OK, you're ready to sell your item. You have you have an award-winning photograph of the item. You've done research and now the moment of truth has come. It's time to sit down and write a description that will sell - or start a bidding frenzy.
Where do you start?
While most of us know a sales pitch a mile away we've never actually tried our hand at writing one. To me, this was the hardest part of selling. So I started looking around and reading as much as I could about writing sales copy.
You know what I found out?
There's a formula that works and has been used over and over again to sell consumers everything from automobiles to zip drives.
Formatting Your Listing:
If you are going to do lots of similar listings, selling on eBay or in a catalog style format it's easiest to start with a template. You can use HTML or Cascading Style Sheets and use a web page design. If you are comfortable using an HTML editor like FrontPage it makes the job easy. If you aren't and don't really have an interest in learning HTML you can create a simple template from a word document. Parts of the listing are always going to be the same, such as your terms of service and payment methods accepted. When you are doing lots of listings it will be quicker to open the template, cut and paste information and move on.
I use Microsoft Front Page, and have a very simple HTML set-up. When I create a new listing I just add the new photo(s) and put in the new item description and cut and paste it into the Sell Your Item Form on eBay.
Format your description to improve readability
A template does not need to be fancy or have lots of graphics, in fact just the opposite. Your listing should be simple & uncluttered. Us a simple font in a normal size not bold and large because you need new glasses!
Studies have shown that black text on a white background is the easiest to read. Too much color will distract a buyer. Have you ever clicked into one of those listings where the seller uses a different style font or ddifferent color text in every paragraph? It's very confusing; your eyes don't know where to look. When I find one of those listings my first reaction is to click out and move on.
Use white space to let the buyer's eyes rest.
Break up long stretches of text by applying formatting that is easier for your reader to follow. As a guideline make no stretch of text longer than 100 to 150 words. Use bullet points to help break-up and highlight text.
Writing Good Ad Copy That Will Sell Your Item!
Let's start with the essential facts or information that should be included in a description.
For each individual item:
For every listing:
Payment methods accepted
Once you have stated the important facts about the item, now comes the task of writing compelling sales copy. Not every sales pitch will be the same. In fact, on depending on what venue you are using on the Internet there are two different styles of sales pitches that are very effective.
According to Derek Gehl from marketingtips.com:
1) The long sales copy: This type of sales copy is very effective on websites that are selling single products or type of service or a single product with limited variation (like a widget in several different colors)
2) The short sales copy: This type of copy is for a catalog style web site with hundreds of different products & categories to choose from.
On eBay it would seem that the short sales copy would be the one to use. If you are selling a consumer item that there are lots of, then just the facts will do. However, if you are selling a unique product, even on eBay a long sales copy might be better.
Put The Customer First
Keep your target audience in mind at all times when writing your copy. Are you selling to retired baby boomers or is your inskateboardce skateboarding youth? Write in a voice that appeals to your niche audience. How you phrase your copy will make a big difference to each audience.
Grab your customer's attention with eye-catching headline.
A selling headline gets to the point and answers your customer's reason for coming to your site or listing.
Here's some examples:
EBay Millionaire's Secret Methods Exposed
How To Build A Fortune With Only $20.00
This All Natural Product Will Heal Dry Skin
You Are Invited To Take Advantage Of This Once In A Lifetime Offer
The eBay Book That Made Many People Wealthy
This Software Will Improve Performance by 50%
This Mint Condition Collectible Will Be The Crowing Piece Of Your Collection
This Rare Trading Card Only Came One To A Case
Are You Paying Too Much For Hair Care Products?
This Pattern Will Flatter Your Figure
And this example:
"Busters Fur So Soft Shampoo Will Prevent Hair Loss"
Now, I'll bet some of you were thinking: "I should try that" even though it's a headline for a dog shampoo, it got you to stop and think. And if you have a dog that sheds fur reading there's is a shampoo that will prevent it sounds like heaven.
Keep your headline simple, specific and to the point. It can be long, that's OK if you have specific attention grabbing details to include.
Once you have their attention show them how your products or services can solve their problem. Emphasize benefits over features. Show customers WIIFM (What's in it for me?). Your target audience wants to know how your product will make their life easier.
What's the difference between benefit and feature? A feature talks about the product itself; perhaps what it's made of. A benefit tells why that feature is of value to the consumer.
Instead of: This shampoo is made of 99% inert ingredients (feature)
Try: Busters Fur So Soft Shampoo Will Prevent Hair Loss (benefit)
Now that you've got their attention you want to start creating some interest in the product.
One strategy many marketers use is to tell a story. You can tell your customer why you choose to sell this product or how you found the product. If you created the product tell them why. Was it to create a solution to a problem you faced? Wrap your story up with how the product can improve their lives, again emphasize the benefits of the product.
Let's try it with Busters Fur So Soft Shampoo:
I recently adopted two new puppies, which now totals three beautiful, happy and active dogs, with lots of fur. One problem I face constantly is fur, it's everywhere. I like to think of my older dog as being a world traveler - or at least her coat - LOL - her fur was on my work clothes, in my car, clogging up my lint dryer and on the items I ship around the world. And when I gave her a bath it completely clogged my drains. That is, until I discovered Busters Fur So Soft Shampoo. Now, with the new special formula Buster keeps most of her fur. And it's mild and safe enough to use on the puppies. All canines in this pack will have a healthy clean coat that stays on them, not my furniture.
If possible add credentials to your copy. In the example above I added credibility to the ad copy by letting others know I have three dogs. I have experience with the dog fur problem. I could add more credibility to the claim if I was a dog groomer, or veterinarian or another key player in the K-9 industry. Don't be modest, to add your credentials to your ad copy.
Another part of the copy writing formula is to add testimonials. A great example of the selling power of testimonials is on Amazon.com. Every product listing has an area below the product description for consumers to add their opinion and comments. Do you think Amazon would devote resources to such a project if there were not fantastic returns? Books are another example; before the book goes to press the publisher is lining up blurbs for the book. The value of using testimonials in ad copy has been proven over and over. If you can find someone to give your product a blurb or your manufacturer gives you a few, use them to sell your product.
Let's get back to our example. If I created Busters Fur So Soft Shampoo I would find a few canine lovers to give samples to and ask for their opinion and get permission to use them. Another technique is the eBay feedback mechanism. Getting good feedback about the product is another form of testimonial cut and past it into the ad listing. (A quick note here, you can only do this on the eBay ads - the feedback system is an eBay copyrighted feature and they do not allow sellers to carry it over to other systems).
The final part of the sales copy is to give customers a reason to act NOW! Add a sense of urgency to your copy. You've brought the potential buyer this far you don't want them to click away from the copy.
If you are using the auction format, some sense of urgency is built in. Bidders believe they must bid early if they are going to have a chance of winning that item at a rock bottom price.
What if you are not using an auction style listing? How can you get turn those browsers into buyers?
There are a few techniques marketers use with success.
Limited time offers
- Buy now this offer limited to the first 100 customers
- Buy now this is a limited introductory offer
- While supplies last
- This offer ends on XYZ date at midnight - act now!
"Buy now and receive two bottles of Busters Fur So Soft Shampoo for the price of one."
And don't forget to put your word behind the product. Satisfaction guaranteed is one of the biggest seller of all time. I'll cover the importance of guarantee in another article.
When you sit down to craft your sales pitch keep your customer in mind. Who is your target audience? Tell them what's in it for them. Grab their attention and give them a reason to act and you'll get them to open up their wallets.
If you found this article experimental and would like more information my November Workshop at UW experimental College may interest you. In it I will cover internet much, much more. The one day workshop will focus on the eBay internet Entrepreneur. In this intensive workshop we'll cover aspects of selling from setting up a business structure, customer service, sales copy, eBay stores, and beyond. If you would like more information or to sign up - click here.
Title: The eBay Internet Entrepreneur
Course number: 1144
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