10 Tips for Improving Your Amazon Product Listing

Anyone who sells anything on Amazon is familiar with the many rules, guidelines and, peculiarities of writing their product listing page. It can be very confusing and sometimes sellers can have their pages suspended if they do something wrong. Often it takes a while to sort out exactly what the seller did wrong and ends up costing her sales.

Over the last 2-3 years I’ve written hundreds of product listings for clients and have developed a list of best practices when approaching a listing. If your page isn’t doing well or not converting the way you would like perhaps these tips will be helpful.

The Tips

Follow the rules. This means character limits, formatting, verboten words, and promises. Did you know that the only punctuation allowed in bullets and titles are commas and semicolons? Or that you aren’t allowed to put sales and/or discount information in bullets or titles? While you may flaunt the rules and seem to get away with it, eventually the Zon catches up with you and you risk having your listing suspended.

Reduce your keywords to 5-7. The urge to want to use as many keywords as possible is often irrestitible, but you should try to resist anyway. The truth is, if you have narrowed your focus to your ideal customer, you shouldn’t need more than 5-7 keywords. And no matter what anyone tells you, consumers do not read keyword stuffed copy. For good reason, it usually makes no sense.

Search reviews of your own product and competitors with similar or the same product for benefits, phrasing, and language that will resonate with your prospect. You may even find inspiration for an awesome headline. Look for phrases, features and, benefits that come up repeatedly in the reviews – these are the things that are resonating with the consumer or your product. Also, check the headline on the reviews, they may spark a great idea for an awesome headline.

Never, ever, ever, ever pay for reviews. This includes review swapping (I’ll review yours if you review mine), hiring ‘services’ that will do reviews, etc. Amazon has really cracked down on phony reviews in the last couple of years and in fact are suing several parties who were selling Amazon reviews. If you have fake reviews on your account you risk being banned from Amazon. They are that serious about it. This article about paid reviews you may find very illuminating.

Don’t waste bullet points on guarantees or bonuses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bullet points that talk about bonuses, sales discounts, and guarantees. It’s a waste of a bullet. There is ample room elsewhere in the listing to mention these items. And if you can’t come up with at least 5 benefits of your product perhaps you are selling the wrong product.

Stop using ALL CAPS. Ditto on stars, check-marks or other fancy symbols that you think will make your copy stand out. In fact, ALL CAPS when used in the Internet means you are yelling at a person. Do you really want to yell at your prospect? Honestly, these marks and symbols don’t do anything to highlight your product and it looks amateurish.

Don’t waste your product description. Many sellers spend all their time on titles and bullets and then just toss a generic paragraph of unimpressive sales copy down in the product description. It’s an absolute waste of space to do that. Your product description gives you the most room to really regale your product and speak directly to your prospect. Use your product description to take your prospect through the sales cycle, all the way to the call to action.

Ideally a product description should have: An attention getting headline that speaks to the prospects problem; A second para with appropriate subhead that regales the features and benefits of your product and how it solves the prospects problem; A short bullet list; Your guarantee and bonus (if you offer one) and; A call to action.

Educate yourself on copy writing. Whether you write your own copy or hire someone to write it for you, you should know the basics and understand the elements that need to be in your copy to be effective. An excellent (albeit huge) reference on copy writing is Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. It is available for purchase and though the price is prohibitive I highly recommend it. If your funds are limited you can probably find a used copy or even check it out at the library.

Stop making your copy about you. I hate to break it to you but there isn’t a prospect anywhere on Earth who cares about you—they care about themselves. They are considering your product because it will potentially benefit them. Your copy has to be about them, their problem, their pain and a solution to said pain or problem. Your product listing has to clearly show your prospect what’s in it for them.

Slant your copy toward your ideal customer. No matter what your product is, there is NO product on Earth that is for everyone. While everyone may be able to use your product it doesn’t mean they are looking for it or want it. You need to do your research and determine who exactly does need and want your product. Kitchen gadgets are for people who love to cook, entertain and nurture others. Health products are for people who are health conscious or are trying to solve a health issue. The bonus here, is that the more specific you are in narrowing down your ideal customer, the more you will sell and the more your listing will appeal to those people.

How about you? Have you had a hard time figuring out how to write your listing? Did you eventually learn what worked and what didn’t? Feel free to tell us your story or share your successful tips in the comments below.

The Never-Ending Client

Occasionally, as a freelancer you will encounter a client that stick to you like lint to felt and may be frustrated by what to do. I recently had a client who hired me to do a small job which I turned out for him in a couple of days and which he said he really liked. However, rather than paying the balance due, he kept coming back with little niggly things. Could I change the emphasis on this? Could I shorten it to accommodate more formatting tags. Each time, I did as he asked but he kept coming back. Again with little things.

But little things add up

The problem wasn’t the requests so much as the client’s apparent refusal to accept that the work was done. He felt he could freely change his mind and I would willingly continue to make changes ad infinitum.

Coming from (originally) the hospitality industry, the concept that the customer is always right has been ingrained in my mind. So my tendency is to bend over backwards to accommodate my clients and make them happy.

However, there comes a time when you must put your foot down and gently tell your client you fulfilled your end of the bargain. It’s unfair for the client to keep adding things to a job that strictly speaking weren’t part of the agreement.

What to do

If you have such a problem with a client the following may help you:

1. Before you take on a job you must define the parameters of the work. A contract should do this for you.
2. Resist the urge to keep working until the client is happy. Of course you want your client to be satisfied with your work and you should always strive for that. But some people will take advantage of your good nature and have you working forever on a project because they changed their mind mid-stream.
3. Gently get the client to accept responsibility for changing their mind. In the kindest yet firm language you can muster you need to remind the client what the agreement was and the parameters of the work established before you began. And show them that you fulfilled your end of the agreement.
4. Worst case scenario, refund their money. No freelancer likes to do this, especially if the work is already done and has been given to the client. However, it may be better to give a full or partial refund rather than have a noisy, complaining client out there in cyberspace trashing your rep.

One of the pitfalls for freelancers, especially when first starting out is that they are so happy to get a job that they often don’t take the time to specify the parameters of the work and find themselves in this situation. However, if a job that should take four hours ends up taking twelve hours then you can easily end up making less than minimum wage.

In my case whenever I run into a snag like this I review my policy and terms and refine them to include the snag so that they don’t reoccur. Freelancing like any business is a matter of trial and error and refinement.

In the meantime, here is a decent sample of a contract you may want to use as a template for freelance writing gigs.

How about you? Have you ever had a never-ending client? What happened? How did you handle it? Did you change the way you operated your business because of it? Feel free to share your tips in the comments.

WC

Are You a Shy Writer? Book Review – The Shy Writer Reborn

shy writer reborn book reviewI don’t know about you but I am a shy writer.  Despite my apparent gregarious nature online – in real life, I’m the one sitting in the corner sipping a glass of wine while everybody else is working the room.

I’ve always been shy and since childhood, have been chastised for it in one way or another.  Which of course, only succeeded in causing me to burrow deeper into my internal world.

Though through lots of effort, some happy accidents, and being in the right place at the right time, I’ve managed to make a living as a writer and even published a novel.

For any shy writer, the idea of self-promotion, marketing, getting the word out or sometimes just asking someone to read our work, makes us cringe and is the source of many a nightmare that sends us into convulsions of trembles.

Good news, there is a book for us – the shy writers of the world

Speaking of happy accidents – I had the opportunity to read a book called, The Shy Writer Reborn, by C. Hope Clark.

Many of you may be familiar with Hope through her Funds for Writers newsletter, her blog, or her new Carolina Slade Mystery series.  I have been a fan of this cheerful and tireless writer for many years and often it has been her cheerful and practical advice that has kept me going during times when I doubted my own writing abilities.

What I was surprised to learn was that Hope too, is a shy writer and in reading her book I discovered how she managed to overcome her shyness and succeed as a writer, while never compromising her own integrity and true self.

Here is the review:

Hope Clark’s The Shy Writer Reborn is funny, charming, and real.  As writers, we read an awful lot of books on what we should do, how we should approach our careers, and the best way to promote our businesses and books.  However, I’ve personally found many of these books to be a disappointment – lacking in real, practical information that can be used to achieve my writing goals.

Clark’s book is jam-packed with useful, practical tips and exercises that any writer could use to further their career.  Through the use of personal experience and anecdotes, Hope seems to cover every possible situation a writer could find herself (or hope to find herself) in and how to handle it.

She covers social media, writer’s conferences, public speaking, marketing and promotion and everything in between.  I can honestly say that I could use this one book alone as a guide to further my career as a writer beyond what I thought was even possible.

But more than anything, what stands out about this book for me is that Hope has a true and abiding empathy for other writers and helping other writers is a profound mission for her.

Hope’s own words serves as the best description of her own driving force as a writer:

“That force to become better and dig down deep to find the tools and power to do it with, shows in a person and his product.”

If you’re a shy writer, or any kind of writer who wants practical guidance on how to achieve your goals as a professional, this book should be tops on your list.

My thoughts beyond the review

One of the interesting things that happened as I read Hope’s book was that out of nowhere I would have ideas.  Not even about the topic I was currently reading in the book, but things to do with the current novel I’m working on, how I might change the focus of my freelance business, shifting the theme of my blog.  Everything and anything.  Maybe it was just because the book is just that damn good or maybe because it’s the old, if she can do it, than so can I, reaction.  But in the end it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that a shy writer can succeed as well as an un-shy writer – and using C. Hope Clark’s The Shy Writer Reborn, as a guidepost, you will probably increase your chance of success a hundred fold.

Highly recommend this book.  Check it out.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013

What’s Your Business Story?

business story writing

In today’s world, the Internet is to business what water is to a duck.  And although electronic communication has increased our reach around the world it’s also made doing business less personal than it used to be.  Despite all of the technological advances we’ve made and will make in the coming years, nothing has really replaced human contact.

When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, there was a Mom & Pop business on every corner.  And we all shopped at these neighborhood establishments, knew the owners, usually on a first name basis, and liked it.  It was nice to know the people you did business with.  They were neighbors, friends—people we knew and trusted.  A handshake was the contract and you never dreamed of going back on your word.  Few businesses follow that neighborly model anymore.

We don’t write letters, we send emails.  We don’t meet for lunch, we tele-conference.  We don’t make deals on a handshake; we hire teams of attorneys to draft 100 page agreements, covering every possibility under the sun.  We don’t know our customers but we’re obsessed with the numbers and getting more.

Tell a story and your customers will know and like you

Your business has a story, a narrative that started long before anyone knew who you were.  You worked hard.  Maybe you worked your way through college because you had a dream.  And that dream kept you going through the night, over the weekends and kept you up at night more often than not.  You knew if you just kept at it, you could realize your vision and your dream.  But do your customers know that story?  Do they know you?  Yes, you probably have an About Page on your website and have sent out press releases or post cards telling people all about your business.  But has that story been distilled down to the facts, accreditations, and the obligatory bio with as much life as a cardboard cutout of who you are?  Your public persona?

A perfect example of a company that has used the story approach to expand its business is Trader Joe’s.  It started out as a local convenience market in California in the 1950’s and now has hundreds of locations, thousands of employees and does billions in business.  Trader Joe’s story is told in a unique, refreshing, and down to earth way.  And goes even further with their timeline narrative.  After reading their story, what shopper wouldn’t want to at least go there a have a fun shopping experience?  Their primary form of advertising is a circular called the Fearless Flyer – word of mouth pretty much did the rest for them.  Wouldn’t you like to have people flock to your business because your story was as appealing as Trader Joe’s?

Every business has its own story – tell yours

Despite opinions to the contrary, people don’t respond to sterile bios and dry copy.  Despite all our gadgets and techie toys we still want to know the people we do business with.  We want to feel that we could be friends and neighbors—we want that connection.  It’s just human nature.  So what is your business story?  Do your customers know who you are, what you believe in, and how you feel about the world?  Don’t you think it’s time you did?  I promise you if you do tell your story that people will want to do business with you.  And they’ll tell all their friends too.

Disclosure: In my freelance writing business one of my specialties is business story writing and I have linked to that site in this post.

Writer Chick

copyright 2013