Since I’m a catalog copywriter, when I shop, I suspect that I look at product descriptions a little bit differently than the average shopper.
With every product description that I read, I notice how it’s arranged, specifically, which details about the product get top billing.
As a copywriter, I know that the most important information about the product is its benefit to you, the consumer.
And those details should always be front and center in the product’s copy.
For some reason though, a lot of catalog copy out there doesn’t adhere to this very basic rule of thumb.
A lot of descriptions out there bury the benefits later in the copy, which is unfortunate, since potential customers may not see it there. Why? Because they gave up after the first paragraph or two of generalized, unimportant (to them) information. Information that didn’t answer their compelling question: “Can your product solve my problem?” So they moved along.
Pointing out a product’s benefit immediately is crucial, for both online and print catalog copy.
“But wait!” you say, “If a customer found me online, she already has an idea of what she’s looking for, she’s already thinking about buying, so why do I need to sell her with benefits?”
Why risk it?
Sure, the customer is there because of her search query; her keywords matched yours. Kudos to you, your SEO is working. But your job is not done.
Now, your prospect needs confirmation that your product is what she needs because it will solve her problem.
And this is where your benefit-stating copy grabs her. Immediately. And converts a potential sale into a definite sale.
Would you like an example of copy that was slow to mention a product’s benefit? This happened to me just recently.
I have a horse and he’s developed girth galls. Girth galls are a condition caused by rubbing or chafing around the girth area of a horse. The girth is the “belt” that fastens on both sides of the saddle when the saddle is on the horse’s back and it keeps the saddle secure and in place. These girth galls can become raw and sore and cause the horse much discomfort.
So, now I have a problem that I need to solve. A horse with girth galls. And I’m pretty sure the current girth I have is contributing to the rubbing and chafing. Looks like I need a new girth.
I’ve heard that mohair girths can help horses with girth galls. So I google “mohair dressage girth” and the first result that Google presents me with is a Stillwater Mohair Dressage Girth. I click on that one.
The product page appears, and I begin reading the product description. The first thing I’m told is that the girth is hand-made in the USA from therapeutic, all-natural, 100% mohair.
Hmmm, since the girth is called a mohair girth, I had already assumed that that’s what it was made of, so the copy starts out with redundancy.
It goes on to say the girth will provide unbeatable comfort for my horse. This is a generality; unbeatable comfort as opposed to what? The first paragraph finishes by telling me that the girth will ensure the security of the saddle and rider. I would hope so since that is the purpose of a girth.
At this point, I still don’t know if this girth can help with girth galls.
The next paragraph explains to me in its first sentence how mohair, sheared from Angora goats, is one of the strongest, softest, and most manageable of fibers for creating a very durable and beautiful girth. I must confess, in all the years I’ve been around horses, not once have I ever looked at a girth and admired its beauty.
And still nothing about girth galls.
But the next sentence, halfway through the second paragraph, I hit pay dirt. I’m told (finally) that mohair prevents cinch sores and sweat galling.
My question to whoever wrote this copy is this: Why delay sharing this important benefit? Why not build it into your first line of copy?
Whether you’re writing a product description for a print catalog or its online version, never hesitate to immediately point out a product’s benefit to a potential customer. The sooner you mention it, the better your chances of making that sale.
Suzanne Quigley - Copywriter