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How to Write Catalog Copy that Sizzles

 How to write catalog copy

© Ugur Akinci

Catalog copy writing is an important task for many companies who sell their products and services through on-line or printed catalogs. There’s a constant demand for top-notch catalog writers whose copy move merchandise.

Is there a short and sweet way of writing good catalog copy that sizzles?

Yes, there is.

Here is a unique ADJECTIVE PAIRING METHOD I’ve developed that I’d like to share with you.

The main idea is:

1) First make a list of adjectives that is appropriate for your industry and product.

For example, here below is a list that I’ve compiled for an imaginary Home Furnishings and Designer Lighting catalog:

A furniture or lamp DESIGN can be…

affordable, alluring, animated, approachable, arresting, astonishing, award-winning, balmy, beautiful, blue-ribbon, bold, brilliant, calming, clean, clear, compact, contemporary, distinguished, dramatic, dynamic, eclectic, electrifying, elevated, eminent, enchanting, energizing, engaging, esteemed, exalted, exotic, expansive, feminine, flawless, glamorous, grand, great, gripping, heart-warming, hypnotic, jubilant, imperial, impressive, intoxicating, invigorating, magnificent, masculine, masterful, memorable, mesmerizing, modern, moving, mysterious, noble, notable, noteworthy, ornate, outstanding, pastoral, pensive, placid, pioneering, polished, pragmatic, prize-winning, quintessential, refined, regal, remarkable, renowned, riveting, rousing, singular, smashing, sparkling, soft, solemn, solid, soothing, somber, sophisticated, soulful, sparkling, splendid, sterling, stimulating, stirring, stately, striking, stunning, superior, svelte, thoughtful, thrilling, top-notch, traditional, trailblazing, tranquil, trendsetting, triumphant, understated, unique, unpredictable, urbane, venerable, vibrant, virtuoso, warm, welcoming, worldly.

I’m sure this would be a different list of adjectives if, for example, you were writing catalog copy for home security devices, or chocolate cakes, etc.

2) Once you have your “adjective database” under your belt, bring out those magical conjunctions –”and,” “but,” “yet,” and “with.”

Experiment with putting together various adjective pairs and you’ll instantly have the building blocks of a powerful and elegant (see how I’ve already used it?) catalog copy.

Let’s try some of these combos (for the above example):

  An approachable yet sophisticated design…

  A tranquil yet modern design…

  A stunning but understated design…

  A mesmerizing and triumphant design…

  A superior design with trendsetting lines…

  A pastoral design with a calming color palette…

Now perhaps, you are not writing copy about a “design” but about a“dining set”. The same method applies to most any home furnishing, and I’m sure a zillion other objects of desire as well:

  A moving yet solid dining set…

  A traditional dining set with an electrifying presence…

  An imperial yet affordable dining set…

  Etc.

Other Uses

You can use the same technique even when writing about more abstract or general topics, like (let’s say) a movie review:

  A traditional yet intoxicating drama…

  A flawless script directed with a virtuoso confidence…

  An engaging comedy with memorable characters…

Try applying the same adjective-pairing technique to a variety of different copy-writing tasks. You might be pleasantly surprised by your own unexpected creativity.

And that brings us to a secret that most writers discover early in their careers: the act of writing is its own best teacher.

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How to Write a Rate Increase Letter

Rate Increase Letter

© Ugur Akinci

There are many times when you’d need to write a rate increase letter and deliver bad news without losing your customers or the other party.

The best way to do it is to cushion the bad news with at least two pieces of good news and then dropping the hammer as though it were an afterthought.

Here is an excellent example of a rate increase letter from the cable company, Verizon.

———————————————————

The letter opens with a REMINDER of the GOOD SERVICE they are currently providing me with. This prevents me from immediately adopting a defensive posture.

“We hope you are enjoying all the benefits your Verizon FIOS TV service has to offer — ” and it proceeds to give a list of the goodies. The keywords here are all positive: “hope,” “enjoy,” and “benefits.” This is followed by other positive phrases like “instant access” and “hottest shows.”

———————————————————

The second paragraph is a sales pitch about how better the service can get if I also purchase their “HBO Package.” I’m informed how I can enjoy my favorite movies for “endless hours” “in the comfort of your home.”

“Award-winning original series, blockbuster movie premiers, acclaimed documentaries and world championship boxing” are all mine for just a few bucks extra.

Still there are no bad news over the horizon since there is no obligation to purchase this extra package (I actually have already bought this package, which attests to the generic nature of the letter).

———————————————————

Then comes the REAL REASON why the letter was written, introduced almost like an after thought:

“We also need to let you know that the rate of your HBO Package will be increasing from $15.99 to $16.99 a month, effective on January 17, 2010, or at the end of your promotional term.”

———————————————————

There is obviously a disconnect between the earlier paragraph which was written in the future tense (“you WILL get this and that” with the HBO package) and this third “bad news” paragraph (which informs me that the monthly fee for the same package is going up).

But despite that structural weakness this is still a well-written letter since it coats the rate increase well with the earlier list of positives.

Don’t reinvent the wheel; emulate the same. Always deliver any bad news after dwelling on the positives. You’ll have a higher rate of success in communicating your message through with minimal push-back.

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Airport Security Officer Resume Sample

© Ugur Akinci

Airport Security Officer Resume Sample

Pat Brown 
123 Main Street, Any Town, STATE, 10001 | [email protected]

OBJECTIVE

Alert and responsible airport security officer with certification and work experience is looking forward to serve the public at a major airport in the United States or Canada.

QUALIFICATION SUMMARY

• Balanced, patient, cool-under-pressure personality.
• Great physical stamina and endurance (Black Belt in Karate).
• Responsible and punctual team player.
• Encyclopedic knowledge of surveillance cameras, detectors and alarm systems.
• Warm public persona; excellent public relation skills.

WORK EXPERIENCE

BURBANK AIRPORT
Burbank, CA Lead Transportation Security Officer
2006 – December 2008• Managed an airport security team of 9 and scheduled the workflow.
• Interviewed junior security officers during the hiring process.
• Provided liaison between the Airport and TSA authorities.
• Held meetings with senior management and designed a new inspection regime to close the system loopholes.
• Prepared annual reports for the Airport senior management.
• Supervised the training of bomb-detection dogs.

TRI-STATE AIRPORT AUTHORITY Raleigh, NC
Transportation Security Officer
2002-2006

• Scanned passengers at the airport checkout gate.
• Inspected cargo with hand-held detector at the corporate warehouse.
• Received training and got certified in Emergency First-Aid.

FAST AIR CARGO SYSTEMS Inc. Los Angeles, CA
Transportation Security Officer
1999 – 2002

• Provided armed site security at the gate and loading area.
• Screened the passengers at the checkout gate.
• Worked as part-time Checkout Supervisor to ease the workload

EDUCATION 

Emergency First-Aid Certificate
2006

University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Psychology Department
LaCrosse, WI
Bachelor of Art in Psychology
February 1999

OTHER

Black Belt in Karate
Firearms Instructor, NRA, Los Angeles Chapter.
Languages: Fluent in Spanish. Can read French.

REFERENCES 
Available upon request.

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