Wednesday, September 14, 2005

eBay Description Writing Tips from Home Depot’s Catalog

The following are some descriptions written about Home Depot’s storage baskets and boxes. As an eBay seller, it’s useful to look at these professionally written pieces from time to time.

Keep a few things in mind while you read them. 1) The same function could be accomplished with some cardboard boxes or shoe boxes, 2) Chances are, no one but the owners of these boxes will ever see them, and 3) They cost $35 to $50 each.

Description 1: “Woven antique black finish baskets offer creative and stylish storage solutions for everything from sweaters and laundry to office supplies and refuse. All liners are washable natural-colored cotton canvas.”

Description 2: “Soften the look of your work space with these casual, yet highly functional basket pieces.”

Description 3: “These canvas ‘drawers,’ complete with handles, are cleverly designed with an inner covered-wire frame that keeps the lining taut.”

Now – let’s think about these descriptions and what kinds of things, other than practicality, are going on.

The first one injects the concepts of creativity and style – both important emotionally-driven motives. In a world where we can all get enough food, water and shelter (usually), creativity and style come into play. Even if no one sees these boxes but the owner, the owner will feel creative and stylish. The person might even tell someone about their cool new baskets.

The second description gives a nod to functionality but not before talking about softening the work space. That sounds like a benefit. Who wouldn’t want to work in a soft, un-harsh work place? They also give the reader an idea about where to use these things – in the workplace, of course (an area, by the way, that can be Spartan and unappealing). Functionality comes into play. This is a benefit, but not something that could stand on its own. It’s better to add the emotional adjective casual and sell the “softening” idea.

The third description introduces the words “cleverly designed.” The adjective clever could certainly be transferred to the user/buyer. A buyer might subconsciously say, “If I buy these things, I’m clever, too. The way I create my office or closet is clever. I have an eye for these sorts of clever products.” The description writer wants to associate a positive and smart adjective with the products and does a good job.

These descriptions are short. They are to the point. Some specs follow, but the emotionally connective prose comes first. That’s important. You should be doing the same things with your eBay listings. Use these descriptions as models, and check out the descriptions in the other mail you receive.

The writers of these catalogs are the professionals. They get paid big bucks to create images and emotional connections. It may seem simple and pedestrian at first glance, but there’s a real art to it. It’s not difficult, but you have to pay attention to the emotions you want to convey and choose the best words for the task.

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