A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. But if you need the thousand words to make sense, adding text to the picture helps reveal the intended message.
We can get away with it on our side-gig photography blog where “Less is more” seems to be the recurring theme.
What first comes to mind when you look at that picture?
As in art, the photographer’s work is likely to invite different interpretations.
Stirring, one will say. Sensual, says another. Disruptive…the eccentric photo will be described. Playful. Boundless. Intense. The adjectives will trickle in aplenty.
That’s the brain at work, perceiving imagery differently.
Eliminating the Guesswork
In the business world, we cannot afford these innumerable interpretations when it comes to marketing our product(s).
We do not want to gamble with the meaning and having it washed away in the different interpretations; interpretations which, unless you are offering a very unique product, are likely to bundle our product into the sea of similar offerings out there.
What we want is to slap our intended message onto the image and remove any sense of doubt from the prospect’s mind. We want to give any potential customer not a hint, but a reason to buy from us, and not the competition.
And this is where good product descriptions come in. They help draw attention to our products, which is the main reason for pushing out the products in the first place. To get them noticed, eventually culminating in a sale.
Unique product descriptions help in getting people to take notice. The product image catches the customer’s eye, and the text description outlines in clear, concise language why they should buy this item and not the thousands of others in the marketplace.
The image and text both complement each other, the overall purpose of which is to reel in the prospect into our store. And unlike the photography blog, none is really complete sans the other.
Small but Potent
Many business owners fall into the trap of crafting product descriptions just to satisfy that requirement. They want to check that box and get on with it.
But what they fail to understand is that this is a key component of their marketing efforts and cutting corners won’t fool anyone.
If you are trying to sell your products while ignoring the importance of creating relevant product descriptions for them, what you are doing in essence is curtailing your products’ success potential.
A brand that gives the modern customer (a hard bunch to please by the way) enough reason to engage with the brand is more likely to get traction with its target market.
After all, the customers are spoilt for choice as it is.
When listing products online, be it on your eCommerce store or any of the leading marketplaces, make it a point of creating attractive and compelling product descriptions to accompany the products. It will give you a noticeable lift, especially if you already have a substantial amount of traffic.
The same case applies to products featured on your line sheets. Speaking of which…
Online vs. Line Sheet Product Descriptions
As the world continues to venture deeper into the digital weeds, eCommerce continues to get bigger by the day. It is slowly become the new norm.
A good deal of businesses have closed down their physical stores and thrown away the keys, as they shift attention to growing their online business, either through their own web storefronts or basing operations on a major marketplace like Amazon or Etsy.
But as long as a business deals in physical products, it will still need line sheets to help push out its marketing message. And these line sheets will require good product descriptions if they are to sufficiently address any buyer questions.
As well, every business with a digital footprint cannot overlook the importance of creating product descriptions for its online market segment.
The two, though, should not be carbon copies of the other.
A line sheet product description should not be a physical representation of the description featured on the website. Reason is because the online version needs to be optimized for more than just the buyer’s eyes; SEO needs to be taken into account.
Key phrases need to be included in both the image file and the descriptive text – title, subheading and body text. Don’t misinterpret this to mean you should drench your descriptions in keywords. Always write for the reader first, then optimize for the search engines later.
Online product descriptions should be longer than line sheet descriptions. Aside from the fact that websites have a provision to expand or collapse the description, the whole point of designing line sheets is to provide only the most important details of a product – flanked by striking photography.
Line sheets and their descriptions should be succinct and straightforward.
The Art of Crafting Good Product Descriptions
When writing product descriptions, don’t take the easy route of simply blurting out the product’s features or technical specifications, or copying and pasting content from other line sheets or websites.
There are a couple of important points you need to keep in mind if you don’t want all the hard work to be futile.
Define your Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is a mental description of your ideal customer. The person for whom your product is developed and to whom, obviously, you would like to sell it. This persona represents your target audience, although she or he is more real than a vague description based off some demographic.
Defining your buyer persona involves establishing what makes your target customer tick. What do they like? What do they not like? What encourages her to click that Buy button? What makes her hesitant to order?
Having information such as the websites she frequents or the reading material she consumes could help too. Things that keep her up at night. The things she wants to achieve. And her decision-making process.
Get this right and you will be better placed to write copy that speaks to the potential customer and taps into his/her feelings. It empowers you to come up with more persuasive descriptions. And personal. And vivid.
That’s the whole idea of writing product descriptions.
Emotion’s a Big Part of it
Every single product exists to serve the buyer, enhancing their quality of life in one way or another. As they go about shopping, the natural reaction is to envision holding each product in hand, using it or enjoying it.
The more powerful this mental imagery, the more likely the prospect is likely to buy that product.
For this reason, aim to have your product descriptions describe the product in a way that evokes positive images in the customer’s mind; images where they visualize themselves using your product.
This is something you must have come across especially in the fashion industry. Great product descriptions that make the customers want to get into the look you paint in their mind. In doing so, you end up increasing sales orders.
The Tone Matters
The product descriptions of yore placed more emphasis on the product features, but the culture has become insipid and doesn’t cut it in the modern business environment.
Today, good product descriptions are those that highlight more than just the features. They urge on the reader by making a case for the product through short, engaging sentences. In order to be stimulating, the tone is a crucial aspect of this short-form content.
Of course, in the case of technical products – watches, headphones, personal vaporizers etc. – the technical talk is a must as it proves your brand’s expertise in the industry. Include it so the reader is privy to all possible details they need to know before they even ask.
Aim to make the tone light and friendly, enticing the prospect to take action. Flowery language works, but it does need to be propped by solid material, otherwise it comes across as just…fluff.
It is good to illustrate the product’s highs, but do so without letting the description take a pompous turn, and make sure to adopt a decent tone all through.
The Magic of Sensory Words
Speaking of flowery language, words that grab attention are just what you should be using. Sensory adjectives. Dazzling, for example. Luscious. Crispy. Sparkling. Or in the negative, gloomy. Drab. Slimy.
You know the kind…
These types of words have a competitive advantage over normal adjectives because first and foremost, they are easy substitutes for bland words like nice, good, bad and so on. And the added bonus is that they make it easier for the reader to envision the feeling the item provides, as you are describing it to them.
However, there is a thin line to tread here. Avoid being insincere, and do not lie to the customer. After all, if you are confident in your offering, there is no need to play superficial. Serve it straight, and invoke the magic of sensory words to portray a clearer picture of what the item would really be like.
Answer the Question
We probably should have started with this point because this is the key feature of any good product description.
You can use all the rosy language in your lexicon, but if the text doesn’t answer the how, what, who and why, it won’t make any meaningful sense. How does the product work? What are the product’s benefits? Who is it for? Why should I buy here and not the next shop?
You can lose the potential customer in the fantasy of magic words, but if you are not answering the crucial question of how the product will be of benefit to them and why they need to buy it ASAP, your words will only end up in the imaginary realm of wonderland.
Writing such descriptions doesn’t have to be such a big deal, as it probably may sound when we say it like this.
You see, most products are not designed to revolutionize the world in any special way. Okay, we like to describe some fashion pieces this way, but really, neither these items, nor any product is going to get the polar caps melting, or probably burn down the Amazon. Hopefully.
we can describe a basic garment in a simple, honest way that answers any potential questions that may be lingering in the customer’s mind. Then sprinkle it with a dash of sensory words to make it more palatable to the mind.
May be the prospective customer wants to buy the item because they had issues with the last similar item they bought. It might be a silk Victorian corset blouse they loved but it was a magnet for pills – those little ugly bobbles of fuzz that attach on clothes. Or it wasn’t available in the right colors.
The key thing is to answer any questions pertaining to what the product does and how it can be of benefit to the customer.
I often like to use Coca Cola as the paragon for great marketing. They have managed to reinvent themselves for over a century by appealing to the customer’s emotion while also letting you know why you need that drink irrespective of location or occasion – despite the negative health effects of soda being known to all and sundry.
Yet, they still manage to weave it like a charm, notwithstanding the fact there are no new ingredients added to the recipe.
[Gawd, they got us again!]
Works all the time, credit where it’s due.
The Constituents of a Good Product Description
Now that you know how a good product description should sound like, what exactly does it look like?
Here are the four most important components of every product description.
The benefits of a good title on everything that needs one have long been touted. It is no different when it gets to product descriptions.
The product title is the first thing potential customers see before they even get to the product description. It is the title that determines whether or not they will click to find out more about the offering. In other words, it serves as the hook.
A good title is one that states clearly what is for sale. It should have as many important features as the word limit can allow, but this should also include your unique selling point. If the text is for an online audience, don’t forget to research and incorporate the relevant keywords.
However, this doesn’t mean the title should be overly long – it could feature as little as four to five words, but the right words. People read visually and they don’t like anything that is complicated or longwinded.
As well, a common mistake many sellers make is trying to grab the reader’s attention by any means necessary – desperate words, funny lines, click-bait and such. Avoid this because it can be off-putting, and the last thing we want is to put off the prospect before they even get the chance to see what the product is all about.
The opening line is the part you get to introduce yourself to the customer. The job of the introduction is to keep the reader on the page because the title has already done its job to get them this far.
It should echo the message on the title, albeit in more detailed language that gives the advertisement more substance.
That stuff you wanted to throw in the title but couldn’t due to character limitation can go here. This is where the art of the one sentence product pitch comes in, or what is known as an elevator pitch. Don’t waste the reader’s time. Just get to the point.
Use the relevant keywords and include the most important at the beginning of the sentence. Avoid using slang or trying to be witty, unless yours is a very specific audience that likes it that way.
While you have so little space to tell so much, this is the part where you get to lay it all bare. This is where you answer those four important questions in detail – how, what, who, and why – but it should stay within the theme set by the title and opening line.
The list of features, specifications or technical details go here, but remember that is just one half of it – in theory. The other half should shine a light on how the product can improve the customer’s life, or rather, how they will be better off by buying the item.
Highlight any unique features your offering might have that helps differentiate it from the slew of options on the market. Remember the importance of assuming a light and friendly tone that is decent throughout. Do not forget the magic of sensory words. And appealing to their emotions.
Avoid jargon, nobody likes jargon, save for a few special cases. But if your target market is not these “special cases”, keep the language simple and clear.
Competitive pricing works, but if you cannot offer that, explain why. If your product is superior, people understand. And they are ready to pay more. Because they fit into your buyer persona.
Of course, no good product description is complete without an accompanying image, a crucial factor in both line sheets and online product ads. Nobody is going to buy from you if you don’t show them the image of the product.
That image needs to be of the highest possible quality to lend credibility not just to the product itself, but also the text description.
The quality of a product description can make or break a sale. This is particularly so if the description fails to include the information the shopper is looking for prior to making that purchase decision. Ideally, what you want is for the shopper to click that “Add to Cart” button.
That being said, stick to these points and you will increase the chances of your product descriptions doing well.
Good product descriptions are not easy to write. It is a task that requires a lot of thought being poured into it, not just creating for the sake of it. If need be, hire the services of a polished copywriter to do it for you.
The time and money investment will be well worth it when all is said and done.