Tips On Writing a Successful Ad

When knowledge is based on truth it is powerful!

When it is critical knowledge, its presence can drive our success, while its absence may contribute to our failure. I will attempt to convey in this report some useful and practical knowledge about how to write awesome ads for the World Wide Web. It is my sincere belief that; if you act upon the suggestions that will be presented here, you may well be taking steps which will give your ad greater pulling power.

Web advertising takes many forms; web pages, classified ads, e-mail responses, news group postings, and even your signature file. No matter which form you employ unless your advertising is seen, nothing is sold. Being seen is of key importance.

However, a less considered but equally important factor is your viewing audience. Disregarding your audience results in the problem of "selling air conditioners to Eskimos." It just doesn't generate much interest. A reader who has no interest in your advertising material is not part of a qualified audience" and is not a potential customer.

Classified ads placed in the appropriate section for your product will naturally draw a qualified audience of potential customers. Ad placement within the section is the single most important factor determining whether or not your ad is seen within the section. Secondly, the content of your ad will determine which (and if) potential customers do in fact actually read your ad. When placing classified ads on the web some rules of thumb are:

  • Choose classifieds that have the largest number of ads because, this is generally a good indicator of how much reader traffic there will be for your classified.

  • Determine how the ads are ranked or sorted within the sections and attempt to be listed at or near the top.

  • Develop reader stopping ad content.


    The four essential ingredients of an awesome classified are:


    If your ad is missing any of these it is not an AWESOME Ad!

    ATTENTION: You must first get the readers attention. Picture him scanning the section of the classified page in which your ad is listed. For him or her it is much like which ride at the amusement park to take next. Something about your ad must grab their attention, to directs their focus toward your product.

    Since classified ads usually lack graphics, it then comes down to something about the words you use, or about the way you use them. Some web advertisers seem to think that if you use lots of !!! (exclamation marks)or *** (asterisks) or maybe MAKE IT ALL CAPS that this will draw their attention. The problem here is that:

    Everyone knows it's glitter and meant to get your attention. This may often interfere with the readers ability to take your words seriously. Subconsciously he may even expect your ad to be some kind of gimmick. Right or wrong, stereotype or not, my advise is let your words speak for themselves and steer clear of such tactics. We will discuss guidelines for choosing the right words later.

    INTEREST: The ad must have appeal. This is a good place to state the benefits or some attractive features of your product. Knowing the demographics of your readers or the category section your ad is placed in, helps in nderstanding their interests. What benefits of your product or service is most likely to appeal to this group? Develop a mental picture of some of the customers who would come from this demographic group, and will buy your product. What kinds of jobs do they have, cars do they drive... are they young, old, single, married...

    Having a mental picture of your audience is important when you want to understand their interests and know what benefits of your product you should spotlight.

    DESIRE: But appealing to their interest is not enough. The ad must then "further stimulate your reader." While interest can generally be obtained by the practical properties of your product, desire needs sparking by a more emotional reaction. Is there something about your product that will make them feel good, excited, confident, secure, hoperul or powerful? Think about what other emotions your product can ignite. Does your product appeal to a particular sense. Can the reader taste, hear, smell, see or hear your product. Realize that most actions which we take are sparked by desire and most desire is stimulated by feelings. We don't really desire money.

    We desire the feelings that we think money will bring us, whether they be happy, secure, or powerful. Yet, the word "money" may trigger the desire that triggers the feelings which we value and want to experience.

    ACTION: If your reader does not take action, then you are dead in the water. How do you get your reader to act? Believe it or not this is the simplest step. Simply use a directive. Psychologists tell us that when given a directive (unless obviously harmful) our first instinct is to comply. Turn to the person in the seat next to you, and in a slightly commanding voice say, "give me your pen for a minute"... chances are they will, and usually, without question, for no other reason than "you told them to." Don't say... "will you give me your pen for a minute" because now they have to think, and if they have to think they may refuse. In your ad simply say: "call this number now", "email me for details", "go to our website" etc. If the first three ingredients (attention, interest, and desire) have been well done, and the reader is a qualified customer.... they will most likely take the action you direct them to take.


    There are three ad types:

    Qualified - Partially Qualified - and Blind

    The qualified ad is specific and includes more detail about the product you are selling. Some products lend themselves to qualified ad content better than others. Hair pieces for men is an example. If your product is particularly "person dependent" use this type. Qualified ads will receive the least response but more of the responses which are received will result in sales.

    The partially qualified ad offers a special benefit, such as money or self- improvement. The readers have some idea of what you are offering, but don't know the specifics. If they are interested and desire your product they will follow your directive and send for more info. If you know where a partially qualified ad response comes from, you may be able to tailor your response to increase the percent of resulting sales.

    Blind ads offer only a few details, they are short, and bring in the largest response. However, blind ads produce the lowest percentage of actual orders per reponse, they are often answered just out of curiosity.


    Some words are more powerful than others. Saying, your ad must "spark your readers interest," is more powerful than saying, your ad must "get the readers attention." Why? because by using "spark," you can see something igniting within the reader, flaming their interst, and sense they are feeling some excitement. Yes, getting them to have feelings about your words is what you want to accomplish. It is the feelings that are attached to the words that give them power. Look at the list of words below and see if you can recognize the feelings behind the words, that give them power. If you are haveing trouble finding power words to use in your ad, it is probably because you are conce trating to hard on what words you want to use instead of what sorts of feelings you want the reader to feel. Decide on the feelings first and then experiment with the words that best convey them.

    Researchers at Yale University say that the twelve most POWERFUL words in the English language are:


  • EASY



  • LOVE


  • NEW



    0 SAFETY

  • SAVE

  • YOU

  • FREE - ( I just had to add this one in ! )

    The above list contains the type of attention getting words that you should try to include in your classified advertising ad title. Scan a bunch of classifieds (as many as necessary), picking out other such words from the title of the ads that attracted your attention. Do this until you have a list of about 50 words. Try to pick out the individual words and not the phrases. Phrases will come later. Keep this list at hand when you are designing your classified ad. Glance at the list occasionally while writing down possible titles for your ad. The title is the most important part of the ad. You may need to spend 90 percent of the time it takes to design your ad, just on the title alone.

    Now write down every word that you can possibly think of which describes a particular feature or benefit of your product. What do you always tell the customer about your product? Benefits - benefits -benefits! Features - features- features!

    Verbs and adjectives are great. Verbs because they show action and adjectives because they are descriptive. Active and descriptive words tend to have more enertia and cause us to react with feelings.

    Now let's put it all together and create a simple classified car ad.

    Want a Dependable Used Car that Looks Fantastic and Drives Great? 1994 Olds Cutlass - low mileage - automatic transmission - radio plays CD's -- tinted glass - factory air - great gas mileage - So "cherry" people will stare with envy when you drive by - Call today 555-5555 ask for Joe.

    Well, this one I did quickly. Maybe you can make it better. Anyway, now review the ad. Does the title grab the reader's attention. Does the ad offer features or benefits of interest to car buyers? Is some emotional desire created to further stimulate the reader? Does the ad direct the reader's action?

    Now go to it! Create your own awesome classified keeping the above thoughts in mind. Review your ad and check to see that all the important ingredients of a good ad are present. Find a classifieds site on the web with plenty of ads in a category related to your product. Get your ad listed first if you can. And wait for the response. "If you are not getting responses, then either change the title of the ad, change the wording, or Advertise in more locations!

    I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.

    About The Author

    David Bell

    Advertising research and development center

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