I haven't done many product descriptions in the past, but I'm tentatively dipping my feet back in the water. For those unmoved by this particular copywriting service, let me tell you that it's a real challenge, and a job where you really get to practice your writing skills.
It's a discipline, it's a challenge and it can be fun
How many jobs do you know where you have a limited amount of words to adhere to, with or without keywords, that describe the item perfectly and show it in a best light. It takes discipline, single-mindedness and imagination. It reminds me a little of Twitter, where you have to fit what you need to say in only a few words and make sure it makes sense. Naturally, they're usually longer than 140 characters, but there's something wonderfully challenging about them none the less.
The more words the better
The type of product descriptions I really like are those where there's a least a paragraph of around 200-300 words. This give me something to really get my teeth into, and there's a certain method I go through now before I start. It's not revolutionary and it's probably what I should be doing anyway, but it helps.
Luxury accessories, luxurious words
Let's take an example, I'm writing luxury accessories and it's going to be belts, handbags and wallets made from a particular type of leather. So it's off to the internet I go to collect a lexicon of words used to describe something made of leather, something luxurious. I might create one or two columns. I research as many words as possible, because I need to make sure I have enough words from which to work. Yes, they're luxury items, and yes it's an overused word, and I don't have to use it, unless the client wants me too. However, I'll research words associated with luxury, and leather, and anything else I can make a connection with. Sometimes they might be words that are quite different and not normally associated with what I'm writing about, but as long as they fit, and as long as they're not over-complicated and convoluted, then why not? I now have a wealth of words at my disposal before I start writing my product descriptions for luxury items. I might even research luxury brands too, e.g. Cartier, Smythsons, Harvey Nichols - how do they do it, what's the competition, how can I write it as well or even better?
Below is a product description for the Albermarle Medium Bucket Bag from Smythsons website.
ALBEMARLE MEDIUM BUCKET BAG
“FEATURES sleek, luxurious and delightful to behold, the Albemarle unveils an exciting new silhouette. This perfectly formed bucket bag is available in two sizes: small and medium. It boasts an adjustable strap, enabling it to be worn across the body or tightly under the shoulder. The smooth finish and lightweight touch of soft calf leather together with a bonded suede interior, is second to none.”
In this description, there isn't much in the way of luxury words, and what's nice, is that they haven't overdone it. “Sleek,” and “luxurious,” are the only really glamorous words used and then it's .....“unveils an exciting new silhouette,” which is just perfect. “Perfectly formed” and “smooth finish” are the only other clues as to its quality. It stands up as a luxury item purely because of the way it's been made, and the materials used.
It's important to make sure that product descriptions are kept unique and well written as this could determine whether or not you make a sale. And there are other important reasons why your product descriptions should be unique -
“Having unique product descriptions is, of course, essential, because if you use manufacturer’s stock descriptions you run the risk of your products not being indexed by Google due to duplicate content issues.”
Big Star Copywriting
Other important points Big Star makes are that it's important to make sure you've pointed out the benefits, that you're consistent, avoid superlatives and vagueness (easy hole to fall into, especially if you have a lot of descriptions to do) and make sure they're web friendly (bullet points, short sentences, and sub-headers).
Product descriptions that are very similar
But let's take it up a notch, what happens if you have about 20 product descriptions and each one is almost identical? It could be a range of watches, and even then at least they have some subtle differences, that perhaps you can play around with. But what about white goods, or baths? I've had luxury free-standing baths that had some subtle differences, but even though they were oval, rectangular and in some instances more than one colour (black!), they all looked the same to me. But it's not me that matters is it?, it's the customer, and that's who we're writing for, so it's thinking caps on and into the land of magical thinking.
Challenging and rewarding
Again, it's the challenge that makes it fun, it's trying to see each product differently, even when it may not seem that way. I imagine I'm seeing each product for the first time, which isn't always easy, but helps me to write a fresher, more imaginative product description. It's trying to make each product as fun as possible to write about, to create a picture for the potential buyer of something they really want to buy, to convince them of its benefits.
As one article states, shopping should be fun, and if your product descriptions don't relay this, or at least give the impression the writer cares about the product, then it's a case of “no fun – no cash."
Product descriptions – the name of the game
And that's the name of the game, we're writing sales copy for products that'll make people want to buy. So you have to really try and get it right.
I wasn't sure I liked writing product descriptions, and it's not for everyone, or every copywriter, but the more I gradually introduce it back into my suite of copywriting services, the more I'm starting to enjoy it. It's a skill I want to perfect, to get absolutely right - and I'm determined to aim for the best.