I visit a good number of business websites during the workweek.
With some I’m looking for services and products. Maybe some kind of software. Maybe a professional service.
I also look at examples as a way to research certain blog posts.
A lot of the websites I see are great, but more than a few are just…confusing.
I find myself looking at the homepage for several seconds simply trying to figure out what the company does…
Has that ever happened to you?
These companies must rely almost entirely on referrals for new business. Either that or their clients are really in the know when it comes to their industry and they understand the confusing way some companies describe their services and products.
Anyway, after seeing a few confusing websites this week I thought I would write a process for writing product and service descriptions.
1. Nail The Title
I know this is easier said than done.
I used to work for a shoe company. They would sell all the major brands via catalogs and websites. But they would also manufacture their own brands and shoes.
One of the challenging things was coming up with brand names and shoe names.
Often the most simple titles or names were the best.
Think about what the product is to your customer. What it does for them. Go through all the words that they might use to explain it. See if there is a word or a couple words that could be a product title or name.
If that fails just keep it simple. A successful branding person once told me that sometimes the best names are simply the ones that don’t offend anybody.
Just pick something. Make sure it’s not an insult to anyone and go with it. The rest of the description will tell the full story.
2. Identify The Top 1-3 Hooks
A hook is what the product or service does for the customer. What they get out of it.
This is not really from your perspective.
Amazon does a great job with this with their Fire tablet.
Here is part of the product description:
Enjoy millions of movies, TV shows, songs, Kindle e-books, apps and games
It might seem simple, generic and all that, but that’s what people get from their Fire tablets.
It’s clear. It’s simply. It’s a hook.
Once you know the hook or hooks of product or service you can form the product description in a way that makes it clear to customers what they’re getting if they buy it.
3. Tell Them What You Do For Them
Building on the last one is getting a bit into the how of what you will do for them. With the Fire, Amazon goes into more detail on how customers can use their Fire tablet.
They describe that customers can read, watch and play. They show photos and images of people using the Fire for these specific purposes.
It’s actually kind of a high level how-to guide for using the Fire. Very basic stuff, but with most products and services customers are only looking for the basics. They want the high level.
4. The What (Specs)
These usually don’t have to be the big items in the description, but if you’re selling something physical then people will probably want to know the specs.
Again, you probably don’t want this to be the main area of the description. Customers are more interested in what a product does for them.
But once they’re getting into things a bit more they want to be able to easily see the specs.
Amazon talks about the 7″ display of their Fire pretty early and often in their description. I’m guessing that’s because most people know what they’re getting from the tablet so now they’re interested in the specs.
5. Tell Them What To Expect
What happens once a customer buys?
That’s something going through their minds right before they buy. And if there is uncertainty they may just leave.
This can happen throughout the sales process.
Explain what customers can expect at each step.
What to expect when they call.
What to expect when they use your contact form.
What to expect when they hit “Buy” on your website.
Give them a vision so they’re comfortable taking the next step.
6. Use Content Breaks
If you’re product description is getting long then it’s important to use content breaks:
- Photos, Graphics, Videos
- And more…
Nothing is worse than endless blocks of text. Even your paragraphs and sentences should be on the short side.
The bigger the blocks of text the more likely a potential customer is to miss information and feel unconvinced about what you’re selling.
7. Compare Different Versions
It’s common for a business to have different versions of their products and services.
I like the grid style comparison charts where it’s easy to see what you get (or don’t get) with each version.
It’s a quick way for customers to determine what package fits best with what they need.
The more confusing this is the more frustrated your visitors will get and the more likely they’ll be to leave your site.
8. Why Different
This is called a lot of things. Probably most often a Unique Selling Proposition or USP.
People are thinking it so there’s no point in ignoring it.
I see it a lot with Amazon Prime & Netflix.
People always seem to wonder and ask:
What’s the difference between Prime and Netflix?
Usually the answer is about specific TV shows or movies and things like that.
You don’t have to call out your competition by name, but identify how and where you’re different and mention those things. The visitors can compare on their own.
For example, Amazon might not say “we’re different from Netflix because…”, but they will promote and describe the shows that they product and stream exclusively on their platform.
9. Don’t Hide Information
What sparked this one was pricing.
People almost always wonder about price. It’s a good way to know right away if you’re even in the ballpark for buying something. They might be interested, but only at a certain price.
Some think they should hide the price and convince people with great copy and sell it and prove the worth before showing the price.
That’s one way to do it, but I’ve found that customers have usually done a good amount of research. They also know what they can afford.
Showing them the price upfront is a good way to qualify them. It’s good for them and for you.
And it’s not just with price…
If you find that customers call you and ask the same question over and over because it’s not on your website or in the description then it’s an indication that you should probably put it on your website.
If they’re asking there’s no reason to hide it.
10. Listen, Test, Update
Finally, don’t look at your product or service description as being “done”. Especially for ongoing, popular products.
You want to listen to feedback from customers. Look at reviews. Look at the Q&As. Talk to your service and sales reps to see what questions they’re repeatedly getting from customers.
As you learn more about the sales process for your product you can update the description. Test it for awhile. See if more results come in and continue to look for ways to update the description.
This is a surprisingly overlooked area of business. And I totally get it. It’s not fun to write product descriptions. It’s not as simple as just writing copy. It involves really knowing your sales funnel. And knowing your product from your customer’s perspective and not yours.
But the more you focus on improving it the more new business you’ll likely bring in.