Posted in business in SL, day-to-day, I wrote this, money, SL Marketplace, tutorial

Writing an excellent Marketplace listing

Copywriting is just an industry word for writing the description and information related to your product. When you’re writing your copy, remember that this and your image are often the only impression people will get before deciding whether or not to make the purchase. So what important things must your description do?

What is this thing?

"What the hell is that thing?!"
If your copy answers no other question in the mind of the shopper, it should answer this one. I once had someone TP me into her shop to ask my advice on marketing a Big Incredible Thing she had made that nobody seemed to be buying. I went to her shop, saw that the parcel name included “Home of the [Item]!”, and waited for the shop and item to rez.

“So,” she finally asked, “How do I get people to buy this thing?”

“What thing?” I asked.

“The [Item]! It’s awesome, isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“Don’t you see all the [results]?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. So your [Item] is a [results]-maker?”

“Well, no! It’s so much more than that!” And she proceeded to list off all the amazing things her product could do.

When she was done, I asked, “How would I have known that, if you hadn’t been here to tell me?”

By now she was getting impatient, thinking I was stalling before offering some Big Marketing Secret. But the questions I was asking were really the important part.

Who is this product for?

“OK, who would use your [Item]?” I went on to ask. And she didn’t have an answer.

Have an answer. Even if it’s a vague one like “female avatars”. It might be clubs, offices, kids, furries, vampires, apartment buildings, animal breeders… have an answer.

You might be asking, “What difference does it make, so long as someone buys it?” It makes a world of difference. It’s the difference between “What am I doing here and what is this thing?” and “This is just the thing I’m looking for!”

If, for example, your idea would be a good thing for clubs (as this person’s item was), focus on what it does for clubs. Ask yourself out loud, what does this item do for a club?

“Creates a beautiful, colorful show,” was one of the phrases I got from her, as she explained the item to me. So now instead of “Home of the [Item that we don’t know what it is]”, we’re getting somewhere: “The [Item] – A [Results] maker and so much more. Creates a beautiful, colorful show– great for clubs!”

Why do they need your item?

Customers aren’t stupid. They don’t need everything spelled out complete with diagrams. But they do need to know why they should spend their money on your product, and not someone else’s. This is especially true if your item is big, or expensive, or can’t be refunded.

Our merchant explained to me that her item could be configured by the item’s owner, that it had over 2 dozen settings, that it had full customer support and automatic updates. None of these facts could be found on display in her shop, until waiting ages for all the various signage she had rezzed in, and even then it was hard to read (a problem I’ll discuss in another article).

These things must be made evident right away in your Marketplace description, where you don’t even have the benefit of a display model.

In fact, the Second Life Knowledge Base suggests you start right away with telling about how your product solves a problem. For example:

  • Fed up with belts that cut into your avatar’s waist? I have a solution for you…
  • If you’ve bought too many pants that looked great on the box but sucked when you wore them, I’ve suffered the same. That’s why I’ve created these…
  • Tired of clunky invisiprim glitches? These boots use Viewer 2’s alpha masks so your legs look sexy wherever you go.

Express confidence in your product.

You'll like it better, or his name isn't Orville Redenbacher!
Which sounds better?

“I make beautiful jewelry, and hopefully you’ll enjoy buying it!”


“I make beautiful jewelry, and I know you’ll enjoy wearing it!”

The first sentence uses “buy”, which I’ll talk about a little at the end. That aside, the first sentence also says “hopefully”. I hope you’ll enjoy it. But I’m not sure. In the second sentence, I know you’ll enjoy it. It says, without directly stating, that I know I make good jewelry.

This is why you hear so many ads with phrases like, “Try it for a week, and you’ll agree…” or “We guarantee you’ll prefer ours” or “We’re so confident, we’ll back it up!”

You don’t have to use perfect grammar. But you do have to use good grammar.

Spell-check is your friend. So is proofreading. A product description riddled with spelling errors and bad grammar screams lazy. And if your description conveys laziness, guess what it also says about your product?

You don’t have to know the finer points of the semicolon to write a good description. But you do need to spell words correctly, and know the difference between there/their/they’re, your/you’re, and its/it’s.

Proof, and proof, and proof again. Have someone else look it over. Have a few someone elses look it over.

They have free Thesauruses out there.

Or is it thesauri? Anyway, they’re free, and they’re very useful. I make virtual food for a SL living and can only say “delicious” so many times before needing to change it up a bit.

Thankfully, is available to suggest appetizing, delectable, distinctive, fit for a king, mouthwatering, tempting, and yummy (among others).

Use this tool to make your descriptions more interesting (absorbing, alluring, captivating, compelling…)

How long should it be?

A good rule of thumb, based on my own experience, is about 3 short paragraphs. One introduces the item, the second describes how it works, the third is what’s known as a “call to action”, which just means asking the customer to get your item and telling them how. For example:

Awesome Products Inc. proudly presents its [Item]! This is a [results]-maker and so much more. Wait until you see how it creates beautiful and colorful shows for your club!

The [Item] has 24 different settings, can easily be configured by the owner, and comes with unlimited free updates. You just rez the [Item], wear the HUD, and you’re ready to go!

So get your [Item] today! If you don’t love it, we’ll give you a full refund. That’s how sure we are that you’ll go crazy over the [Item]. Still not convinced? Come visit our shop inworld to see the [Item] on display!

Awesome Things Inc.: Bringing the awesome things you can’t live without since 2009.

Finally: two words never to use.

Try to avoid using the words “buy” or “sell” when you describe your item. These words tend to have a negative impact on the customer, and may even subconsciously make them want to avoid your product!

So instead of “buy”: try “get”, “take home”, or even “use”.

Instead of “sell”: try “offer” or “provide”.

Put all these tools to work and you’re certain to have a Marketplace listing that will get attention, keep attention, and give customers the peace of mind they need to change browsing into buying. How certain? If you don’t have more sales, you’ll get a full refund for the money you spent on this blog article!

This article is listed in the SL Business section of the Know-it-All Pages, where you can find even more useful information. Go now, and see for yourself!



2 thoughts on “Writing an excellent Marketplace listing

  1. I like this. As shopper I did already see tons of products where I really wasn´t sure what I will buy. I think this can be a real problem if its a scripted object. I never would buy if I dont know what this thingy can do. So some merchants should really pay attention to your post. I know some SL residents are maybe good in scripting and some are good in building.. but all that is not enough if you do not have some basic marketing knowhow.

    So your post is really good. If we assume that we talk about customers who read. But my experience is also that there are many shoppers who dont read a single letter of your product. This is no fun.. this is really true.

    I had it several times that someone was complaining about my product which was called loud and clear “DEMO”.. and I double posted it in the product description. After explaining that to the customer.. he said.. I didn´t read that. And I had that often.
    In fact this is sad exspecialy if you write descriptions based on the basic rules you did write about here.

    I would understand those customers if they do not speak english. But sad is that they know english.

    So some customers have to learn some basic “shopping rules” as well. Not only in SL.. in fact also for RL. I never would purchase a product if I am not complety sure about it.. or if I do not have informations. Thats why I do not understand who these customers handle it in RL?

    But as I said.. that doesnt mean that your mentioned rules aren importend. No.. it really is. For those who like to know your produc tbetter.. a well written descrpiton is a must have.

    Btw. I could also take something out of this post. I think I did use the words “sell” or “buy” anywhere when I remember right. I will proof it and change it. You made a good point!

    Thanks for this post.

    1. If someone won’t read on an item that it’s clearly a DEMO, I believe that’s a case of living by the consequences of one’s (in)actions. I also think that it’s well within your right as a creator/seller to ignore questions that result from failure to read what’s present in the item’s name. And not only within your right; but will save you a lot of headaches besides.

      I don’t think a formal education of “shopping rules” is necessary. It’s a matter of cause and effect. If you buy something that says DEMO in its name and you aren’t happy because it is in fact just what it says in the name, that’s nobody’s fault but your own. Lesson learned (one should hope).

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