It’s not about the length you want to write or how short you tweet, but what your ideal target client believes is an ideal length—enough, but not too much.
Journalists and copywriters are trained to write length “to count”—to fill the exact space available in print context, like column inches or above the fold in newspapers. Online lengths are measured in bytes and bandwidth. Digitally, “above the fold” continues to set limits, but it now means before the need to scroll. Publishers limit nonfiction authors “to count” in tens of thousands of words, especially when creating a print book which has size and weigh limitations for a lot of practical reasons. Yet these decisions may be flawed.
Don’t think about the length—number of words, number of lines, number of pages, amount of scrolling required—when you write or send messages to engage your target prospects and clients. Instead, carefully consider time—theirs.
Time is the precious and limiting resource for all of us and no less for your targets.
Make sure you consider length by determining exactly how much of their time your communication will use up. How long will it take prospects and clients to read, watch, or listen to content you’ve created, or had created, to promote you and your offerings? Be sure that you aren’t wasting their valued commodity:
- Wasting time, because you are not on point, that is, clearly sharing valuable knowledge that targets can easily use to their own benefit.
- Wasting time, because you’re not reaching them when it’s convenient for them to receive your information and ideas and to act.
- Wasting time, because the result is not more revenue, more work, and more trust for you and your business or practice, but possibly less of all three.
Search the net and you’ll find lists of the ideal length for almost any communication product or service. Averages and generalities are ball-park figures. Unless these lengths were generated by or for your specific target, they may distract you from your target’s ideals.
Start by deciding how much time target prospects and clients might invest in a specific written, audio, and/or video message because they value your expertise. Remember, miss the point and deliver little that targets consider relevant, and hard-won trust is eroded regardless of the length.
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