Writing Lesson From REI

REI is running its Labor Day sale, and the flyer I received from them contains gems of persuasive writing. In a two-page spread of tents and sleeping bags, notice how REI sells in just a few words:

  • For a tent: "Meet your family's second home. Taut and weather-worthy, the 4-person dome pitches easily so the kids can help and then be off exploring in no time."
  • For another tent: "Lighten your backpack (not your wallet) with this award-winning 2-person, 2-door tent."
  • For a sleeping bag: "Warm night? Place the side with less insulation on top. Cooler night? Flip it. You'll love the roomy fit and zip-open quilt option, not to mention the low price."
  • For another sleeping bag: "If cold-weather camping's your bag, or if cool nights feel cold to you, nab this temp- and budget-booster."
  • For a screen house: "Bye bye, bugs. Sets up over your picnic table or lounge area for shade and no-see-um mesh protection."
  • For an insulated pad: "Set your alarm, because you'll sleep like a log on this thick, insulated pad."

Here's what the copywriters at REI do well:

  • Focus on just one or two key benefits that will grab their readers.
  • Use you and action verbs (lighten, place, set, flip) to put their readers in the outdoors using the REI equipment.
  • Use short, crisp sentences.
  • Use simple, specific language that paints a picture.

REI is one of my customers for business writing classes. They know the value of good writing, and they invest in business writing skills. Although I can't take credit for their copywriting department, I can certainly admire their work. Don't you?

If you are in the U.S., I wish you a happy, long Labor Day weekend. If you are elsewhere in the world, enjoy the beginning of September.

Syntax Training


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