Today's guest post is brought to you by MarketingWords.com and Marcia Yudkin. Marcia is a veteran copywriter and the author of more than 17 books. Her report, 73 Ways to Describe a Widget: Never Be Brain Dead Again When Writing Catalog Copy or Sales Material, provides dozens more tips, angles and examples like the ones below to help you liven up your product descriptions.
This post originally appeared on MarketingWords' blog. You can check it out here.
“Nicknamed ‘America’s Bechamel,’ Cream of Mushroom Soup is…”
This surprising comparison caught my eye on an old Thanksgiving-themed Trader Joe’s circular I found, prompting me to skim the rest of the text-heavy flyer. Béchamel is French for the white sauce that is a foundational element in traditional upscale cuisine. Cream of mushroom soup is a decidedly downscale item, used in casseroles by cooks who prefer easy to elegant. Putting the two together in one sentence is bold and makes the reader rethink the use of an extremely ordinary item.
The Trader Joe’s flyer turned out to be full of scrumptious descriptions, using a wide range of techniques for adding sizzle to everyday products. Whether you sell office supplies or pet accessories, flooring or lingerie, you can borrow the angles their writers used to invigorate product blurbs and headlines on your own site or on Amazon with fascination and flavor.
1) Historical Reminder [Fried onion pieces] “These crunchy savories came into the limelight with the 1960s debut of the green bean casserole.”
Let’s consider how this approach – used factually or fancifully – could spice up other kinds of products.
Wine aerators: “Since 1680, wine connoisseurs have understood the importance of exposing wine to air before drinking it.”
Laptop computers: “Who would have thought this 1981 fad would overtake desktop sales?”
Handkerchiefs: “Someone told us that Napoleon had one like this in his pocket to wipe his tears when he got defeated at Waterloo.”
As you read through the rest of the list, be thinking of how you might add some of these twists to turn boring copy into writing that makes your catalog mouthwateringly enticing.
2) Little-Known Fact [Fresh cranberries] “One of only three fruits native to America…”
3) Saving the Day [Frozen mashed potatoes] “This frozen side is a chef’s back-pocket wonder.”
4) Startling Comparison [Brussels sprouts stalks] “With an appearance similar to Christmas trees, these herald the start of the season.”
5) Elaborate on Simplicity [Whole kernel corn] “Non-genetically-modified, Midwest-grown, supersweet corn – it’s as tried and true as it sounds.”
6) Who is the Product Especially Good for? [Turkey broth] “For the ‘from scratch’ crowd, our Turkey Broth and a pan of drippings can be whisked into delicious gravy rather easily.”
7) Who are the Product’s Devotes? [Whole cranberry sauce] “We know more than a few people who stock up on this seasonal sauce and freeze it to enjoy all year long.”
8) Indulgent Wordplay [Cranberry, walnut and gorgonzola dressing] “Some of our favorite festive flavors fortuitously flow forth in this simultaneously versatile and vivacious vinaigrette.”
9) Company History [Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy] “Elevating the experience for those who prefer a non-traditional turkey entrée has always been part of our holiday agenda.”
10) Quote [French truffle chevre] “’There are two types of people who eat truffles: those who think truffles are good because they are dear and those who know they are dear because they are good.’ – Jean-Louis Vaudoyer”
11) Drumroll [Truffle salami] “Ready the crackers, slice the cheese, and prepare your palates. Trader Joe’s Truffle Salami is making its premiere appearance now.”
12) The Item’s Popularity [English toffee] “This is a big 20 ounce canister of Toffee that has become an iconic item at Trader Joe’s for a limited time.”
13) Scene-Setting Monologue [Iced cranberry orange scone cookies] “You’ve loosened the belt, you’ve taken a few deep breaths… there is just enough room for a nibble of something sweet.”
14) Psychology of the Season [Gingerbread pancake mix] “Hustle and bustle can be stressful. Ginger, according to many, is calming, relaxing and rejuvenating. So when the hurry-up has you feeling down…”
Are you hungry yet? Excited about applying some of these ideas in your own promotional writing? Just remember not to get carried away. It’s great fun to let your creativity go, and as long as you don’t over-spice your concoction, you’ll end up with a captivating description that amuses, interests and absorbs the reader, paragraph after paragraph, as it sells.