BiddingForGood’s Tips for Writing Effective Item Descriptions

I’ve received many calls from bidders, over the years, with lots of questions about an item due to important information missing from the description such as:

Writing Tools1. Where are the seats?

2. Can I book my stay anytime I want?

3. Do I have to pay for shipping costs?

4. Does this include airfare?

5. Is there a certificate of authenticity?

Many BiddingForGood bidders won’t bother to seek out the answers. They’ll just look for a different item to bid on. Sometimes they may move on to another auction. We have added the ‘Ask A Seller’ link to each item to allow bidders to submit these questions to you and to help prevent you from losing bids due to unanswered questions. Even with this feature, you may lose out on bids if you don’t have complete descriptions.

So how do you write clear descriptions that will also prompt bidders to bid? Here are some things to consider:

1. What questions need to be answered?

Think about all the possible questions that might arise about an item. Let’s say you’ve got some great tickets for an upcoming concert. Don’t forget to include the date of the concert, the location of the concert, what time it starts, where the seats are located, and if parking is included or not. These may seem like obvious points, but you can’t assume your bidders already know the answers.

2. What can you do to make the item sound more enticing?

Let’s say you have a $100 gift card to a nearby restaurant. Having a description that just reads “$100 Gift card to Restaurant X. Expires 1/1/2013” isn’t very exciting. Why not try something more like:

“Enjoy a marvelous dining experience at a local Italian eatery! Whether it’s a much needed date night with your husband or wife, a meal for the whole family, or a night out with friends you can have a wonderful meal and help our school reach our fundraising goals! It’s good through 1/1/2013, so you’ve got lots of time to plan your outing and make it one to remember!”

3. Are there any special restrictions?

This is one of the most important pieces of information. Blackout dates, expiration dates, and any other restrictions should be included in your Item Special Note. Also, if you’re going to charge your bidder for shipping costs, be sure to include that as well. It’s best to be up front and clear on these details from the beginning. Your bidders will appreciate it, and it will help to prevent post auction confusion!

Most importantly, once you’ve written your description, step back and read it as if you were a bidder. Does this description make you want to bid on the item? What isn’t clear? What questions aren’t answered? If you find you don’t have the answers to any of these questions, don’t hesitate to contact the donor for the answers. Make it easy for your bidders to decide to bid now!

Posted by Alice Curley.

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