An effective classified ad is divided into three parts: the title, the description, the contact detail.
The first few words are the most important. They determine whether someone reads your ad or moves on, so make your headline truly compelling. Write a headline that tells people exactly what you have to offer.
Here are some samples of a few good headlines: “Urgent need for sharing accommodation.” Urgent is a great word. This headline isn’t exactly earth shaking, but if the reader is looking for sharing, he/she’ll notice it.
“Math Tutor - Grade 5 10 12 Available” “Toyota Camry 2001 in excellent condition” These are just straightforward declarations about how a prospect will gain from your products or services. They’re short and direct.
Keep the ad focused. Write with your objective in mind. A classified isn't the place to list all of the advantages of buying from you or all of the models you offer. Stick to the points that help you reach your immediate objective.
Don’t advertise more than one product or service in one ad. This is for two reasons. The first is that most people only retain one idea at a time. Second, because most people notice only the first word or concept, they probably won’t see that what they want is the fourth item on your list. The bottom line is that you’ll increase your response if you write separate ads.
Eliminate the “puffery.” Meaningless words and phrases such as “best,” “highest quality” or “lowest price.” What means more, “the best toothpaste” or “recommended by four out of five dentists”? Use facts rather than claims like these. People don’t trust them any more.
The language you use is important. Make every word count. Use short sentences, write to an eighth-grade level and don’t talk in “corporatese.” Notice how all the ads in the classified section of the newspaper read the same? One sure-fire way to get people to notice your ad is to write like you talk.
Don’t use abbreviations unless you’re absolutely sure that 99.9% of the people who see the ad will understand them. Brevity is often a false economy, anyway. You need to say enough to get people to respond, but they’re not likely to do so if they don’t know what you’re offering, what problem you’re solving or how you’re better than the other guy.
Remember to sow what you want to reap. For example, if you mention a price in your ad, you’ll attract buyers for whom price is important. Ditto for quality, service and experience. Promote something you or your company is very good at, and then use other points to help close the sale.
The Contact Detail
This is often overlooked. Once you’ve made your point, tell customers what action to take in order to contact you. Having clear Name, Phone Number and Email address and time to contact will make it easy for your readers.