made the choice to buy all on their own.

steve says July 17, 2009

Fear of not knowing the whole story.

otto says July 17, 2009

Wow John,

Seems like you have found a trigger here with these quizzes.

My take on it is this:

Long copy is needed because people have a built-in B.S. detector.


PS: Got one for you here. Remember I talked about selling my biz? Well, it did happen. Guess how?

John Thomas says July 17, 2009


I’m gonna post and then go back and read over the comments to see if my answer was already posted.

I believe the answer is context. People exist in their day-to-day lives thinking in a certain context, an environmental trance, if you will.

What long copy does is it takes people from one point, transports them to a different mental context in which your offer can make sense, and then based on that new context, leads them to make a buying decision in your favor (which should also truly be beneficial to them).

So, my answer is context / frame of reference.


– John

Kim says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

Here goes my answer.

I think it is because we actually think in pictures and associations and the longer the copy is the more picture to associations the brain can form like a concept map. This will engage the prospect at the core level and with the longer copy you have the opportunity to “hit” the association that resonates individually with them, thus creating the mindset for them to take the positive action you want them to take.


Ruth Deutsch says July 17, 2009

I believe that if you anticipate the target market’s hot buttons plus all their various kinds of potential objections then build your message to allay those concerns through devices which build trust and credibility so that those issues would not even surface as a “problem” (and of course throw in a time urgency to buy so they won’t think too much) then they’ll believe they must buy from you, now. It takes long copy to establish all of that.

Susanna Jade says July 17, 2009

Why does long copy convert better than short copy? What is the “glitch” in our psychology that makes this so? Maybe it has to do with that ancient torture method of dripping water over a long period of time to make a prisoner divulge classified information. The dripping water in itself is harmless and ineffective, but keep it dripping consistently and the sound becomes so overwhelming that one gives in to its pressure. Short copy is like the dripping water that is stopped. We get a bit of the sales pitch but are not compelled to buy because there isn’t enough pressure applied. Long copy is that constant drip of water that gets under our skin and eventually convinces us that the offer is valid, that the product is worthy that we have to buy it in order to evolve. It is a relief and a fulfillment to purchase the product that we have been reviewing.

Also, the long copy satisfies a customer’s questions about the product. Through a progressive email campaign or in a long sales page, compelling bullet points, testimonials, and repetitive reasons for buying the product sets off the switch that allows the purchase. The product must produce results, whether it be an info product that teaches one how to make money online or off, or a physical product that the customer ultimately desires. Most people are compulsive in their purchases. They don’t need the product; they want the product. OK, sometime we need and want the product, like a new computer or better digital camera or a moneymaking system that really works if we apply its principles. There is so much competition and choices for all of our wants and needs in our saturated capitalistic market. Why should anyone buy our products?

One has to establish confidence in the buyer that the product is fully guaranteed and satisfaction is guaranteed. It is doubtful a Ms. Nobody will sell her product that a Ms. Somebody is selling when Ms. Somebody has developed her presence through persistent SEO of her sites and use of social networking, videos and the long product description pages, testimonials and email campaigns. There are many such persistent and successful marketers online that have a huge chunk of the info marketing business. Shall I mention some of them? OK, I receive emails from Joel Comm, Armand Morin, Shawn Casey, Nick Marks, Mike Dillard, Michael Cheney, Tellman Knudsen, Anthony Robbins, Christopher Westra, Cody Moya, Lisa Diane, Yanik Silver, Mark Joyner, Dani Johnson, Ken McArthur, Eben Pagan, Frank Kern, Brad Fallon, John Assaraf, Matt Furey, Andy Jenkins, Ed Dale, Matt Bacak, Ewen Chia Russell Brunson, Eric Holmlund and many more. Actually I am in overload. I have been dripped on for a couple of years now, have spent my share of money on this and that, and am ready for a real break through. I’m a graphic designer and work from home now, but would really like to get the “money stream” flowing through an automated system. I am fascinated by the slightly different styles of all the top marketers. I love your style, John Carlton.

So, let’s get back to the “glitch” in psychology. We are bombarded by advertisements in every media form there is daily. We have become skeptical by all the hype and deception. Until we trust a source, we won’t use it. We have been bamboozled to believe our news networks actually tell us the “real” facts. We actually don’t know who to trust, what is real or how to make a judgment about anything. But we must, so we do, dependent on our confidence level, whether real or suggested. That’s why the long copy works over the short copy. Our minds must believe that this is the best choice and the company or person is trustworthy and will provide support for our purchase. When we cross over that threshold of belief and confidence in the source, then we will make that purchase. Most times we have developed a relationship with the source and we like and admire the source. One must sell oneself first in order to sell anything. The short stick never wins over the long stick. Bigger is better – that is our belief. When I believe in something, I trust it and use it. The “glitch” is belief, not fact, not truth. Our beliefs rule our hearts and pocket books.

Susanna Jade Angolani

Hal Hoadley says July 17, 2009

Here is what I believe to be true and evident in my testing of this theory over years of writing content.

Copy should be long enough to do its job effectively, and not a word longer. Long copy for the sake of long copy is not to your benefit. Always keep in mind the primary goal of your website’s copy (to sell your product or service, to solicit subscriptions, etc.).

Utilize bullets and/or numbered lists where appropriate. These make it easier for visitors to digest your information and prevent your pages from becoming one long block of gray.

Utilize testimonials. Praise from your satisfied customers is much more effective than self-praise.
In general, long copy offers the following advantages:

1. Your visitors will have most of their questions answered and will have less anxiety about ordering from you.

2. Long copy can reduce customer service by qualifying your customers to a greater degree.

3. Long copy with bolded or emphasized points can allow some of your visitors to skim, while others more interested in specifics can find all the information they want. In this sense, long copy gives visitors more options.

4. Long (and interesting) keyword-rich copy often performs well in natural search engines.

If I’m missing some points I’m sure you’ll clue us in on Monday.
Hal Hoadley

Philip Wong says July 17, 2009

Long copy works because it justifies the NEED FOR APPROVAL that what they’re doing is the right course of action to take.

Chris says July 17, 2009

The long copy tells a story or weaves a story throughout the presentation.

The reader/buyer wants to have fun or read a titillating story.


Peter says July 17, 2009

Our brains are hard-wired for stories?

    John Carlton says July 17, 2009

    Hi Peter, Chris and everyone else who thought “storytelling” was the answer.
    Storytelling isn’t a glitch.
    Consider, instead, what goes on in a person’s mind while confronted with the big bad world…

      Peter says July 17, 2009

      Long copy resolves cognitive dissonance
      more effectively than short copy?

Fritz says July 17, 2009

I’m no expert but it would seem to me that people make up their minds to do something at different time rates. Some people will make a quick decision others take awhile, while others need to know every little thing before they will make a decision. By having long copy you get a chance to close these consumers anywhere during the sales pitch.

Joe Nicassio says July 17, 2009

One more shot…

According to Earl Nightengale, ” We tend to move in the currently dominant thoughts”

The more you read, the more your thoughts get dominated… Leading to more sales.

    Joe Nicassio says July 17, 2009

    Ultimately, its a form of SATISFACTION

      Joe Nicassio says July 17, 2009

      At some point, we are SATISFIED that we have enough information to move forward.

      The greatest universal motivator is COMFORT.

      We are all looking to feel COMFORTABLE with our decisions.

Steve Topper says July 17, 2009

Perhaps it has to do with the mental shortcuts we use to make quick decisions based on very little information. Over time we’ve developed these mental shortcuts to help us deal with the massive amount of information coming our way daily. The only problem in using our mental shortcuts is that they don’t always lead to the right or best decision. An example would be to make a quick decision to take some new prescription medicine because it was being promoted by Sally Fields in a magazine ad. The flying nun wouldn’t lie to us. We use our mental shortcut of an authority figure to make a decision without reading all the copy accompanying the ad. Yet, great copywriters are able to get us beyond our mental shortcut and into long copy so we get the information we need to make the right decision.

Marvin says July 17, 2009

I got wind of this quiz/post kinda late (there’re 200+ comments here when I found out about it).

Anyway, here’s my go:

Human Interest; man’s insatiable (and most of the time, unconscious) thirst and hunger for the trivial, the bizaare, the grotesque, (Frank Kern calls it the ‘Rubber Neck’ effect) etc.

A long copy, when written properly stirs the reader’s subconscious into finding out ‘a little bit more’ and ‘another small bit more’ and so on until he find’s himself sliding well into that greased slide.

It starts with the headline with when the seemingly outrageous is fed to the mind (like ‘How You Can Master Killer-Guitar Chops Right Now And Put Other More Experienced Guitarists To Shame Tonight – GUARANTEED!’). The brain, in the front end almost immediately screams BS, but at the backend, there’s an almost palpable inkling that says,’Is that really possible?’ which almost always propels it into reading the first paragraph and then the next and then the next and before he knows it, he’s scrolled all the way down and his brain has been filled with ‘undeniable proof’.

It’s why we use the ‘Bucket Brigade’ and ‘Power Words’ and all those tricks just to feed on that initial injection of the outrageous.

This doesn’t usually play into the short copy vs. long copy debate because you can also use this in short copy, only that it wouldn’t be as effective and most of the time the sale will only be out of impulse (which may lead to a bigger tendency for cancellation) instead of being effectively hammered into agreement by trestimonials, bullets, facts, argumants etc which come to the territory of a long copy.

This also has the biggest chance of catching the attention of ‘zombiefied’ people stuck in their ‘routinary grinds’ (that’s why gossip is always interesting or why scenes of a crime or of an accident attract the attention of even the most ‘robotic’ of people.

How’s this? 🙂

Gil Nelson says July 17, 2009

Hey John,
What’s the psychological glitch, you ask? It’s not psychological at all… it’s emotional. People buy when their needs are addressed emotionally. The psycho-logical part simply justifies their decision to quell the yearning.

Longer copy allows us (copywriters) to 1) stick our thumb deep into the wound, like a battlefield doctor who’s also lost his eyes, asking over and over again, “Is this where it hurts?” and 2) then to use logic to get the consensus, “Yes, please proceed” from the patient (prospect). Like – when my doc told me, “This is going to hurt like hell, but then it will be over and your leg bone will be set… ready?” I wasn’t ready emotionally at all, until my mind justified the value of the pain I was about to experience (but then heal), compared to the pain I would never lose without it.

Feel free to think of even grosser examples, but the point is – if there ain’t a need, why would I buy into it.

Let’s say that I want to see the newest action flick and my girlfriend would rather stay home and watch “Gandi” again. I can bribe her with the prospect of my future pouting or the promise of a nice dinner at her favorite food spot – the long copy is our history. All I have to do is remind her of the benefits of choosing to agree with me vs. the horror of my behavior when she hasn’t in the past. (Oh man, am I really like that?)

OK – enough of this sillyness. Thanks for the great mind-stretch. peace

Lee says July 17, 2009

The glitch is Buyer’s remorse

Stewart says July 17, 2009

Hi John,

Here goes…
When first two people meet, (and this applies to, person meets offer, as well)
An infinite number of probable outcomes are possible. Let’s take a close look at the component parts of the communication at play here, moment by moment.

First, we spy one another. We make note of our relative positions in space. (Note that time could be a part in this equation as well. The person may not have the funds to take advantage of your offer at this time. Or they may be suffering from
some fixation on one or more past or possibly some future events. Such as, the last 3 times
I pulled my wallet out on one of these excursions, I GOT RIPPED OFF! Or, they may have
decided at some point in the past that they would never succumb to possibility of being
taken advantage of again in the future. And of course we must not forget those who feel
their lives have been defined by their unfortunate past and are therefore incapable of making any kind of rational decision in any case.)

Next, we look for similarities and differences. Who is he (or what is this). Where is he (or it) from. What similarities do we share, what do we have in common. Our willingness to communicate is largely determined by our affinity for that person or thing. I mean let’s face it, If you don’t like them (or it), you’re willingness to carry on a line of communication with them isn’t going to last long. Therefore, the more opportunity you have to demonstrate that you do in fact share in a common reality, that you do believe in same things and or possibilities, the more their willingness to communicate will grow.

Imagine access to a person’s mind, like an old safe with the dial and tumbler mechanism. Every time you make a statement, you spin the dial. Now the way this mechanism works. If your statement proves to be something that your prospect believes in and or would be advantageous to their person or situation, then one of the tumblers drop and you find yourself one step closer to gaining that person’s trust. Strike enough positive cords (drop enough tumblers) and the safe will open and he will drop his defenses. As his affinity grows, so will his willingness to accept new ideas and possible future opportunities.

This is why understanding the demographics of you audience is so important. If you’re able to incorporate what your greater audience shares in common with one another, then your chances of success will improve.

Sorry, I have to go. I could talk about this forever. There is so much more to this equation.
I had hoped to make this dissertation longer, in keeping with the subject at hand.

Thank you for this opportunity John. I’ve always enjoyed your commentary.

Best wishes to everyone.

Dick Schneck says July 17, 2009

People don’t want to think. It is an effort, so they only do it if they actually feel it’s necessary.

They will accept something at face value if it SEEMS reasonable.

Thus…The more stuff you present to them, the less chance they will think about any one part of it too much. The longer the copy (if it’s good) the less people will check up on the “facts” presented in it.

I could actually go on for a while trying to explain what I am thinking, but the answer (I think) to your glitch question is, people will accept being told what to think if it sounds reasonable at the time. AND they will NOT go back and “re-examine” any of that information unless something FORCES them to.
later, Dick

    Dick Schneck says July 17, 2009

    The point is you are trying to build up a feeling in them, and not just a series of facts. If they get that feeling, then that’s all they will remember.

    People ACT on what they feel.

    Wow–I know what I mean but obviously need to write better (hint)

    later, Dick

Damien says July 17, 2009

Hi There John.

Building relationships cannot be achieved in short copy!

As Dan Kennedy say’s Copywriting is selling in print and as selling is all about building relationships. It is hard to build relationships with short copy.

Even though the relationship is virtual, the reader’s subconscious is building a strong relationship with you the writer as they read your words.

Just as you build a friendship with someone new your long copy uses all of the factors of influence to delicately form a bond. John, you don’t need me to list those factors but for those who do not know they are:

Social proof

Thanks for all your stuff!

Comedian-turned-copywriter says July 17, 2009

The 8 deadly sins….

Lust, greed, envy, sloth, wraith, gluttony, and,ah, the other 2….

    Cyndi says July 17, 2009

    Ok… this definitely gets a shout out as one of the most clever and funniest!!

    (Don’t get too excited though. Carlton doesn’t poll the crowd. LOL)

Comedian-turned-copywriter says July 17, 2009

thought, my second guess would be showing “authority.” People are drawn to, respect and automatically trust Leaders and teachers

Ray Merz says July 17, 2009

No one wants to be an easy sell.

Dan Belick says July 17, 2009

A man walks into a bar. He goes up to the first girl he sees and asks her to leave with him and have sex. She slaps him. He goes to the next girl and tries again. And again. And again. Kind of like human “spam”.

Another man walks in. Sits down next to a beautiful girl who is obviously alone, and begins a conversation, mostly about her, which leads to dinner, then dancing, and eventually to her door late in the evening. At the door, once his complete presentation has been given, she asks if he’s like to come in. His answer- “only you can decide if you’d like to go ahead, but I can see this going somewhere. If you can too, then by all means…”

That’s what long copy does- it builds trust and tells the complete story as it relates to the buyer, then it asks for the order. Or in some cases has them begging to buy NOW.
Short copy is like the first guy- if you ask enough, you might get results, but not like the long presentation does.

Unless you proposition a herion addict by telling her about the bag you have just for her. (Learned that one from Gary H.)