How to write great product descriptions.

Posted on October 10, 2016 By

Eye-catching design. Check. Stunning photography. Check.

Wait, haven’t you forgotten something? Whoops. Once again the copy has been left to the last minute.

When I saw this dismal attempt for a custom-printed t-shirt dashed off by Vista Print, I knew I had to write this post:

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 09.37.43

Even if I wanted a ‘conservative’ T-shirt, this is hardly likely to persuade me. So here are a few tips on writing a great product description:

1.    Don’t state the bloody obvious

If you have great images, then you don’t need to describe what readers are seeing.

Clintons’ description of a celebratory beer glass is priceless:

‘Celebrate in style with this new pattern of male pint glasses. A great gift for the beer lover. The message on the glass says: ‘Beerilliant Birthday’. The product is supplied in branded matching gift box. Is hand wash recommended only, not suitable for dishwashers or microwave use. ‘

We can see the message, no need to spell that out again. And why would you microwave beer? I won’t even get into the fact that it’s a “male” pint glass! Why didn’t they suggest it was fun, or that it’s even more thoughtful than a card?

2.   Say what it does

Always say what something does, not what it is.

Argos describe their basic range in a straight-talking manner that highlights purpose and value for money:

Sit. Snack. Stack. Store. This Simple Value black stacking dining stool is ideal for smaller spaces or entertaining guests. Featuring a chrome effect seat and black steel tube legs, if you have more than one, these sturdy stools conveniently stack on top of each other when not in use.

The verbs give the description oomph and bring it to life. There’s a benefit in there too about entertaining guests in a small space. Vista Print could definitely learn something here – what does printing a photo on a t-shirt do? Makes the proud owner unique, the centre of attention, cool?

3.   Create a magic structure

There’s a formula for everything. Really. When you’ve got hundreds of descriptions to write it can help to have a few structures at hand to crack through the volume.

One of my latest projects was a brochure for a Christmas cracker company. I couldn’t keep saying they would ‘complement every table’ so having structures helped keep them fresh. For instance I could go with:

Reference to the audience + nod to the name + refection of the quality + benefit

Alternatively, I could vary the descriptions with:

Material (to show quality) + suggested uses + key benefit

Problem (of not having said product) + solution product offers

You can easily create your own structure by choosing a few key points. Ever since I’ve started to add method to the madness, product descriptions have been so much easier to write.

To find out more about writing formulae for persuasive copy, take a look at this post.

4.   Add some zing

Dull descriptions don’t sell products. If you’re writing a lot of descriptions for similar products you run the risk of them blurring into one.

Whether it’s appealing to the senses or giving the product a personality, you need to add some zing.

Original Source does a good job with this shower gel:

Ignite the deepest clean with this extreme body scrub packed with almond shell particles. This is the ultimate blast away of dirt, grime, sweat and life’s troubles. Dare to try?

I could argue that a shower gel is just a shower gel. As long as it smells nice I don’t really care. But sensory words like ignite, deepest, blast and grime grab my attention.

5.    Create a unique tone of voice

Every product deserves an excellent product description. But it also helps if your brand has a distinctive tone of voice.

This example from Lush perfectly illustrates my point:

Well, hello, don’t be shy. I caught you looking at my rich, exfoliating texture, filled with nourishing murumuru butter. I saw you checking out my ground rice. Let me assure you that I’m all substance: they’ve packed me full of zingy lemon juice to tone your complexion, Tunisian neroli to brighten and organic silken tofu to soften you up in all the right ways.

Who could resist this smooth talking facemask? They’ve included the necessary features and benefits but added a highly distinctive tone of voice too.

So back to Vista Print… Here’s how I would write it:

Bored of bog-standard t-shirts from high street stores? Or need a unique gift?

We give you the power to personalise. Stand out from the crowd with our super speedy easy way to upload your images, logos and text.

From your dog’s face to the daftest slogan, whatever you choose, we guarantee a high quality product that matches your style.

Good product descriptions can make the difference between making a sale and not closing the deal. So make sure not only your design and images are fabulous but your copy is too! And don’t leave the words ’til the last minute – your products and services deserve better than that.

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This post was written by Hayley Cherrett