Everybody wants to stand out in the business world. That’s part of the reason why companies of all shapes and sizes work so hard on branding – we want to be the business that stands out from the competition and convinces the client to convert.
In other words, there’s as many different ways to market as there are stars in the sky – and this is the reason why marketing is a multibillion dollar business, and why blogging for business is so big.
Where content writing is concerned, however, you don’t need to lay down top dollar in order to make your products or services stand out. Often, it’s a matter of laying out your words in the right way – after all, direct communication is one of the most persuasive things there is.
You don’t just want your products and services to sit on the (virtual) shelves of your business – you need the right pep to get the process moving. Without further ado, here are 7 different ways to present your product or service and stand out – but beware, not all of these strategies will work equally for all companies! Choose wisely!
7 Days a Week, 7 Strategies
1. Exaggerate. Now, I’m not suggesting that anybody blatantly lie. There’s a difference between an exaggeration and a lie – and, hey, a little bit of self-promotion never hurt anybody. Not to mention, this is a pretty standard marketing convention – you’ve probably heard the phrase “lowest price on earth” a few times, when, well, ostensibly that’s not true.
Tips: It’s a good idea to already excel at something if you’re going to exaggerate. You might not actually be the “best widget company in the world” (really, that’s rather difficult to measure quantifiably), but if you’re going to exaggerate about anything in your company, you’d better at least be darn good at what you’re claiming to deliver. Perhaps Gillette isn’t really “the best a man can get” (most men I know would rather have a pile of money than a razor), but Gillette does make good blades.
Warning! This could be a potential turnoff to clients if used overmuch. Don’t claim that you’re the best at everything under the sun. That’ll make clients turn skeptical. If you’re going to exaggerate, do it sparingly – otherwise you’ll sound like a used car dealer. (The bad kind. No offence to classy used car dealers.)
2. Be unique. Those who’ve been around the business block a few times likely have heard of the USP, or the Unique Selling Proposition. Basically, it’s a sentence that tells everybody why you’re different from the rest. This might be harder than you think – assuming you’re selling widgets, there are hundreds of others out there who are likely doing the same thing if it’s at all profitable. Why is your business different from everybody else’s?
Tips: This is a good one to sit down and think about for a while. If you’re swimming in a sea of competitors who are all selling similar things, why should the customer choose you? Distill that uniqueness and put it in your product copy. You’ll be amazed at the magic.
Warning! You need to actually be unique. Companies everywhere claim to have superior customer service and higher quality products. Think deep. Or as Apple would tell you: Think Different.
3. Create a persona. This one is a great way to get a little more imaginative. You don’t have to present your products or services as yourself. Now, I’m not suggesting that you make up an imaginary friend. I’m suggesting that you put yourself in the shoes of the potential client and think about who they would most like to deal with when buying your product or service. Spend some time with the “perfect business owner” persona, and then put that into your copy.
Tips: First impressions matter. Targeting your ideal client and then spending some time in their head so that you can create the “perfect business” for that client is a wonderful thought exercise to help better understand your target audience and better understand their wants and needs. Once you know who you’re selling to and what they want, that’s where you put that magical information to work for you with your words.
Warning! Don’t get too fanciful. You don’t want the customer to think that they are dealing with somebody who isn’t real. Though, on the other hand, Ask Jeeves seemed to have quite a bit of success with this, so it just goes to show that anything can be done right if… well, done right.
4. Be honest. This might seem to be a direct turnabout from the previous three concepts – which were all about getting into fantasyland and using those thought exercises to help pep up your copy. But, well, honesty works too. Now, you’ll need to use this one with care as well – you don’t want to accidentally degenerate your product – but speaking about certain limitations that your product has provides useful information to potential clients. Things like “not waterproof” and “does not function at temperatures over 80 degrees” is honest copy and tells the consumer what to expect.
Tips: If you highlight a shortcoming of a product or service – such as malfunctioning at high temperatures – make sure you counteract it with something that the product does well. Again, you don’t want to degenerate what you’re selling – even in the name of honesty.
Warning! Remember that some things you have to be honest about. Like safety requirements. Getting sued is bad.
5. Let your customers build a relationship with your product. There are certain products that people just… learn to love. For example, Apple computers; if you know somebody who uses one (ahem), they’re likely rabid about how much they love it. Harley Davidson motorcycles are the same way. These aren’t just machines and motorcycles – they’re objects that people feel actual emotional attachment to.
Tips: the best way to do this is to reach out to your customers on a personal level. Start an email marketing campaign with discounts for loyal customers. Advertise this with your product. Give customers a million ways to reach you. Talk about how you’ll bend over backward in your copy – and then actually do so.
Warning: This is a process that takes a considerable amount of time. Don’t just think that by putting up sympathetic copy you’ll get cult followers in a week. You’ll need to write that copy and then live up to it. If you build it, they will come.
6. Don’t get too wordy. Sounds counter intuitive coming from somebody who runs a writing service, but product descriptions work best when they’re shorter. Most clients aren’t going to want to read ten pages of information, even if you’re selling something complex like heavy machinery. Keep your product copy brief, and always offer additional information – perhaps in the form of a white paper or a brochure – for those who want more.
Tips: Generally, a product description shouldn’t be more than 200 words; this keeps it above the fold of the webpage. If you’re selling a service (particularly one where there is a process involved), you’ve got more leeway. Remember that brevity is the soul of wit, and also the soul of business.
Warning! Make sure that you do actually explain what the product or service is. You want your writing to be like a woman’s dress, specifically: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to still be interesting. Just make sure that it covers the subject, or you’ll have problems!
7. Be clear on price. Now, I’ve written about the psychology of numbers in an earlier post, and there are many ways that you can finagle the way you present the actual monetary value of what you’re selling. But you do want to be clear – if you have a product page with fabulous copy but the price is hard to find, people are going to be confused, and won’t convert. The product copy is vital – but so is the number (or word denoting the number!) at the end of the day.
Tips: Consider writing out your numbers as words, not numbers. Many people instinctively shy away when they see numbers appear. This might not work for all businesses, but for some (like restaurants), it can be a decorative element that plays to the psychological as well.
Warning! Don’t ever pull the wool over your customer’s eyes when it comes to price. Doing so makes your business seem… well, untrustworthy.
With these ideas in mind, make sure to take an imaginative (but yet not too imaginative) approach to marketing your products. You might be surprised what returns you get!
What tips do you use you make your product copy zing?
Read more: The Challenge with Challenger Selling