Everybody wants to make more money. In fact, most people would like to hit upon something that makes them fabulously rich! And seemingly, one of the easiest roads to the fulfillment of these dreams of wealth is mail order or within the professional circles of the business, direct mail selling.
The only thing is, hardly anyone gives much real thought to the basic ingredient of selling by mail – the writing of profitable classified ads. If your mail order business is to succeed, then you must acquire the expertise of writing classified ads that sell your product or services!
Many advertisers think that writing classified ads is completely different than writing longer print ads, which contain a headline, body text and possibly a picture or two. However, to write a successful classified ad, all the time-honored elements of successful advertising must be present.
Large print ads include a headline to gather attention, introductory body copy to inform and generate added interest, additional body copy to create enthusiasm and desire to make a purchase and a call to action that invites the reader to take the steps necessary to start the purchasing process.
In advertising circles, these four features are often designated by the acronym “A.I.D.A.,” which stands for:
Interest (body text)
Desire (added body text)
Action (call to action).
So what makes a classified ad good or bad? First of all, it 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. Such words as FREE… WIN… MAKE BIG MONEY…
Whatever words you use as attention-grabbers, to start your ads, 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 read something like this: MAKE BIG MONEY! Easy & Simple. We show you how!
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 “want your offer,” your ad is going to only half turn him on. 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: MAKE BIG MONEY! Easy & Simple. Guaranteed!
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. What we’ve just shown you is a basic classified ad. Although such an ad could be placed in any leading publication and would pull a good response, it’s known as a “blind ad” and would pull inquiries and responses from a whole spectrum of people reading the publication in which it appeared. In other words, from as many “time-wasters” as from bonafide buyers.
So let’s try to give you an example of the kind of classified ad you might want to use, say to sell a report such as this one… Using all the rules of basic advertising copywriting, and stating exactly what our product is, our ad reads thusly:
The point we’re making is that:
l) 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.
The final ingredient of your classified ad is, of course, your name, address to which the reader is to respond – where he’s to send his money or how to get for further information.
Generally speaking, readers respond more often to ads that include a name than to those showing just initials or an address only. However, because advertising costs are based on the number of words or the amount of space your ad uses, the use of some names in classified ads could become
quite expensive. If we were to ask our ad respondents to write to or send their money to The Research Writers & Publishers Association, or to Book Business Mart, or even to Money Maker’s Opportunity Digest, our advertising
costs would be prohibitive. Thus we shorten our name Researchers or
Money-Makers. The point here is to think relative to the placement costs of
your ad, and to shorten excessively long names.
The essentials of a successful classified ad are no different. The shortness of most classified ads simply means that these essentials are broken down into basics.
All classified ads contain either a headline, which may be separate from the actual body copy, or a bolded first line or introductory words. This has to grab a reader immediately. Most classified ads, whether in newspapers, magazines or on Web site classified sections, are bunched in
with dozens of other classified ads. The reader’s attention will be caught only by a word or phrase that is of immediate, powerful interest.
Because of this, experienced ad writers suggest using proven key words in your headlines that attract the interest of readers. These key words and phrases include free, easy, simple, guaranteed, proven, new and money.
After grabbing the reader’s attention, you have to create interest and desire through copy that informs, stimulates, excites and shows how the product or service will benefit the reader. Sound easy? It’s not. Especially when writing classified ads that are often limited to one or two
lines. Veteran ad writers often claim that writing a successful classified ad is a tremendous challenge. Words have to be juggled. Sentences have to be pared down, then pared down again, then pared down even more to the briefest essence, while still informing and arousing interest. And, of
course, the final aspect of A.I.D.A., the call to action, must be written briefly yet with enough force to entice a reader to proceed.
How to achieve all this in your own classified ads? The best way is to first study other successful ads, in light of the A.I.D.A formula is shown above. When studying classified ads to see how the essentials of A.I.D.A. have been accomplished, you can begin to see how the experts achieve success–and you can begin to bring this expertise into your own writing.
How can you know when someone else’s ad has been successful? When an ad appears over and over for months or even years, you can be assured that it’s working. No one keeps running an unsuccessful ad. Find the successful ads that advertise products or services that are similar to yours, study
them and then begin incorporating them into your own classified advertising.
The same holds true when listing your post office box number. Shorten it to just plain Box 40, or in the case of a rural delivery, shorten it to just RRl.
The important thing is to know the rules of profitable classified ad writing, and to follow them. Hold your costs in line.