People have been talking about the economy for years now. Are we approaching a recession? Are we in a recession? When will we pull out of the recession? With so much talk about money you would think that someone would have called off Christmas at the turn of the century.
Of course, that hasn’t happened and we are marching toward that critical time of year: Black Friday. Retailers and economists alike are taking their best guesses at what we can expect to see this holiday season when it comes to shopping patterns. The National Retail Federation has been watching the trends and prepared a list of ten things they think we’ll see this year. I found number seven on the list to be particularly interesting:
#7: This year’s gift-giving theme: “Everyday appropriate.” In 2008 and 2009, both years when holiday sales saw declines from the year before, shoppers were all about practical, necessity gift purchases. This year, there seems to be a little bit of wiggle room on the wish list. The most popular items this year aren’t necessarily cheap, but they are appropriate to wear or use on a regular basis. What this means: don’t be shocked to see people spring for the $200 coffeemaker or the $400 watch, but the evening clutch might be a tough sell. The challenge for retailers, of course, is to present each gift option in a way that people will think it’s versatile and applicable for a variety of occasions. Even that pair of diamond earrings [cough cough].
While a coffee maker, or a quality watch have obvious “everyday appropriate” uses. how do you get diamond earrings to fall into that category? Through stories.
The J. Peterman catalog got it’s notoriety, and eventual characterization on Seinfeld, because of it’s product descriptions. Who needs a $145 pipe? Beats me, but the way they described it was really nice and probably made more than one person think about splurging, regardless of whether they actually smoke pipes.
What J. Peterman made famous, major brands are now moving toward. But why use a story, rather than just a product description? The story will stand out in people’s minds, justify a purchase they might not ordinarily make and keep them on your site. The longer you keep someone one your site, the more likely they will find something to buy. That’s right, I said “find something to buy.”
Telling a story is a hook. A hook gets people on your side and makes them want to support you. If you’re a small business you already have a great hook to use as your foundation. Now build on it.
If you’re keeping track you may have noticed that I never once mentioned anything about your content helping search engine rankings. Why? Because your content has to do more than just get you a good ranking on Google. Your content has to inspire a sale. You know what’s almost as good as a sale? A return visit. Good content will put a little worm in a person’s head and have them coming back over and over and even telling people about your product or site. And word-of-mouth is a better recommendation than Google any day.
Go take a look at your product descriptions. They don’t need to be Peterman-esque, but do they do more than just give the basic dimensions of your inventory? If not you may want go back and add a little sparkle.