Goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds - that’s 1 second longer than your customers do. Because of this, marketers try to compete for this tiny window of time with short and snappy content. We see this everywhere - from influencer videos with every ‘um’ and ‘eh’ chopped out, to clickbait titles that inevitably disappoint once we’ve clicked.
But these attention-seeking methods often miss the mark. Because In this era of short-attention spans, high-quality long form content is very much in demand. People still binge watch the latest hour-long shows on Netflix, people still listen to incredibly long podcasts like The Lex Fridman Podcast, and people still read in depth blogs like Stratechery or WaitButWhy.
Many marketers have yet to pick up on this reality, but the evidence is everywhere. The latest YouTube report revealed that the same GenZs who are glued to Tik Tok clips, will also spend hours watching a video- if they are really passionate about the subject. Once it gets boring, they will most likely click away, which means that you can’t just fill your blogs or videos with half baked content - the quality can never dip.
So, how do you make long-form content that converts?
Because long-form requires some time commitment from your customers, it is safe to assume the people who engage with it are already interested in the topic. Your relationship with them has already begun on the right foot and you now have the opportunity to do the following things:
- Push a philosophy
Long form content allows you to frame your product inside a bigger, more important, philosophy. If you align with your customers on a philosophy or world view, you have a way better chance at conversion. It’s crucial that you clarify your philosophy before trying to market your product, so that you can weave it into any long-form content you make.
Take Glowforge, one of our clients, for instance. They sell laser printers, but the larger philosophy is the importance of creativity, which resonates far deeper. Suddenly, the need for a laser printer in your life becomes the need for more creativity - and that is much harder to argue with.
For inspiration, look at any of the market leaders and figure out what their philosophy is. Chances are, it will be very obvious. Tesla helped the world understand that fast and performant electric cars are the future. Steve Jobs helped us understand that design is not an afterthought, but an essential component to how well a product works. When you choose to view the world through their lens, you might end up purchasing products that go along with the worldview. Sell a worldview, and the product sales will follow.
And if you are in any doubt of the capacity for long form philosophies to change people’s minds, just look at Ayn Rand’s 1000+ page book Atlas Shrugged. It sells the philosophy of Objectivism so effectively that, by the time you reach the last page, you cannot help but be utterly convinced.
- Handle all objections people might have
One of the key tools to converting customers is objection handling, which involves addressing objections that customers have head-on, rather than letting them simmer. This helps the customers feel understood and removes any blockers that prevent them from committing to a product or service. Short form content simply does not allow the time or space to do this effectively. With long form, you can adequately address these issues by, for instance, sharing a story about other users that overcame similar concerns.
- Tell stories and build genuine relationship
Essentially everything you are trying to sell is a solution to a problem that the customer has. If heavy rain is inevitable (problem), the solution might be waterproof boots. If they are bored and angry (problem), the solution might be to start trolling on Twitter. If currency exchange is too much hassle (problem), the solution might be Revolut. To drive home the understanding of any problem, storytelling is the single most powerful way. Not only do stories introduce the problem, but they also frame the problem in a certain light, so that your solution will sound all the more applicable when you offer it. On top of that, stories are always specific, relatable and emotional, they allow readers to imagine the situation without feeling intimidated. A story calms our sales-detectors, so we’re more receptive and more open to feel and experience, without being on-guard about being sold to. Because nobody likes being sold to, but almost everyone enjoys a good story. Long form content provides the space to tell stories, so your customers will relate to you more and feel a greater sense of connection to you. Without the opportunity to add storytelling to your strategy, a key link in the chain is broken.
- Explain the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’
Explaining what your product is and what its components are is not enough to sell it. Long form enables you to paint a full picture, so your customers are convinced on so many levels. To do this, a good piece of long-form content should clarify:
- What the product is
- What audience it is intended for
- What problem it solves
- How it solves it
- What philosophy drives the product creator
- Why the customer should care By addressing these points in a relatable way through storytelling, you help the customer deeply understand the product and the value it provides.
- Provide a greater degree of detail
As the great advertising tycoon, David Ogilvy once said, “the more you tell, the more you sell.”
This is perhaps why unboxing videos are very popular. People want to know all the details before they buy something.
Short form content typically selects the most impressive factor and hones in on that. Long form allows you to highlight a range of product features, along with a myriad of benefits that customers will experience in their own lives. Sometimes these benefits can even scale to community, environmental, or global impact to add greater incentive.
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