What’s the ideal length for a blog post? What about a whitepaper? An email?
Here at ext., the right length for any piece is always being debated. The conversation starts with: what type of content is better suited to short, snappy writing versus longer, more heady writing?
The obvious response is: “It depends.” And we totally agree.
So, let’s walk through a few examples of the work we’ve done recently to figure out why we decided to keep it short and sweet or to go deep and detailed.
Short content – calls to action can dictate length
A very big bank recently approached us to write a series of articles for ultra-high-net-worth business owners. At first blush, we thought this audience would want more detail.
After our meetings with key stakeholders, we uncovered that the call to action wasn’t to ask for more information directly from the advisor but to set up a meeting with a team of in-house specialists.
If we went into too much detail, the advisor might be expected to know highly complicated tax and business planning strategies, which isn’t a fair ask.
To keep the message clear, we kept it short and highlighted key ideas. We also included some thought-provoking questions.
Long content – complex analogies require direction
We recently wrote a speech for the CEO of an investment firm. Sometimes clients request only bullets if the speaker is a pro. In this case, the CEO was very confident and preferred to speak “off the cuff.”
After going through the briefing process and interviewing key stakeholders, however, we realized that the CEO wanted to make some complex connections between ideas.
Despite being a great speaker, elucidating on these connections could be challenging in the moment. Rather than structuring the speech in point form, we decided to provide sufficient details and delivered a final speech that was about 20 pages long.
Short content – one idea, many pieces
An investment firm asked us to create an article that simplified the complex strategies employed by a portfolio manager.
This kind of writing is what we love the most: helping investors make informed decisions about high-quality solutions.
After working our way through the discovery process, we recommended cutting the piece up into much smaller pieces. Short pieces of content that have one highly specific idea would be best. And they were.
Long content – complex ideas for a pro audience
A large, global asset manager engaged us to write a whitepaper for analysts.
This might seem like the most obvious example of long content, but just because people can go deep into a topic doesn’t mean they want to. Our challenge was to recognize the opportunity and figure out if the content matched the desired outcome.
After a number of interviews, we all agreed that the client had the time to read longer content. We went long, crafting a challenging whitepaper to help build the brand as thought leaders among a demanding audience.
There you have it. The ideal length for a piece of content really depends on the situation. What matters most is that you spend the time to engage all stakeholders, ask probing questions, apply what you’ve learned from previous projects and work with talented people who can produce what you need. Every time.
If you’re facing a content challenge right now, contact us today at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you out!