To write product descriptions that sell, understand that product listings or descriptions need to be more than a bullet list of features. Paragraph form is ideal; supplementing a paragraph with a few bullet points gives it a better visual appeal that the reader can scan quickly. If the bidder is on the fence about an item, a product description can do the selling—It can be the weight that tips the scales and convinces the bidder to buy.
Good descriptions and photography for more bids
Our goal is to help your organization meet or exceed its fundraising goals. Part of this is teaching you how to write product descriptions that sell for your online auction. Having well-written item descriptions helps your bidders replace the experience of browsing in a brick-and-mortar store with well-written product descriptions and good photography. Enticing product descriptions will attract more bidders and add more funds toward your goals—we call that success!
Bidders should understand exactly what they are buying. Keep language clear and concise, avoiding jargon or complicated terms. Include images and videos wherever possible to help illustrate the product features more clearly. Ensuring that customers understand exactly what they’re buying will result in more bidders!
Why are item descriptions important?
Basically, item descriptions are meant to eliminate most questions bidders might have and provide a clear understanding of what they are bidding on. A good item description should provide enough information for the bidder to make a buying decision.
If you read our blog, How to Photograph Auction Items, you already know how important it is to have great images of your auction items. Product descriptions that sell provide the information that photos can’t. Together, they’re a powerhouse.
Bidders see the photo first, and if it’s a good one, they may decide to bid on it without reading the product description! But it will never work the other way around, which, is why item descriptions are vital.
Don’t worry if writing isn’t your favorite thing. It doesn’t have to be. A little logic goes a long way when writing product descriptions that sell, so buckle up and follow our lead!
Use the features-to-benefits method
Let’s say you have a two-pound box of pistachio nuts to add to your auction. Like this box of Beulah Brand Organic Pistachios. Start with a bullet-list of features:
Beulah Brand Organic Pistachios features
- 2 lbs. of salted, roasted, in-shell
- Packed in a collector’s wooden box
- Grown in Santa Barbara, California
- Voted “Best California Pistachio Growers” three years in a row
The features alone aren’t going to entice a bidder unless they had already decided to buy pistachios. Next, take the list of features and turn them into benefits.
Everyone knows what pistachios are, so how do you write a good description based on the bullet point features you have? The secret, or formula, is to turn these features into benefits and relate them to your audience. Features are facts, or advantages, about the item. Benefits are what the item can do for the user, or what’s in it for them? What is the unique value proposition? Benefits should be written to interest the user can envision enjoying the product or understand that the product “fixes” a problem or “pain point.”
As an example, we’ve turned the features below into benefits. Note the bold words under the benefits column are the main points of the features. The supporting content is derived from online research and in this case, empirical knowledge of a common product. There will be some products that you won’t know much about and online research will be critical to writing a product description that sells.
TURN FEATURES INTO BENEFITS
Salted, roasted, in-shell
Packed in a wooden collector’s box with 2 lbs. of pistachios
Grown in Santa Barbara, CA
“Voted “Best California Pistachio Growers”
Good for your health. Buying organic protects you from potentially harmful side effects of pesticides, and some pesticides have been linked to cancer and hormone issues. Good for your health.
Delicious and tasty. This is how we get the unique toasted, salty-buttery flavor you expect. Delicious.
Packed in a wooden collector’s box! Reusable box keeps nuts fresher and longer. Great collector’s item filled with healthy, organic pistachios.
Affordable, home-grown. Once imported from Persia (Iran), today, 99% of US grown are from Central Valley, CA, which made them more affordable, increasing consumption in the US significantly. Feels good to eat home-grown, organic food.
Trust and credibility. This claim builds instant trust and credibility among consumers, which is good for sales!
How can you turn the benefits into an item description? Consider these points:
- Who is the product for? GenXers, married, dual incomes, families, socially aware, pistachios lovers. From this, we can derive, or assume. They can afford pistachios, enjoy the organic nutritional benefits, and like to support local efforts.
- Why do they need it? Delicious and a health benefit, great gift. Pistachios as gifts or snacks in the home are a social signal that they care about what goes into their bodies and into the earth.
- What makes this product stand out? Delicious, organic, locally grown, and well-known, wooden collector’s box. Play up the wooden collector’s box that can store items or upcycle them with artistic design.
- What are the product’s details? Refer to the listed bullet points.
Here’s the auction item description we wrote using the features-to-benefits method above. We wrote the following item description by incorporating the benefits and the features, plus basic pistachio information we discovered from a Google search.
Imagine two pounds of delicious organic pistachios, roasted and salted in the shell, and beautifully packaged in a wooden collector’s box to keep them fresh until every last one is gone. And once they’re gone, you’ve got the perfect box to keep important things safe or upcycle into art! They make terrific gifts, too.
If your hair is graying, you probably know that back in the day, most pistachios were imported from the Middle East, which is a major reason they were once too expensive for many to buy. But not today. Grown in the Central California Valley where pistachios flourish, the cost is easier on the budget, and the nuts are widely available, and fresher. Today, pistachios have never been as delicious, popular, and affordable.
Voted Best California Pistachio Growers by Organically Home Grown Magazine (three years in a row!), you can trust their pistachios are fresh and delicious, with the health benefits of an organic, nutritionally sound treat for the entire family.
Who would you like to gift this to or can you visualize it on the coffee table in the family room where everyone enjoys them? Place your bid now—someone will scoop this up quickly!
What do you think? Not bad, right? Now, you’re ready to use the simple feature-to-benefits method to write your own online auction product descriptions.
Try AI-generated product descriptions to save time
If you’re not feeling comfortable writing your own product descriptions, AI (artificial intelligence) can help write product descriptions that sell.
AI product description generators are simple to use. Using one requires some direction, such as keywords, summary phrases, or a few sentences about the product. All you do is type in the information the platform requires, and in seconds, a paragraph or two of AI-generated item description appears. Most generators will provide two or more versions.
We tested three randomly selected AI-generated product description platforms. We found that some platforms have free trials, which is ideal, as you could complete your product descriptions easily within a trial period. Others offer free use for a limited number of descriptions. There are AI platforms with paid plans from $12.50/mo. for light use and up to $99/mo. for unlimited use. Many of the platforms offer more than AI product descriptions— AI blog posts, web content, cover letters, and much more. If you decide to use AI, paying for one month’s use surely won’t break the bank and will save you a lot of time.
Speaking of time, AI-generated content is a time-saving tool, even if the results aren’t ideal. While it takes an average of three hours and 16 minutes to write 1,000 words, an AI-generated paragraph or two helps reduce writing time by already providing ideas that the writer can expand upon. It’s like Cliffs Notes for writing—you get the abbreviated, or summary version of the content.
From the perspective of professional writers and marketers, AI-generated product descriptions, so far, do not replace those written by professional writers. As you will see from the examples below, AI guesses what words should come next based on product descriptions already published. The downside of this is that AI can produce content that may be too similar to what’s already out there. AI also struggles with getting facts correct.
You’ll notice factual and spelling errors in the examples below. The best part of using AI copy is that it’s already written, so you have a baseline, or a good place to start. All you have to do is edit and expand your ideas to make them more appealing and factually accurate, using the features-to-benefits method mentioned previously. Turning AI-generated content into product descriptions that sell simply takes some editing and tweaking.
Examples of AI product descriptions
We randomly selected three AI-generated product description platforms to test for Beulah Brand Organic Pistachios. Given one of the platforms we tested asked for keywords, not phrases, we used keywords to test all three platforms.
The keywords used include: organic, 2 lbs. of salted, roasted, in-shell, Packed in a collector’s wooden box, Grown in Santa Barbara, California, Voted “Best California Pistachio Growers” three years in a row.
- Platform: Rytr
AI generated item description:
Get ready to experience the world’s best-tasting pistachios with Beulah Brand! Our organic, roasted, and salted pistachios are lovingly grown right here in the USA and come in a unique wooden collector’s box that can be treasured forever. Enjoy more than just a delicious snack – you get to keep the box too! Taste the difference of our all-natural, healthy pistachios and give the perfect gift to your friends and family.
Our take: This is a decent baseline start, but it needs editing to be more persuasive and add the credibility of being voted “Best California Pistachio Growers” three years in a row. There is an assumption that the product is available worldwide. Yet, it’s mentioned they’re grown in the USA, neglecting to mention “grown in Santa Barbara, California,” which is a critical feature.
Need a delicious, guilt-free snack that’s also good for the soul? Then you need Beulah Brand Pistachios. Our two-pound box of organic, roasted and salted in-shell pistachios will satisfy your cravings without breaking the bank. Plus, our beautiful collector’s box makes a great keepsake or upcycling art project after you’ve enjoyed every last nut! Get your hands on Beulah Brand Pistachios today and share the snacking love with family and friends.
Our take: We question where the “good for the soul” comment. This iteration also neglected to mention “grown in Santa Barbara, California,” or “voted “Best California Pistachio Growers.”
Also, the subject and verb tense agreement is incorrect in the sentence, “Our two-pound box of organic…pistachios are sure to satisfy your cravings without breaking the bank.” It should read “is sure” instead of “are sure,” as the subject is singular. It’s a good idea to use an online writing assistant like Grammarly to avoid grammatical errors from AI-generated content.
- Platform: Copy AI
Link: Copy AI
AI generated item description:
These organic California pistachios are grown in Santa Barbara, and are harvested and roasted locally. Our 2 pound collector’s wooden box is filled with salted shells that are perfect for snacking or cooking. Enjoy delicious organic pistachios from California for years to come!
Our take: The content indicates that the shells are salted, when in fact the nuts are salted. Cooking is introduced but should not, as unsalted pistachios are used in cooking. “Salted shells that are perfect for snacking or cooking,” insinuates the shells are consumed. No mention of the valuable, “voted “Best California Pistachio Growers” feature.
Best California Brand Pistachios are naturally grown, nutrient-rich, and delicious. The pistachio shells are clear and bright with a healthy green color, indicating that they are fresh out of nature. They’re also gluten-free and certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).
Our take: Is this a product description that sells? A good start but the shells are not clear. The content is understated but ripe for collaboration with a good writer. No mention of the city where they are grown or the “voted “Best California Pistachio Growers” feature. I wonder if the bot checked to see if the fictitious pistachio grower is in fact a CCOF member?
- Platform: WriteSonic
AI generated item description:
Beulah Brand Organic Pistachios are the perfect snack for those looking to enjoy a delicious treat that is good for their health. Our pistachios are grown in Santa Bar, California, using only organic methods to ensure their purity. We pack 2 lbs. of our salted, roasted, in-shell pistachios into a collector’s wooden box, making them a great gift for any occasion. Taste the Beulah Brand difference and enjoy the sinfully tasteful pistachios that make you happy and healthy.
Our take: A spelling error, Santa Bar, is easy to identify and fix, but a claim that pistachios “that make you happy and healthy” needs to be buffered a little—how about changing it to “pistachios that are a healthy, welcome snack in your home or office?” Remember that you can imply happiness and healthiness, but be careful not to claim it, or you may need an attorney.
Introducing Beulah Brand Organic Pistachios – the perfect gift for foodies and health-conscious individuals alike! Our organic pistachios are grown with love in Santa Bar, California, and are sure to tantalize your taste buds with their sinfully tasteful flavor. Each package contains two pounds of salted, roasted, in-shell pistachios, packed in a collector’s wooden box for an extra special touch. Get your hands on these delicious organic pistachios today, and you’ll be sure to enjoy every bite!
Our take: Same spelling mishap as the previous one, but that’s easy to catch. While this content needs to be doctored a bit to sell pistachios, it’s not bad at all as a description that did not intend to be a sales tool.
Two tools to help write great product descriptions
To recap, you have the features-to-benefits method to help turn facts into product descriptions that sell. Additionally, there are AI-generated product descriptions that generate ideas that you can expand upon, and that saves time.
You’re the first to know
We think there is merit in the AI-generated product descriptions; with time, they’ll only improve. We especially like the time-saving aspect of having something written to expand upon.
You’re the first to know that our programmers are developing our very own AI-generated platform. The sterling part of building the program is loading it with the most common auction-related keywords that have historically been used in product descriptions that sell. This means that the descriptions will align better with products that are available for bidding. Plus, one of our favorite benefits of AI-generated content is the time-saving aspect, which means creating product descriptions won’t seem like such a chore. It’s kind of like having your own warm-up writer!
We’ll announce when it is ready for use. It’s expected to be live by the end of March 2023.