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Marketing Resource Center
Use these guidelines with the core Style Guide.
Marketing copy explains why a product is worth buying. To accomplish that, it needs to be engaging and compelling.
“Engaging” is all about capturing someone’s attention. Engaging copy is interesting and full of energy. Think of the difference between a master storyteller and a boring recitation.
“Compelling” is about being convincing. Compelling copy contains strong arguments for purchasing.
Seek to inspire and educate the reader by describing clear benefits about the product or category. Imagine or research how the product(s) are typically used.
Know the Product
Before writing any marketing content, you should conduct some Web research about the subject or product you're writing on. Be sure to check out:
- Existing product descriptions to get a grasp on how the item has typically been marketed.
- Reviews of the product by experts and customers to get an idea of what strengths you can play up and which weaknesses you can downplay.>/li>
- The product spec sheet, so you can include important details about the product, such as what materials it is made of and how big it is.
Keep a Consistent Tone
Write the content as though you are helping your friend. For product descriptions, help them make an informed decision about the purchase of a product. For category descriptions, help provide an overview about the category.
- Avoid Froth
- Never say or imply anything negative or derogatory
- A good mnemonic to keep in mind: C.R.I.S.P.: Caring, Real, Informational, Straight-forward, and Positive
Focus on Benefits
Talk about features only in the context of the benefits that the features provide. The best way to achieve a benefit-centric product description is to ask yourself this question, "Knowing this is a main feature of the product, why will customers ultimately care?" The answer to the 'why care' question is the benefit. It's not enough that a blanket has pink angels on it or that a coffee machine can brew up to 12 cups. The benefits are exciting the imagination of small girls (pink angels) and hosting fun family gatherings or dinner parties with friends (the 12 cup coffee maker).
The portable container can hold clothing, linens, and more in its spacious interior, and two convenient handles make it easy to carry to and from the laundry room.
The Writer highlights the laundry basket's features of storage space ("spacious interior") and carrying handles ("two convenient handles") by explaining their benefits. In this example, the benefits are "hold clothing, linens, and more" and "easy to carry to and from the laundry room." This is strong marketing content that tells a story in a concise manner.
Effective Marketing copy should engage a potential customer immediately and make them desire a service or product. Certain rhetorical structures with interchangeable parts are especially effective at accomplishing this, especially the the problem-solution structure.
In a problem-solution structure, you expound upon the customer's situation in the following order:
- Enumerate the customer's regular tasks or activities during which they could use the product or service, but don't offer the product or service as a solution yet. You're preparing the framework here upon which you'll hang the problem for which the product or service is a solution.
- Describe a problem that the potential customer is likely to encounter while performing the aforementioned tasks. Here, you're establishing the need for a solution, which is the product or service you're writing about.
- Expose what the potential customer needs or wants to solve the aforementioned problem. This is the product or service, and here you should describe it. Avoid using complex product names or model numbers unless instructed to do so in the Writer Special Instructions.
- Use unique details about the product that position it in the market as a standalone solution for the potential customer's problem. Why should the customer buy this company's product and not a similar item from one of the company's competitors?
- Avoid summaries of benefits that verge on the overly general, such as world-class, full-service, top-notch, and so on.
- Rely on nouns and verbs when describing the product and problem. Avoid using adverbs and adjectives when possible. This helps excise Fluff and Froth.
Alternative Sections and Enhancements
It's possible to customize any of the sections in the problem-solution structure to meet a particular customer's needs or to achieve a certain style.
For instance, it's common to replace the "tasks and activities" section with an Emotional Hook. This rhetorical device triggers an emotional or nostalgic response in the reader. The intention in using the device is to appeal to a person's "heart" over their "head," thus causing them to make associations that set them up for desiring a way to achieve or avoid that feeling or the scenario you've caused them to imagine.
Don't worry: it's not the end of the world. No, not that whole Mayan calendar 2012 thing. We mean replacing your long-loved, well-worn patio furniture with something newer, stronger, and fashionably up to date.
A less than subtle but effective way to begin a piece of marketing content or a paragraph within said piece is with an Excitement Driver.
“2012 looks to be an exciting year for outdoor furniture aficionados…”
- Every word you write in marketing content needs to be directly relevant to the targeted product or category
- Avoid brand names (unless they are part of a Keyword)
- Avoid the the word "deal(s)"
- Use rich words like "features" or "includes" rather than "has" or “is”
- Keep descriptions gender neutral whenever possible
- Do not use ®s or TMs on brand names