I will leave behind a lovingly crafted product listing for a coffee machine. Feel free to use it. A quick copy and paste should do the job. No, no, I insist. Please go ahead. Be my guest says Gill Booles.
Once I’ve joined the coffee grounds, it’s likely to be my greatest legacy. My words will live on in countless active listings in cyberspace.
You see I couldn’t bring myself to lift the manufacturer’s descriptor or another eBay listing.
Copy the specification from a catalogue or shop website, well meaning friends advised. I soon realised that’s what most sellers on eBay do (against eBay rules, but hey who’s looking?).
It wasn’t so much the plagiarism, and fear of being caught out, more the image of Davidson that stopped me. You see I just couldn’t shake the image of Davidson, the copywriter who’d not been at the meeting the day when they decided to name the new machine. When the manufacturer asked for a volunteer to write the product descriptor, someone had promised ‘we’ll get Davidson onto it immediately’. How Davidson had honed his words, still prevaricating as the print deadline loomed, finally springing from his seat, to declare ‘an automatic hot milk frother and cup warmer’ as the final line.
How can I copy and paste his words? I can’t. Instead I sat down and spent a couple of hours drafting my version. Factoring in my hourly copywriting rate and I’ve probably made a loss.
But I’ve rationalised the decision. My reasoning goes like this.
If everyone uses the same descriptor mine will stand out by being different (not necessarily better, but even different combination of words attracts the eye).
I can use words to persuade someone to buy – it customises your coffee, the outcome is cafe-quality coffee without the barista prices.
Let the others stick to a list of features; it’s lazy writing and says nothing beyond ‘this machine makes coffee’. But the reader is also lazy. They won’t make the effort to interpret the list as a luxury appliance which will impress friends and family.
So the argument for not copying and pasting…it seems to have worked – there are several coffee machines by this manufacturer, this model and in similar condition. But I like to think the reason mine has proven so popular and achieved the highest sales price is the result of my words.
The next person who lists a coffee machine is welcome to use my words. They are out there. I look forward to seeing them in years to come. I’ll be watching, wherever I am.
But tell me, what do you think?