[You can download the ebook of this series in our Subscribers’ Vault.]
By Denise McGill
If you can answer this one question in your sales materials, “How will this product make my customer’s life better?” you have a formula for a successful promotion. Whether your product is hardware supplies, medical supplies, quilts or rustic furniture, focus on how the merchandise fulfills a need or solves a problem for your customer. In this second part of my four part series on writing for your small business, I will be concentrating on writing copy jam-packed with product benefits! The focus of this article will be writing descriptions for your print catalog or website products.
Remember, you are writing to sell product! Great copy is just another tool you can use to run a successful, profitable business. Copy that successfully combines a product’s features with customer benefits makes the sale. So let’s take a closer look at these two components – features and benefits. Both are necessary for a copy description that generates sales.
First, what exactly is a product feature? Features provide the description and specifications of an item. You can find a product’s features in the instructions or user guide that come with the product. Some examples of typical features would be:
- product material ( stainless steel, cotton, plastic, etc)
- product function (tells time, toasts bread, slices meat, etc)
- size and dimension
- colors available
- # of pieces
Next, look at the second component – benefits. Incorporating benefits, not just features, into your copy descriptions, promote the desire to purchase product. They make an appeal to the customer and fulfill a need. Benefits show your customer what he stands to gain by purchasing your product. Benefits answer questions such as:
- Will this product make life easier or provide a convenience?
- Does the product solve a problem?
- Will the product save time or money?
- Does this product alleviate a fear?
- Does the product flatter?
- Is the product exclusive?
Below, is a description a medical supplier might use for one of his products. This supplier’s customer base would be hospitals, clinics and doctors, so the writing must focus on this particular clientele’s needs. This example is for a skin stapler often used after surgery.
Skin Stapler 35W Sterile:
Shorten surgery time and get consistent, professional results with this welcome companion. An alternative to stitches, this compact design holds a generous 35 staples and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand for maximum control. With no need to disinfect, stapler provides a sterile and affordable option for every medical professional. $19.99
Having just discussed the need for features and benefits in your writing, let’s dissect this sample and list the product’s features first. They would be:
- Holds 35 staples
Would the above features alone sell this particular product? Most likely, they wouldn’t. You want to take the basic features of the product and turn them into a product your customer can’t live without. If a product solves a problem or makes life easier for your customer, you are more likely to make the sale. Here I have listed the features again and how that feature benefits the customer.
- Stapler = shorter surgery time, professional results, alternative to stitches
- Holds 35 staples = compact for comfortable use, ease of control, fits in palm
- Sterile = No need for disinfecting
- $19.99 = affordable, saves money.
Also, note that the introductory sentence in your writing should be the most important. Customers tend to skim copy so the introductory sentence should draw them in immediately and with your most important benefit.
Lastly, but one of the most important things to do with your writing when you are through is to Retire and Revise. When you have finished writing several descriptions for the day, retire the writing and come back to it in a day or two. Then…read it aloud. You will be amazed at the awkward sentences you stumble over or sentences that need to be clarified. Look for typos, revise and make sure the description reads smoothly and clearly.
Can’t seem to find the right words to sell your product? Denise McGill, of Naples, ID (pop. 600), is a freelance copywriter specializing in catalog product description, copy makeovers, web content, landing pages, promotional materials, sales letters, articles and more. Visit her website at http://mcgillcopywriting.com for more information on giving your business the competitive edge. Also, take a moment to subscribe to her online newsletter to receive writing tips and hints.
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This post is very helpful, and I think one of the foremost points everyone should keep in mind when writing any copy, whether it be an advert, website content, an article on a newspaper… anything. Highlight the benefits your product/service gives the consumer; that is what they want to hear and what they are mostly interested in. They do not care how flashy your product maybe, but what your product can do for them to make their lives better, or solve a particular problem!
Becky McCray says
Thank you, Sarah!
Chaitanya Sagar, Excel Expert says
Hi Denise ,
I would say that this is one of the best post that I have read. The question asked by you, How will this product make my customer’s life better?” has cleared all my doubts. I think if you understand your customer they will understand you more better.
Denise McGill says
Thanks so much Chaitanya – your feedback is greatly appreciated and made my day!