What makes a classified ad good or bad? What grabs a reader’s attention and compels them to act?
First of all, your classified ad must appeal to the reader, and as such, it must say exactly what you want it to say. Secondly, it has to say what it says in the least possible number of words in order to keep your operating costs within your budget. And thirdly, it has to produce the desired results whether inquiries or sales.
Grabbing the reader’s attention is your first objective. You must assume the reader is “scanning” the page on which your ad appears in the company of two or three hundred classified ads. Therefore, there has to be something about your ad that causes him to stop scanning and look at yours!
So, the first two or three words of your ad are of the utmost importance and deserve your careful consideration. Most surveys show that words or phrases that quickly involve the reader, tend to be the best attention-grabbers. Words such as free, win, and save, are examples.
Whatever opening words you use as attention-grabbers you should bear in mind that they’ll be competing with similar attention-grabbers of the other ads on the same page. Therefore, in addition to your lead words your ad must quickly go on to promise or state further benefits to the reader. In other words, your ad might open with something like this: Save Big! Free Sample!
In the language of professional copywriters, you’ve grabbed the attention of your prospect, and interested him with something that even he can do.
The next rule of good classified copywriting has to do with the arousal of the reader’s desire to get in on your offer. In a great many instances, this rule is by-passed, and it appears, this is the real reason that an ad doesn’t pull according to the expectations of the advertiser.
Think about it – you’ve got your reader’s attention; you’ve told him it’s easy and simple; and you’re about to ask him to do something. Unless you take the time to further entice, your ad is going to be half effective. He’ll compare your ad with the others that have grabbed his attention and finally decide upon the one that interests him the most.
What is being said is that here is the place for you to insert that magic word “guaranteed” or some other such word or phrase. So now, we’ve got an ad that reads: Save Big. Free Sample! Guaranteed Results!
Now the reader is turned on, and in his mind, he can’t lose. You’re ready to ask for his money. This is the “demand for action” part of your ad. This is the part where you want to use such words as: Limited time offer! Act now! Call today!
These are the ingredients of any good classified ad – Attention – Interest – Desire – Action… Without these four ingredients skillfully integrated into your ad, chances are your ad will just “lie there” and not do anything but cost you money.
To summarize: 1) You’ve got to grab the reader’s attention. 2) You’ve got to “interest him” with something that appeals to him. 3) You’ve got to “further stimulate” him with something (catch-phrase) that makes him “desire” the product or service. 4) Demand that he act immediately.
There’s no point in being tricky or clever. Just adhere to the basics and your profits will increase accordingly. One of the best ways of learning to write good classified ads is to study the classifieds – try to figure out exactly what they’re attempting to sell – and then practice rewriting them according to the rules we’ve just given you. Whenever you sit down to write a classified, always write it all out – write down everything you want to say – and then go back over it, crossing out words, and refining your phraseology.