Four Steps To Writing a Great Classified Ad
Some people believe the day of the classified ad is over.
After all, no one reads newspapers anymore ... right?
And if you have something to sell you would just post it to Craigslist or Facebook ... right?
The TRUTH is much different!
You see, the truth is that many of the ads that work best online are nothing more than a classified ad with a new name!
I can say that because a classified ad follows this format ...
- Hook (or headline)
- Story (or body copy)
- Offer (or call to action)
In this short article you will learn HOW to craft a click-getting, sale-making, list-building classified style ad for any product you are promoting!
Sound good? Then keep reading!
Where can you use this?
First, let's look at where you can use this ad format.
You can use the classified ad format with ...
- All pay per click networks
- Email marketing
- Ezine advertising
- Banner ads
- And many more
The reason you see so many classified type ads online is simple.
EVERYONE IS IN A HURRY AND THESE ADS GET **READ**
These short, impactful ads work!
They work because ...
- Our attention spans are very short
- 100% of the ad is "above the fold"
- They can be scanned easily
- They call for action immediately
- They are CHEAP to run
- They are 99% headline and headlines are what get clicks
- They have been tested and are proven
How do you write this type of ad?
Writing classified ads is actually easy once you know how. One reason they are easy (once you know how) is because they are so short.
I believe it is accurate to say I have written thousands of these ads in my career.
Following is the formula I use for writing great classified ads so that you too can crank out profit pulling ads anytime you like!
If you want to add power to any of your advertising, consider following my four-step process.
First it is important to understand that there are three parts to these tiny little ads.
Each part works in harmony with the others to create an overall effect that causes the reader to do what you want them to do ... click on your ad and visit the site you are promoting!
As a refresher, the three parts of a great classified ad are:
- THE HOOK - Also called the headline.
- THE STORY - Also called the body copy.
- THE OFFER - Also called the call to action.
It is very important to understand that each part has ONE PURPOSE AND ONE PURPOSE ONLY.
When you think of ads in this way it becomes easier to create them because you will be using a "building block" approach.
Here's what you need to know.
- The ONLY purpose of the headline is to sell the ad.
- The ONLY purpose of the body copy is to set up the call to action.
- The ONLY purpose of the call to action is to sell the click.
I will explain what I mean in further detail below.
If you keep this in mind as you write you will see how easy it becomes to cause readers to take the action you want.
STEP 1 - THE HOOK (The Headline)
The headline's job is to sell the ad.
When I say "sell the ad" what I mean is that the headline convinces the reader that you have something to say - that they should continue reading the rest of the ad.
Because of this, there is one cardinal rule when writing any ad copy.
Your headline must grab attention!
Period. End of story.
Some people use sensational headlines with no relationship to their offer to grab attention.
That approach may work in the short term, but damages your integrity in the long run.
Honesty is always the best policy.
The last thing you want is disappointment when someone arrives at your website.
My advice is to avoid the temptation to hype up the headline thinking that will help. It will often hurt, not help.
Here are a few tips for writing great headlines.
- Begin with an action word
- Create curiosity
- Ask a question
- Make a startling statement
- Ask for the reader's opinion
There are many ways to craft a winning headline. I hope these help you get going.
Last tip: when writing headlines, always remember that people care about exactly one thing; what's in it for me?
STEP 2 - THE STORY (The Body Copy)
Every ad tells a story. The secret with short ads is to tell ONE story and one story only.
Don't let the word "story" trip you up. In this context, the word story simply means telling them WHY this product works.
If you are stuck here, use yourself as an example. A GREAT story would be something like ...
"I ran an ad and got 300 clicks!"
... or ...
"I finally tried keto and lost 16 pounds in three weeks!"
There is no time to make a list of reasons why they should click and buy.
In other words ... focus on ONE way that your product makes their life better.
The purpose of the body copy is to set up the call to action.
What I mean is this - the only reason your ad exists is to get the click to the website you are promoting.
But before asking for the click it is very important to give the reader the reason why they should click.
This "reason why" usually comes in the form of benefits.
This is the "what's in it for me" I mentioned earlier.
The body of the ad must tell your reader what's in it for them. What benefit will they get by making that click?
People don't want to 'learn more' out of idle curiosity.
Give them a reason to click. People don't want to "learn more" out of idle curiosity.
They want to learn more in order to get to the benefits you promised them, so don't be shy about what your offer will do for them.
The first step to writing the body is to list all the features of your product or service then, next to them, list the benefits of those features.
You must write at least one benefit for each feature, or don't use that feature.
People buy what your product or service will do for them, not only what it will do.
STEP 3 - THE OFFER (The Call To Action)
99.9% of the time the action you want the reader to take is clicking the link in your ad.
That's simple enough.
But how you ask them to do that can literally mean the difference between the success and failure of your ad!
I use an action word that includes the main benefit of the product I'm promoting.
So if I am promoting a product that helps people save time I might write "Save time today by visiting my site now!" instead of "Click here to save time"
Both are good, but the first one is stronger.
Why is it stronger? Because the reader wants to save time.
He or she does not want to "click here".
They will "click here" to get what they want but why make them interpret what they get for clicking when I can just say it straight out?
A subtle but important difference.
One reason that this is important is that your ad will be interrupting their current process.
No problem there.
In fact, most great ads are based on interruption of an existing pattern.
Some people like to call this "pattern interruption".
No matter what you call it, the thing to remember is this ...
You must LURE them away from what they are doing now in order to visit your site.
Your ad must LURE readers away from what they are doing now in order to get the click.
Make your call to action simple to understand and not at all tricky or something that has to be interpreted.
STEP 4 - PROOFREAD YOUR AD
One last step and you're ready to begin making money.
Don't forget to read your ad! Classifieds aren't supposed to read like a novel.
It does not matter if your ad is in "fragments" that your English teacher would dislike.
This ain't English class ... this is selling!
Check that spelling too!
Once you have your profit pulling classified written, don't forget the #1 rule in advertising.
The #1 rule - TEST YOUR AD!
Test, test and test again to know what works.
Testing allows you to spend small money now so you can make big money later.
By following these steps you will begin to create classified ads that work.
Once you have an ad that works, use it everywhere you can afford to and you will rake in the profits!
And that is a beautiful thing indeed!