When attempting to connect with the customer, forget about the product for a moment. Instead, think about what the customer is looking to get out of the exchange. When she gives you her $5, $18.95, $270, or $87,000, what is she expecting in return? How is her life going to change? What is she "dreaming" of?
When you get into this thought process, you´re exploring benefits. The term benefit seems kind of ambiguous, but it can be explained fairly simply. Basically, a benefit is something that answers the age-old questions "What´s in it for me?"
In the offline business world, this sort of questioning leads to better advertising, better brochure copy, and ultimately more sales and higher perceived value. Essentially, you should have the same kinds of goals on eBay. Your description is part ad, part brochure, part sales transaction. Since you´re never really in front of the customer physically, this is your chance to act as a retail salesperson and speak directly to customer´s needs. It´s your chance to sell the dream.
To illustrate benefits further, let´s examine a dream that´s fairly new on the scene-the DVR, or digital video recorder. Most of us recognize this technology as the brand name Tivo. Technically speaking, it´s no revolution, but for those who use it, it´s a godsend.
The dream goes something like this: "I want to reduce my TV watching time, eliminate commercial interruptions, and avoid incessant advertising messages."
This dream is interesting, because many of us have a love-hate-fear relationship with the TV. We could take it further and say, "If you cut out 8 minutes of commercials for every 30-minute show that you watch, you´ll reclaim an hour of your time every week. That´s four hours every month and two days every year. You´ll then spend those two days on a beach, reading about how to become wealthy by selling better on eBay." Now that´s a dream!
There´s some classic freedom dreaming going on here:
"?¢ Freedom to do more
"?¢ Freedom to improve
"?¢ Freedom from psychological burdens that external messages create
"?¢ Opportunity to enjoy more free time
"?¢ Opportunity to recapture some control over life
"?¢ Liberation from that dreaded idiot box
Freedom dreams are highly sought after. If you can find a way to emphasize freedom in your listings, you´ll sell more products.
One way to think about dreaminess is to consider what doesn´t constitute a dream. For example, would you consider the following a dream? "I want a machine that allows me to skip over TV commercials and pause live television."
There´s something missing, isn´t there? What´s described are the features or functions that make the dream possible. They are certainly important parts of your description, but the benefits need to be developed first. Once you´ve done that, decisions about how you present and prioritize features become very easy.
TIP: Benefits are the springboard to a great description. They show you which features to highlight, and they give you the emotional material necessary for writing inspiring titles, headlines, and subtitles.