Biz Ladies: How to Write Headline-Worthy Product Descriptions

Biz Ladies: How to Write Headline-Worthy Product Descriptionsphoto by Jeffrey Opp
Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from previous contributor Brigitte Lyons, founder of B, a boutique PR agency catering to trendsetters and forward-thinking businesses. In addition to direct client work, B offers mentoring and programs like the new Trade Show Publicity Secrets  – a complete system for connecting with the press at your next trade show. Today she shares a bit of her expertise by offering some insight on how to create the best and most captivating product descriptions. Thanks for sharing with us today, Brigitte! —Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

Opposites Attract
When it comes to copywriting, no one’s headlines are as scrutinized as a copy editors’. Plastered on the front pages of magazines, their titles are clamoring “Pick me! Pick me!” in the hopes that you’ll take home their vision for Springtime Projects or No-Makeup Makeup.

That’s why, whether you’re looking to score a feature in your favorite magazine or you simply want to learn how to write product descriptions that grab the eye, you can learn a lot from the tricks magazine editors use.

There’s something about contrasting forces that always captures the human imagination. Yin and yang. Light and dark. Editors love to craft editorials around opposing forces, and this is a trick you can easily mimic.

Take this New York Times piece on a study in contrasts. The entire piece is built around the merging of two designers’ styles in one project.

When Megan Auman introduced textiles into her shop, we advised her to contrast the new line with the hard lines of steel in her current work. This metalsmith showed off her softer side, and Elle Decor was intrigued enough to check her out – and to include her latest line in a product round-up!

Apply Alliteration
Pick up a magazine, and you’re bound to find an example of alliteration at work. A recent issue of Domino Magazine uses this trick three times on their cover: Perfect Paints, Small-Space Solutions and Simple Springtime Gardening Tips.

This is a fun and easy technique to use. Try updating the descriptions for one or two of your products to repeat the first letters. You might change the description of your woolen scarves to soft and supple scarves or your line of toddler clothes to rad rompers for kids.

Challenge Expectations
If you’re selling a product that evokes a set of preconceived notions, it can be fun to challenge expectations in your copy.

For example, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tiaras? Depending on your disposition, you’re either thinking of cheap, plastic kids’ toys or bejeweled head wear for bonafide princesses. Wynne McCormick addresses these pre-conceptions head-on by calling her line of crowns the anti-tiara.

If you’re a baker combining unexpected flavors, delight your customers with “not-your-grandmother’s cookies.” Or, elevate the humble pen to being “something to write home about.”

Seasonal Inspiration
If your product makes a great fit for a particular season, use it to your advantage. Do you make a salt spray that’s perfect for creating beachy waves? Or are your table runners the perfect piece to transition to Fall style?

Play Up The Price
Think of how your product might be grouped according to price – which is common in product roundups.

For example, is your new line of clutches a splurge or a steal?

Think Trends!
Because you’re a loyal reader of Design*Sponge, we know you’re up on the latest trends. For example, you can take inspiration from this post on Mad Style: favorites of the 60s and 70s. With Mad Men in its last season, you know magazines are going to be milking the series for editorial all year long.

If your products have retro style, this is a great feature to call out in your copy. Do you make replicas of iconic furniture? The early 70’s are known for minis (skirts, that is!).

When in Doubt, Try a Pun
Journalists cannot resist a good pun. While we may all groan when we hear one in the wild, they’re shocking effective in copy.

Have fun dreaming up puns for your products. Who could resist impulse-buying overalls decorated in dancing crabs if they were branded as Gear for Crabby Kids?

No matter which of these techniques you’re drawn to, you can use your new editor-approved product descriptions on your sales pages, to create themed Pinterest boards and, of course, when you pitch your products to editors.

  1. Very helpful! Always working on jewelry descriptions

  2. maggie says:

    these are some stellar tips! I have been trying to update my etsy copy and am definitely going to use some of these tips.

  3. Brimful says:

    Thanks for this article! I am always struggling with product names for our toy shop and usually end up with something pretty normal rather than creative. You gave some great guidelines!

  4. Great, and very timely for me. I’m in the process of cleaning up my product descriptions, and these are great tips for me to consider while doing so. Thanks!

  5. Sarah M says:

    “When it comes to copywriting, no one’s headlines are as scrutinized as a copy editors.” In this case, editors should have an apostrophe. I find it amusing, since the sentence is talking about scrutinizing a copy editor, and here I am.

  6. Laura says:

    Fabulous! Titling things is always so hard for me. These tips should make it much easier, especially for subject lines when emailing a reporter. I’m going to go make a cheat sheet list and put it up by my computer so I don’t forget! I bet my emails will get read a lot more.

  7. Edita says:

    Love your ideas Brigitte – so inspirational!

  8. Really useful tips! We’ll be sure to apply these practices to our blog posts. Thanks!

  9. Excellent tips, and perfect timing as I’m about to sit down and write my Summer email. Thank you!

  10. Carolyn says:

    Would’ve been nice to have a list of examples after each description

  11. Meredith says:

    Thanks Bridgette. Great takeaways here…especially love the challenging expectations!

  12. Sukie Baxter says:

    I love to use alliteration, but sometimes I worry that it gets a bit too cutesy. But then, I’m not selling products, and I can see where it would be perfect for jewelry, cupcakes and other inherently stylish items.

  13. shelly leer says:

    Way to go Brigitte! Thanks for shining the light on an area so many of us don’t understand.

  14. enrica says:

    An inspiring article with great tips… I love the bit about challenge expectation, I found that when I talk with a customer and explain the story behind my jewelry, people get really interested, but I never tought of writing it down in such a witty way. Thank you Brigitte for sharing it

  15. Katya Barry says:

    Oh, you just gave me an idea re trends and how I can use it. Thanks! As always, love your wisdom!

  16. Jo says:

    Brilliant, I’m re-shaping and redesigning our online store and these description tips are tops – thank you x

  17. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much. I am working on revamping my product descriptions for my Etsy store and will be taking your suggestions to heart!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.