“Quickly, let me tell you in one word why I write short letters: politics.” – Jerry Huntsinger
My position was: Make your letter as long as it needs to be.
My letters average two pages. Some (many) are longer. Some (few) are shorter.
Frankly, if I’m going to write a one page letter it’s only going to happen by special request from my client.
One of the most frequent things I hear goes something like this: “I don’t read letters that are longer than a page.”
Meaning that no one else will either?
This is a common trap people fall into. They assume that because they donate, their organization’s donors are just like them. But are they? (Honestly, they could be…)
How do you know? (Testing, Testing, Testing….)
But we’re small! We can’t do much testing! What are we supposed to do?
The best you can.
Read and learn from those who have done testing – lots of it, over the course of thousands of mailings:
Jerry Huntsinger, the “dean of direct mail fundraising” in his SOFII tutorials says: “Extensive testing by a wide variety of charities shows that long copy wins most of the time, especially for prospect mail and emotional house appeals.”
Mal Warwick (bio) writes: “Typically, it's impossible to make the case for giving in a single page.” (For the full Q&A session, and his expanded take on this question, go here.)
The only way to know for sure is to test. If you can’t do that, you’ve got to make your best educated guess.
Or better yet: Forget the whole question.
Stop worrying about it! Just write the best letter you can, and let it be as long as it will be.
And if you don’t want to write it yourself, give me a call. I’m happy to write it for you.