ask the expert | how to write product descriptions that capture the imagination

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today we have a guest post from our expert partner in coywriting: anne maybus from clever streak, answering a very common question...

I hate writing product descriptions. I never know what to say! Should I just simply say what the product is or should I say something more? What should I write to make it easy to sell my product?

I love writing product descriptions but I know that for many of you, it is just a job that has to be done so you can sell.  To me, it’s one of the best places to let your imagination run free.  You can really use that to your advantage.

Selling online.

People love to shop online because it is so convenient but let’s face it; it’s not as much fun as wandering through a store and experiencing the whole shopping centre vibe.  You can’t really see the item, nor can you touch it or smell it.  It’s just a flat image on a screen and it looks like the images that are seen on lots of other sites, too.

You need something that will make someone stop at your page and say “OMG!! I’ve got to have that!”

You need a tool that will give people the tactile experience they get in real shops and the best tool you can use is your product description.  Plug straight into their imaginations and emotions.  That’s where the buying decisions are made.

Here are three ways that you can tackle the writing of a great product description.

Promote the benefits.

Some products don’t lend themselves to flights of imagination.  (And sometimes the people who need your product won’t be the sort who would be into the airy fairy stuff!)   

The best way to describe these products is in terms of what they achieve for the client.  Take pain relief tables as an example.  No one promotes them as ‘an exciting blend of chemical A and chemical B shaped into a delicate capsule”, do they?  Instead, they talk about how great it will be when the pain is gone. 

I always start with the benefits and leave the specifications until the end.  If people already know that they want the product they will skip to the details but it’s the benefits that will help everyone else make up their minds.

Compare these descriptions:

Meet the next generation of outdoor cookware – and fire up the flavor – with our innovative fry pan, which makes it easy to cook crowd-pleasing stir-fries, vegetables and more on your grill. Thanks to our exclusive perforated design, your favorite foods take on savory, fire-smoked flavor.- Tiny perforations on the pan’s surface expose your foods to the fire, adding rich, smoky character.- Unique design keeps even the smallest ingredients safely inside the pan.- After searing meat, poultry or vegetables, close the grill – and let the fire work its magic.”( http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/steel-grill-round-fry-pan/?pkey=cfry-saute-pans|ckwfryfry )

So it may be a small fry, but it certainly doesn't hold back in the colour stakes. Add a bit of punchy colour to your stovetop with the cute Scanpan Classic frypan in red.  For over twenty years, Scanpan has offered both professional and home cooks the most technologically sophisticated nonstick cookware on the market.  Scanpan’s signature Classic line is manufactured in Denmark from pressure-cast aluminium that heats evenly and will never warp. The virtually indestructible ceramic titanium nonstick coating is safe for use with metal utensils.” http://www.kitchenwaredirect.com.au/New-Items/Scanpan-Classic-Frypan-20cm-Red

Have you nodded off yet?  Isn’t that second one dull?  The first description has me salivating!  Who cares if the pan is red and will look pretty in the kitchen.  Talk to me about how it will make my food taste and you’ve won me!

Use your imagination.

There are some things that are best described with an appeal straight to the reader’s senses.  That’s when you can let your imagination run wild. I’m not a white chocolate girl, but even I am tempted to buy some when I read a description like this:

“White Chocolate, so elegant and chic - it has a personality all its own. It hides its richness under a veil of purity while teasing your tastebuds with an ecstasy of flavour. How well it matches Pistachio or Raspberry Rocky Road - cool, clean White Chocolate covering a vibrant heart full of rippling taste. White Chocolate Rocky Road keeps its passions secret...”http://www.harrysrockyroad.com.au/index.php?p=catalog&parent=3&pg=1

Imagine what it feels like to be using your product and allow yourself to be ‘poetic’ about it.  Remember that your words have to give your clients the same experience they would get in a shopping centre.  Make them feel the texture, smell the scent, taste the delights – then conclude with the facts. 

Tell a story.

I still remember the descriptions on a site that no longer exists.  (The new owner changed everything and it went out of business)  I loved this site and although I didn’t need their products, I often went back just to read it.  They hooked me with a story which tied each product in with a reason for its appearance.  You can bet that although I didn’t need their products, I certainly spread the word to those who did.

And she turned and saw him, the magical stranger, in the distance, his profile shimmering behind a field of dancing wildflowers.  She stood and lifted her hand in a wave…” 

And later…..

“His skin was firm and supple, bronzed by the sun and scented by the grass...’

Each episode of the story linked directly to the style of the product being sold.  The first episode related to a range of stationery that was decorated with fields of wildflowers.  The second introduced diaries that had firm and supple leather look covers!  You get the idea? 

Don’t be dull.

I know that I can get a bit excited about product descriptions but they are really important if you really want to make a sale.  Think about why people would want your product and what problems it will solve for them.  Then get in there and show that you understand what they are going through and offer a solution.  Create a truly sensual experience.  Give them what they need that will help them choose to buy.

Just don’t be boring about it! 

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