Conversion

Product Descriptions: 17 Fresh Writing Angles

Recently I visited a friend who had a collection of catalogs that I don’t shop from. The best of these offered a wealth of clues about how to spice up bland product blurbs, differentiate similar items, and make even the most mundane products more enticing.

Use the themes and examples I’ve plucked from those catalogs as a brainstorming guide the next time you’re describing a plain white t-shirt or yet another back-to-school backpack. You’ll soon understand how to look at ordinary products differently.

17 Ways to Describe a Product

What problem does the item solve and for whom?

  • “If you have space limitations, the compact ‘L’ desk is a great alternative.”
  • “We are always looking for knives with unusual locks, especially those that seem to offer a better way of releasing the lock. This knife from Browning fits that bill.”

Who or what is the item good for?

  • “Singers absolutely love the sound of this mic! Speakers love the depth and clarity it gives their voice!”
  • “This handy little tool has been to the ends of the earth and back in the hands of explorers, conservationists and scientists.”
  • “Nut lovers and tin collectors rejoice. We’ve packed a Great Pumpkin design tin with 6 smaller tins of honey roast peanuts, pistachios, spicy peanuts, cashews, fancy mixed nuts and smoked almonds.”

History of the item or its ingredients.

  • “Originally developed by an awning manufacturer, the heavy-duty 6-oz. cotton also resists wind and will repel the moisture of a light drizzle.”
  • “Our pro mountain bike team made ‘em first when they ran road wheels and tires on their MTB rigs for training. We thought: rugged, purposeful mountain bike + lightning fast road wheels = ultimate speedy urban commuter.”
  • “Thirty years ago, we introduced a warm, double-layer shirt inspired by the ones north-woods log drivers wore to stay warm through long, damp days working on the river.”

How has it improved?

  • “This year, our wind-tunnel tested Slice Aero frame is 50 grams lighter than last year.”
  • “Before now, it was very expensive to print full-color, professional-quality album inserts in quantities less than 300. Those days are over. Now you can get beautiful album inserts that won’t break your budget!”

Relate to popular culture.

  • “Remember those two crazy kids who went up a hill to fetch some water? Now, imagine filling that pail to the brim with snacks and it becomes downright irresistible.”
  • “Candy. Cookies. Corn. This sampler covers all three food groups.”
  • “Seven just became your lucky number. Don’t believe in luck? You will after you get your hands on this sensational snack collection.” [It has seven ingredients.]

Seasonal uses or occasions.

  • “You’ll find yourself reaching for them any time the weather turns chilly.”
  • “When the weather calls for shorts but the occasion doesn’t, these lightweight chinos are an ideal alternative.”
  • “Perfect for rewarding a team for a job well done or top performers for contributing the most to the company’s annual profits.”

What doesn’t it have to make it superior?

  • “The look of real wood without the maintenance, thanks to a durable scratch- and stain-resistant laminate finish.”
  • “High-side drawers eliminate the need for hangrails.”

Sensory qualities.

  • “Whisper-quiet ball bearing slide suspension.”
  • “These pants may look like wool, but they’re actually made of ultra-soft cotton for itch-free comfort all season long.”

Unexpected combinations.

  • “Combines elegance with the durability, versatility and functionality needed by today’s office.”
  • “It’s Halloween meets the fashion runway — polka dotted, striped, checked then sprinkled with glitter for good measure.”

What emotions does the item evoke?

  • “The rich bison leather of our finest handsewns will remind you of the classic hunting lodges of the past, as will the timeless comfort of their hand-stitched construction.”
  • “Cannondale Urban mixes practicality with fashion, utility with style — it’s downtown attitude with uptown sensibility.”

Brand alliances.

  • “We’ve worked with Smith Optics to create a pair of polarized sunglasses with the best features for outdoor sports at a terrific price.”
  • “We worked with traditional European shoemakers to design high-quality clogs that provide natural, lasting comfort – at a great price.”

Current or future options.

  • “You can even leave the center pole at home and simply hang the center peak of the tent from a limb for a lightweight spike camp.”
  • “The durable style of Ambience allows you to start small and add pieces as your office changes.”
  • “Want to add fenders? No problem!”

Reasons to buy more than one.

  • “This is so universally useful that you will want one in your desk drawer, one for your hunting gear and of course one in the tool drawer in your kitchen.”
  • “Our gift certificates can dissolve your holiday shopping dilemmas in a moment, since they’re good for any of our pampering services for women or men. Buy ten at a time and we’ll even give you a 5% discount off the total dollar value.”

How to use.

  • “Just unroll this portable multipurpose blanket anywhere your adventures take you.”
  • “A simple tap illuminates the clock for night viewing.”

Rationale of the name.

  • “It’s called Simplicity for a reason — simple to order, simple to assemble and simple to expand as your needs grow.”
  • “The name [Comfort Mocs] says it all — we’re sure you’ll agree just as soon as you slip on a pair.”

Disclose a weakness.

  • “Not as reliable as the Professional Premium, but has a good frequency response. Good for voice and limited music duplication.”
  • “Although not expandable, the 4-copy Sound Pro makes 33% more copies at once than any 3 copy model!”

Why is price so reasonable?

  • “Because this set is made in Böker’s factory in Argentina which is experiencing a terrible economic situation, the price is extremely good.”
  • “Our Friday lunchtime special massage costs just $20 because the massage therapists in that time slot are students in their final 100 hours of training.”

Details, Too

In your quest to add pizzazz and variety to product descriptions, don’t forget that shoppers also need details and specifications. How wide is it? Will the colors still be bright after a wash? Is it suitable for kids under five? And so on.

Achieve attention and completeness by combining an “Isn’t this cool and interesting?” opening line or paragraph with bulleted specifics.

Marcia Yudkin

Marcia Yudkin

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