Keys to Copywriting: The Devil of Using Details

When developing your company’s marketing and branding materials, one of the most common challenges is how detailed you should make your creative. After all, if you go into too much detail you risk overwhelming the prospect. If they’re presented with a long, text-heavy design, there’s a good chance they will decide it’s not worth their time to read it all. In their minds, if the only way they will be able to understand the value of your business is by examining a novel-length promotional piece, then your product or service is not for them.

On the other hand, if you don’t give your prospects any details and your promotional materials are only flashy designs with little substance, then your audience will become suspicious that you are hiding something. If you can’t back up the attention-getting claims in your promotional materials with facts or explanations, your prospects will assume your offer is probably too good to be true.

So how do you resolve this conflict? How do you know that your are providing enough detail to make your business seem legitimate, but not so much that it overwhelms your potential customers? The first step in finding the balance that’s right for your company is to understand what the purpose of using details is to begin with.

What is the purpose of using details?

Simply put, using details establishes expertise for your brand. The more clearly and confidently your company can talk about not only its own products and services, but the field that you operate in and the marketplace as a whole, the more professional and authoritative your brand will appear. So if details are used to establish your company’s expertise in its area of business, then the next logical question is…

When is it important to appear like an expert?

Many studies have shown that consumers relate expertise and authority with trustworthiness. This means that the more skeptical the marketplace is of your company’s claims, or the larger the difference between your product or service and the other products and services that consumers are already comfortable with is, the more your company will need to establish its trustworthiness in the marketplace. So the larger the difference between your product or service and the market’s expectations, the more important it is for you to use details in your communications, since details establish expertise and expertise appears trustworthy to potential customers.

The complexity and cost of the product or service also plays a part. People need to feel more trust for a high-priced or complex purchase than they do for a nominal one. So for example, if you were selling the first whitening toothpaste, you probably don’t need to include a lot of details. Consumers are already familiar with toothpaste, so imagining one that whitens teeth is not a big change, and it’s a low-complexity and low-cost purchase. In contrast if you were selling the first home computer, you would need a lot of details to establish your trustworthiness and credibility. A personal computer is a large departure from what most consumers are used to, and they are high-cost and high-complexity purchases. This will make most consumers skeptical, so you will need to break down that skepticism and build trust with the audience by establishing your credibility through the use of details.

One final point about using details is that most companies will want to use numbers or statistics as part of the facts they share about their company. However, special nuance is required to make numbers and statistics translate effectively to your audience so that they give the impression you want. In order for them to have an emotional impact, your numbers need to be supported with analogies that humanize your statistics and give your figures narrative. For more detail about how to do this, see the post “Keys to Copywriting: Humanize Statistics Using Analogies

Now that you understand how to balance using statistics based on how your product or service compares to market expectations, tell us how much detail your business should use and why in the comments!

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