Winter Woolies

“What would your customers say?”

Project Start: December 17
Project Launch: January 5
Project Finish: January 8

You already know how important it is to use your audience’s words when you want to reach them.

After all, the huge advantages of looking at your product from your customer’s point of view — through a fresh set of eyes! — can be so much more effective for creating your strongest marketing copy.

And you’re usually a lot further ahead when you get someone else looking in to do just that.

Here’s why…

This product retailer was also the manufacturer of a mid to high-end line of winter thermal wear, worn as both inner and outerwear for skiing, hiking, horseback riding and any extreme weather activity.

Their main method of promotion had been through live trade shows to the general public, usually at a ski show or outdoor shows of various types. And you know what that means…

  • Trucking the products back and forth to each venue
  • Setting up product displays for a day or two at a time
  • Answering hundreds of questions and talking with the crowds live
  • And then packing everything back up to do it all again the following week

Typically, this went on for a few winter months of the year, during snow season. Needless to say, it was a lot of work for a small amount of sales. And then no sales at all for about three-quarters of the year.

So the vendor was looking for a way to increase exposure and sales for the company’s products, and cut down on all that physical work at the same time.

The company’s president came to me for help after they had already been working on it for two years. Two different suppliers had already tried to get her online and selling.

Only a tiny handful of online sales to show for it

Now while the manufacturer had plenty of experience in the clothing industry, she had a particular way of describing and presenting her clothing line that probably included a lot of assumptions. After all, she’d been through the entire design, production and start-up marketing processes for so long, most of it was ‘old hat’ to her.

And that’s the problem.

You see, most people have a hard time writing to sound natural to begin with. Add the effects of too much familiarity and the pitch sounded like a combination of a couple years’ worth of repetitive trade-show conversations — scattered together with some tired “it’s the most wonderful thing you’ve ever seen” types of wording to go with it..

Unfortunately, it was a little hard to follow… and, well, even harder to stay awake for!

The trouble was…

The company had reached that uncomfortable growth stage where they wanted to go beyond their single-item, one-on-one sales model… but the owner was still trying to do everything herself. And unfortunately, she was stuck in the same old way of describing things that she’d been using for years…

At the same time, they were having trouble figuring out how to present the real benefits and unique appeal of their products using run-of-the-mill descriptions on a drab website template with tiny little product picturesno sales flow or direction to the site’s structure… and a smattering of the ‘how and why to order’ details hidden way in the back of the site.

In other words, they were trying to get away with a cheapie site cobbled together by a computer-student ‘friend of a friend’… and they hoped people would just “know what they meant”.

With predictably disastrous results.

Oh yes, I almost forgot… the company had already paid thousands of dollars for an ad in a national sports magazine that was due to hit the shelves in a few weeks. So they were directing people to their website to buy from their catalog of over 100 items… and had nothing to show when they got there!

Needless to say, it was time for drastic measures

So to complement a dynamic new site design, I started taking the site’s copy in two new directions.

First was the overall tone and presentation for the site in general, injecting personality and excitement into the pages online. To match the president’s live conversations about their product’s value.

And along with hours of phone conversations and emails, I insisted that they send me an assortment of products that I could “see, hear, smell, touch and taste” before I wrote a single word.

Why would I go to all that trouble?

Because that’s the only way to discover the real benefits of your products — which may be quite different than what you think they are! (Believe it or not, some of the hardest salespages for me to write are the ones I create for myself…)

Funny thing was, as I removed the first thermalwear pullover from the box, I was immediately impressed by how absolutely feather-light it was… and more surprised than ever, as that detail had never been mentioned in any of our conversations.

In fact, my first reaction was that they were way too light to actually work!

So keeping my “sales prospector” hat on as I tried on each item of thermalwear, I examined itstretched itwore it inside and out during the freezing January cold near Toronto, Canada… and generally imagined all the ways a customer might use, abuse and appreciate the warmth and flexibility of the products in real life.

Because bringing the product to ‘real life’ is the starting point of good copy.

After that, it was easy to become a fan of the company’s products. And keeping in mind that people read a website much differently than they read paper, the next step was to communicate the excitement of each discovery in imaginative, persuasive and realistic ways. Pulling the reader along through the site from start to finish.

To reach the “Buy Now” button, of course!

But hang on… we weren’t finished yet. Because as you remember, there were over 100 individual items that needed compelling catalog descriptions, too. And that style of writing demands a special art that goes beyond a simple list of product specifications and sizes.

Fortunately, the vendor had a favorite catalog that they hoped to emulate, from an upscale clothing retailer who drew luxuriously romantic images with each word of their print catalog. And although some of that tone wasn’t quite right for this product line, the approach went a long way towards creating a compelling, “can’t live without this” voice to their own catalog listings.

So now you’re probably wondering…

Did we get it all together before the ad deadline?

Ooo, it was close. But the site was written, designed, tested and online the afternoon before the magazine hit the stands. The first order went through with a few hours to spare!

I’ll let the president tell you how it all worked out…

And with that, a new online retailer hit the web. Ready to let clicks and credit card orders take the place of trade-show booths and one-on-one sales calls. With an online salesman-in-print bringing the customers in, over and over again.

Are you ready to make the transition to your own salesman-in-print?

Then click the big yellow button below and let’s get started!

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