The most important aspect of any business is selling the product
or service. Without sales, no business can exist for very long.
All sales begin with some form of advertising. To build sales,
this advertising must be seen or heard by potential buyers, and
cause them to react to the advertising in some way. The credit
for the success, or the blame for the failure of almost all ads,
reverts back to the ad itself.
Generally, the "ad writer" wants the prospect to do one of the
Visit the store to see and judge the product for himself, or
immediately write a check and send for the merchandise being
Phone for an appointment to hear the full sales presentation, or
write for futher information which amounts to the same thing.
The bottom line in any ad is quite simple:
To make the reader buy the product or service. Any ad that causes
the reader to only pause in his thinking, to just admire the
product, or to simply believe what is written about the
product--is not doing it's job completely.
The "ad writer" must know exactly what he wants his reader to do,
and any ad that does not elicit the desired action is an absolute
waste of time and money.
In order to elicit the desired action from the prospect, all ads
are written according to a simple "master formula" which is:
1) Attract the ATTENTION of your prospect
2) INTEREST your prospect in the product
3) Cause your prospect to DESIRE the product
4) Demand ACTION from the prospect
Never forget the basic rule of advertising copywriting; If the ad
is not read, it won't stimulate any sales, if it is not seen, it
cannot be read; and if it does not command or grab the attention
of the reader, it will not be seen!
Most successful advertising copywriters know these fundamentals
backwards and forwards. Whether you know them already or you're
just now being exposed to them, your knowledge and practice of
these fundamentals will determine the extent of your success as
an advertising copywriter.
Classified ads are the ads from which all successful businesses
are started. These small, relatively inexpensive ads, give the
beginner an opportunity to advertise his product or service
without losing his shirt if the ad doesn't pull or the people
don't break his door down with demand for his product. Classified
ads are written according to all the advertising rules. What is
said in a classified ad is the same that is said in an larger,
more elaborate type of ad, expecting in condensed form.
To start learning how to write good classified ads, clip ten
classified ads from ten different mail order type
publications--ads that you think are pretty good. Paste each of
these ads onto a separate sheet of paper.
Analyze each of these ads; How has the writer attracted your
attention--what about the ads keeps your interest--are you
stimulated to want to know more about the product being
advertised--and finally, what action must you take? Are all of
these points covered in the ad? How strongly are you "turned on"
by each of these ads?
Rate these ads on a scale form one to ten, with ten being the
best according to the formula I've given you. Now, just for
practice, without, clipping the ads, do the same thing with ten
different ads from Sears, Wards, or The Penny's catalog. In fact,
every ad you see from now on, quickly analyze it, and rate it
somewhere on your scale. If you'll practice this exercise on a
regular basis, you'll soon be able to quickly recognize the
"Power Points" of any ad you see, and know within your own mind
whether an ad is good, bad, or otherwise, and what makes it so.
Practice for an hour each day, write the ads you've rated 8, 9,
and 10 exactly as they have been written. This will give you the
"feel" of the fundamentals and style necessary in writing
Your next project will be to pick out what you consider to be the
ten 'worst' ads you can find in the classified section. Clip
these out and paste them onto a sheet of paper so you can work
Read these ads over a couple of times, and then beside each of
them, write a short comment why you think it is bad; Lost in the
crowd, doesn't attract attention--doesn't hold the readers
interest--nothing special to make the reader want to own the
product--no demand for action.
You probably already know what is coming next, and that is right.
Break out those pencils, erasers and scratch paper-- and start
rewriting these ads to include the missing elements.
Each day for the next month, practice writing the ten best ads
for an hour, just the way the were originally written. Pick out
the ten worst ads, analyze those ads, and then practice rewriting
those until they measure up to doing the job they were intended
Once you're satisfied that the ads you've rewritten are perfect,
go back into each ad and cross out the words that can be
eliminated without detracting from the ad. Classified ads are
almost always "finalized" in the style of a telegram.
EXAMPLE; I'll arrive at 2-o'clock tomorrow afternoon, the 15th.
Meet me at Sardi's. All my love, Jim.
EDITED FOR SENDING; Arrive at 2-pm-15th Sardi's. Love, Jim.
CLASSIFIED AD; Save on your food bills! Reduced prices on every
shelf in the store! Stock up now while supplies are complete!
Come in today, Jerrys' Family Supermarket!
EDITED FOR PUBLICATION; Save on Food! Everything bargain priced!
Limited supplies! Hurry! Jerry's Markets!
It takes dedicated and regular practice, but you can do it.
Simply recognize and understand the basic formula--practice
reading and writing the good ones--and rewriting the bad ones to
make them better. Practice, and keep at ie, over and over, every
day--until the formula, the idea, and the feel of this kind of ad
writing becomes second nature to you. This is the ONLY WAY to
gain expertise writing good classified ads.
A display or space ad differs from a classified ad because it has
headline, layout, and because the style is not telegraphic.
However, the fundamentals of writing the display ad or space are
exactly the same as for a classified ad. The basic difference is
that you have more room in which to emphasize the "master
Most successful copywriters rate the headline and/or the lead
sentence of an ad as the most important part of the ad, in
reality, you should do the same. After all, when your ad is
surrounded by hundreds of other ads, and information or
entertainment, what makes you thing anyone is going to see your
The truth is, they're not going to see your ad unless you can
"grab" their attention and entice them to real all of what your
have to say. Your headline, or lead sentence when no headline is
used, has to make it MORE DIFFICULT for your prospect to ignore,
or pass over, than to stop and read your ad. If you don't capture
the attention of your reader with your headline, anything beyond
is useless effort and wasted money.
Successful advertising headlines--in classified ads, your first
three to five words serve as your headline--are written as
promises, either implied or direct. The former promises to show
you how to save money, make money, or attain a desired goal. The
latter is a warning against something undesireable.
Example OF A PROMISE; Are You Ready To Become A Millionaire--In
Just 18 Months?
EXAMPLE OF A WARNING; Do You Make These Mistakes In English?
In both examples. I have posed a question as the headline.
Headlines that ask a question seem to attract the reader's
attention almost as surely as a moth is drawn to a flame. Once he
has seen the question, he just can't seem to keep himself from
reading the rest of the ad to find out the answer. The best
headline questions are those that challenge the reader; that
involve his self esteem, and do not allow him to dismiss you
question with a simple yes or no.
You'll be the envy of your friends is another kind of "reader
appeal" to incorporate into your headline whenever appropriate.
The appeal has to do with basic psychology; everyone wants to be
well thought of and consequently, will read into the body of your
ad and find out how he can gain the respect and accolades of his
Where ever and whenever possible, use colloquialisms or words
that are usually found in advertisements. The idea is to shock or
shake the reade out of his reverie and cause him to take notice
of your ad. Most of the headlines you see today in and day out,
have a certain sameness with just the words rearranged. The
reader may see these headlines with his eyes, but his brain fails
to focus on any of them because there is nothing different or out
of the ordinary to arrest his attention.
Example OF COLLOQUIALISM; Are You Developing A POT BELLY?
Another attention--grabber kind of headline is the comparative
price headline; Three For only $3, Regularly $3 Each! Still
another of the "tried and proven" kind of headlines is the
specific question; Do You Suffer From These Symptoms. And of
course, if you offer a strong guarantee, you should say so in
your headline; Your Money Refunded, If You Don't Make $100,000
Your First Year.
How To headlines have a very strong basic appeal, but in some
instances, they are better used as book titles than advertising
headlines. Who else wants in on the finer things--which your
product or service presumably offers--is another approach with a
strong reader appeal. The psychology here being the need of
everyone to belong to a group--complete with status and prestige
Whenever, and as often as you can possibly work it in, you should
use the word "you" in your headline, and throughout your copy.
After all, your ad should be directed to "one" person, and the
person reading your ad wants to feel that you're talking to him
personally, not everyone who lives on his street.
Personalize, and be specific! You can throw the teachings of your
English teachers out the window, and the rules of "third person,
singular" or whatever else tends to inhibit your writing.
Whenever you sit down to write advertising copy intended to pull
the orders--sell the product--you should picture yourself in a
one-on-one situation and "talk" to your reader just as if you are
sitting across from him at your dining room table. Say what you
mean, and sell HIM on the product your offering. Be specific and
ask him if these are the things that bother him--are these the
things he wants--and he is the one you want to buy the product...
The layout you devise for your ad, or the frame you build around
it, should also command attention. either make it so spectacular
that it stands out like a lobster at a chili dinner, or so
uncommonly simple that it catches the reader's eye because of its
very simplicity. It's also important that you don't get cute with
a lot of unrelated graphics and artwork. Your ad should convey th
feeling of excitement and movement, but should not tire the eyes
or disrupt the flow the message you are trying to present.
Any graphics or artwork you use should be relevant to your
product, its use and/ or the copy you've written about it.
Graphics should not be used as artistic touches, or to create an
atmosphere. Any illustrates with your ad should compliment the
selling of your product, and prove or substantiate specific
points in your copy.
Once you have your reader's attention, the only way you're going
to keep it, is by quickly and emphatically telling him what your
product will do for him.
Your potential buyer doesn't care in the least how long it's
taken you to produce the product, how long you have been in
business, nor how many years you have spent learning your craft.
He wants to know specifically how he's going to benefit from the
purchase of your product.
Generally, his wants will fall into one of the following
categories: Better health, more comfort, more money, more leisure
time, more popularity, greater beauty, success and/or security.
Even though you have your reader's attention, you must follow
through with an ennumeration of the benefits he can gain. In
essence, you must reiterate the advantages, comfort and happiness
he will enjoy--as you have implied in your headline.
Mentally picture your prospect--determine his wants and emotional
needs--put yourself in his shoes, and ask yourself: If I were
reading this ad, what are the things that would appeal to me?
write your copy to appeal to your reader's wants and emotional
Remember, it's not the "safety features" that have sold cars for
the past 50 years--nor has it been the need of transportation--it
has been, and almost certainly always will be the advertising
writer's recognition of the people's wants and emotional
needs/ego cravings. Visualize your prospect, recognize what he
wants: and satisfy them. Writing good advertising copy is nothing
more or less than knowing "who" your buyers are; recognizing what
he wants; and telling him how your product will fulfill each of
those wants. Remember this because it's one of the "vitally
important" keys to writing advertising copy that does the job you
intend for it to do.
The "desire" portion of your ad is where you present the facts of
your product; create and justify your prospect's conviction, and
cause him to demand "a piece of the action" for himself.
It's vitally necessary that you present "proven facts" about your
product because survey results show that at least 80% of the
people reading your ad--especially those reading it for the first
time--will tend to question its authenticity.
So, the more facts you can present in the ad, the more credible
your offer. As you write this part of your ad, always remember
that the more facts about the product you present, the more
product you'll sell. People want facts as reason, and/or excuses
for buying a product--to justify to themselves and others, that
they haven't been "taken" by a slick copywriter.
It's like the girl who wants to marry the guy her father calls
a "no good bum". Her heart--her emotions--tell her yes, but she
needs facts to nullify the seed od doubt lingering in her
mind--to rationalize her decision to go on with the wedding.
In other words, the "desire" portion of your ad has to build
belief and credibility in mind of your prospect. It has to assure
him of his good judgement in the final decision to buy- furnish
evidence of the benefits you've promised--and afford him a
"safety net" in case anyone should question his decision to buy.
People tend to believe the things that appeal to their individual
desires, fears and other emotions. Once you've established a
belief in this manner, logic and reasoning are used to support
it. People believe what they "want to believe. Your reader
"wants" to believe your ad if he has read through this far--it's
up to you to support his initial desire.
Study your product and everything about it--visualize the wants
of your prospective buyers--dig up the facts, and you'll almost
always find plenty of facts to support the buyer's reason for
Here is where you use the results of tests conducted, growing
sales figures to prove increasing popularity, and "user"
testimonials or endorsements. It's also important that you
present these facts-test results, sales figures and/or
testimonials-from the consumer point of view, and not that of the
Before you end this portion of your ad and get into you demand
for action, summarize everything you've presented thus far. Draw
a mental picture for your potential buyer. Let him image owning
the product. Induce him to visualize all the benefits you've
promised. Give him the keys to seeing himself richer, enjoying
luxury, having time to do whatever he'd like to do, and with all
of his dreams fulfilled.
This can be handled in one or two sentences, or spelled out in a
paragraph or more, but it's the absolute ingredient you must
include prior to closing the sale. Study all the sales
presentations you've ever heard-look at every winning ad-this is
the element included in all of them that actually makes the sale
for you. remember it, use it, and don't try to sell anything
As Victor Schwab puts so succinctly in his best selling book, How
To Write a Good Advertisement: Every one of the fundamentals in
the "master formula" is necessary. Those people who are "easy" to
sell may perhaps be sold even if some of these factors are left
out, but it's wiser to plan advertisement so that it will have a
powerful impact upon those who are the "hardest" to sell. For,
unlike face-to-face selling, we cannot in printed advertising
come to a "trail close" in our sales talk-in order to see if
those who are easier to sell will welcome the dotted line without
further persuasion. We must assume that we are talking to the
hardest ones-and that the more thoroughly our copy sells both the
hard and the easy, the better chance we have against the
competition for the consumer's dollar-and also the less dependent
we will be upon the usual completely ineffective follow-through
on our advertising effort which later takes place at the sales
ASK FOR ACTION! DEMAND THE MONEY!
Lots of ads are beautiful, almost perfectly written, and quite
convincing-yet they fail to ask for or demand action from the
reader. If you want the reader to have your product, then tell
him so and demand that he send his money now. Unless you enjoy
entertaining your prospects with your beautiful writing skills,
always demand that he complete the sale now, by taking action
now-by calling a telephone number and ordering, or by writing his
check and rushing it to the post office.
Once you've got him on the hook, land him! Don't let him get
Probably, one of the most common and best methods of moving the
reader to act now, is written in some of the following:
All of this can be yours! You can start enjoying this new way of
life immediately, simply by sending a check for $xx! don't put it
off, then later wish you had gotten in on the ground floor! Make
out that check now, and be IN on the ground floor! Act now, and
as an "early bird" buyer, we'll include a big bonus
package-absolutely free, simply for acting immediately! You win
all the way! We take all the risk! If you're not satisfied simply
return the product and we'll quickly refund your money! Do it
now! Get that check on its way to us today, and receive the big
bonus package! After next week, we won't be able to include the
bonus as a part of this fantastic deal, so act now! The sooner
you act, the more you win!
Offering a reward of some kind will almost always stimulate the
prospect to take action. However, in mentioning the reward or
bonus, be very careful that you don't end up receiving primarily
requests for the bonus with mountains of request for refunds on
the product to follow. The bonus should be mentioned only
casually if you're asking for product orders; and with lots of
fanfare only when you're seeking inquiries.
Too often the copywriter, in his enthusiasm to pull in a record
number of responses, confuse the reader by "forgetting about the
product" and devoting his entire space allotted for the "demand
for action" to sending for the bonus. Any reward offered should
be closely related to the product, and a bonus offered only for
immediate action on the part of the potential buyer.
Specify a time limit. Tell your prospect that he must act within
a certain time limit or lose out on the bonus, face probably
higher prices, or even the withdraw of your offer. This is always
a good hook to get action.
Any kind of guarantee you offer always helps to produce action
from the prospect. And the more liberal you can make your
guarantee, the more product orders you'll receive. Be sure you
state the guarantee clearly and simply. Make it so easy to
understand that even a child would not misinterpret what you're
The action you want your prospect to take should be easy-clearly
stated-and devoid of any complicated procedural steps on his
part, or numerous directions for him to follow.
Picture your prospect, very comfortable in his favorite easy
chair, idly flipping thru a magazine while "half watching" tv. He
notices your ad, reads thru it, and he is sold on your product.
Now what does he do?
Remember, he is very comfortable-you've "grabbed" his attention,
sparked his interest, painted a picture of him enjoying a new
kind of satisfaction, and he is ready to buy...
Anything and everything you ask or cause him to do is going to
disrupt this aura of comfort and contentment. Whatever he must do
had better be simple, quick and easy!
Tell him without any ifs, ands or buts, what to do-fill out the
coupon, include your check for the full amount, and send it in to
us today! Make it as easy for him as you possibly can-simple and
direct. And by all means, make sure your address is on the order
form he is supposed to complete and mail in to you-your name and
address on the order form, as well as just above it. People
sometimes fill out the coupon, tear it off, seal it in an
envelope and don't know where to send it. The easier you make it
for him to respond, the more responses you'll get!
There you have it, a complete short course on how to write ads
that will pull more orders for you-sell more of your product for
you. It's important to learn "why" ads are written as they are-to
understand and use, the "master formula" in your own ad writing
By conscientiously studying good advertising copy, and practice
in writing ads of your own, now that you have the knowledge and
understand what makes advertising copy work, you should be able
to quickly develop your copywriting abilities to produce order
pulling ads for your own products. Even so, and once you do
become proficient in writing ads for your own products, you must
never stop "noticing" how ads are written, designed and put
together by other people. To stop learning would be comparable to
shutting yourself off from the rest of the world.
The best ad writers are people with the world in which they live.
Everytime they see a good ad, they clip it out and save it.
Regularly, they pull out these files of good ads and study them,
always analyzing what makes them good, and why they work. there
is no school in the country that can give you the same kind of
education and expertise so necessary in the field of ad writing.
You must keep yourself up-to-date, aware of, and in-the-know
about the other guy-his innovations, style changes, and the
methods he is using to sell his product. On-the-job
training-study and practice-that's what it takes- and if you've
got that burning ambition to succeed, you can do it too!
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1) WHAT IS THE MOST PROFITABLE WAY TO USE CLASSIFIEDS...
Classifieds are best used to build your mailing list of qualified
prospects. Use classifieds to offer a free catalog, booklet or
report relative to your product line.
2) WHAT CAN YOU SELL "DIRECTLY" FROM CLASSIFIEDS...
Generally, anything and everything, so long as it doesn't cost
more than five dollars which is about the most people will pay in
response to an offer in the classifieds. These types of ads are
great for pulling inquires such as: Write for further
information; Send $3, get two for the price of one; Dealers
wanted, send for product info and a real money making kit!
3) WHAT ARE THE BEST MONTHS OF THE YEAR TO ADVERTISE...
All twelve months of the year! Responses to your ads during some
months will be slower in accumulating, but by keying your ads
according to the month they appear, and a careful tabulation of
your returns from each keyed ad, you'll see that steady year
round advertising will continue to pull orders for you,
regardless of the month it's published. I've personally received
inquires and orders from ads placed as long as 2 years previous
to the date of the response!
4) ARE MAIL ORDER PUBLICATIONS GOOD ADVERTISING BUYS...
The least effective are the ad sheets. most of the ads in these
publications are "exchange ads", meaning that the publisher of ad
sheet "A" runs the ads of publisher "B" without charge, because
publisher "B" is running the ads of publisher "A" without charge.
The "claimed" circulation figures of these publications are
almost always based on "wishes, hopes and wants" while the "true"
circulation goes out to similar small, part time mail order
dealers. Very poor medium for investing advertising dollars
because everyone receiving a copy is a "seller" and nobody is
buying. When an ad sheet is received by someone not involved in
mail order, it's usually given a cursory glance and then
discarded as "junk mail".
Tabloid newspaper are slightly better than the ad sheets, but not
by much! The important difference with the tabloids is in the
"helpful information" articles they try to carry for the mail
order beginner. A "fair media" recruiting dealers or independent
sales reps for mail order products, and for renting mailing
lists, but still circulated among "sellers" with very few buyers.
Besides that, the life of a mail order tab sheet is about the
same as a daily newspaper.
With mail order magazines, it depends on the quality of the
publication and its business concepts. Some mail order magazines
are nothing more than expanded ad sheets, while others--such as
BOOK BUSINESS MART- strive to help the opportunity seekers with
an on going advice and tips he can use in the development and
growth of his own wealth building projects. BOOK BUSINESS MART is
not just the fastest growing publication on the mail order scene
today; it's also the first publication in more than 20 years to
offer real help anyone can use in achieving his own version of
the "American Dream" of building one's own business from a
"shoestring beginning" into a multi-million dollar empire!
5) HOW CAN I DECIDE WHERE TO ADVERTISE MY PRODUCT...
First of all, you have to determine who your prospective buyers
are. Then do a little bit of market research. Talk to your
friends, neighbors and people at random who might fit this
profile. Ask them if they would be interested in a product such
as yours, and then ask them which publications they read. Next,
go to your public library for a listing of the publications of
this type from the Standard Rate & Data Service catalogs.
Make a list of the addresses, circulation figures, reader
demographics and advertising and decide which is the true costs
of your advertising and decide which is the better buy, divide
the total audited circulation figure into the cost for a one inch
ad; $10 per inch with a publication showing 10,000 circulation
would be 10,000 into $10 or 10 cents per thousands. Looking at
the advertising rates for BOOK BUSINESS MART, you would tale
42,500 into $15 for and advertising rate of less then THREE
TENTHS OF ONE CENT PER THOUSAND. Obviously, your best buy in this
case would be BOOK BUSINESS MART because of the lowest price per
Write and ask for a sample copies of the magazines you've
tentatively chosen to place your advertising in. Look over their
advertising-be sure that they don't or won't put your ad in the
"gutter" which is the inside column next to the binding. How many
other mail order type ads are they carrying-you want to go with a
publication that is busy, not one that has only a few ads. The
more ads in the publication, the better response the advertisers
are getting, or else they wouldn't be investing their money in
To "properly" test your ad, you should let it run thru at least
three consecutive issues of any publication. If your responses
are small, try a different publication. Then, if your responses
are still small, look at your ad and think about rewriting it for
greater appeal, and pulling power. In a great many instances,
it's the ad not the publication's pulling power that is at fault!