I once had a client for whom I'd written a 300-word mini-article ask me, "On second thought, a 600-word article would fit my template better. Can we just pad this piece out to 600 words?"
I also recall my response: "Can we? Yes. Should we? Not necessarily."
If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, then you want your marketing content to be the life of the party -- not the guy reeling off some rambling epic tale with apparent beginning or ending as he blocks your way to the bathroom. Effective, powerful, entertaining writing makes its point and then gets out of the way, instead of monopolizing the reader's time and patience.
Brevity doesn't necessarily entail squishing everything you write down into soundbites, though the runaway success of Twitter has proven that 140 characters can go a long way. But it does mean adopting a "less is more" approach and viewing your writing with a surgeon's eye. Here are some advantages to concise writing:
It's easier on the eye. The eye gets fatigued as it pores over massive blocks of text, and the more text the page contains, the less of it actually seems to matter. Clear, concise writing is easier for the eye and brain to handle, giving you better odds that your reader will actually want to keep reading.
It packs more of a punch. I find that my writing always turns out better when I've overwritten and have to reduce the word count. This kind of forced edit requires me to condense and purify my work, cutting out digressions and extra phrases until the writing becomes airtight. What's left is all muscle -- a lean, mean content machine.
It's more versatile. A 500-word article will prove easier than a thousand-worder to integrate into a variety of situations, formats and templates. A few short paragraphs of website content leave you more room for other page elements than an elephantine chunk of writing that has to hog center stage.
Is there still room for longer-form copy? Absolutely. In fact, your web developer or SEO specialist may advise you to go a thousand words or longer on certain anchor posts, web pages, or other mainstays of your marketing content. But if you're going to write those thousand words, make sure the piece you're writing needs every one of those words to convey its ideas and emotions with maximum impact. In other words, let the length fit the depth and vice-versa.
If your written content feels flabby, fails to hold the attention or just makes your eyes hurt, take out your red editing pen (or hire mine) and start cutting away the fat. You may love what you find underneath!