You Are What You Say: The Strength of Good Writing in Sales
One of the most popular features on our sister publication's site is the Product of the Day. Every week I get emails and comments about it, and products we feature get a huge traffic spike. I spend days writing some articles, conducting interviews and doing research, and without fail those pieces are less popular than a 50-word joke I spent 15 minutes writing before I've had any coffee.
It's no secret that talking is an integral part of sales. Your relationship matters, your price matters and your product matters, but unless you're Apple, your products won't sell themselves. You sell the product, and the way you do that is in what you say.
One of the best examples of the importance of language in sales is Woot.com. Woot is one of the original daily deal websites, and their business model is simple: Every day at midnight, a new product appear's on Woot's website, and stays there until 24 hours pass or the product sells out. Sometimes they sell laptops, sometimes they sell dirty socks, but every day millions of people go to woot.com to see the day's product.
A major part of the site's draw is in the product write-ups. Each product is paired with a funny, quirky, bizarre or offensive description. Sometimes it's a short story, sometimes it's making fun of the product, or the reader, or the site. No matter what, it's funny, and the site became known over other daily deal sites because of that.
More to the point, those descriptions sell the product. The best example of this is the "Bag of Crap." The company will occasionally sell a bag filled with random items that they haven't been able to move. Sometimes they slip in expensive products like MP3 players, but most of the bags contain items in the $1 to $5 range. The buyer never knows what they'll get. Woot posts these bags for sale, along with their usual witty commentary, and they sell out, every single time, in minutes. In January 2011, a "Bag of Crap" deal sold 3.1 million units in 8 seconds. That's 3.1 million bags of items the company wasn't able to sell before, all based on good marketing and clever copy.