Friday, October 14, 2011

Customer Friendly Descriptions

Writing 101: Customer-Friendly Descriptions

Tara Gentile is a business coach and blogger serving passion-driven entrepreneurs and artists of all sorts with fresh ideas about productivity, passion, and profit. She’s the author of the digital guide, The Art of Earning. Today Tara shares tips with us to help us make the right connection with our buyers in our item descriptions.

Item descriptions are a great exercise in selling psychology. You see, there are two very different mindsets at work when one considers an item description:

Example A: The Maker

When a maker considers an object, she describes its specifications (width, height, weight), its materials, and its use. She is communicating what she considers are the most important features about the object. These are the things she touched and manipulated as part of the creative process.

Example B: The Customer

When a customer considers an object, she contemplates what that object will mean in her life. She ponders how it will affect her mood, her decisions and her environment. It’s not so much an object, widget or product as it is a catalyst for a changed (even if ever so small) experience.

When you put these mindsets side by side, it’s no wonder makers have a difficult time writing item descriptions that make customers want to buy their products. Their priorities are completely different.

It’s hard to think like a customer. But it can be done! Let’s consider this quote from Roberto Verganti’s book Design-Driven Innovation:

“People do not buy products, but meanings. People use things for profound emotional, psychological, and sociocultural reasons, as well as utilitarian ones… Look beyond features, functions, and performance and understand the real meanings users give to things. “

First, start talking to your customers. Don’t just find out if they love what they bought. Don’t just ask for positive feedback. Don’t just ensure their order was processed sufficiently. Talk to your customers about how they’re actually using your product and — most importantly — why that matters to them.

If you make jewelry, you might find out that your best-selling pair of earrings is most popular because they’re the perfect long-but-not-too-long size for petite women. That means they don’t have to try on several pairs in the morning and instead are out the door faster and feeling sassy to boot! If you create lamps, you might find out that the shade you carefully craft casts a light that makes reading peaceful and relaxing. That means the owner associates the pleasure of reading with the act of turning on the lamp.

Next, translate your customer experience into the before and after.

Your product changes things for people. When they use, display, or wear what you make, their reality shifts. Try to capture that when writing an item description.

For instance, consider your customer’s life before they buy one of your products — let’s say an artisan iPhone dock. Despite her best efforts, her iPhone was rarely charged. She’d run out of batteries half way through a mad tweeting rush at an important conference. But along came your artisan iPhone dock.

She sat the dock on his bookshelf alongside his Kerouac and Fitzgerald. She admired it every time he walked in the room. And thus she regularly charged her iPhone.

These are the kind of sentiments — a little before and after story — that make a convincing description for that artisan iPhone dock. It tells the customer that you understand she goes to tech conferences, that books are important to her, and that, well, she’s a tad forgetful. By discussing your customer’s life, you create a real sense of how a new buyer will experience your product in a way that is valuable to her.

Item descriptions aren’t just a way to stroke your maker’s ego by listing process, technique, and material. Your customers care much less about dimensions and specifications than they do about how your product will enhance their life. Make sure you focus on what’s valuable to the customer.

Download her accompanying worksheet to start writing for success!

More Writing Tips | Seller Handbook

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