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…

Just enter your name and primary email address below and we'll send you the new report right away.

"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • Steve says:

    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:

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

    • Joe says:

      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!!


    • 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.


  • 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

  • Juri Saragih says:

    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:

    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:

      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…

  • Christoffer says:

    “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.


  • 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:

    “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:

      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:

    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:

    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.

  • Broc says:

    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:

      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:

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

  • Christoffer says:

    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:

    The path for readers of Sales Letter:


    The long copy is most important for:


    So, involvement – is my answer from 1 word 🙂

  • Tina says:

    “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.

  • 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:

      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).

      • Drat.

        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:

          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:


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

  • Heidi says:

    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:


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


  • Scott Harvey says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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.

  • 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:

    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:

    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:

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

      • Garry says:

        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)

  • 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:

    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?

  • “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:

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

  • Scott Harvey says:

    @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:

    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.

    • Well done for winning Bob!

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

    • Joaquin says:

      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:

      Congrats Bob! 🙂

  • Rebecca says:

    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:

    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:

    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!

  • 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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:


    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)

  • Paul says:

    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:

    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:

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

    • Miriam says:

      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:

    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.

  • Ray Posner says:

    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:

    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:

    Bigger is better. That’s the whole idea

  • Marlo says:

    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:

    “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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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

    • 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

  • 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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

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

    Carlton Drunk

  • Imre says:

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


  • Robert says:

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

  • Ken says:

    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.

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


  • Tian Yan says:

    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.

  • 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:

    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

  • 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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:


    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:

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

    • John Carlton says:

      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:

        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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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.


  • 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:

    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:

      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:

    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:

      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:

    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?

  • Mark says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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??

  • GolferPaul says:

    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:

    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.

  • 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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

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


  • Gary says:

    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:

    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:

    “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:

      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:

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

  • Laurence says:

    “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:

    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:

    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:

    …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:

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

    • John Carlton says:

      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.

  • 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.


    • 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:

    The fear of loss.

  • Jeff says:


    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).


  • 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:

    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:

    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.

  • “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:

    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.

  • 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!


  • Sean McCool says:

    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:

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


      • John Carlton says:

        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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

      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:

    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.

  • John Flynn says:

    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.

  • Philip says:

    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:

    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.


  • 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:

    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)

    • Well done for winning Sergy!

      Now you’re on your way to multimillions …


    • Joaquin says:

      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:

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

      Well done.

      Tom Vo

    • Bob says:


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


    • Johan says:

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

  • Jerry says:

    It is their perception
    Their Mood

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

  • Johan says:

    People hate it when questions they have remain unanswered.

  • Eugenie says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    People are stubborn.

  • Joao says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

      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:

    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:

    Also it resonates with being a zombie

  • Juliefyre says:

    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!

    ROCK ON!

  • carol says:

    “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:

    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:

    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.

    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:

    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:

    Length implies strength.



  • Emrah says:

    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:

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

  • Roger says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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,

  • 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:

    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:

    Psychological Glitch: Satisfaction.

  • Cyndi says:

    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:

      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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

      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:

    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:

    …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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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.

  • 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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    length implies strength.

  • Claire McCarthy says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    @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”!).

  • 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:

    “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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    Fear of not knowing the whole story.

  • otto says:

    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:


    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    Our brains are hard-wired for stories?

    • John Carlton says:

      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…

  • Fritz says:

    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:

    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.

  • Steve Topper says:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    The glitch is Buyer’s remorse

  • Stewart says:

    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:

    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:

      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:

    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:

    The 8 deadly sins….

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

    • Cyndi says:

      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:

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

  • Ray Merz says:

    No one wants to be an easy sell.

  • Dan Belick says:

    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.)

  • Ian says:

    The psychological glitch is…

    Belief systems.

    Beliefs dig in peoples brains like ticks and all data going in the brain gets distorted and twisted through belief prisms.

    When you violate someones beliefs you’re stirring up a hornets nest in their brain. (Religious wars and family talks about politics).

    So as a salesman you have to navigate and use existing beliefs as a springboard to get someone to believe something new.

    You have to show how it doesn’t violate pre-existing beliefs, or show how existing beliefs prove it is true.

    If I am selling you an apple and I say its the best. Your belief system will trigger off a “Bullshit”.

    But if I ask you what is important to you about an apple. And you say “Sweet and crunchy”. I know your beliefs about apples and I can go on to explain why my apple is the sweetest and crunchiest apple on earth (with reasons why that fit into your belief systems)

  • SriHari says:

    The primitive glitch of Big is better. In sales copy, the more there is to write, the better it must be. The more bonuses there are the better value for money it is. No matter how sophisticated we are, we always are attracted by the bigger thing, the faster vehicle, longer legs, in fact even a laptop with a big display. we always tend to be more attracted by bigger things. We like a complicated answer. we always tend to believe more in a longer more expressive explanation than a simple one. Because that makes us look more sophisticated and intelligent. Nobody tends to read the entire copy wholly but they do tend to scan and try to absorb a little in each scan. the more they scroll through the more they believe there is a lot of value to the proposition. The more complicated it is, the better. I know this is a long explanation, but that’s what we all look for, unconsciously.

  • Curt Graham says:

    Hi John,
    Thank you for the great summary of the value of long sales copy.

    Ans: You said to think hard and deep so………
    The memory banks in our brain collect millions of data daily and store them, most of which are unconscious. The conscious brain when faced with a decision counts on the subconscious brain running the memory storage banks to collect all the data related to the focus of the decision to be made and uploads it to the conscious brain. So whatever volume of data is present has a direct impact on the conscious decision we make, for or against.
    The logic of our decisions are made based on the volume of positive and negative information available. The longer the sales copy, the more positive information there is to sway the decision in a YES direction. It works!


  • Joe Nicassio says:

    Of course, the more you tell, the more you can DEMONSTRATE VALUE, real or perceived.

  • Rhen says:

    I think people need long copy because they are AFRAID.

    Afraid to make the wrong choice, to look dumb, to get scammed, to be rejected from their social group.

    Long copy is effective because, the writer can take on a personality, a voice and engage the prospect’s emotional brain to overcome his fear.

    All unconsciously.

    So I think the glitch is fear.

  • Joe Nicassio says:

    I hate you John Carlton.

    I’m supposed to be focusing on my projects, not thinkin about your stinking quiz.



  • Howard says:

    PEOPLE ARE LAZY!! People want someone else to do their thinking for them. Thinking takes too much effort. If an apparent expert (expert with credentials) gives a good argument – Long elaborate argument. Then the expert must be right.

    People would rather use the experts ideas; pay money – then use their own brain.

    People perceive long copy to be more credible and informative. The expert must know his craft to write all these words.(copy)

  • shaun thresher says:

    I believe people want to feel a sense of connection.

    They want to be a belong and be a part of something. They want to feel excited, but maybe forgot how.

    This is our chance as copywriters to step in and help them take a load off.

    Let them know you have walked a mile in their shoes. Let them know you really, truly care.

    Give them a shoulder to cry on. Oh, they crashed their bike when they were five, I did too. What a small world.

    I have found that the more I can relate, as in having had a similar experience, I’m able to almost instantly able to bond with someone I just met.

    Getting carried away here. People just want to important, even if it just for those 15 minutes they are reading my sales letter.

  • LaShae says:

    Our psychological glitch is the need for relief and long copy offers us that. Long copy has the ability to make the connection between the emotional mind state and the logical mind state, thereby offering up the relief we need and the desire to do whatever is necessary to obtain said relief.

  • Doug says:

    I think long copy (in whatever form it is now morphing into) is essential because people have different styles of learning/absorbing information. Some need to know the why. Why am I learning this — what’s in it for me? Others want to know the what — give them the theoretical/academic basis so they can process how it fits in the “grand scheme of things”.
    Others simply are doers and want to know the how of things — give them the specific steps or actions and they will run with it.
    Still others are playing what if and need to know how to adapt it in the real world and fold it into their overall success plan.
    Long copy allows you to cover all these bases. Why would you leave one of the styles out of your copy? You’d be leaving too much money on the table.

  • Paul says:

    Hi, John. Great challenge.

    Thinking cap on, scrap paper, pen, and spilling the ink. It’s a blue pen. Blue ink.

    Let’s see, most of us have reluctance or resistance to change. We’re so much creatures of habit. We need repetition, because basically, we’re forgetful, distracted, and absent-minded. Just plain old forgetfulness.

    And maybe, just maybe – could it be true? – even to the point of memory loss.

    Like the funny way we forget things until we’ve heard it 7 times or more.

    Or even the things we want to remember, we forget at one time or another. We live in different stages of unawareness.

    Or how 90 percent of conversations are gossip.

    Or how we normally hear only 10 percent of a conversation, and while the other person’s talking, we’re usually thinking of what next we’re going to say because … drum roll please … we’re not paying attention to them, but to ourselves!

    How’s that for brain clutter! And how rude if people could see our thoughts. Luckily, we think they don’t. But, sometimes they figure it out from the glazed look in your eyes…

    But you know what, they’re probably doing the same thing. Hearing only 10 percent of what you’re saying. So you either have to live with them a long time or somehow build a long term relationship – or – write long sales letters.

    Or both.

    Oh, we think we listen, we say we listen, but do we hear, do we really understand — them? Because few people are really understood when they talk, and yet we all crave it. Crave to be understood.

    It’s so counter-intuitive. To stop our brains. Sit on ‘em. And listen. Really listen.

    Understand. Repeat back. Comprehend. Nuances. What the customer really wants. His results. Her problem solved. Real key to research.

    The copywriter can’t see expressions on his reader’s face, so he has to work his brain harder with his memory and imagination and selectively focus … which is too hard for most people … because … it’s out of their comfort zone, they’re creatures of habit, they’d rather forget…

    Which we don’t like to admit for ourselves, and are so quick to excuse, and forget the whole thing. Which really brings up a whole world of thinking we’d rather forget about because we can’t see it, much less remember it. Which really could be touching on a bigger unseen world involving the subconscious, the way we think, the way we learn, the way we connect, the way we interact, buy, and sell.

    So, how do we perceive things? Through the senses first. Whose? My own. Basic form of learning, sensory perception, I think it was called. Babies crawl, and look, and lick, and teeth, and chew, and cuddle, … and forget … because the next bauble beckons.

    And we get older, with bigger toys and joys … and bigger pains.

    And forgetfulness is such good aspirin.

    Get back on track, mister Paul. Ok, so if it’s resistance to change, then how explain how people fall for the latest scam so quickly? Why are we so gullible for some things and resistant to others?

    Ah, maybe it’s selective memory loss.

    We’d rather be passive sitting in front of a TV than think for ourselves, out of the box, out of our own world. If that’s what me wants to do.

    Lucky me, no TV. Look. It rhymes too.

    Because In your brain there’s this autopilot software running most of the time programmed for survival.

    And when we do switch our brain on to think, it’s all about me, ego centric, and don’t rock my boat.

    Me, me, me, notice me, feed me, give me, serve me, love me, don’t dare cross me.

    My, my, my……………….. Me, o my, o my-o-O !!!

    My point of view, my stuff, my life, my body, my world, my day, my time, my money, my, my, my.

    Pure selfishness. We’re born that way. Pure greedy little brats. And a lot of them are running around in adult bodies.

    So that “Lucky me, no TV” line was selfish? But it’s true ! and it rhymed so well ! That’s just the point.

    We’ll excuse it, hide it, forget it. Lie about it. Don’t want to look foolish. Gotta look good. Gotta look better than others.

    (Shhh, I do have a computer that works like a little TV. Well, doesn’t yours?)

    Maybe we should call our psychopathic, um psy-cho-lo-gic-al glitch – selective memory loss.

    Because that sounds fancier.

    And because we also have this weird funny little way of working so hard “conveniently” to forget some things. And we go gun ho on what we want. And if what we wants turns bad, we work dang hard again to hide, excuse, forget.

    It’s bad enough we forget important things, things we should remember. Or even want to remember.

    We even forget common sense, a lot.

    And to make things worse, it seems that the bad memories linger longer. Which is why our antenna goes up with resistance and skepticism when we have to open our mind to change…… much less open our wallets.

    Or let’s call it selective short term memory loss or selective long term memory loss, or brain damage can also cause loss, or old-timers disease, or whatever. I forgot, I forget, but I will not be forgotten. And don’t you forget it.

    Because, honestly, selfishly, I’d love to win. Could really use the training. Am tired of living in a camp trailer ten years. Carrying my water. Using an outhouse.

    Someday, I’d rather just plain old forget. But now, I’ll get all the mileage out of it that I can.

    So I’ll crawl out of my bubble, my puny little egotistical world, to say

    Thank you, John. Have a great day. Say it straight. Life’s too short to beat around the bush.

  • Romeo Blais says:

    Here’s the answer: After spending all night laying in bed under a ice cool air conditioner, listening to a drunk getting arrested by the Police, Kids shooting off illegal fireworks, hearing my sister having sex with a Tom Petty look-a-like… a white phantasm figure calling himself “the Godfather of Print” appeared before me and said….

  • Joe carumba says:

    being SPECIFIC

  • Ken Steven says:

    I think the glitch is that we are always skeptical as consumers … so we always want to know “What’s the catch?”. You need long copy to peel away that skepticism.

  • Tom says:

    Given the quality of a lot of copy I see, I would initially guess that the reason long copy works is that it is using torture as a means of brainwashing… I read that in a book about brainwashing techniques used in the old Soviet Union.

    Second: it seems to be a part of political life, that the liar who tells the most far-fetched lie is elected.

    Tell me something I already want to believe. I will believe it. But give me enough reasons to overcome my doubts.

    And: We subconsciously equate telling more now with having more to tell later.

  • Brent says:

    The glitch is getting the readers to nod their heads along with the rhythm of your writing, entraining their attention as you overcome their doubts, fears and questions about your product.
    Of course, it is all about them convincing themselves why they should buy, but it seeps in under the radar as they nod their heads.

  • David says:

    Long copy helps and allows you to build a relationship with your prospects. People want to buy from someone they know and like especially in the world of internet marketing. Long Copy and the This Psychological Glitch you talk about, (I think and I’m a Newbee Marketer But a Very Savey Buyer) I think it’s about making the prospect feel the can’t live without it / They see how this product will fill a void in there life.
    Some day soon I’ll be able to affort to pick your brain Until then.
    Your the Copy MAN in my Book
    David O’Toole
    Thanks I LOVE your Stuff, It stirs up so much stuff.
    Either way Keep it coming.

  • Morgan says:

    Human brains accept everything they take in as factual truth.

    It is only later, after a 5-10 second window, that internal processing completes, comparing what you’ve just told them to their life’s experience rendering your statement as valid/invalid, and they either mark it as false or leave it as truth.

    If you distract the brain during that window, processing doesn’t get a chance evaluate validity of the statement, leaving it marked as fact.

    Long copy, when written properly, takes advantage of this by continually distracting the brain, switching from testimonials to features to USP’s to whatever. Then, when you repeat your statement, the brains says “I’ve evaluated that as truth already, sign me up!”

  • Thomas says:

    It sucks that this glitch operates in my mind, yet I have remained blissfully unaware most of my life. I am such a manipulatable being…lol

    Glitches that demand long copy for me to buy something (“the best I can figure”):

    1) I need somebody to tell me a story. Long copy provides a better story. I need the intro, the prob, solution, know others dig it, blah blah, which ends with me being so freaking happy I bought this thing, my life forever changed. I can’t do this myself of course, I’m too lazy, somebody else has to move me along this storyline…. afterall, when I was going to sleep every night during my childhood, I didn’t lift a finger as mom read.

    2)or could it be long copy itself. Long copy is how I have been convinced to buy so many things in the past, so it’s absence causes suspicion. I am already programmed so don’t change the game on me now.

    could it be
    3)my tendency to total things up. You no, liek the samj resin I can sepll thinsg wrong heir and peepl still undearstand me. Our brains look “big picture” at things. I need all the clues that the long copy provides to form my “big buying picture” Kind of like when I think a girl is hot. It’s not just the blonde hair… it’s the beautiful face, the long legs, fit body, and oh yeah my buddy’s think she’s hot too, and as an added bonus she doesn’t have psycho ex….. if I only knew one of those things, I may not be convinced she’s hot, but when you put them all together I am like, “umm…. do you want to come over, watch kung fu, and eat chicken tonight.”

  • Nathan says:

    Hi John,

    PS: If you create a product/give away some great advice with tips/tricks to getting 200+ comments on your blog I would fall deeper and deeper in love with you…
    thanks, Nathan.

  • Lisa Manyon says:

    Hi John,
    I think psychologically people are skeptical. They want proof that what you are selling works. Long copy gives them the info they need to make an educated buying decision (including social proof ie: testimonials etc.)
    Write on!

  • LoneWolf says:

    The more time you spend on something, the more it becomes important to you — you don’t want the investment of your time to be wasted.

    If someone sticks with the long copy then it becomes their best interest to follow through so that the time invested does not seem like a loss.

  • Roberta says:

    It’s about selecting a mate. Long copy provides a subconscious platform (male and or female) to attract a desired mate and to show that we are worthy of being selected…Work with me here….and stop laughing. Subconsciously we are wired to be attracted to someone we want to select or be selected as a mate. Long copy subconsciously allows the person’s wiring to be addressed or undressed. The selection process is about ostentatious self display (e.g. peacock) to start signaling multiple subconscious signals that peaks interest, mental/physical health, openness/approachability, intelligence, agreeableness, reliability, personality traits, values, preferences, trust, playfulness allowing the interchange between the customer the ability to differentiate the website owner’s offer for a particular product or service from that of the competitor’s, hopefully consummating in a sale .

    • Tom says:

      I like this angle but I view it a little differently (simplistically?).

      The headline gets us in the mood.

      The long copy assures us that this person isn’t really a serial killer.

    • John Carlton says:

      Clever idea, Roberta. You’ve obviously studied anthropology.
      But no, not the glitch I’m referring to…

  • dave says:

    people are friggin LAZY!

  • The glitch is that If the seller asserts his opinion for long enough it becomes truth to the listeners.

    If a self proclaimed expert strikes the emotion of the listener he will have a follower. Much like Hitler, the longer he touted himself as a great leader the more people believed in him, he used long copy.

  • Rich says:

    This must have set sort of record for the amount of comments LOL

  • Arlina says:

    The glitch is people don’t know what they don’t know. Long copy allows you to answer the questions they have and address the ones they don’t know to ask.

  • Josh says:

    Imagine total darkness, the complete lack of light. You are unable to see anything, completely lost, completely alone. You try to catch a glimpse something, anything. You have no idea what is out there or for that matter what is directly in front of you, ready to reach out and grab you.

    Now, imagine that feeling multiplied to all your other senses. You are floating in space, with no stars, no sound, no smell, no taste. You’re not even able to move your arms to pinch yourself to see if you are sleeping, and yet there is no feeling of being held in place. How long do you think it would take for you to start talking, just to hear the sound of your own voice? But you can’t even hear that, all you can hear is the sound of your thoughts. There is nothing.

    How long before you go insane? How long before you go stark raving mad? All you need is some sort of input, something to see, something to touch feel, something to believe in.

    And that is the key. The human needs something to believe in, something to define them, something to show them who they are. Just a touch will show them that they’re alive, but it’s more than just a touch that is needed. The human needs something to be involved in, something bigger than themselves, something outside themselves.

    You could say that short copy can show them that they’re still alive, but long copy gives them a reason for living.

  • brian says:

    Hey John – hope to shake your hand one day pal!

    Long copy lets you masterfully anoint yourself as THE one and only – the only source for that particular item or service. The Glitch is in the fact that the longer someone rants and raves about themselves we as humans invariably and psychologically tend to believe whatever is said – if it goes on long enough. We tend to believe that since the copy is telling us he/she – it – or their service is far superior then of course it must be true.

    • who am I? says:

      LOL John and Brian….

      I see this in John Carlton’s Looooong copy

      It goes along the line of being an expert teacher.

  • Scott says:

    Subconsciously People want things to be true. The more they read the more they believe. The more information there is about something the more true it would be.

  • Mike Leahy says:

    I agree with LoneWolf. I’ll try to say it differently.

    With well-written long copy, the reader’s experience in his head is…

    Hell, yeah.

    And the more time spent examining and agreeing with the content of the long copy, the more we’re “glitched” to agree with taking the next step suggested by the long copy.

    • John Carlton says:

      You’re not wrong about the “agreement” thing… but it’s not a glitch.
      What I’m talking about is a real tweak in the brain, which can cause trouble if not taken care of.
      Thanks for posting, Mike.

  • Sammy says:

    Is it that they’ve invested energy/resources to read it? Therefor they value it more…

  • Daniel says:

    Longer copy sells better because the more you repeat the same message, the more the conscious mind is bypassed and the message goes directly to the subconscious, bypassing the critical factor of the mind. The conscious mind can olny handles o many facts and figures, before it tires and lets that information throug the floodgates.

    Once you bypass the critical factor, you get the reader to accept your bombardment until they capitulate and say, “enough, I’m sold.”

  • Billy Ruck says:

    Let me see…. It’s something you see in the halls of congress, at bars, at family gatherings?



  • Scott Mc says:

    It’s so the prospect can sell themselves on whatever it is you’re offering. That’s the glitch. They don’t buy from you – they buy for them.

  • James says:

    Basically it is repetition of an idea as others have already responded. But it goes deeper with that. The repetition has to engage the reader on a deep emotional level. It’s not the repetition of what your product is or does or it’s benefits, it’s the repetition of testimonials or other devices that show other people have received the benefits. The more you hear other people telling how a product helped them, the more you start to identify with it internally. You may disagree with it at first, but the more an idea is repeated the human mind starts to accept it when it is presented in the right way. So, long copy works because you say the same thing over and over in different ways and have more room to show how the product or service has helped others.

  • James says:

    Here’s my take on it…

    If you’re trying to sell me something and I see you just wrote a short message, psychologically I know (before I even read what you wrote) you can’t possibly tell me enough in that short of space that could get me to buy your product.

    I have objections before I even start reading, and there’s no way your short copy could answer all those objections. So why should I even start reading.

    On the other hand…

    If I see you wrote pages and pages of copy, even before I actually start reading, I get the impression there might be enough information to answer all my questions. So that at least gets me started reading.

    If you show me you took the time to make your case by writing long copy, I might give you the time to make it.

    But if you don’t care enough to take the time to make your case and only write a tiny amount of copy, odds are I won’t give your copy the time of day. I’m a busy consumer, I don’t have time to read short copy. I only have time to read things that can help me, and usually, that means long copy.

    • joe pete says:

      I don’t know man.

      Vincent Passifiume convinced half a million people to send him millions for his penis enlargement pill….
      His sales letter was only 4 pages long – set in Courier font.

  • Garth says:

    The glitch is simple… it’s all about show and tell.

    From our earliest age we’re conditioned by our parents to positively respond to be being shown how to do something and then we’re told why we should do it this way. That all changed when we became a rebellious teenage –at that point the SHOW part stopped and we were TOLD what to do. So today when someone starts TELLING, we stop listening, —because we’ve heard it all before—and resist.

    Short copy only allows for the TELLING.

    Long copy lets you show -with word pictures/movies- by telling a creative emphatic story that allows the prospect to not only hear your words, but see and feel, and then connect emotionally at a gut level.

    Their emotional connection to the story knocks down the walls of resistance and moves them from observer to an interested participant. With the wall gone, the left —logical— brain engages to support THEIR NEW POSITION. Their new found believe —your product/service— that their live is about to be changed for the better is their own idea, not yours. Their emotional connection to “I got to have it” is freely and fully supported by their own logic and free will. It’s their idea.

    Long copy allows for the emotional connection, once connected, the decision to buy becomes a non-issue; it’s logical and strongly supported by the left brain. If I want my problem solved, my future success, wealth, happiness, health or whatever logically supports my decision to buy.

  • joe pete says:

    arguement – friction.

  • Daniel says:

    There are actually 2 glitches in the mind:

    1) Anything repeated often enough by an authority figure becomes part of your belief system.

    2) The mind tends to accept evidence it beleves to be true, and reject evidence it does not believe to be true.

    Hence longer copy sells better because the more you repeat the same message, the more the conscious mind is bypassed and the message goes directly to the subconscious, bypassing the critical factor of the mind. The conscious mind can only handles so many facts and figures, before it tires and lets that information throug the floodgates.

    Once you bypass the critical factor, you get the reader to accept your bombardment until they capitulate and say, “enough, I’m sold.”
    Every piece of new evidence that is brought in to support the argument of the copy becomes accepted by the subconscious as truth.

  • Austin says:

    Who do I trust?

    [or in the case of Congress, “who can I NOT trust?” :-)]

    [or in the case of publications, “what is factual?”]

    [or in the case of bars, “who can I be myself to?”]

    [or in the case of family gatherings, “who am I comfortable with?”]

    Long copy helps you relate to a “human”
    by building a relationship, showing personality, relating a story and sharing testimonials people identify with…
    BUT overall, convincing you that the salesperson can be trusted.

  • luc tou-tou says:


  • John Gilger says:

    It is simple, really. The poet said most men (and women) live lives of quiet desperation. They are bored.

    The psychological glitch that makes long copy work is the desire to hear (read) a good, entertaining story. People want some excitement or at least something interesting in their lives.

    When we take the time to hook them into a rollicking story, they don’t want it to end. They’ll buy the product hoping to experience “the rest of the story”.

  • Peter says:

    The glitch is
    Fear. It’s just as powerful a force as greed. And, as it turns out, every bit as profitable

  • Jon says:

    Habit. People go on autopilot and are unaware of their surroundings. Haven’t you ever driven to work and when you get out of the car, you can’t remember the drive? When you read long copy, you are focusing on quantity rather than drilling down to specific content.

  • Jamie says:

    The glitch is, people confuse quantity for depth.

    Look at how many people believe X, and how vocal they are, it must be true. Look at how many pages are in this document, there must be a lot of thought that went into it. Length and substance can be related, but the error is to treat them as the same.

    People want depth, and they use quantity as a proxy.

  • David says:

    Justify/reaffirm reasons for the purchase, especially when the purchase is a “want’ and not a “need”.

  • Judie W says:

    It takes the long read to develop trust and believe in the writer. And all along the way the reader is literally buying in — the copy and the product.

  • mari swift says:

    I think the psychological term you are seeking to describe the glitch is COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. This term can include some of the answers previously given, and can also explain the phenomena of Reverse Psychology, Stockholm Syndrome, and other brain functionings that would not appear “logical” at first glance. Proximity, familiarization, repetition, perceived worth, perceived self-worth, etc. all are covered in this psychological term.

  • Zonk says:

    the glitch is that people are always busy. Busy doing other things. A long sales copy keeps them sticken to your message like syrup on blueberry pancakes.

  • Terry Luffman says:

    I think we make decisions big and small based on the lie we tell ourselves about what we are about to do.
    Stories let us lie to ourselves. Those lies satisfy our desires. It’s the story,not the goods or the service you actually sell that pleases us.
    Long copy enables us to tell a story that is believable and interesting. Once you have their attention,there’s your chance.
    In order to be believed you must present enough of a change in their lives that the person chooses to notice it.You have to hint at the facts,not announce them.You gain a customer when the customer proves to themselves that you are a good choice.
    So that process of discovery leads us to believe we have found the right answer.But of course there is no right answer so that’s why I say the long copy compared to a short copy gives us a good story so we feel comfortable about the lie we tell ourselves about what we are about to do.

  • Hunter says:

    This psychological glitch that make long copy powerful is the phenomenon fear, and the need for social proof. People in general are fearful as it is built into our genetic make up, and many decisions are based on fear. They need to feel reassured and often make decisions based upon what other people tell them, the longer that you can hold their attention (long copy) they begin to assume that you as the author have more knowledge and are better informed than they are ,and their views begin to change. This in turn lessens their fear, and your long copy is now accepted as truth, and you are seen as the authority unknowingly persuading them that they are making the right choice. At the end of the long copy there is an assumption by the viewer of mutual trust, a guarantee of protection, and a connection or bond between the reader and the author of having similar views.

  • Here’s my second shot:
    In a world of information overload, we all need a set of beliefs to survive. Otherwise, we might be swayed by every comment made. So we become Democrats or Republicans, for instance. We get attached to these beliefs to protect ourselves from information overload and gullibility. Obviously, we can’t all be right, as our beliefs differ. But life is really hard when we don’t each have a set of beliefs to anchor us.
    If the product or service you, the copywriter, is selling conflicts with my beliefs, you’re going to have a hard time selling to me. It’s possible. But not with short copy.
    You’ll need to sway my opinion little by little. Chip away at it. For that, you need long copy.
    Case in point: In the comments right here, Bill F. mentioned a self-tuning guitar. He sent me the link and I checked it out. Now, I cannot afford this guitar. But when I thought about whether or not I really wanted the guitar, a belief popped up: it’s better for my ear as a musician to tune the guitar by ear.
    There may be great reasons to have a self-tuning guitar, besides me not feeling like making the effort to tune my own guitar. But I don’t know what they are. There would have to be a whole lot of really good reasons to get me to believe that having a self-tuning guitar was more important than keeping my ear in good shape.

  • Big-P says:

    I’m thinking that the “glitch” is that human beings are all very skeptical (not very trusting) and that’s something that is in our DNA and something that is essential for survival (especially when times were much more difficult and survival was the goal each day)

    That skepticism is why we’re repulsed by a “salesman” (someone who comes across as trying to take our money) and the goal of long copy seems to be in building TRUST. Once you trust me, you’re able to feel like you are making a decision to buy from me as opposed to me selling to you.

    The key is in carrying you from a feeling of distrust to trust and the way that’s accomplished is by you feeling that I’m trying to help you make money, solve your problems etc. (Think of Tom Cruise–help me help you)

    This skepticism is also what makes us prone to believing bogus conspiracy theory type stuff–the stuff he talks about on snopes.com

    If I have this right, the long copy is designed to S-L-O-W-L-Y take you down the path of –

    1-I don’t trust anyone and I don’t want to buy anything from anybody
    2-This guy makes a few decent points
    3-This guy seems like a decent guy
    4-Hey…this guy is pretty damn funny
    5-This guy is talking about something I might need
    6-I better buy this NOW

    Without the trust they’ll never buy anything from you and the only way to build/gain trust is through the proper long copy.

    Am I close?

    What say you?

    • Zonk says:

      Big -P

      Turn number 3 into – Hey… this guy is an expert and knows what he’s talking about.

      and get rid of number 4. There is no place in advertising for comedy. No joking around whatsoever

  • Erick says:

    If left unchecked some peoples brains can misfire, leading them to wash their hands 200 times a day. Or close a door 20 times. It shows up in each of us… Did I leave the garage door open, better check. Is the iron on?

    Most of the time we operate normally and automatically go through our day doing the same things we have always done over and over. We keep a routine, which becomes automatic.

    But… if something upsets that routine like an unexpected phone call, a kids bike being in the way, we become unsettled and unbalanced. Maybe we woke up on the “wrong side of the bed” or we are having a bad day. Our perception becomes heightened and we hit every red light.

    Long copy works the same way a good story does. But the story is irrelevant. It upsets the order of the routine, then resolves it.

    It’s the same way this quiz works and why we are all writing what we consider to be the correct answer. When we get an idea in our heads we are compelled to solve it.

    People who don’t read the copy, bounce from headline to headline back and forth looking for the point. So they can move on with their lives. They are adamant about their opinion and the copy has upset that, so they go searching for a conclusion, resolution or closure. So they can move on.

    Good copy will take someone who says “I know better then this guy” to someone who says “I need to be this guy”

  • Jared B says:

    Fear, love, excitement, new horizons, the life of a zombie or XXX, is not the glitch of the brain.

    For, the brain is empty until it is filled and transformed into a mind.

    The brain is mere protoplasm of different kinds of cells floating around trying to carry on life functions of trying to live.

    What fills the mind? Sauce! Fresh content! Old content! It don’t matter. Just …something, please? Anything will do. Heck, give me choices. Then I’ll have feelings and gassed up to be alive inside. For, the VOID is then filled.

    But, what fills the mind best? WINIForMe …fills it up right now.

    And, What if it ain’t filled? I’ll show you a corpse.

    A brain has to have a mind to run on. Each is the host of the other. Live and let live.

    And for those more choosy, fresh content breads lust for individual fulfillment.

    The glitch is the VOID and a mind is it’s answer.

    Screw all that hocus-pocus psych crap about conscious and unconscious.


    Did you ever feel, taste, see the unconscious? Or, empircally test to verify it exists? Did you pinch it recently? Now that’s going to open some worms. Enjoy eating.

    Just maybe …unconscious/conscious is a figment of someone’s imagination for needing an answer – otherwise known as …filling the void!

    Just as you are here reading this, you’re looking to find WINFYou. Filling your mind with today’s play for life’s meaning. Otherwise referred to, as the content in this post suggests, your today’s play for filling your void.

    Then there’s the person that thinks the brain is brainy. Don’t matter. That’s just his way of filling his VOID!

    Best answer I’ve heard to “Why” is “Why Not!”

    Chew on it! That’s part of why …John says: Stay Frosty!

  • Jeff Green says:

    Hey John,
    As a novice copywriter in study mode, I don’t have much experience with real world results yet.

    However, I remember something I came across that said that people need to rationalize the emotional “need” to buy. Long copy does two basic things.
    1) It builds up the emotional “gotta have it!” feelings, then-
    2) It provides the logical reasons why it’s ok to buy the product. (Justifying the emotional decision.)

    I spent all day trying to figure this out, and this is the only thing I can see as a glitch.

    Thanks for the brain workout John,

  • Rob C says:

    The glitch is that the length of time that you listen to someone or read something gets confused with the weight or authority of the words you are listening to.

  • Philip says:

    Wait… is it the need for entertainment?

    • Philip says:

      …or is it the reason I keep reading these comments…
      An urgent sense of curiosity. An itch that has to be scratched. (Both from your Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets)

  • Dang there’s a ton of great info here!

    OK – another go: The glitch is …

    The automatic need to first defend ourselves before doing anything else.

    (I’m clearly hooked John. Please supply the medication as soon as you can.)

  • Allendell says:


    At the risk of sounding repetitive to some earlier comments, I believe the answer to your question lies in your “Bucket Brigade” principle. Today, long copy is absolutely imperitive to sell! Why? In order to build rapport and trust. Something online marketers have forsaken for a false illusion of click throughs, and resulting lost sales. An online marketers worst enemy, in reality, is this fear of long copy, true salesmanship, and impatience….Instant gratification, while a lofty goal, will not get a sale. The key to keeping your readers engaged long enough to read your letter is to use hardworking words and phrases.
    Each sentence used leads them to read the next… so on and so on, leading them to the grand finale.
    If we have done our jobs right as copywriters, and diligently followed through with our structured plan, The sale WILL follow….easier said than done!

  • squeeky says:


    Yah! you mothers… I got it right. I know I did. Give me a high five.

    my brain cells seemed to have regenerated!

  • George Begin says:

    putting them in the COMFY ZONE!

  • Mike Webster says:

    Here’s my answer:


    We are biologically and psychologically programmed to maintain consistency between our thoughts and actions (as well as thought-to-thought and action-to-action).

    Many of the previous entries have thought this question through from the point-of-view of the copywriter. But, instead, think it through from the side of the reader. You pickup a piece of copy. You read the headline. Curious, you read further. At each point in reading the piece you have a choice to make: either you keep reading or you don’t. A decision to keep reading is consistent with any previous decision to keep reading. It is therefore reinforcing of those previous decisions. A decision to stop reading is not only inconsistent with the established behaviour, but it also invalidates all of the decisions that come before.

    Consider your own experience in reading these posts. John asks a question, and you think is a good question. You want to know the answer. So what do you do? You start reading these comments. The first one isn’t right, so what do you do next? Read the next one. Not right either. Oh well, might as well read the next one. You could stop at any point but each decision to keep reading reinforces the last decision until you get all the way down here (past 300+ comments). And if you commented, your desire to check back and keep reading will be even stronger.

    Why does this make long copy more effective? The answer is simple: every answer to continue reinforces the consistency in the reader, and when they reach the end of your salesletter (and you’ve done your job correctly) the logically consistent action is to order. To do otherwise requires that your prospective customer decide that every previous decision to read your copy was wrong (and being wrong is psychologically painful).

    The downside is that your copy better interrupt any pre-existing consistency patterns that your customer has established in their habits, or taking advantage of your offer will be seen as inconsistent.

    Another effect of this psychological “glitch” is that customers are more likely to make a second purchase immediately after making the first purchase. That’s why you are seeing so many successful $1 introductory offers and Free+shipping offers online. The marketers offering these deals know that a higher than average percentage of buyers will purchase an up-sell or cross-sell making the offer profitable.

    Read Robert Cialdini’s Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion for more.

    What do you think John?

  • C. Frogeur says:


  • Val says:

    OK, here’s my ideas. Actually I have two.
    One- people always buy for emotional reasons and justify it rationally so the stories and all of long copy get them emotionally involved. It also puts them in a hypnotic trance if done right.

    Second- people believe and follow those they perceive to be authority figures and do what they say. Long copy builds up this credibility of the writer as an authority.

    So, how’d I do?

  • Jeff Mesina says:

    WAKE UP! <— The answer is right here…

    Whoa…you’ve got me thinking John…and that’s not something I normally do first thing in the morning.

    But…it may lead to solving this ‘killer’ question.

    The psychological “glitch” that switches on so that we can switch off during most of our day are “schemata” – our mental patterns and structures of the world that allow us to function…with very little effortful thought.

    Our schemata help us navigate both the noise of our Times Square information overload and the mundane daily activities associated with commuting and working. Unfortunately…some zombies are so used to being on automatic pilot this type of “thinking” bleeds into activities they should be enjoying…like savouring a peaking Shiraz…or a night of rollicking sex.

    Since most people are in a coma – comfortably trapped in this automatic thinking state, short copy barely registers a blip their “usefulness” radar…or their ECG heart monitor.

    So what does long copy do…


    But…GOOD LONG copy…now that’s a different story.

    Any GOOD long copy first hooks the reader, slaps them in the face with a cold fish and calmly whispers “wake up…I’ve got something you need to see”. After that, it’s all about painting a pleasing picture…something they haven’t experienced all day. With GOOD long copy you can paint a stream of pleasing images that captures readers in the flow of your writing…and this is where you can start to use “schematas” and automatic thinking to your advantage.

    Writing good long copy builds your value as a trusted expert…and the longer that they read…the more time, energy and emotion that they’ve invested…the closer you are at hearing that oh so sweet sound of…


    I guess the part that nobody ever talks about is how the automatic thinking of scematas can actually be used to get zombified suspects to transform themselves into wide-eyed salivating customers…

    But who knows…I just woke up.

  • In the long letter you can relate to different types/patterns of thinking, different priorities, different preferences, different emotions and different psychological representative systems.

    The bigger the “tool kit”, the more individual characteristics you consider, the more people can be “hooked” with your product.

    It is difficult to consider all of them in short letter.

  • Kara says:

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

    The mind likes to fill in empty spaces. Sx yxx cxn stxll rxxd thxs mxssxgx xvxn thxxgh xll thx vxwxls xrx rxplxcxd wxth x’s. That’s why the best horror movies don’t show the monster, just hint at it because your imagination is worse than what they could show.

  • Paul says:

    Hi, John,

    I think the glitch could be our paradigm(s), our viewpoint, the way each of us perceive things. Some paradigms can be good. Some dangerous and self-destructing.

    In a similar way, it could be that often we make assumptions before jumping to conclusions.

    Long copy helps overcome short attention span, complacency, boredom, selfishness, hesitation, procrastination, negativity, pessimism, objections, gullibility, skepticism, sensory overload, and such things. Some of these things have to do with our individual paradigms.

    It can help overcome, or utilize, peer pressure. It can help change the way we look at things.

    We may have a perceived value, a paradigm, that big is better, that more information is good.

    We see paradigms operating everywhere where there’s people. In the bar, in the family, in print, in government, in congress.
    In politics, sport, why movies are made, and even the brother-in-laws strongly held opinions. In zombie workers who think the returns are worth it.

    When we buy, it’s because of our perceived value of the purchase, based on our paradigms, our beliefs, our opinions.

    The long copy is about perceived value. Most of us probably assume that bigger is better. We perceive or assume it to be an authority. Our job is to ensure that it truly is valuable information.

    As we consume it bite by bite, or a nibble here and there, it can satisfy the questions we have, that we perceive to ourselves as important. Our perceived value, our paradigm, can grow, can shift, can alter, can change, even by a little bit. Good marketers utilize this, and so do news writers, film makers, politicians. They can shape the thinking of the masses who don’t want to think for themselves. We are what we read, in a way. Somehow, you’re not quite the same after you read a powerful great story, see a good movie. It can even be a life altering event, can even by altering our paradigm.

    Which is known as a paradigm shift.

    Most people are like sheep without a shepherd. Which makes it an opportunity for leaders to lead.

    Which should remind leaders, marketers, media, of the importance of using their power responsibly, ethically, and for good.

    And remember, we’re all leaders in some way. We all have our sphere of influence whether we’re parents, teachers, elders, peers, writers.


  • Melanie Yeoh says:

    Amazing comp and v stimulating – Cheers for that John.
    It’s a question that I’ve been struggling with myself so great timing.
    I’ll have a quick stab if I may. Not sure if I’m on the right track however… here goes.
    The long and the short of it is that people will read long copy in topics/subjects that they are interested in and they will stop at nothing to find something that will solve their problem or the ONE THING that will help THEM be/do/have what everyone else cannot be/do/have or if others already have it, they want to know how they can achieve it too. Eg. the Potato Bug Killer courtesy of http://www.snopes.com – that’s selling hope to people who were struggling to live and wanted a sure, simple quick-fire solution to their problems.
    Long copy is able to help them rationalise the purchase and this means that they don’t have to feel guilty about making such a decision and they have a plethora of reasons of why they bought that one thing when they have to explain it to someone else.
    -Cheers from Down Under,

  • Michael Broderick says:


    I know this is a simple answer, but I feel that long copy works better to help build trust with your prospect and to help create a “relationship” type dialogue with you. Am I on the right track? Or way offline? Thanks John!

  • Muzzy says:


    I must say I am impressed. You write a blog post with a interesting question for a contest, makes me want to compete, I end up reading other comments to see if they are right, this creates curiousity in me to answer right, and by the time its all said and done I want to buy or see whatever your selling. Now that is a great way to use a community generated long copy sales letter……well done!

    as for the glitch—- the emotion of fright and fear.

    Headline starts the fear by being attention grabbing and then continues through the long copy by reinforcing the fear. then, you have what they need to “comfort” that fear, for purchase.

    the word glitch merely implies a lack of consistency between the purposes and functions of certain cognitive areas within our psyche. so I would think that the glitch happens at the reading of the headline which then invokes the fear of “whatever” and is vital to the long copy, in order to hold attention.

    Frank Kern, I think recently, is using pattern interrupts for his videos.

    so, 1st answer……emotion of fright and/or fear

    2nd answer…….pattern interrupts

    instead of commenting twice
    Thanks for the opportunity,

  • Allendell says:

    Okay Y’all !!
    I’m from the South so please excuse my slow reaction time to this simple question.
    I believe the answer to John’s riddle is this -The two human quirks we have to deal with as copywriters (and as respectable human beings in general) are so simple it’s stupid….yet oh so complicated!
    Insecurity and Vanity….WOW!!
    Each one of us is born with this junk and we can’t quite shake them, so we have to find a remedy…Right?
    If we can make people feel more secure and better about themselves buy using our widget (provided it delivers), haven’t we done our jobs?

  • Mickey Mixon says:

    I think it is resistance and buyers remorse. The long ad copy wears down the resistance to making a purchase, and the the long ad copy seems to help convince your mind that you did the right thing.

  • Jon S. says:

    Hi John,

    Tough quiz.

    Our ego’s must be satisfied in order for us to make the buy decision. The ego is concerned with looking good, avoiding criticism, avoiding making a mistake, making a decision that nobody is making, feeling good about the decision and what it will do for us.

    Short copy simply cannot cover all the bases that the ego demands be covered, cannot satisfy the ego.

    Long copy must cover all the bases to satisfy the ego’s needs to be superior, to reassure the ego that this is not a mistake and damaging to our ego and self-image. It must answer any possible criticism’s from others of the purchase, provide the defense and take away the risk. Ego hates to be wrong, especially in other people’s eyes.

  • Jeez. There are a LOT of “glitches” in the way that the human mind works…. and many are exploitable. Here’s just a partial list of decision making and behavioral biases listed on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    On that note and as a possible answer to your quiz…

    I’ll go with the human glitch of making decisions using incomplete data based on cues.

  • Donnie B says:

    Gary Bencivenga calls his approach to bypassing this Glitch the “Secret of the Monkey Fist,” which he learned from Frank Bettger.
    Humans generally need some time to gradually come to a conclusion. With so much information constantly trying to gain entry at the eye- and ear-gates, it’s difficult for people to make any decision.
    Selling is just like a marriage proposal. You can’t just walk up a stranger and ask her to marry you. You have to take the process one step at a time, starting with small, easy-to-make choices (“hey, wanna catch a movie?”). Make the first step for your prospect irresistibly easy to take. Over time, the actions get larger.
    Long copy allows the message to start small and move the customer increasingly toward making the purchase. Short copy doesn’t have that ability-there’s no time!
    Long copy is can be a “greased slide” to the sale. Short copy is one big step, and grease on a step is not usually a good idea.

  • Bill says:

    Hi John

    We don’t investigate in minute detail every piece of information that enters the brain. Other wise we could become overwhelmed. And the brain hates that. So what it does is it filters information according to what we already believe. It scans messages for recognition of experiences or beliefs. If the brain recognises a message it feels good.

    Psychologists call it Confirmation Bias which is a need to search or interpret info that reinforces beliefs (and avoid anything which contradicts)

    If the message is new, or requires us to change our thinking then the brain flips out and is sceptical – maybe this is why so many testimonials start with…”I was sceptical at first. And this is why we shake our heads at folk who have a near-total resistance to anything that may change their lives for the better.
    Our belief system doesn’t enjoy being disturbed. It rejects stuff that challenges it.
    Hence we need to give overwhelming social proof, answer all objections and take away any risk of purchase ie use long copy. We need to persuade those who are sceptical…while still preaching to the converted.

  • Bill says:

    Hi John

    We don’t investigate in minute detail every piece of information that enters the brain. Other wise we could become overwhelmed. And the brain hates that. So what it does is it filters information according to what we already believe. It scans messages for recognition of experiences or beliefs. If the brain recognises a message it feels good.

    Psychologists call it Confirmation Bias which is a need to search or interpret info that reinforces beliefs (and avoid anything which contradicts)

    If the message is new, or requires us to change our thinking then the brain flips out and is sceptical – maybe this is why so many testimonials start with…”I was sceptical at first. And this is why we shake our heads at folk who have a near-total resistance to anything that may change their lives for the better.
    Our belief system doesn’t enjoy being disturbed. It rejects stuff that challenges it.
    Hence we need to give overwhelming social proof, answer all objections and take away any risk of purchase ie use long copy. We need to persuade those who are skeptical…while still preaching to the converted.

  • Jared B says:

    Brain Glitch, Brain Dead! Oh, how I want someone to paint the looking glass for me. Make it wonderful, Make it sweet. And, “Cronkite” it with believability! So I can loose my self. Then, I don’t have to think on my own. The longer you make it meaningful, the more attracted I am to bring it into my life. Will Alice in Wonderland never cease? “That’s the way it is…”

  • Ross Bowring writes:
    “Length implies strength.”

    That is the glitch and that is the right answer. I wish that I was able to make here it here sooner to claim the prize with 100% certainty.

    However, I’ll provide strong evidence that this is right answer. All you have to do is keep reading to get the … FULL ANSWER BELOW.

    For those folks who doubt that “length implies strength” consider the following…

    Humans are lazy slobs. We want shortcuts. We want solutions handed to us on silver platters by guys wearing white gloves with snobbish accents and black coats.

    We don’t want to think and we don’t want to expend any effort. We want shortcuts.

    But there’s more…

    This “short circuit” isn’t just an idea or a concept that someone pulled out of a hat. It isn’t just a marketing concept or copywriting snigglefritz that everyone uses just because it works. No, it’s more than that. Here’s the truth —

    Stec and Bernstein (1999) did some honest-to-goodness research on this topic. They settled the short vs. long copy debate. It’s no longer something to debate. Case closed.

    Don’t believe me?

    I’ll tell you why it works in about 18 seconds. First consider that Length-Versus-Strength is a full blown persuasion tactic. Length actually INCREASES the chances that someone will think LESS. Of course, the prospect must be engaged and excited, and you must have them properly targeted — but this still mind blowing.

    OK, here’s WHY it works…

    Long copy grabs the reader by the throat and FORCES him to become a lazy slob. The reader (true prospect) sees that you’ve done the work for him…

    *** They roll over because the long copy proves that you’ve done the work… bingo! Shortcut.

    When you go over the top with length you’re clearly demonstrating that YOU are the white knight. You have saved the day by doing the research, taking the time for due diligence, and thinking deeply about the product or service.

    And get this —

    This is TRUE even when it’s YOUR product or service. The prospect doesn’t care. The short circuit still occurs. The leap of faith — the heuristic — the short circuit — must occur in the mind of the prospect.

    But, the reader must not just be a reader! Beware!

    You see… the reader must be person who would potentially become a real buyer. Selling thongs to 87 year old women isn’t usually effective. Long copy ain’t gonna help you, brothers and sisters.

    You must be in the mind of the real and potential buyers. If you’re not in their mind, your copy — long or short — will fail. The relationship building cannot occur and your stories will smell like old milk.

    But, when the prospect is ready — desperate, cold and hungry — that prospect will read miles and miles of copy… but still THINK LESS and BUY MORE.

    Are you McLovin’ this, or what? I’ve got more…

    Long copy seems to make you seem smarter. Wait, let me say that differently: Long copy makes YOU feel smarter. “Man, I nailed it!”

    That’s a stupid way to write. That’s a key reason why new copywriters think long is better than short. “I’m showing them I am the cat’s ass!”

    But, in reality, long copy make your prospect feel smarter. The difference here is profound…

    Pay attention! You have to understand what comes next.

    You see, long copy makes the OTHER PERSON feel smarter — you transfer intelligence to them. The shortcut you provide allows them to sit back and relax. You bond more. You influence more. You’re almost like… a trusted friend?

    But, um, how many extra words and how long you ask? Bully for you for asking, comrade!

    Every extra word that conveys the right meaning and every extra image that evokes the right feeling increases credibility. The credibility once again causes the short circuit to occur.

    “I’m ready to buy from my friend who’s done all that work for me so I can easily (logically) justify it to other people…” After they buy from their gut and loins.

    Think: The more you read about John Carlton and the more you read his words the you trust him more.

    He’s more credible.

    More persuasive.

    More powerful.

    You hardly have to READ to simply KNOW that what he says is TRUE.

    You might even get lazy reading what he says. You think you’re reading every word but in reality you just skim and real the boldface words. You soak up the headlines and highlights. You read faster and faster — but your ENGAGED still.

    This length thing works…

    And a related lesson? Let me share that if you’ll give me about 30 more seconds of your time.

    Multiple exposures over time also contribute to the “length” of your copy. So, it’s not just the length of one page you should consider. It’s the length and extent of the exposures to something that someone is saying. It’s the length of your sales and marketing funnel. (Read that last sentence again and consider all the things you do when presellling, using autoresponders, writing multiple-part blog postings, and such. Pow!)

    Put another way — Quantity is leverage for quality. Don’t miss the super secret key word I gave away: leverage! This is the essence of how length increases strength. Sizzling shizzle for your nizzle…

    The End.

    ~ John S. Rhodes

    p.s. Mr. Carlton: If Ross doesn’t get the sweet prize, when can I expect you to ask for my postal address? 😉

  • Brian F says:


    Let me throw this down…

    Our time is scarce. Also, we humans are a skeptical bunch. We need a bunch of reasons, proof, evidence to overcome that. So the process goes…

    See long copy
    “Hmmm… this is long and detailed so this must have more benefits, be more unique, be more true which means it must be better solution/offer.”
    Sale done.

    So the glitch:
    The brain takes volume/length of long copy to be shorthand representation of credibility and value, overcoming our skeptical selves (ie. volume = value). The copy itself doesn’t even have to be fully read.

    This is similar to the high price click whirrr Cialdini talks about in Influence. High price = better quality product/solution.

    Stayin’ frosty 😉

  • Jared B says:

    Long copy answers all the questions (objections) the brain can think up plus a few extra.

  • RandallT says:

    Wow, what a great debate! All of these ideas are very intriguing from “select-a-mate” to “brain schemata” (whatever that is from post 287). My skimming scanning brain was titillated and jarred to attention several times through these posts. What a blast this is…
    I believe that good long copy is vital to the selling process because it provides multiple opportunities to grab us by the ears and say “Pay Attention.” We go through our frantic urgency riddled days hearing “blah, blah, blah” or in the case of Charlie Brown’s teacher “wah wah wah wah wah.”
    Long copy can cast a wide net of hooks that may speak to each of us individually like Peter said in Post 127. These hooks draw us in and can meet us exactly where we are in that moment.
    I am a scanner and I find myself a victim of long sales copy because headlines and quotes and weird bold and sometimes underlined words awaken me from my stupor and I enter the web of stories and gossip and information that builds and conveys the experience that I want. Marvin in Post 210 referred to it as “the greased slide.”
    Good long copy allows for multiple entries at all various stages in our cognitive states and that copy will pull us through the Why, what, how and ultimately, to the desired action of shelling out some cash for a product or service that will grant us the experience that we are paying for… Health, Money or Respect to name a few.
    With a worm and a bobber, at the end of the dock, you can only catch one fish at a time. However, with two outboard motors on a 20 footer you can setup 8 outrigger poles and catch lots of fish even when you are reeling in 2 others at the same time. Just like good long copy.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share a little from my “pea brain” with such a great group of smart folks.

  • Terence Luffman says:

    I think when people read sales copy they are not yet ready to buy.
    Short Copy is like walking into a store and walking out five minutes later with a Printer after spending 60 secs with a salesperson pitching that particular brand.
    Long Copy gives people the assurance that are making the right purchase decision by taking them on that journey that appeals to their emotions.
    It is then purchased because it creates an emotional want,not because it fills a simple need.

  • TimMills says:

    I believe that the glitch is that people associate quantity of information with quality and accuracy and value. Being able to express a subject at length makes the author seem to be expert.

  • Anderson says:

    Here goes round 2

    I think (again) the glitch is that people automatically associate certain beliefs or ideas with a subject. (thanks to social conditioning) And then the intentions of buying into those ideas or beliefs forms the perception…that then filters out non-supporting information.

    And this causes people to stay in herd mentality mode because people would rather not go about changing their beliefs about a subject…unless they were “scared beyond belief”

    Long copy is vital to the sales process because it expands or contracts on what they believe about what you’re selling. If you can collapse beliefs, shore up or build new ones, you can lead the reader to where-ever you like.

    Of course, if they don’t believe what you say, or a claim you make, then you lost the sale.

  • Jeff Smith says:

    The psychological glitch is “self doubt”. Consequently, we look to others for validation of our own thoughts. Long copy provides a greater opportunity to validate the prospects own ideas and move the prospect toward the close and sale by progressively validating their own thinking. I go to Scopes to validate whether the information that is being given to me is true.

  • People have the illusion of knowing your after “talking with you for a while” (reading a longer sales letter). They feel like they know you after sampling your writing and feel like they can trust you.

  • Joshua says:

    First off, thanks for the mental stretch. Now here’s my attempt.

    Long copy gives you the opportunity to “pace and lead” a person’s map of reality to include the belief that your solution/offer is needed now.

    I’ll have to describe the glitch instead of name it. In the same way that people like what they like, people believe what they believe. In other words people believe what fits their “map of reality” and nothing else, period. We are actually incapable of believing something that doesn’t fit our map, but our map can be upgraded. Long copy is required so you can start where they are at, and lead them (expand their map) to believe they need what you are offering NOW.

  • Johan says:

    Hi John,

    I think the glitch is that people want to hear what they are hearing, they want it to be true, even when a part of their brain is sceptical, the other part wants to go with the flow and follow the dream.
    You cannot create that flow, you cannot make the reader succumb to the thought that maybe what he or she is reading might be true, with short copy. You need long copy.



    • Good one! I wonder if this is the answer John is looking for.

      • Johan says:

        Thanks, Janet!
        What a contest, huh? 😉

        • Yeah, mind boggling but in a good way. 😉
          It’s a fun way to learn about copywriting by actually thinking about it and reading responses and thinking about them, wondering if they’re right, wrong, or somewhere in between. It’s a better, more involved way of learning about copywriting than just reading what an expert says about it (I think we’ve all seen the results of newbie copywriters taking a copywriting rule at face value and using it badly).

  • Tommy says:

    Internal validation congruent with external validation of the decision.

  • David says:

    Hi John,

    I believe this psychological glitch is Perceived Value.

    When prospects know that a sales copy is long, chances are they will have the perception that the product or service being offered is full of content, hence the perception of a high value product/service.


  • Tommy says:

    Another swing at this:

    Involvement factor

  • Tommy says:

    I’m BAAACK! Just gotta figure out how this guy thinks.

    Next Swing: The power of opinion!

  • John Edgley says:

    I wonder if you are referring to the inability of the brain to take in (perceive/conceive) something which is too strange – as referred to by Lawrence Blair in “Rhythms of Vision: The Changing Pattern of Belief”, wherein he relates how, according to Magellans log, the natives of Patagonia could not see Magellan’s ships as the ships approached from the horizon because they were simply so far from their previous experience and belief system; only after the small boats had been launched to approach the beach did the natives put the “facts” together and cognise the larger ships – working backwards from “people” (the sailors – strangers but recognisable) to the small boats carrying them (very unusual but comprehensible), to the eventual conclusion that they had to have arrived there somehow… and an “aha” moment as “the penny drops”….

    It’s an effect exhibited by almost everybody, esp the elderly as they point blank refuse to accept “modern day” notions and innovations – they will steadfastly ignore them for as long as is possible – long copy eventually wears the resistance and “ignorance” down.

    • This reminds me of a wonderful book my 13-year-old son and I read called “The Lightning Thief.” It’s about a 12-year-old boy who finds out he is a demi-god – his mom is a mortal but his dad is a Greek god. He’s always encountering monsters, but the mortals around him can’t see them because it’s just too weird for them to even perceive.

  • Christoffer says:

    Since I would really like to win. I’ll start this saturday with a fourth attempt… 🙂

    Since the customer scans the message, there needs to be something to scan… And some oppurtunity to dig deep. With short copy scanning is harder. You’ll probably have to read it in detail from start to finish. Then the only “scan option” is the headline.

    Long copy, however, have several oppurtunities to tell a complete story spread over to allow scanning mode so that the person will fell he’s just scanning. The copywriter counts on this though, and therefore have written at least two versions of copy. The one to be scanned, and the one to be read.

    And since the message is longer, it will feel more important to the prospect than a shorter one. Because we all “know” that big is better than small, expensive better than cheap and a long text is more important than a short one.

    This will take care of sceptisism as well. Since the message is longer, and therefore more important… and contains a lot of testimonials… It’s probably true.

    Am I getting closer?

  • SpeedStream says:

    This Psychological Glitch affects most of the decisions you make each and every day, all day

    … on both mundane topics and issues that will decide the rest of you’re 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 for today’s Quiz Question:

    The Psychological Glitch in your’s and mine’s thinking process that has made long copy so vital for the sales process is…

    Your passions.

    Everyone has one … passion that is.

    And when you target your message directly at their passions they are rabid fans that can’t get enough. It’s a psychological glitch, no one immune.

    The internet is the best example of this. You and your prospects come to the internet in search of information, solutions. Just something else that they can add to their storehouse on any particular topic. Golf for example. Or for you my dear reader, marketing and copywriting.

    So, if you share in your target’s passion, focus your message on the things that excites them, meet their wants, answers their objections, offers up a smorgasborg to satisfy their interests, then their ‘Passion’ will have them reading every dripping word of your copy.

  • Eugene says:

    The glitch is we like to buy things. But we can’t buy everything so we look for reasons to support our purchasing decision.

    Long copy is necessary to give as many reasons for the buyer to say “YES!” to our product.

    • Eugene says:

      Feels like this need rephrasing.

      The glitch is we like to buy things. But we can’t buy everything – because we have limited money. So, we look for reasons why one product is better than another – to confirm our purchase is a good one.

      The more good reasons one product has over its competitor, the better the chance it will be bought. Long copy is necessary to present as many of these reasons as possible.

  • Hey John- The glitch is nothing happens unless you can make the emotional connections that allow us to imagine ourselves taking action and enjoying the benefits of having taken action. We need long copy to have the opportunity to achieve this.
    When we have met our fundamental prefererence based emotional needs our confidence increases. And we must feel confidence, trust, safety, security to act. If you lack confidence you don’t decide. Long copy is designed to give you the confidence to move forward in a series of decisions that brings you closer to satisfying your goal.

  • Robert Woodring says:

    “It’s a glitch in the way almost everyone’s brain works.”
    Damn I didn’t know there was only one. I’ve percieved several in mine lately.
    But the one thing that I’ve noticed in reading (skimming) the replies are in one form or another there are a lot of similarities in thought.
    We operate everyday running subconcious programming, most of which we learned by age 6.We are able to process all that early information by being predominately in a certain brainwave state that induces a trance like state.
    I’m fascinated by human behavior and the way the brain operates and its division of functions.
    I find it incredible that for instance that critical thinking and pain are registered in the same parts of the brain. So it follows that thinking hurts!
    I think its smell that is the only one of the 5 senses that bypasses the prefrontal cortex and goes directly to the seat of the emotions. Why?
    Since most people are in a trance like state anyway then it seems that would be the key to long copy. To keep them in that trance like state where their filters are off. But then that depends on what programming they are running from early childhood that might interfere. Someone mentioned suspension of belief which I don’t believe is possible. You always act out your belief, sometimes you just don’t know it (early programming).
    The simple truth is you absorb information much faster and with less skeptiscm in this trance like alpha/theta brainwave state.
    But I’m not sure that’s a glitch.
    I cuold wirte a snetnece and msiepll wrods as lnog the frsit and lsat lteters are not chnaged and you wuold be albe to raed tehm.
    Your eyes have a dead spot in the center of each eye that your brain fills in the picture to complete. As far as that goes all senses you percieved are interperted by electrical signals by your brain. So everything that is your reality is a perception imposed by your brain.
    With so many glitches it seems that it have to be something as a rule we are not aware of. And if we are not aware of it how the hell will we know what it is?
    Now I want to know what it is.
    I like stuff like this it gets me to thinking but now I have to go bed my head hurts.

    • lol, interesting stuff in your comment, i like it.

    • Jared B says:

      What’s sub about consciousness? Did you taste, feel, see, or hear it? Can you empirically verify it? Give it some serious thought before you try to say “yes.”

      Perhaps those programs from childhood are the trances one still operates in and have yet to grow out of.

      Better yet, a habit one has learned to live in.

      Habits are where people live. Change the habit, and you change the person. However, that’s harder to do than one realizes. The attempt usually redefines the habit than truly change it.

      Perhaps using the word “subconscious” comes from a habit?

      • Robert Woodring says:

        We run programming from childhood unless it has been replaced by newer programs. Sub means under or below or secondary to.
        We all have bad habits that we know we should kick. Then why don’t we? It is because at some level we are getting a reward. In other words we always act congruent with our beliefs. And those beliefs lie in our subconscious our map of reality.
        But what the glitch that John speaks of, it could be several but obviously it can’t be something unique to me or you.
        It has to be something like the blind spot in our eye that the brain fills in with details.
        Looking up glitch in the dictionary one definition is,”A false or spurious electronic signal caused by a brief, unwanted surge of electric power.”
        So since our perceptions of reality are electrical interpertations by the brain then it stands to reason that this glitch might be an ‘unwanted surge’ of…

        • Jared B says:

          Robert, I know what sub is besides a sub sandwich.

          My question is: Prove it exists! There’s a lot of “stuff” created about it because of Freud. I say: PROVE IT EXIST! Did you over look my post that said: can you pinch, feel, taste, hear, see it. I’m referring to empirically prove it.

          I claim that Freud got people to accept his view thereby stopped people from looking closer. That’s what I call subconscious crap.

          How can a something be below or under the conscious. For the record: One of the world’s greatest hypnotist said the same as me. I agree with him. And, he coined the term “Other Than Conscious” Google it.

          There is simply conscious and other than conscious. And the latter is not a name replacement for subconscious. Read up about other than consciousness.

          Before you comment back again, prove it exists other than just spitting back what Freud believers say.

  • Cyndi says:

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    [I’m dying here…]

  • Burton Kent says:

    I’d say that simple exposures to a concept over time seems to build belief and credibility – unwarranted or not. We’ve all heard the rule of thumb that it takes 7 exposures to make a sale, but who says you have to walk away and come back to make the exposure?

    (That rule itself may be a myth, but we’ve been exposed to it so much that we’d accept it as true. So maybe that’s an example right there.)

    Dave Elman, a famous hypnotist found that people became better hypnotic subjects after repeated trances. So he simply put them in trance over and over again in one induction. In the same way, by going with long copy, you expose them to your product over and over again until they accept and buy it.

  • Scott says:

    I read a short sales copy page tonight just before reading your post. I didn’t buy for two reasons.
    1. empty bank account (that’s why I pour over everything you write in your blog)
    2. Fear of the unknown.

    If I had the money I wouldn’t have bought from this person until it was settled in my mind that I had enough information. So my answer is
    Fear Of The Unknown.

  • Alex says:

    If there are two books with the same price, one is 20 pages, and another is 200 pages, which do you think worth its price better? Undoubtedly, the big one. This is a glitch.

    And subconsciously we think the more volume is the more value. So the long copy represents the better product. And it is a glitch.

  • Cyndi says:

    With 400+ responses to this point, it seems unlikely that the answer is not somewhere in the mix already. Still, for the same reason people play Lotto, I’m casting my line … hoping for magical win — even though what I’m thinking is a shapeless heap of sentences, pretty much…

    The brain tries to be efficient when confronted with new information. When it encounters something new it tries to fit it in with what it already knows — it seeks to understand the ‘unknown’ quickly by associating what it sees/ reads/ hears with stuff it already knows.

    Sort of like what Burgess did in his fiction work “Clockwork Orange” … vaguely describing violent situations using language that hints at the story action more than giving a blow-by-blow account of what’s going on in a scene. His technique engages the reader to fill in the missing bits to create the tension. The effect is that the scenes feel explicit and graphically violent (or at least that’s how I remember it) but upon closer examination, the violence is only suggested; it’s the reader’s imagination that brings it to life.

    Perhaps long copy does the same, in a way… Capitalizing on the hardwiring of our brain that seeks to find patterns and build relationships between the bits of new information we encounter and our past experiences. Long copy allows each reader to create his/her own version of what is being presented… Meaning that what is most relevant to that individual will stand out and will be incorporated and linked to what that individual already knows/thinks. Things that are incongruent, will recede and be seen as unimportant, even irrelevant.

    [ Ok. Now that this is out, this idea is far less formed than when it first occured to me a few mins ago in the shower. Posting it anyway, just to show some heart. Signing off for the duration. I’ve hit tilt and need to get on with my life!]

  • When our belief systems are threatened we feel outrage. From an earlier comment I made:

    “In a world of information overload, we all need a set of beliefs to survive. Otherwise, we might be swayed by every comment made. So we become Democrats or Republicans, for instance. We get attached to these beliefs to protect ourselves from information overload and gullibility. Obviously, we can’t all be right, as our beliefs differ. But life is really hard when we don’t each have a set of beliefs to anchor us.”

    What I left out was that when our beliefs are threatened, we feel a sense of outrage. And we feel that because we need our beliefs to anchor us and keep us from being overwhelmed.

    So you cannot just come right out and threaten someone’s belief system. You have to start in a place that is not threatening and then build up your case. You have to enter the conversation already in the prospect’s head, as we’re taught as copywriters.

    From there, you need to slowly build a case that the reader can nod her head to, as it all makes sense. And by the time you’ve built your full case, she doesn’t realize her belief system has been challenged at all.

    And all the while, you need to follow the proven rules of good copywriting, unless you have a darned good reason to break them.

    You cannot do all that with short copy.


  • Is this glitch confirmatory thinking?
    That we seek to see things which confirm what we already know?

  • Paul says:

    Your quiz got me to studying the types of paradigms:

    So I went digging and did some research. And then a lot more thinking.

    Basically, we all have DIFFERENT PARADIGMS and there are many different TYPES of paradigms.

    We all have different perspectives, sets of assumptions, the way we perceive and learn things.

    We come at things from different viewpoints, we approach things differently, we have different worldviews.

    We relate to things differently. The way we learn things is different. We have different sets of beliefs. We can even have a belief that is not based in reality – despite our honesty and integrity. If we have the facts wrong, with more evidence and better information we can choose to change our mind, our paradigm in that area.

    When I go to buy something, I am thinking, deciding. I often want someone to help me think, help my decision.

    Simply, “What do you think?” I want their perspective. A different perspective.

    I also want more information. We all come with different levels of knowledge. We’re not all the same age.

    If we all had the same perspective, the same information, there’s a chance we’d all buy, or all not buy. Life would be very boring indeed.

    So this * possible * psychological glitch actually makes life more interesting

    Would you buy a newspaper if you knew everything in it?

    Why do people write books?

    We all come from different stages of ignorance. We have limited knowledge, and we can only put in so much information at a time. We can learn to speed up the input, but it is still finite and limited.

    Which is why we keep teachers employed. Have so many niches. Have billions of websites. We’re all different, and at different stages of learning, knowledge, information. We have different interests. Pursue different careers. We’re all, or I think mostly all, wired differently.

    So let’s celebrate LA DIFFERENCE !

    Armed with this information, teachers, parents, marketers, copywriters can learn to be more sympathetic, compassionate, understanding, and meet people where they’re really at. Those who understand this well, can really connect and influence.

    The long copy sales letter, especially if it is giving highly perceived valuable information, allows us to enter into the world, the reality, of many more people. You can enter their world, meet them where they’re at, work with their outlook on things.

    You can inform, connect, influence, persuade, sell.

    Long copy has the chance to connect with one or more paradigms of the individual.

    It is just possible that a word or two, a picture, a testimony, may be the one thing that connects, that really relates to, that one person. And they may be the only person who is connected by that.

    And other information may connect with one paradigm or many paradigms of many different people.

    Some people may think that you’re the expert because you wrote so much information, even though your assistant wrote it. That’s their paradigm based on the information available to them.

    We each have many different paradigms, unless of course you’re one of the zombies John talks about, then maybe you have a set of confused or frustrated paradigms, or you’re groping for a new paradigm.

    Here’s to you, buddy!

  • C.M.S. says:

    “Man to man is so unjust. Children, you don’t know who to trust.” – Bob Marley

    So what is it that you find in the halls of Congress, in the pages of every newspaper and magazine on earth, in every bar (especially!), and every family gathering?…

    You find… lies, propaganda, and exaggerations! Yes, even at family gatherings.

    So, our first step in processing whether to buy something (be that a product, service or idea) is to determine whether or not we are dealing with a “friend” or a “foe”, and whether or not this person can be trusted.

    Generally (and evolutionarily) speaking, we determine “friendliness” based on how “similar” this person is to us. And by “similar” I mean that we trust and like people who are similar to us not only in physical appearance but also (and more importantly) similar to us in THOUGHT!

    We’ve all heard that “great minds think alike”. That’s not only a cliché, it’s a sales technique! Perhaps it would be more accurate in the marketing world to say, “Friendly and Trustworthy Minds Think Alike.”

    One of the most painful experiences to have is when one has to hold two “competing” ideas in one’s head at the same time. For example, if a prospect thinks one thing, and the seller comes in and immediately contradicts the prospect’s beliefs (as in the case of short copy), then that is going to be psychologically very painful for the prospect.

    In return for having his world abruptly turned upside down, the prospect is going to think of the seller as an enemy of the state. (NLP pun intended ;-).

    Wikipedia explains (in the cognitive dissonance entry) that when we come to the realization of an inconsistency in our minds it causes us anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states. And once we experience this painful “dissonance” we must either change or belief or take action to resolve the internal conflict and return to our pleasant state of homeostasis.

    But here’s the rub… (CASE 1) We want change, but we HATE to actually go through the process of changing anything, be it an opinion, or a behavior. So, we seek to avoid new and conflicting information simply because we want to avoid having to change our minds or our habits (which we cling to for peace of mind). Because once we have that conflicting information we know that change is inevitable because we cannot hold two opposing thoughts in our minds at the same time. (commitment and consistency plays into this as well).

    On the flip side (CASE 2), if we interpret new experiences as consistent with what we already know, then we maintain a pleasurable state of harmony. In other words, we love (and seek) to reassure ourselves constantly that the thoughts we already have in our minds are indeed valid, proper and correct.

    (CASE 3) The third case is that the new idea that is being evaluated as “not relevant” (i.e. “that doesn’t pertain to me”) and is immediately discarded from attention.

    Essentially, because being “wrong” and feeling “inconsistent” is so psychologically painful, we humans tend to seek only validation. We find validation so pleasurable that we can become addicted to it. We are as addicted as heroin addicts to our own personal version of reality.

    And because of our addiction to our own reality and our infinite desire for validation, our brains can – according to Wikipedia – play tricks on us in the form of confirmation bias, denial of disconfirming evidence, and other ego defense systems.

    Even Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s partner has said (in his famous Harvard Law School speech entitled The Psychology of Human Misjudgment) that “the human mind is a lot like the human egg, and the human egg has a shut-off device. When one sperm gets in, it shuts down so the next one can’t get in. The human mind has a big tendency of the same sort.”

    I believe Munger’s point is that the human brain, once penetrated by a new idea, has a tendency to shut itself off from receiving any other new ideas–because the brain, like the human egg, can’t handle more than one thing at a time. The idea here is that human body instinctively knows that it should always avoid being overwhelmed.

    Munger, in the same speech, also explains, “if you make a public disclosure of your conclusion, you’re pounding it into your own head”. This is the part about the believability of urban myths.

    You tend to believe urban myths for three psychological reasons. 1.) The urban myth was probably told to you by a friend whom you already trust, 2.) The myth is built upon facts that you already know or believe to be absolutely true, and 3.) You probably turned right around and told someone else the same story. The third point is very powerful. We humans, according to Munger, tend to gain more belief in the things that we tell to others.

    This is also why your dumb-ass brother-in-law won’t shut up about his opinions. It’s because every time he tells you about them, he keeps reinforcing them in his head, over and over and over. The opinion becomes stronger and stronger and stronger. And, of course, he is continually seeking confirmation and validation to this thought—and until he get’s the validation he will be in a state of perpetual anxiety and unrest (that is, unless he changes his mind, which he cannot do now because he’s reinforced his opinion so much that it has become an absolute truth to him.)


    FACT #1: People desperately want to change (they want to change their weight, their income, their attractiveness, etc.).

    FACT #2: People’s brains DO NOT want to change! This is the psychological glitch: brains are open for validation but closed for contradiction.

    Only long-copy can solve this paradoxical dilemma. Here’s how:

    Effective copy must address all three CASES described above. And only long copy can successfully address all three.

    Effective copy must first address CASE 1 by saying “Hey You!, Yes, I am talking to you! This product/service/idea is relevant to you! Please pay attention…”

    Remember, the prospect is trying at all times to avoid paying attention to new ideas that could potentially cause a painful mental “re-frame”. The prospect often goes through denial, by saying to themselves that this advertisement is not for them. So, your copy must come right out and get the prospects attention.

    Second, to address CASE 2, your copy must meet the prospect in their version of reality and agree with him. This is why long-copy is vital! Long-copy allows the seller to prove to the buyer that the seller is indeed “friendly”, that the seller “agrees with” the buyer, and that the seller validates and confirms the buyer’s version of reality.

    This is when the prospect says, “Whew! I thought for a second there that you were going to try to tell me something new! Boy, am I glad you did not do that. I am really glad you agree with me.”

    At this point the seller is IN! Just like a Trojan horse, you have been granted access to the inside. You’ve been granted insider access into the buyer’s heavily-guarded (almost impregnable) reality tunnel. Now , that your inside, you can get to work on persuading (and agitating) the prospect.

    I can explain CASE 2 in terms of Hollywood. You see a lot of movies follow Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey. Which is basically a three act play as follows: Act 1: Ordinary World, Act 2: Supernatural World, Act 3: Return to Ordinary World with The Goods.

    The reason movie-makers have adopted the “hero’s journey” is because it works. And the main reason it works is because of Act 1! You see, before exposing the audience to the “fantasy” world which we all go to movies to see anyways, the movie-makers must start us off in a familiar place. Only after the movie-maker proves he knows about the audience’s reality, can he then take us on a super-natural and fantastical journey.

    Two quick examples: 1.) Star Wars – Luke was shown to us as a “poor farmer” in Act 1 before he became the “chosen one”. 2.) The Matrix – Neo was your average “cube-dwelling office worker” before he became the “chosen one”. The audience can resonate with and connect to the “poor farmer” and the “cube dweller”. Only after that “familiarity” and “friendliness” is established can does the producer get permission by the audience to take the audience through the rest of the story, which is totally unbelievable and unrealistic.

    We want the fantasy, but our brains need to be subdued by having it’s version of reality pandered to. That’s the glitch in a nutshell.

    So following on to CASE 3, which is where the persuasion actually occurs. Now that you are embedded inside the prospects “reality”, you can – and you must – create that uncomfortable psychological conflict. This is the secret. The only way to have your prospect buy is to have it trigger that automatic, pre-wired psychological conflict resolution mechanism that all brains have.

    Long-copy is the only way you can do this. You must first signal to the buyer that you are relevant, you must then gain their trust, at the end you must agitate them enough to buy.

    Since most people want to avoid that painful agitation, they stay close-minded to the world around them. They become zombies, only seeking reinforcement and validation of their current reality.

    But there is a backdoor. People need, want and CRAVE validation!

    Short and long-copy allow you to get the prospects attention…

    But, Long –copy enables you to deliver BOTH validating information to gain access to the prospects reality tunnel (CASE 2) AND then release agitating information (CASE 3) that sparks the desire to resolve tension in the form of a purchase.

    Hollywood, sporting events and long sales copy seek to create a buildup of tension that must ultimately be resolved. This inevitable “catharsis”, or emotional cleansing, is what it’s all about.

    Catharsis is powerful stuff, and people don’t like going through it except only on their own terms–at a time and place of their chosing. That is why long-copy is so vital. It gets the prospect to go through the Campbellian “ordeal” without them realizing it until it’s too late.

    Long-copy is essentially like the Trojan Horse; it presents a gift of validation to pacify the castle defenses, but contains within it the very “foreign” objects the defense system was supposed to protect against.

    This is a long answer to a short question. I wanted to give as specific an answer as possible.

    Great post, John. Looking forward to your analysis and conclusions on Monday.

  • Jared B says:

    Long copy stops the thinking process & induces trance.

  • C.M.S. says:

    Update: I just realized I got my CASES (1-3) mixed up in my last post. Just ignore the references to them and it should (hopefully) make sense.

  • Jared B says:

    Add to post 333:
    Therefore, we can not think anymore.

  • Matt D says:

    The Glitch: Deep down we want the magic bullet to be true.

    We don’t really believe the magic bullet, (ex. swallow pill = lose weight with no work) is true but with long enough copy there is a chance we can “talk our brain” into thinking it could be true.


    Mr Prospect thinks to himself:

    “So all I have to do is slap up a website and then book my ticket to Mexico!? Oh how I wish that were true.”

    6 more pages and 15 minutes later…

    “What if this guy knows something that I don’t that is the reason why he is rich and I am not. What if he has discovered the fountain of easy money?”

    4 more pages and 10 minutes later…

    “Well this guy keeps telling me that it is true, over and over and over… so there is a chance it is true! OK, maybe not entirely true, but if I can achieve only 10% of what he is promising, that is worth it for me. Where is my credit card…”

    And thus another sale is made by exploiting the “magic bullet” glitch that causes us to believe what we don’t really think is true, but want it to be true.

    Thanks for a great contest John!

  • Ok, so here’s my kick at the can ..
    Most people fear losing something they have more than they desire gaining something they want. (Which by the way after counseling over 1000 couples over the years is very evident – known misery is more predictable & comfortable than possible joy)
    This fear causes many people to avoid buying/having something they really want.
    They’re reluctant to buy because they might not get what they expect from your product or service and …they’ll lose their money. ( and since money is really a symbol for life. )
    We have to remove this perceived risk to avoid losing business because of “no trust”. (This is the same dynamic that goes on when someone is love. The pheromones and the Dopamine makes us feel good and Norepinephrine stimulates the production of adrenaline. It makes our heart race! These three chemicals combine to give us infatuation or “chemistry.” It is why new lovers feel euphoric and energized, and float on air. It is also why new lovers can make love for hours and talk all night for weeks on end. And then decide to get married in spite of the evidence that friends and family my proffer, or in spite of the evidence that they are likely to divorce @50-60% divorce rate)
    So in long copy we want to …
    1. Eliminate the perceived risk with an unconditional money back guarantee.
    2. Provide reassurance with testimonials from satisfied customers. “if they ‘love’ it and you i will to. I want to be special with you, too.”
    3. Increase your credibility by allowing customers to communicate directly with you. (“you will be there for me forever so i am risking nothing”!)
    Ergo – in the long copy the person talks themselves out of their reluctance to buy into . . .
    which, of course, is why this answer is longer than a short one.
    Whadda ya think?

    • Spider says:

      Thank einstein this is not an IQ test. I’d be around 70 on the bell curve

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Dr. Jim.
      You’ve touched on a few of the essentials of good copy — reversing the sense of risk.
      But that sense of risk is a rational response to be pitched.
      The glitch I’m talking about isn’t rational.
      Go check out http://www.snopes.com (the original hint I gave out).
      Thanks for the post, Jim. Nice thinking.

  • Susan says:

    The glitch – We live in a world of our own projections.

  • Jared B says:

    Glitch In People’s Thinking:

    WHICH WE CREATED THEM.” ~Albert Einstein

    Problems are created when there is a mismatch between what you have and what
    you want. Problem solving is what we do to reduce the gap between these two

    Long copy eliminates the mismatch between what someone wants and what they have; and thereby, eliminates further thinking. Stops it cold! And, thereby induces trance to follow.

    • John Carlton says:

      Good response, Jared. Not the right one, but a good piece of insight.
      It’s a GLITCH, people. A FLAW in our brains that creates trouble.
      Man, so many of you are so close, and just not catching on…

  • JUNIOR D. says:

    Popularity — people want to become part of the latest fad.

    or insecurity

  • Cyndi says:

    [ Ok, so I’m an information junkie and can’t give it up!!]

    Now that that’s behind us, I have one final guess — like tossing spaghetti at a wall hoping something sticks: Is the glitch that subconsciously / unconsciously we don’t believe anything that comes easily can possibly have real value? Dumb but true.

    Yes, this answer sucks. Hoping you might give points for persistence. (If you do, I may be in the running … though encouraging mindless chatter on your blog is probably not the best use of resources.)

    Anyway, I’m committing here and now, on the open forum, to NOT checking this again before Monday. (My manic side is showing and it isn’t very flattering….)

    Congrats, in advance, to whomever among us wins the groovy cool prize. I’ll be nipping at your heels next round, smarty pants… 😉

    Happy weekend, all.

  • slick rick says:

    eye appeal

  • Greg Vining says:

    Hey John,
    I think it has to do with peoples perceptions and models of reality. When you introduce something to someone that doesn’t already exist in their current model, the naturally reject at first. Long copy gives you the chance to break down the barriers of the old model and give them a new perception of what could be reality.

  • Michel Hage says:


    Long legs. Ask Tina.

    Long stretched cars, otherwise known as limousines.

    Long applause, as in much appreciated.

    A single sentence looks like a one man show. Two, already start a conversation.

    Three, seems like you could inspire a crowd. Slipping in the question ‘are there benefits I might be missing out on?’

    Suddenly your prospect is open to confirmation that there is future loss to be mourned. This is where the glitch appears; the viewer becomes a reader and scans for bits and pieces that arouse excitement because that has become the desired experience they like to repeat.

    Long copy is the visual representative of an causal argument. Meaning length causes our brain to sense the appreciation.

    Like a lengthy hose would make one (lucky?) guy the ultimate reproduction machine.

    True length is rare in our planets nature. Name an animal anything like a giraffe?

  • Kara says:

    The glitch is habits. We need habits to get through all the decisions we make every day but the danger is that habits bypass our conscious thinking.

  • Claire McCarthy says:

    My second attempt:

    The psychological glitch is FORGETFULNESS. We forget most things just seconds after we experience them. We are simply faced with too much stimuli every day. Our brain is in ‘defensive’ mode, refusing to take in most messages, unless it strikes a chord with our deep-seated beliefs, fears, desires or insecurities (‘hot buttons’). We therefore have no choice but to forget nearly everything we experience.

    Within a short sales message there is little room to hit one of those ‘hot buttons’, and hit it powerfully enough to encourage our brain to commit the message to long term memory. Usually just a few seconds after reading or seeing a sales message, we have forgotten it, as we focus on the next thing that attracts our attention. Or, we say to ourselves ‘I’ll buy that another time’ and then we promptly forget about it.

    Long copy holds our attention for longer. It has more time to hit one of those deep seated beliefs, fears, desires or insecurities. It has more room to explore a variety of these ‘hot buttons’ and will therefore appeal to a wider group of people. It uses repetition to force our brain to remember the message. There is more opportunity to encourage us to buy right now rather than go away ‘to have a think’ and forget about it.

    What has this got to do with the reason we believe urban legends? It’s simple – we have committed them to long term memory. This is usually because we have heard them more than once from more than one person. Also, they often appeal to our deep seated beliefs, fears, desires or insecurities.

    All of the above is probably a load of rubbish, but I thought I’d have a try!

  • Steve says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but I’ve always felt that the reason long copy pulls better is people are less likely to quit the more they have invested….

    It’s like when I used to sell face to face, you get the prospect to start saying ‘yes’ to anything… just get a yes out of the guy. Ask him if it’s hot outside if you have to. Then you build a ‘yes ladder’, just keep him agreeing until the close. By then he’s so invested in agreeing with you, he can’t logically change course mid-stream and start saying no.

    Same reason why your dumb ass brother in law can’t be reasoned with, he’s believed that stupid sh*t a lot longer than he’s known you. He’s too invested to turn back now.

    And so, when I write copy, what I am to do, is write with a cadence and pace that gets the reader hooked, and by the time they hit the close, they’ve been with me for 15-20 pages or more, there’s no turning back now. They’re too invested.

    That may or may not be the glitch you’re referring to (and either way I’m excited to find out what it is!) but that’s the way I’ve always done it, and it seems to work pretty well.


  • Lucija says:

    Hi John,

    The prevalent glitch in people’s thinking is the Victim Mentality. They are being fed unhappy news and horror stories (business, politics, crime, medical, etc) 24/7/365 by all the media (TV, print, web) and have been “programmed” to expect bad things to happen. Anything new is perceived as potentially “corrupt” unless proven otherwise. And the more bad stuff they read about, see on TV, find on the web (like urban legends), the more it reinforces the victim mentality and the need to brace themselves against another attack from the “rotten world” and it’s corrupt salespeople, corporations, politicians, you name it.

    So the sales copy has to be long enough (and powerful enough) to prove it otherwise.

    A sales copy has to be long enough to overcome that victim mentality and… make the sale. The copy has to be long enough to build trust and value — and allow the reader to reach for his credit card knowing you are a “good guy/gal” offering a super desirable product that is actually not too good to be true.

    This is why in our long copy we use our personal “Victim story” and how we overcame the challenge (lost 100 lbs, found a date after 10 years, made a million online etc), we use testimonials from other “victims” and how our product helped them, too. And present as many benefits to arouse desire to buy on the basis of that trust.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.


  • wnaschak says:

    The longer the copy, the more they’re listening… …The longer they’re listening, the more apt they’ll be to buy.

  • Carrie says:


  • Darcie says:

    I’m new to your blog and to this conversation about how to sell on the net. I read your post and some of the comments and all I can say is you keep good company. There are obviously lots of smart, thinking people that think highly enough of you to spend their time leaving well thought out and sometimes lengthy comments. Kudos to you.

    After rereading the last bit of your post and specifically your hint, it occurred to me that perhaps the psychological glitch you are referring to is hope. I know several others have mentioned belief or trust but hope is different…there is uncertainty in hope. Uncertainty that can only be overcome by proof that others have come before and been successful. Uncertainty that can be overcome by a plausible story that led to the otherwise unattainable solution. Uncertainty that can be overcome by a guarantee that nothing will be risked. Uncertainty that can be overcome by the offer of a deal so good that it will never be offered again.

    All of these uncertainties buoy the hope, give it strength to act, give it confidence that it will not be duped.

    Whether I am right or not, I’m grateful for finding your community.

    Write on…

  • ju ju says:


  • kelly says:

    social proof

  • jake says:

    mental retardation

  • Christy says:


  • frank Tenea says:

    Ha ha! It’s curiousity!

  • abe says:

    I believe I got it… afraid of taking risks

  • Ferdinand says:

    It takes longer to lower a conditioned boxer’s guard. Likewise, we are so conditioned to guard ourselves from another person’s attempts to show that he/she knows better. It takes longer copy with an engaging delivery of the right words to lower that guard.

    Thanks for the invitation.

  • Doug says:

    Everyone comes to the table with their own prejudices and biases as filters. When they process information, they are subconsciously applying these filters. Information that is consistent with these filters is more apt to be seen as truth. Information that goes against these biases is likely to be rejected. This is what allows the herd mentality to flourish as it is too easy to pass on rumors as truth without engaging in critical thinking.
    Long copy can disrupt these patterns of thinking, show new ways of approaching problems and allow the receiver to be more open to new ideas.

  • RandallT says:

    Addition to my original post at #304: The glitch in our brain is that we have no idea what may, or may not, trigger a response in our subconscious. A smell, an image, a word or even a color can fire synapses in our brains that nearly force us to take notice. “I want a cookie;” “I want whatever is making them laugh like that;” etc. etc. etc. (apparently one of my triggers is repeating words(or abbreviations)).
    Anyway, since we rarely know ourselves what triggers a response in our brains, how can we pinpoint with any certainty what will trigger a response in someone reading our copy?
    Short copy is a rifle approach and is inaccurate at best unless you are targeting merely a blanket response by getting someone to “click” on your CPC Ad. Is that selling or just goading someone into taking a peak into something they are probably not interested in.
    Long copy on the other hand can cast a broad net in a specific lake, inlet or lagoon where there are significant similarities of interest but remarkable differences in our demeanor, social status and background. Triggers of gossip, lore and facts can cut through to our subconscious and will pull us in because all of a sudden, “someone gets us!” Long copy can touch us, but the outrageous headline or a single word or a font or color (which is why we test — remember the last quiz) can rouse us from our stupor and trigger a reaction. The reaction is to suck us in with riveting storytelling and unbelievable statistics and yes gossip or urban myths. These are the things that keep us reading and tells us why we should keep reading and what we will gain, or what we won’t lose out on if…
    Oh, and by the way “just click the ‘Add to Cart’ button and you will belong.” We know these things and have been talking about them throughout these past few days.
    The glitch in our brains, that elusive flaw, is that we we have no idea what can consistently fire our synapses into focused consciousness, to take notice and ultimately action.
    Thanks again John, what a wonderful debate.

  • Peter says:

    THE GLITCH is you will not connect using just words alone you need to meet the emotional needs and passion of the targeted audience.
    Short copy does not provide sufficient opportunity to provide the reasons and opportunity to make that detailed connection.

  • I’ve thought about this again. I’m glad that I did because it has completely changed my thinking about long copy… John, I owe you a beer.

    —> The answer is: HOPE!

    “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.”

    –> Absolutely true. Zombies crave HOPE. If you’re very happy and satisfied, and if you’re life is perfect, you don’t need much HOPE. You’ve arrived. You’ve got what you want. It’s in your hands. There’s no need to dream. There’s no need to seek out more. Greed is weak. Cravings are destroyed — if everything is beautiful. But, if your life is disgusting and miserable you must cling to HOPE.

    But really, let’s keep rolling. I want to drive this point into the friggin’ ground and claim the prize.

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

    –> More HOPE at work… So many people are in the HOPE-mobile driving from place to place, lost in a sea of chaos.

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

    –> HOPE is all over, in all nooks. All crannies. You hope that girl is the right girl. You hope that job is the right job. You mind is spilling over with HOPE on every possible topic.

    “You see it in effect in the halls of Congress.”

    –> Audacity of HOPE. ‘Nuff said.

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

    –> Plane crashes. You HOPE for pictures. But, you also hope that you don’t see family or friends, so you read more and more.

    Note: Ebook… Get Rich Now! You HOPE that THIS is the one.

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

    –> Humans HOPE… and they will share, with everyone, in every environment.

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

    –> You HOPE that what you say and what you sell will get you rich. You HOPE that the headline is good enough. People reading a great headline HOPE that what you offer is true. Long copy gives them more and more and more… HOPE! The more you right the more you exploit the hope flaw.

    “Okay. Here’s a hint: Check out http://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.”

    –> You HOPE that the giant 38 foot alligator is really in the NYC subway because it’s so damn interesting. It wakes you up. It stirs your curiosity. You can’t help but get sucked in. And, the more that it’s crazy and outrageous and spread by more and more people (i.e., “length”!) the more it become believable. More weight, more credible, more strength, more validity. More HOPE!

    “How does your participation in the conversation proceed?” (About lighthouses…)

    –> I HOPE that I don’t have to talk about the lighthouse because I’d feel like an idiot. And, I HOPE that someone else knows something about lighthouses and says something that I can grasp onto. I HOPE that something triggers an idea or thought — and that allows me to form an association with something I have some brains about.

    Wrapping up: Hope is rarely rational. Hope is rarely logical. It’s a bizarre cognitive flaw. It’s a BELIEF that there will be a positive outcome but that belief and that feeling is often flawed.

    **** Long copy exploits HOPE! ****

    (And, HOPE isn’t the same thing as optimism. If you research hope, you’ll see that it’s an EMOTIONAL response. Optimism is often the outcome of some logical thinking. Bzzz… bad answer. HOPE is the key.)

    *** HOPE IS THE GLITCH. ***

    ~ John S. Rhodes

    p.s. John, thanks again. I mean it when I say, “I owe you a beer!”

    • Robert Woodring says:

      I don’t understand how zombies have hope. They exist…or don’t. But if they exist they have no hope. Else they wouldn’t be zombies,would they?
      This ‘hole’ thing has me thinking. Or it could be a reaction. That is my earlier point that our perception of reality is based on the brain’s perception which is part of the perception. In other words our reality is not objective based because the brain which interperts the reality is part of the perception.

  • “I hope you appreciate the opportunity to think hard about communicating with prospects at this deep psychological level.”

    You crafty bastard… 😉

    ~ John S. Rhodes

  • Tom says:

    People hang on to what has been familiar (real) to them. . .to what has always been true for them. They hold on to these beliefs with unconscious tenacity. They operate in this fog, which may not even be true. These beliefs are not easily changed or questioned. The long sales letter (like the lighthouse) brings them carefully through and out of the fog. It challenges the core of their beliefs. It hurts & rescues. It leads them to see what might be false about their beliefs. It causes them to question their sacred beliefs. And then it leads them to the solution. And it offers evidence and proof of the solution, and why they need to buy it from us. They are persuaded ,finally, & they see, “whats in it for me”. And of course, they have to buy it in that moment.

  • Tom says:

    We just assume (subconsciously) that someone would not bother to write a long sales letter about a product that is crap.

  • Very simply, you need to use emotion AND logic. You need to create desire by appealing to emotion first, and then you need to justify the desire and get them to take action by appealing to their logic.

    The emotion is simple. Fear or anger is strong emotions that are easy to play on, but once you’ve done that, the prospect are looking for reasons not to buy. At this point you need to answer every question they may have and convince them that there’s nothing to lose. You need long copy because people have lots of excuses.

    So in a nutshell, I think the glitch is that we make decisions based on emotion, but then try to validate that decision through logic.

    So, am I close, or am I smoking my socks here?

  • dude says:


  • vulcan says:

    this is one helluva crackhead illogical question.
    Where is that pipe anyway…

  • Brandy says:

    swearing… conversing

  • William Colt says:


  • William Colt says:

    How about — thinking negatively

  • Jared B says:

    The brain process information because it is trying to make the best decision. It is trying to be the expert. If someone else is perceived as the expert, the brain accepts what the other is saying and does not process (shuts down) further information unless it perceives the person is no longer the expert.

    The brain believes who it perceives as the expert. That’s why it processes info.

    This was recently brought out in a CNN article regarding Madoff with his financial dealings.

    Therefore, in a long sales letter, you become the expert by answering all the objections and all of the problems. And, the reader’s brain now accepts you as the expert.

    Cute trick! Engage the reader long enough where you are perceived as the expert and the processing of information to oppose what you say shuts down. His ability to process information will cease if he sees you as the expert. At this point, he is wide opening to suggestion like …order now.

    “Huh, yeah, sure, where do I sign” …mentality.

    If it perceives anyone else as the expert, it stops and accepts the other person. So, stay on top of your game now has a new meaning.

    • Jared B says:

      Add to my post:

      What I am talking about is not limited to just handling objections or problems. It’s everything you say in the sales letter. If it is perceived as you are the expert, YOUR ARE. And, the other person’s brain shuts down and accepts you. This is not limited to just sales letters. But can highly be utilized here.

      • Jared B says:

        The glitch would be that our brain accepts things as true when it comes from whom it perceives as the expert. And, it stops trying to think further until there is other information that the brain considers to be more expert.

        I am saying it here a little differently; but, I thought I had said it in the initial thread herein.

        • Jared B says:

          And further,

          Our brain trusts the expert! Why does it blindly follow the expert?

          As our brains make the assumption that others know more than we do, then why do we blindly follow the so called expert?

          Why do we accept and not question further?

          And, why do we blindly follow him?

        • Jared B says:

          And more,

          Our brains try to predict the way the world should be, rather than simply accept things as they are. Where science sees the meaning of the mastodon as meat, the cave man values the cave with view. Also known as the human flaw that science heals.

  • Lucie says:


  • Ben Carroll says:

    I feel like this question is complicated but i also feel like if you have ever read long copy out of the blue as a customer, you know what the answer is…

    The Glitch In long copy(if written well) is the investment, The reason it works so well is because everything in life is about going forward and progression faster, shorter, etc… But when you become invested in something it glitches our mind into a state that is more natural and we are able to slow time down for a second and become invested into the conversation or “the sales pitch” that is directed to you, ONCE YOU BECOME INVESTED your brain glitches in 2 other ways that i feel are the strike 2 and 3 of a perfect sales “pitch” strikeout. haha (as i pat myself on the back for not even trying to create than pun) The first way is that once you are invested you want to be told what the solution is. Every good copy TELLS you what to do basically and everyone especially in this day and age of brain over-stimulation because of choices people LOVE to be told what the solution is or what to do. The 3rd Glitch is once you become invested and told what to do you also glitch out because you need to see the ending, the result, the solution, whatever it is you are become invested in. Its like a bad movie, you can’t stop watching it because you want to know what happens at the end, the result, and when you leave halfway through there is a VOID in your head and it drags on you.

    SO in conclusion i feel its 3 glitches in 1.

    Hope this wins, im poor and love prizes haha.

  • Tresa says:

    Long copy puts your conscious mind to sleep. It allows your sub-conscious mind to take over and store the information, which in turn impacts your future decisions/behaviors. Same process happens when someone watches TV. Advertisers on TV know what they are doing!

  • Garth says:


    I believe the glitch has to do with BIASES and REPETITION.

    Let’s take a look at a rumor. If my biases are in agreement with what I hear, I automatically believe the rumor to be true, regardless of the source.

    However, if my BIASES cause me to say, “Bullshit” when I hear the rumor for the first time, I’ll need REPETITION —from a few credible sources— to change my mind and view the rumor as fact.

    I believe the majority of people only read short or long copy in the first place, because some component of the marketing piece catches their attention. They already have an interest or bias towards the topic.

    Long copy provides the plenty of space for dealing with biases and repetition.

    In your P.S. you wrote, “(Some folks consciously smother this glitch, but it can take years of practice. It’s the default position for most people.)”

    Scientific and critical thinking does not come naturally. It takes training, experience, and effort, as Alfred Mander explained in his Logic for the Millions: “Thinking is skilled work. It is not true that we are naturally endowed with the ability to think clearly and logically — without learning how, or without practicing. People with untrained minds should no more expect to think clearly and logically than people who have never learned and never practiced can expect to find themselves good carpenters, golfers or pianists” Source: http://www.cimpa.org/rumors.htm

    Personally, I’m in the market for a Digital Video Recorder. I already have a few preconceived notions as to the type of recorder I want. I’m aware my biases may be outdated, but they give me a starting point so I can either believe/agree or call “bullshit” when I hear the sales pitch at Best Buy.

    When my existing BIAS is challenged, I’ll request more info and probably do it several times, and still go home and to research online —REPETITION— and then buy.

    My final answer is BIASES and REPETITION.

    John, this quiz has been great!

  • Muzzy says:

    man…….ok a psychological glitch that isn’t rational, creates trouble, is vital for long copy…..

    I think it would be ANXIETY….which is a glitch because it is a misfiring of the neurons…..anxiety is irrational (especially in our thoughts), it creates trouble (shortness of breath, panic….), and is vital for long copy to work because someone having a pnic attack form anxiety needs alot of talking to…..(my ex-wife)
    Thanks again,

  • Ray says:

    John. Would it be correct to say, that the purpose of well written and appropriately targeted long copy is to feed the brain of the reader, planned and sequentially painted scenes, which entice the reader to believe that what is being said is realistic, trust worthy, and entirely possible,… almost as if it was his or her own idea?

    Thus, with the descriptive, well planned, and appropriate information being applied at a predetermined rate, the reader will feel on track and increase his or her engagement with the copy flow.

    As the reader becomes more engaged, his or her trust factor becomes stronger.

    As the trust factor becomes stronger, the mind then becomes more susceptible to suggest/s… the copy feels safe, on target, and hopeful.

    Indeed! The reader begins to feel so safe and on course, that the mind of the reader (without the readers knowledge-in many cases) begins to paint it’s own scenes, adds its own words, and sells (fills in) possibilities that will best serve the reader, even beyond suggestions being made by the copy being read.

    Here come de glitch!

    Thus, unknowingly (in some cases), the mind of the reader has engaged as if he or she were an actual writing partner of the long copy, and often times, have read into or visualized information which never existed in the original copy… information which is self built, custom fitted, psychologically matched by the readers own desires…

    Thanks, John. That felt good, but a little strange… almost as if as if someone else was writing it : )

  • Sharon says:

    Ah Ha! It breaks through resistance

  • Eugenie says:

    What would I do if the subject of lighthouses came up? Pull up the (very thin, in my case) “lighthouses” file and fish out a fact or an anecdote to demonstrate that I had something to add to the conversation. And I would feel strangely compelled to do this even if I knew what I was saying was banal, irrelevant, possibly inaccurate, and actually added next to nothing to the conversation. I might then have a good go at following up on someone else’s contribution with another anecdote or fact. Why would I do this?

    Because we all want to be “part of the conversation”, to be accepted by others, be congruent with them, and be constantly reassured that we are. Long copy draws us into a conversation, and gives us the answers that allow us to play this game in our heads. The longer the copy, the more comfortable and “part of the conversation” we feel. Yes, we may skim read it, but then we rarely hang on every word in every discussion: it’s fitting ourselves into the scene that matters.

    The psychological glitch is that this autpilot process takes place whether or not being “part of the conversation” is in our best interests, or indeed anyone else’s. Which is why you see so much emperor’s new clothes stuff going on in the corridors of power, in bars, at family gatherings – any place where people open their mouths and words come out.

    Seems we just can’t help ourselves, we’re compelled in a quest to be on the inside, not the outside and it takes a conscious effort to recognise we’re doing it.

    Am I anywhere near the mark, John?

  • Peter says:

    The Glitch
    when creating the mental image using words the writer takes the reader on a mental journey. The mental response triggers an emotional response.
    Implication then appraisal relative to the readers feeling of well being. The appraisal reaction being a continuous process is always changing however over a life time appraisal patterns become established and re actions set. The glitch therefore is that the writer does not know which or what action impulse is or may be triggered and the emotion that may flow from it.

  • DocMercer says:

    How’s it going with you, Frosty?

    No offense, John. That association, somehow created in my head, also led me to ask… and answer… myself, “Is this guy really as ornery as the character he has ‘imaged’ in my mind?”

    You’ve sure got it goin’ in here, John. A lot of these posts suggest the authors actually took some time to do some capable thinking.

    Most people do not tend to do any ‘real’ thinking, even when they think they are.

    That’s because behavior, including thoughts and verbalization, is primarily on autopilot… a response directed by subconscious mind.

    The subconscious is a massive data base that does not judge… true or false, fact or fiction, good or bad, rational or irrational. It simply records without filtration.

    It records more than conscious mind is even aware of, creates files and folders and links them to other stored files and folders. This data becomes belief systems that direct behavior.

    The conscious mind can override subconscious mind.

    While I have more of a healer mentality than marketer mentality, maybe that’s the goal of salesmanship… to engage the conscious mind, develop that interest and arouse enough emotion to override the often senseless stuff housed in the subconscious.

    It’ll be really interesting to see how you phrase your own answer to your question. I can use the information in my ‘comeback in the sixties’ (Vietnam combat related PTSD consequence but that’s another story).

    So John, thanks for putting something interesting and worth the time on the internet.


    P.S. By the way, John, my answer to my own question is, “I’ll bet this character is gonna be a real hoot in another twenty years or so”.

    • DocMercer says:

      Oh yea, I forgot to specifically mention something that is probably a good thing for most people.

      Somewhere in that mass of sub-conscious mess is a conditioned response something like this.

      What’s mine is mine and you can’t have it.

      When someone obviously wants something from you, you automatically want to keep it from them… in most cases and… apparently… especially with sales people.

      See why that’s probably a good thing for most people?

      I hope all of you enjoyed this little mind warper of John’s as much as I did.


  • Anderson says:

    The Glitch –
    We are looking for someone, or something to confirm what we have on file. In a way, we look for a mirror. To get a green light on saying “yes, its okay to be invested in our reality.

    We experience what we know, or assume about the topic, (or have on file) in our minds Then we invest ourselves into that version of reality.

    And we do this by subconsciously experiencing and imagining our version of reality. Whether its something we like, or something we dislike.

    And our version of reality, our imagination and what we believe about it – is subject to fantasy.

    We take our beliefs and what we have on file from what we think is an authoritative source. We have a tendency to defer to a leader.

    This causes the “who is in charge” question because everyone is looking for an authorative way to act. To find an excuse to avoid thinking and making up their own minds…or otherwise changing their own minds about a topic. Course most people want to feel guaranteed and secured about what they believe about a subject.

    And self image, beliefs, the desire to be right, herd mentality I think reinforces what we experience inside our own heads about the topic. And we also like to project this version of reality onto others.

    Long copy is necessary because by changing the way the prospect experiences things in the prospects minds, we can nudge them towards our stuff.

    We start with what they already experience and believe about the product or service or idea in question. They are raw materials for our copy we use to sell.

    When the prospect experiences things in their minds in a way they want or like, then our product becomes more appealing. We do this with…the raw mechanics (I think) of long copy.

    Then, when the experience and imagination of the product is so strong and the prospect wants it badly enough – then we buy it.

    We buy it for the experience we get in our minds. We buy it for the self image reinforcement – among other things. Its sort of like how I see people buyin these expensive home study kits on how to make $$ and IM.

    They buy it like a lottery ticket. They feel good about buying it. They experience themselves being rich, free etc every time they look at it. The long copy that they bought from induced that experience into their heads. And they wanted that experience badly enough to buy the product.

    Course whether they do something with it, is entirely different.

    We tend to stick to our version of reality (or daydream really) because reality as it is…a bitch to most people.

    Okay John, that was my best pitch.
    I hope there’s a home run.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Anderson,

      I just read this (after I posted) and I think you put it better. Great points!!

      • Anderson says:

        Hi Lisa,

        Thanks. To be honest, I left the blog post unrefreshed for a couple of hours (just skimming over everyone else’s entry).

        And thats what I came up with.

        • Anderson says:

          And I want to add that we as humies tend to want to express our identities or what we hold of ourselves…to other people.

          For most people, its to be a good follower. (Thanks society) So we defer to who’s the leader. Or we say or do something that makes them feel as if they were living out that self image.

          So we look for whatever way to fit into that self image. To avoid pain or gain pleasure.

          And this desire to do so, causes us to skip over logical facts and access information thats congruent with that self image.

          Okay my brain is totally fizzled out.

          I wonder who the winner is…

  • Lisa says:

    Hi John,

    Is it our need to be included, to belong, not miss out, “fit in” so to speak? We want to be included and be part of the action whether vicariously or in person. Everyone wants to partake with the group, but no one wants to be wrong or “left out”.
    The more social proof we have about something… the more we don’t want to be left out or left behind.
    Wish I could think of a more concise way to say it, know the feeling, but having a hard time articulating 🙂
    Thanks for the brain workout!

  • Susie Nelson says:

    OK – I think I was pretty close with my first response (comment 75) in which I talked about the phases our brain has to go through to accept an idea – but what I didn’t expand on was this: that we apply feedback – just like steering towards a lighthouse, or the way an airplane navigates from one location to the next.

    So when we are presented with the first bit of information in long copy – our subconscious searches for what it knows on that topic, ADDS that FEEDBACK to what it is hearing for its interpretation. Continue going through the copy – again, more FEEDBACK – continually adjusting the response.

    If we all had minds like Spock (yes – I recently went to the newest Star Trek movie! Loved it – which, by the way, I wasn’t going to go to until several people told me they loved it….hmmmm…..feedback and urban legends…..) – and only searched our databases for facts, copywriting would be much different!

  • Patrick says:

    We are trained to believe stories told by authorities, and long copy is usually structured as a story told by an authority (who establish their authority / credibility in the copy)

  • Patrick says:

    2 drivers of human behavior – we want to be right (and appear “right” to others). The copy of a long sales letter help us to believe that we’re right in making a purchasing decision.

  • Mark says:

    The average consumer holds on to his dollars tighter than a Spanish nun her virtue.

    Slam…bam…thank you won’t begin to cut it with this noble lady. But a little courtship might turn her head.

    Short- versus long-copy is the difference between getting laid and having a romance.

    The thing is, the Psychological Glitch in all of us is the need to feel important and to know the one who thinks us important is important in their own right. We want to be romanced.

    Drinks and “off to my place” don’t cut it. Flowers, poetry, chocolate, candle-lit dinners, and – gasp – the commitment are the ticket.

    Short, long. Is there any debate?

    Just checked out your photo. Phallic, definitely. Just goes to prove my point – have it and give it. And be around for tomorrow.

  • Broman says:

    Bros, I swear, this is one big Cock tease.

  • Matt says:

    Snopes.com, religion, and politics are all proof that people will believe just about anything if repeated often enough, and when pitched by an authority.

  • The glitch is that we immediately attach any incoming data to something already in our reference/model of the world – without any “qualuty control” or any real idea why we are responding the way we do.

    In NLP we call it a Trans-Derivational Search for meaning (from within our reference structure or “model of the world”).

    It’s a glitch because most of us are unaware of the process and/or do not apply critical thinking to determine what thought we’ve just connected to “the lighthouse” is actually true/false/imagined/dreamed. It just happened to be there.

    So in short copy, we may never get a second chance to either build on or correct the immediate retrieved response from the reader.

    Whereas in long copy, we can deliberately STIMULATE the TDS (oh what fun …) and even use semantically-packed words & phrases (those where the TDS gets REALLY busy retrieving info eg “mother”).

    Still having fun with this John!! What a stimualted conversation! All of us had to do our own thorough and much more conscious “searches” and apply critical thinking to see if it meets your criteria … so you are actually teaching at the same time.

    Definitely crafty (as has already been said!).



  • Tom says:

    If you have a web site and do not utilize the chance to link to it… shame on you. Besides having the link, you might be contacted for a JV…

  • roberta says:

    Long copy provides people the opportunity to sell himself/herself and answer their objections – it provides an opportunity to subliminally answer all of the questions, benefits, objections and address benefits while building credibility .

  • Susie Nelson says:

    OK – so I’ll give it one more shot (after reading the hamburger remark and the lighthouse hint). Could it be similar to what we learn in psycho cybernetics – that what we focus on, we create (similar to the lighthouse providing the beacon to focus towards; or when you are eating – you are focused on being hungry). So we need the long copy to keep work on that focus – as the prospect gets off track – we keep reminding them of the final destination – i.e. buying our product? OK – that’s my 3rd comment.

    I seriously LOVE these quizzes – and what a great way to work with a motivated herd! Thanks, John!


  • Bill says:

    I’m going to add to my post #299: apologies if the glitch has already been mentioned.

    I did some thinking about the way my brain processes stuff and I realised two things:

    1. My brain is lazy and wants a simple solution and explanation…for everything!

    2. I found I have beliefs about topics that I have formed with virtually no actual hard evidence or first hand experience to rely on.

    I have waffled on and argued for hours about wars, conspiracy theories and politics when I’ve never been in a war, never seen a UFO and don’t personally know any of the players involved in political scandals. I may have read an article or followed an opinion that fitted my map of the world…and then held forth as if I was 100 % certain and a bona fide expert.

    My brain has formed beliefs and sometimes filters information to the little voice in my head, based purely on opinion and hearsay….instead of experience or cold hard facts.

    So in my case…the glitch is making decisions based on opinion, not fact.

  • Glitch: The reader wants to quickly come up with something that doesn’t make them feel stupid.

    So the brain finds something.


    Even if they have limited experience of the subject, they wanna sound “smart” or in the know.

  • Tommy says:

    The focus thing. Tell him not to think about a pink elephant and he does. The the need to be recognised as an authority kicks in, and he chimes in with his opinion about the pink elephant.

    • Tommy says:

      Don’t you lot ever sleep? Another try:

      The main tenet of copywriting is to enter the thought process of where the prospect is with vivid imagery and metaphors. The backdrop of the thoughts must the whole approach to the pitch. His knowledge and abilities etc. must be recognised, and you’ve got a winner.
      It is like a stage background, and everything that happens must be connected to the backdrop.

      And now I will wait in frustration for the answer.

  • shanti8 says:

    Great fun – a mini-course almost!
    Here is my idea: people, when confronted with a big bad world, would like to know what to do to avoid being eaten.

    Believing a falsehood is safer than doubting:
    if there is a noise, and you think it is a predator, and you are wrong – adrenalin kicks in and ooooh, but you survive.
    If there is a noise, and your neighbor thinks “nah, this cannot be a tiger”, and he is wrong, well, he won’t survive to pass on his genes.

    Therefore people will believe a lot of myths and things (yes, also when they are repeated to them, of course) but mostly because it has survival value.

    This was in Scientific American, the Skeptic’s column.

    Why the long copy? Well, to make a lot of noise… or noises… sssssh (could be a snake)… rattle rattle… (could be… aaargh),
    so it is true that “fear” is a factor, and
    “hope” that we get rescued, and “making decisions using incomplete data”… and of course we want the pitch to be true…
    but the “glitch” is the tendency of our species to believe rather than doubt…

    I hope!
    Thanks a lot, John. This is extremely stimulating!

    • shanti8 says:

      To make my point clearer:
      the glitch in our brain is: we are wired – by evolution – in such a way that it is safer
      to believe a falsehood rather than to doubt.

      If there is a noise, and your neighbor thinks “nah, this cannot be a tiger”, and he is wrong, well, he won’t survive to pass on his genes. Whereas people who believe “it might be a tiger” survived and passed on their genes – to us.

      That is why people believe urban myths – they might be true. And that is why they will believe your copy – and the more “noise” you produce, the better.

      Hope this is clearer.

  • Christoffer says:

    In the beginning of the conversation the prospect isn’t warmed up yet. So he starts to search in the unconcious for his knowledge about the subject to be able to approve of the written text.

    The prospect needs to have the oppurtunity to both learn something new and recognise some from his own experience.

    The longer the prospect is engaged in a conversation the more comfortable he’ll get… and start giving his own input. He’s starting to learn more while reading and combines that with the knowledge he already had… so that he doesn’t look stupid.

    In the beginning he may act grumpy… Since the subject is somewhat out of reach. But the conversation itself is a reminder of his knowledge… and the new knowledge engages him as well. So he’ll start asking questions, out of curiosity, and get exited about the answers. Ask more questions… and get more answers.

  • Alex says:

    When I see a big lighthouse I would think: “If this lighthouse is so high and big, the harbor must be big and great also. It is the place I want to reach.”

    But it’s a glitch only.

  • Jack Causevic says:

    I’m not going to make myself look smart here…

    Since we all know that whilst reading sales copy… The buyer not only has to convince himself to buy… But he needs to convince others…

    Sales letters need to repel objections and give prospects enough rational and logical reasons to hand over the cash….


  • DARLENE says:

    I guess I need to clarify my earlier post, that even though you are tell it long enough and loud enough; you are appealling to their brain wiring for their sense of greed. Whether it is in conversation dominance or power or for satisfying that pressing need, thus requiring the long copy. Everyone is trying to better themselves in one way or another; no matter their motives, i.e., the DAS brother-in-law.

  • Trish Cornelius says:

    My best guess: The glitch is that people are fundamentally selfish and egocentric (“the only true version of reality is the one that I have experienced”) and therefore no matter what we do, we always take any conversations or copy back to our own experiences. In other words we will warp whatever incoming information there is to fit into our own version of reality. The reason why long copy works better than short copy for this the more information there is provided the easier it is to find confirmation in our own version of reality.

  • Ok, I’ll hazard another guess. The glitch is that we automatically believe we know more about the subject. Your biggest job in the copy is to convince the person that you know more than they do.

  • Garry says:

    Pre conceived ideas

  • Jack Claisen says:

    John! You have whacked your prices on your stuff.

    What’s up??? Half price now…wow wee!
    Is it the economy?

  • Melissa says:

    I think that long copy can address the basic psychological need to be safe. Feeling safe can dispel the fears of the reader and encourage them to buy.
    In regard to the lighthouse – I think its not the actual lighthouse that is important its what the lighthouse does – it provides safety.

  • Diane says:

    The glitch is that people prove and justify the sale to themselves.

    Don’t try to prove anything … show them and let them prove it to themselves.

    IMHO … that’s why long copy works.

  • Sergey says:

    Hi John,

    I wouldn’t elaborate on my previous comment (#133), but your lighthouse hint triggered something I’d love to share 🙂

    When folks speak about something they have “thin files” for, they exchange the data they have.

    Their data can be anything. Something they actually know or “heard on the media”… something they just made up… their own or someone else’s opinions… where “opinions” are NOT facts, or even pieces of experience…

    Whoever has the most “NEWS” for the others, wins the “exchange data” game. And h/she feels great about it 🙂

    If the news was “funny” for others, they’ll spread it. And they will feel great about themselves, too.

    Now a good story (long copy) can be a good piece of news!

    Here’s a real world example I tested with a real cell phone store (tripled their sales in 2 months).

    Imagine you come to a cell phone store and a sales guy shows you a phone with a special “vibrating engine”.

    “it can vibrate” is an old boring feature. You give a damn about it – even if it is an “extra power super duper vibrating engine”?

    You’ve been using cell phones with vibrating engines for like 10 years, you know everything about this kind of stuff…

    “Don’t ya sell me on this dude!”

    Now the salesman tells you the story:

    “Look… there’s a secret about this phone you’d love to know… a previous model of this cell phone was rumored in the news because a kinky couple used it as a dildo because of it’s extra-powerful vibrating capabilities…

    …they were careless enough, the phone got slipped into [whatever place they used it with] and they had to go to a hospital… and you know what the kinks were doing all the way to the hospital?

    …well, the guy kept calling his girl on the phone and she had 177 orgasms before they reached the hospital…

    …medical staff laughed their heads off extracting the phone back… ”

    All this is goddamn’ news to you, ain’t it? I’ll tell you more…

    “After the story hit the news, the manufacturer of the phone came up with a news release saying… “we are very proud that these guys has chosen our phone because of its extra-ordinary vibrating machine…

    …and we’re proud to launch a new “can’t-slip-it-in” model with a better handle and a special rope… and the new model can also be used to cook egg or popcorn and unlock any cars equipped with remote keyless entry systems”

    Even more damn news.

    “Now, would you prefer to get the upgraded model or the original one? Where’s your wallet dude?”

    It’s weird. Kinky. Funny… Would you tell this story to your friends?

    Would you post it in your blog titled like “The #1 secret to picking the right phone to have instant pleasure with… “?

    Congrats, you’ve made it to the http://www.snopes.com 🙂

    There are many glitches in our psychology. We react to “funny” stuff, we make up data instantly if we don’t have something to say, etc.

    But I believe this is what you’re looking for, John…

    If I tell you something that you perceive as “new”, it “clicks” with you… and my authority for you grows.

    This is especially so if what I say validates what you already know… or resonates with what you feel is “correct” or “true” for you.

    By the way, do you know YOUR lighthouse story?

    When acceptance committee members came to see the newly built lighthouse, they saw a huge hole in the earth… like 450ft deep… and a lamp on the very floor of it 🙂

    Either the builders were drunk or what, but they looked at the plots and blueprints upside down.

    After the bastards were fired, the lighthouse was rebuilt “the proper way”… but THIS lighthouse is equipped with the HUGEST lighthouse basement in the world 🙂

    Thanks for the quiz John. It was pleasure and truly everyone wins by participating.

  • shanti8 says:

    What a fun quiz!

    Is the “glitch” the fact that
    people trust people who look like them?

    As Bill (#298) and a few others wrote, people filter information according to what they already believe (their “map of the world”) – i.e. to what they have already evaluated as true, and whatever does not fit gets thrown out, right, but not only that: people filter information according to the MESSENGER.

    I live in Japan, and believe me, the first human reaction is NOT to trust a foreigner. In fact, it is to NOT trust a foreigner.
    And a “foreigner” does not have to be that foreign, you know.
    Somebody “not like you” qualifies. For example, see the generation gap – how much trust is there between generations, eh?

    Why do people believe a rumor?
    Because someone they know – someone LIKE THEM – who lives in the same neighborhood, maybe – tells them. Or, if it is some tabloid, because it is “their” tabloid, it is familiar – and of course, because they are credulous –
    but the rumor, or the tabloid, give them the feeling that they are “in the know”.
    (which is safer than not knowing “What you do not know can kill you”, etc.).

    Second glitch, maybe: the allure of being “in the know” (versus being the idiot who doesn’t) – and the false sense of safety it gives:

    (from now on, I will use “they” for the audience and “we” for the copywriters, but I do not place myself above the crowds – I am just as susceptible as anybody else to those tendencies!)

    Very few people will acknowledge (even to themselves) that they do not understand, or that they do not know the answer, or that they do not know enough. Give them TONS of information, and they will feel informed,

    and they equate “information” with “intelligence” – in fact, in English, one of the meanings of “intelligence” is precisely “knowing”. HA) Of course, people (me too) like to feel intelligent, and like to look intelligent, and equate “knowing” with intelligence (In fact,). – hence the success of that movie:”The Secret”. People want to know – it is not just curiosity, it is more than that, it is that they want to be “in the know”, they do not want to be left out – feeling stupid, and feeling unsafe.

    WHy are people more likely to believe long copy?
    Because it gives us time to create a feeling of “familiar/safe”:

    it gives us time to build rapport, to
    build a path from where they are
    to where we want them,

    building mystery (a “brand new” product, be the first to know about it!)/a problem to solve (Mr. Smith – who is JUST LIKE YOU – had dandruff… /

    then agreeing with… what they probably think: “this is a new product, and it is reasonable to doubt its value, Mr. Smith did too, in the beginning,”

    “listen to Mr. Smith telling you how he, SO MUCH LIKE YOU, was skeptical at first… but”
    (here comes the lead)
    “now, he really likes this product… (and you will, too!)”
    and then to DELUGE them with “information”, so they feel “informed”, therefore “intellligent”.

    So, recap:
    people trust messengers who look like them; and give them “all the details”:
    they will feel “well informed”… and this feels good because
    people equate “information” with “intelligence”
    and because of
    the allure of being “in the know” and the sense of safety it gives.

    It is fun to think. THanks, John!

  • Anderson says:

    Okay…here I am with my umpteenth shot –

    The glitch is that we assume information, facts, attitudes, thoughts about a given topic – true or not.

    And they’re based off stuff like rules of thumb (skinny 21 year olds don’t get hear attacks…), experience (or lack of), educated guesses, ideas on how something should be like, textbook cases, all that stuff about herd mentality and desire to fit in, romantic ideas and so on.

    This glitch/assumption shapes intention (and perception) of a topic.

    And people consistently fail to consider other possibilities about the topic in question. If it doesn’t fit into their mold of the world (or at least of the subject)– its irrationally rejected/ignored….even though logically (and rationally) they should have done something else.

    And the funny part is – we assume we Know how to think…when in reality…most people haven’t a clue! (or its deeply flawed and contaminated by our investment into our own versions of reality… which we readily believe and defend… and perhaps impose on others)

    We assume that the conclusions we arrived at, and then share with people…are products of solid thinking habits. And I think therein, lies the problem.

    Call it confirmation bias, assumption streak – it distorts a lot of stuff. And takes practice to overcome.

    Its like how a doctor will say “you got the flu” (after minimal examination) when you have something less threatening (like an annoying cold..). Your symptoms may have been the same as the last 3 people, but there are a few extra things that weren’t considered (or thought of) by the Doct