How to Write a Successful Classified Ad

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When you hear the term “classified ad”, you may think of those short, often cheesy black-and-white ads at the back of a newspaper. These days, classified ads are quite different. In fact, classified ads are found in many different mediums besides print newspapers.

Select the Right Publication for Your Audience

The first step to writing a successful classified ad is to choose the right publication for your target audience segment. Options include:

  • Print newspapers and magazines
  • Online newspapers and magazines
  • Social media ads
  • Website banner ads
  • Online marketplaces

Consider the audience to whom you are writing. For example, if you are posting a job ad for an administrative assistant, you may want to publish a classified ad in a local newspaper or in a local social media job search group. If you are promoting a specific sales offer for your e-commerce website that sells baby clothes, you may consider publishing ads on mommy forum websites or online magazines.

Make Your Headline Stand Out

The most important part of your classified ad is the headline. This is what your audience will read first, so it is important to hook them with engaging, powerful messaging that makes them want to take the next step. If your headline does not grab your audience’s attention, they will not read the rest of your ad.

Your headline should be tailored to your target audience. It should speak to the problem your business solves. If you are writing a job ad for a customer service rep, an ineffective headline is “Work at PetFoodsRUs”. It does not tell the readers what the job is or why they should work for you.

Instead, a headline like “Are you the next customer service representative at PetFoodsRUs?” or “Do you love working with people and talking about pets?” tells the readers exactly what you offer and speaks to their interests.

Carefully Craft Your Messaging

Once your readers are hooked with the headline, they may read the body of your ad. The goal of this section is to compel the reader to take action. Your ad copy should be short, direct and highly targeted to the reader.

While there are many copywriting techniques, one that is effective in ad writing is called PAS. The PAS formula starts with the problem the customer is facing, then it agitates the problem by making it seem really bad and then it provides the solution to that problem, which is your business.

Review competitive ads in the publications in which you want to advertise to get a feel for what will be sharing the space and what else your audience may be reading. When you are classified content writing, try to distill your message into a few short lines to keep your audience's attention, following the PAS formula.

Provide a Strong Call to Action

A classified ad template should always include a call to action. This is the next step you want readers to take. Calls to action may include:

  • Clicking a button
  • Calling a number
  • Booking an appointment
  • Making a purchase

Always use clear and simple language in your call to action so your readers know exactly what they have to do next. For example, a job ad call to action that says “Call us to learn more about the job” is not as effective as “Apply here” and linking to a job description with a form to apply for the job.

Sample Classified Ads for Business Opportunities

The perfect summer job for people who love food!

Need to make some extra cash while you are off school this summer? Work at Stacey’s Bakery as a cashier! If you love the smell of fresh bread and gourmet donuts and want to help people pick out the perfect baked treat, then this job is for you. No experience required. Apply here today.

Is your dry skin causing itchiness and pain?

You do not have to live with cracked, dry skin. Mama’s Homemade Skin Cream is designed to leave your skin feeling soft and smooth without the use of harsh chemicals and additives. Get yours this Saturday at the farmer's market.

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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