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How to Sell Anything In One Paragraph Or Less

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

What if I told you I could sell anything in one paragraph or less?

(Stop glancing skeptically at the screen. I can see up your nose.)

You know what kind of paragraph I'm talking about–the sorely neglected, overlooked and undervalued product description. *cue tambourine and this song*

Product descriptions have the power to make or break you. (Right up until you're broke.)

By make or break you, I mean they can influence sales so much that you'll either be in a position to someday race a 5-speed pearl-colored Mercedes along the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast with your aviator sunglasses and a carefree smirk…or not.)

Earlier this week, I talked about the importance of the how versus the what–in other words, the way you sell something is far more important than what you're actually selling. Exceptions include revolutionary new breakthroughs and never-before-seen technologies, but for the most part, what you're selling has probably been sold before. That means that the biggest competitive advantage you have isn't what you're selling; it's how you're selling it.

A big part of how you're selling it includes what you say about it–in other words, the product description.

Most product descriptions, however, make the mistake of doing just that: Describing the actual product. It's red. It's machine-washable. And it comes in sizes small, medium and large. Order now and forever hold your peace.

But guess what?

Just describing the product? Does nothing to sell the product.

I don't give a shit if it's machine-washable; if it's something I desperately want, I'll send it to the god damn Himalaya Mountains to be hand-washed by a tribe of brown-robed monks.

But first I have to desperately want it.

And one of the best ways to inspire that feeling in your customers?

Isn't to describe the product; it's to describe who they'll be with the product.

Help them envision. Help them picture. Help them get all tingly inside just thinking about the possibilities–including that Mercedes.-

By far, the best company out there doing this is J. Peterman.

I want to have so much sex with their product descriptions. Or maybe just with their copywriter.  Remains to be seen. (If J. Peterman's copywriter is, in fact, reading this, you should know I'm an excellent catch. Unless it's that time of the month, in which case, you should drop me off at a boxing ring somewhere and step away slowly.)

We talk a lot about J. Peterman around here–perhaps one of the most remarkable things about their company is that they're making incredible sales not just with their product descriptions–but without actual product images. They don't even show you what the product looks like–just via illustration only. And yet, thousands of people around the world are rushing to buy their products sight unseen.

And that's the power of a product description done right.-

Here are some of my favorites from them. Take notice of how they help you envision who you'll be with the product:-

I'm betting you suddenly want a Panama Hat, an opera jacket, and a French Film Star travel dress.

Because those are product descriptions designed to sell; not merely describe.

Note the difference.

Note how it's done.

And then note the dramatic increase in your sales, once you do it.

…before your competitor finds this article and does the same.

After all, the Amalfi coast is waiting.

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