Copywriting is what you might already be calling a “listing” or “description.” It’s when the text you use helps to advertise your product. Your listing should absolutely help you make the sale.
Copywriting is about understanding the customers’ needs and what they want from your product. It’s about helping them envision their desired results and explaining why they should buy. A lot of listings in the handmade community talk about how long the necklace is, or how the coffee cup has been fired in the kiln, or how the scarf has been stitched. What’s missing are the benefits that will help your customer visualize the pleasure that will come from owning that necklace, coffee cup, or scarf.
By identifying what the customer is looking to gain from owning your product, you send the message that you understand their needs and desires. Copywriting is always about the customer.
Think like the customer
Let’s understand that humans are narcissistic creatures, and we are almost always thinking of ourselves. Please keep that in mind when you think of your customers. Reflect on the way that you shop AS a customer. When you make a purchase, you want to be pleased, proud, and comfortable with the product you bring home.
Please realize that it’s quite natural for small business owners to approach business thinking only of themselves and their needs. However, successful sellers know that this thinking needs to be rearranged.
You must have a clear picture of what you’re offering the customer, how she can benefit, and what her end-result will be. In fact, successful marketing involves thinking from the end: you see the satisfied customer with your product in hand. What is she feeling? What is she thinking? How does your product improve her day?
Listen to this advice from Scientific Advertising written by Claude Hopkins in the 1920’s:
“Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or your profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising. Ads say in effect, ‘Buy my brand. Give me the trade you give to others. Let me have the money.’ This is not a popular appeal.”
Therefore, practice putting the customer’s needs first, and switch the focus of your shop from sales to service.
The basic components of copywriting
There are three key elements to effective copywriting: (1.) The “what,” (2.) the “why,” and (3.) the “how.”
The “what” includes the basic features: what your product is, what it’s made of, and what it measures. This paragraph should go first in your listing, but be sure to make it short and sweet. The next part of your listing (the “why”) is the most important, and you want to lead your customer to it as quickly as possible.
This part of your listing should describe the benefits your product has to offer. Here you want to join the conversation in your customer’s mind. If the visitor is still reading, they’re obviously quite interested in what you are selling. Help the customer envision your product in their lives. Use this paragraph to transform the item from a one-dimensional picture on the customer’s computer screen into a product they can imagine using in their mind’s eye.
If I asked you to imagine how fresh you would look wearing one of my big, chunky turquoise bracelets with a white t-shirt and your favorite pair of jeans … What do you do? You picture yourself wearing a chunky turquoise bracelet, a white t-shirt and your favorite pair of jeans. You took my product and tried it on in your mind, and why? Simply because I offered you the visual.
This is where you (the seller) finally come onto the scene. Here’s your chance to apply what is called your “Unique Selling Proposition.” Basically, you tell the customer how you’re going to answer their needs and why you are the maker to buy from.
In this paragraph, I like to reaffirm my brand. Oh, and I never use the word “I.” My “how” is worded to be of service to “you,” the customer. I made a conscious decision to leave “I” out of the majority of my current listings, but if you look through my old descriptions, I didn’t always follow this rule. Here’s my unique selling proposition:
The Energy Shop offers affordable luxury and holistic solutions. Energy Shop stones are cleansed, charged with their highest intent through mantra, and then smudged.
This paragraph explains what my business stands for and what’s unique about it. It’s written to describe all the ways in which my business exists to serve the customer.
Here’s an example of this basic template put to use in an actual listing:
When writing your listings, send the message that you understand your customer’s needs and desires. The potter could write that their coffee mugs will enhance the warmth and excitement of a new day. The knitter could ask the reader to imagine what their gorgeous afghan would look like on the couch next to a cozy fire on a snowy night. These types of descriptions add life to an online photo and listing, and it helps the customer imagine the virtual product in their physical world.