I Got 99 Problems But a Product Description Ain’t One

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<img src="image.gif" alt="the Forest Gump Character" />


I won’t bore you with an itemized statement of my 99 problems, but sufficed to say that I don’t have to file compelling product descriptions into my obstacles folder.

As Forrest Gump would say, “Good. One less thing.”

First, let’s dispel a big myth out there about how images cancel out written text. While images get people with the attention span of a gerbil to take notice of something, a picture of your product won’t seal the deal. Really, product images only begin the conversation.

Think of this marketing framework in food industry terms. That glass of milk looks refreshing, but most consumers won’t buy it unless there’s some sort of message that surrounds the image. Even if it’s a terse marketing phrase such as “Got Milk?”

By the way, did you know that advertisers use white paint mixed with paint thinner, so the “milk” looks more appetizing? Ditto ice cream, which is lard and food coloring. That McDonalds Big Mac in the picture is plastic. Alas, everything we know is a lie, but that’s OK.

Even though images are not what increase buy button clicks, that’s what product descriptions are for. It boils down to good storytelling and social proof. When your product description outlines the benefits of ownership, that’s when sales start pouring in.

I point to Amazon here, where product descriptions are king. In the preliminary search, you’ll find a list of pictures that catch attention. Fair enough, but as I stated earlier, the marketing conversation has just begun. Once you find the picture that tickles your fancy, you click on it.

But you’re not going to buy just yet. Instead, you’ll do some research.

Let’s say you’re in the market for some canned unicorn meat for your next dinner party. I mean, who isn’t searching for some succulent horned-horse bacon these days, right?

When it comes to purchasing your mythical creature delicacy, how do you know that unicorn is the right choice? Perhaps you’d prefer<img src="image.gif" alt="Ewok Character"/> an Ewok, a centaur, or that three-headed dog from Harry Potter.

The canned unicorn meat does have a spiffy photo, but you remain unconvinced. Will Uncle Arnold enjoy the unicorn meat? He’s really picky these days. Does the unicorn meat fall under the Paleo diet? Aunt Patrice has been on a strict regiment for six weeks now.

You go to the product descriptions to find out if this product will meet all your culinary needs. In actuality, you’re doing three things, which I’ll outline right now.

Step 1: Does the product description confirm the details of what it’s supposed to do?

Once you read about how this product tastes like rainbows and dreams, how it’s low-calorie and high-protein, you’re thinking about buying, but you remain unconvinced.

Step 2: Does the product show you what’s going to happen with a storytelling scenario?

You can tell a prospective customer something, or you can show them. That’s when the magic of product storytelling comes into play. When you read more product descriptions, you discover a section that looks something like this:

The Smith Family loves unicorn spaghetti, so it’s tradition to make it every Thanksgiving. Before Steve Smith always bought my unicorn meat from his local butcher, but with this canned product, he’s never going back!

Once Steve opened up the can, the aroma of blood and marshmallows filled the room. Plus, he didn’t even have to keep the leftovers sealed in the refrigerator! The kids have been having unicorn as an after school snack for three months now.

OK, now we’re talking. This product storytelling outlines something similar to what you’d like to experience. The offer seems a little more enticing now.

Step 3: What Are Other People Saying?

Social proof is a large piece of the product description pie. You read testimonials, right? Trust me, so do your prospects. We all know that what we say is half the battle; what our existing customers think is what really matters.

When you read a review of canned unicorn meat, you know you’re getting the truth. (At least on Amazon. Trip Advisor seems to have a record number of 5-star hotels.)

You’ll love the savory texture and wafting hearty aroma that will permeate your castle when cooking with this lovely meat product. While I enjoyed this particular brand, it’s a bit on the chewy side, and you’ll find the occasional hoof clipping.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, don’t forget to order some Phoenix Buffalo Wings, Centaur Ribs, and Dragon Tail Stew.

Warning: Avoid Hydra Head Soup if your serving Unicorn. Unicorns just upset them terribly and the Hydra will just spit venom like you won’t believe.

**Yes, this is a real review for a real product.**

Now that you’ve read about the product, you understand better through storytelling. And you’ve heard from other fans, so the deal is made.

Add to cart.

Time for a bell-ringer for compelling product descriptions that move far beyond the allure of image-based marketing. When you craft your product descriptions, the best practice is to do three things.

Thing 1: Show the customer they’re in the right spot with a product description that explains the important details, and how those details provide lasting benefits.

Thing 2: Tell a story about your product in action, and provide enough details where your prospect will see themselves in the scenario.

Thing 3: Splice in social proof in the form of testimonials or the story of a specific customer who achieved stellar results with your product.

After that, the prospect will hit the buy button.

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