When we say long form we are talking about 900 – 2000 word original articles written to specifically address the key concerns of your customers.
Ideally a sequence of articles to answer all major objections you need to handle when making a sale.
These articles contain the main elements of your sales strategies and the tone used will be echoed throughout all of your marketing.
Once written these articles are the workhorses of your content marketing strategies as excerpts are used to form social media posts, headlines for Ad campaigns and also for your face – face negotiations.
Two great techniques I use are the “5 W’s” and the “3 U’s”
The Five W’s:
The Three U’s
Using the 5 W’s sets a clear flow or structure to the article. All too often when people from the sales side of the bench write copy it is focused on the product not the benefit.Customer Focused Copy writing example:
We have a Lovely Spoon for sale, really shiny!
Tired of eating yogurt with your hands? Use our lovely Spoon.
Solid Hammer for Sale, hits things good.
Build that shed in no time with the Solid Hammer.
Nobody wants stitches, They want to stop bleeding.
It is when we are in a competitive market place and under pressure to produce sales we tend to focus on the things that separate us from the competition. (Dang! Our spoon is Real Shiny!)
Stacking the 5 W’s in the way shown above is our way to focus on the benefits to the user and forces us to think of these first, before the concentrating just on the solution we are offering.
The 3 U’s guide us in our editing, rework your copy writing to bring the Usefulness of the solution, Urgency of the issues and Uniqueness of your method or product to the fore. The more accomplished you are at this the more sparkle you will bring to your copy.
Now you have your Ultimate Article follow the below steps to proof it like a pro and leave the finished article polished!
- Ok, get your article on screen in your word processor of choice (Notepad++ !)
- Fix all red squiggly lines showing words the software doesn’t like.
- Quick Scan for errors, repeated words, cutting & pasting slip ups.
- Do a “find and replace all” for common terms you may not be spelling or capitalising consistently. (I always type “facebook” not “Facebook” or “you tube” and not “YouTube”)
- Squint with your eyes until the screen is a bit blurred – any huge blocks of text? If so break them up as much as possible without destroying the flow.
- PRINT! I cannot stress the importance of this! You will never be able to reach the same quality of proofing without a hard copy in your hands. (p.s print one sided, you will need the blank side later)
Good Chair, No interruptions, as little noise as possible (Well, perhaps a little Allegri) Phone Off!
- With your favourite pen in hand re read your article making your corrections in the margin or reverse face as you go, when you have finished, re read the article out loud. This forces you to read it much slower than before.
- Enjoy the process of refining the article.
- If you have made significant modifications to the text then repeat steps 1, 3 and 4. (print on the other side, save money, uh, I mean trees 😉
- Now do a proper error hunt, you are looking for a correctly spelled word in the wrong place, repeated words or names of people / places.
- Check the punctuation. Are all full stops, comma’s and apostrophes present and correct?
(I just checked “apostrophes” on Google it took 0.42 seconds, I was wrong and I do this everyday! Be 100% sure.)
- Ok, print a clean copy and read it backwards out loud.
(Sounds absolutely bonkers, but this is the real pro tip:- You will be so familiar with the concepts of your article and the words you have used to convey this to the reader that you will no longer be actually reading it. You literally won’t be able to see the wood for the trees. By reading it backwards you force your mind to re – read each word individually. You will find errors, despite all you have done above.)
Bang! Look at you – Proofing like a pro!
How Long Should My Article Be?
Infographic Credits: Smart Insights, Sumail & Buffer