About a week ago I was absent-mindedly scrolling through Twitter, as I’m prone to do when I’ve got an urgent deadline to meet, when I stumbled across this absolute gem.
I HAVE FOUND GOD IN THE UNI BUY AND SELL GROUP pic.twitter.com/5s8hpf1Yih
— Joie DeVEVO (@donniemnemonic) February 12, 2018
Here’s the advert in full in case the tweet disappears, and because it’s f***ing glorious:
“I’ve got a first date coming up with a cutie patootie babe and I don’t know what to wear. I think I’ll dress meek and demure. I don’t want to make a statement.”
FUCK THEM UP
Size 15 rose gold gladiator stilettos for sale.
“Are you Gal Gadot? Are you an Amazon? Why is that man worshipping at your feet?”
YES TO ALL THE ABOVE
Shoes are for straight people who play couples tennis and get divorced.
Rose gold gladiator stilettos are for invading Nazi Germany and walking out alive.
BURN THE REICHSTAG
Bought from Asia so their “US size 15” is probably a real US size 13.
Too delicate for my blunt Nordic hooves so I’m selling them and buying boots to go.
TRAMPING IN THE WILDERNESS
FIND THE MOOSE
Looking for $80
Will sell for $50 if you include a short fantasy fiction (min 500 words) about a woman who can turn into a dragon or a colour illustration of a woman turning into a dragon.
SURVIVE THE WINTER
“These shoes are a bold choice for a first date, what if he thinks I’m a slut?”
BURN HIS FIELDS AND SALT THE LAND
YOU ARE THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS
YOU ARE THE WHORE OF BABYLON
SOLD! To the girl at the back who can’t even walk properly in heels.
Like the author, my blunt Scottish hooves are more suited to boots and haven’t seen the light of day in a long time. But this ad stopped me caring about such trivialities.
This ad stopped me caring about anything at all apart from getting my hands on those shoes and starting my new career as Warrior Queen Boudica II.
I’m not even sure a US size 13 would fit me but I’d sure as hell make it work.
Compare that to this product description for roughly the same shoes:
Ah, just what I wanted to know, the slightly sinister sounding “other materials” the shoes are manufactured from. Also, what’s the difference between stiletto heels and back heels (asking for a friend)?
Make me feel something
Even though these shoes are cheaper, available in my size (and in the UK) and haven’t been worn, I’m still pining after the second-hand Warrior Queen sandals from the first advert.
Because it made me FEEL SOMETHING. It stopped me caring that the shoes were a completely impractical purchase. It painted a picture of what my life would be like with them and made me want it.
So, if a product description (albeit a fairly outrageous one) can convert a devout boot wearer to stiletto heeled sandals, why aren’t brands putting in more effort on this front?
Brands already doing it well
I don’t want to tar all brands with the same brush here because some are already doing a stellar job with their product descriptions.
Take Lush, for example. In store, online and wherever their products appear, the descriptions are always magnificent.
The different video backgrounds they use on each product page of their website are pretty cool too.
Innocent are another brand who do consistently excellent product descriptions.
But these two examples are very much outliers compared to the vast swathes of deadly boring product descriptions generally on offer.
Why so boring?
I think the problem boils down to two related issues.
Firstly, doing something like this always involves an element of risk – you have to get it exactly right for it to work.
Secondly, getting it exactly right takes time, effort and money. I would guess in most cases after the marketing budget’s been blown on a fancy pants website, there’s very little cash left in the coffer for small details like product descriptions.
I wish this wasn’t the case though because it’s such a WASTED OPPORTUNITY.
The opportunity to stand out, to win hearts and to seal the deal with a product description that simply can’t be resisted.
How to write a product description that doesn’t suck
If my argument so far has persuaded you to be a little more daring with your product descriptions then here’s how I’d suggest you go about it.
Know your buyer
I know I don’t half go on about “knowing your buyer” or “knowing your audience”, but that’s because it’s REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT.
If you’re going to write product descriptions to get your customers’ pulses racing, you need to start with knowing who they are.
There is the basic demographic information, obvs, but then there are other important factors like:
- How do they talk to each other?
- What slang do they use?
- What are their values?
- What kind of humour do they like?
- What products are they already buying?
Establishing these facts helps you to set the tone of your descriptions.
I’d like to revisit Lush’s Madame President Bath Bomb description I mentioned earlier to illustrate my point.
One of Lush’s key markets are politically engaged young women with decent disposable incomes, and that’s who they’re appealing to here.
Someone who probably really likes the idea of a female President. Someone who maybe even fancies it could be them one day.
Features and benefits
Once you’ve worked out who you’re talking to, it’s time to turn your attention to your product.
What are the product’s key features? For the Madame President Bath Bomb, they are:
- Petitgrain oil
And what are the benefits of these features?
- Petitgrain oil: calming effect
- Grapefruit: antiseptic properties
- Cornflour: cleansing and moisturising
Paint a picture
Now it’s time to paint a picture using the product’s features and benefits to create an image that will appeal to the buyers that you identified in the first stage.
In Lush’s case, they’ve painted a picture of their Bath Bomb helping the first female President of the United States prepare for her term in office.
I know doing something like this requires a fair amount of confidence in your creative judgement, but I promise you it’s well worth trying.
If you think hard about it, you already know how to do it. How do you interact with your customers on social media? What about your email newsletters?
Dare to go beyond a boring bullet list of features and channel this voice in your product descriptions.
As the old saying goes, a faint heart never won a fair lady.