Here is how to write an ad that works...

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Here is how to write an ad that works...

Post by K4ICL » Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:48 pm

How to Write a Successful Ad

The Classified site's average number of unique visitors, per day, is over 2,000. Over two thousand potential buyers could be reading your ad on any given day.

Every posted ad to sell or trade ham equipment competes with all other ads posted by all other sellers/traders. This means, to be truly competitive, your ad must be better than the others.

This set of suggestions is provided for those who want to improve their ad posting results. It is for those who wish to make a change and is offered in that spirit. Most responses to this display have been very positive while a few were neutral or negative. These "cause and effect" suggestions and observations are seen almost every day on the Classified site and are passed along in the spirit of helping you sell their equipment. The suggested procedures have been gained after years of experience observing and trading ham gear on the Internet. Some have been suggested by readers. They work for me but may not necessarily accepted by everyone. Such is the risk of offering unsolicited advise.

Suggestions and/or improvements are most welcome.

Happy selling… K4ICL


1. Don’t use any abusive or rude language in your ad. At all times treat your reader with respect and in the same manner you would want to be treated.

When a seller tells his ad readers he "will not answer any stupid questions," or includes some other rude comment, he kills his own sale.

2. Keep it short and sweet. Readers tend to avoid long ads. Longer ads are more difficult to read.

Always keep your ad as concise as possible. Seen are "XYL sez its gotta go!", "Leaving the hobby.", "Cleaning the shack.", etc. on many ads. These kinds of comments, while colorful, are irrelevant to the mission and make the ad longer. Also, avoid including detailed specifications. Save the details for a prospective buyer who has inquired about your item; gives you something to talk about.

3. Use normally capitalized lower case type. Regardless of our personal preferences, most readers will NOT read ads presented in all capital type.

Don't run them off before they read your ad. The accepted convention on the Internet is to use "all caps" to "shout it out." There is no place for all caps in a classified ad. It makes the text hard to read so readers are likely NOT to read it. If you want potential customers to read your ad, stick with normal text presentation.

4. When selling, price your sale items at market price. People almost never buy items that are priced above the known market value. Readers are led to think you are just fanaticizing and will not take your ad seriously. If you are not selling but trading, tell the reader what you are looking for in trade. Be specific.

The Internet offers almost unlimited shopping opportunities. This means you are competing with many other sellers of the same item in your ad. Before you write your ad, do your homework and determine the true market value of your gear. One approach to doing this is to shop the ads, as if you were the buyer, to find out what others are asking for the same equipment. Another approach is to ask others who deal in used electronic equipment what they think your gear is worth. Finally, go to the used equipment lists of known published dealers, such as AES, and access their used prices.

After you learn its market value, post your item's price in your ad. Also, explain why any exceptionally good equipment is priced above the prevailing average market value.

5. Always tell the reader the true condition of your equipment. If the condition is not provided, readers will continue to search for something of known condition.

A key to successful selling is to remove any and all uncertainty in the mind of the potential buyer. Even with good pictures, prospective buyers expect to find a good clear statement of the electrical and cosmetic condition of the offered equipment. Always provide a complete and honest disclosure of the condition of your item. Include cosmetic and electrical condition and status. If it is not working or is incomplete, say so. If it is working but some functions or features no longer work, say so. Avoid using "puffed up" descriptions. Use the term "rare" only when the item is known to be hard to find by collectors.

6. Remove all impediments the prospective buyers must overcome. Provide all needed information needed in your ad.

Another key principal of selling is to remove all obstacles between the seller and the buyer. Buyers will balk at seller requirement to call for a price, ask for a picture, to learn of the item's condition, or determine if you will ship the item. Structure your ad accordingly. Keep the buyer-effort minimal and simple. Avoid placing anything in the way of your buyer making a decision to purchase your item.

7. Always provide a good image/photo of your item in the ad. Most buyers will not commit to purchase without seeing what they are buying

Today's inexpensive digital camera technology puts this powerful feature in all sellers hands. Include at least one image of the item for sale. If more than one item, use several images. Be sure images are in focus, show the true condition of the items(s) and is useful to prospective buyers. If you don’t feel comfortable taking the photographs yourself, get a friend to help.

8. When selling, always include the price of your item in your ad. Most prospective buyers will NOT go through the hassle of contacting you to learn what you want for an item or will NOT make an offer. If you are not selling but trading, tell the reader what you are looking for in trade. Be specific.

The single most important piece of information buyers look for in an ad is your asking price. Leaving out the price invites the reader to move on to the next ad, ignoring yours.

Remember to keep the buyer's experience as hassle free as possible. If you offer your item with a fair market price for it stated condition your item has a much better chance of selling. Always post a price! If you don't know the least amount you will take for an item, you are not ready to sell it. If you are not selling but trading, tell the reader what you are looking for in trade. Be specific.

9. Always include a correct email address and/or, a working phone number in your ad. The whole purpose of the ad is to attract a buyer for you item so make it easy for him to contact you. Be sure the email address you give in your ad is correct and can be used by prospective buyers. If the address is flawed, you have wasted a lot of resources for nothing.

10. Always clearly identity yourself to the prospective buyers. Most prospective buyers will avoid ads having vague or unknown sellers or ads not providing complete contact information. Leaving out essential information such as your mailing address, email address, phone number, call sign, and the like will (and should!) cause the reader move on to the next ad.

One of the most important things a prospective buyer needs to know is who you are. If you are unknown to them and they are interested in buying your item, they will “research” you to see if others have had problems dealing with you. Also, they will want to verify that you are a honest person and you are dealing in good faith.

Always post your full name and a complete working email address.

Always post your FCC assigned ham call sign. If you do not have a call sign, say so.

Always list your QTH location and your ZIP code.

Be sure the phone number you list is accurate and working.

11. Always include shipping information in your ad. Most readers will avoid your offer if shipping arrangements are not given in the ad.

Because shipping of goods are absolutely necessary in almost all Internet selling, the shipping costs and arrangements are of paramount importance to all parties involved. In you ad, make it clear to the reader you are willing ship your item to your buyer. Leave no doubt in the mind of the reader that you are committed to getting the item to him undamaged. Ask the prospective buyer if he has specific packing instructions for you to follow. You should indicate you will not ship without the item being properly insured against in-route damage by the carrier.

In very rare cases when shipping is impossible, tell readers why! If you don’t want to deal with shipping in any way, don’t post an ad on the Internet.

You are not responsible for damage caused by the carrier if the shipment is properly packed. If proper packing is a challenge, seek professional packing assistance. It costs you nothing, the buyer is responsible for the cost of packing. You are responsible for properly packing the shipment (or having it properly packed) and handling the shipping arrangements using the shipping service selected by the buyer, when possible. ALL in-route damage costs incurred due to your improper packing or your failure to insure the shipment are owed by you, NOT your buyer. He is paying you to do it correctly. Remember, the items does not become the property of the buyer until he accepts your shipment of the item after he has had a reasonable time to examine the item for shipping-related damage.


No shipment of item or local sale only.

The great advantage of buying and selling on the Internet is that it affords users previously unthinkable opportunity to expand the marketing area. To refuse to ship an item eliminates the opportunity and puts the seller (you!) back in the dark ages again.

If you have an item that you do not want damaged in shipment or if you just don't want the hassle of packing and shipping, use a professional packing and shipping service. Because you should always pass the shipping costs directly to the buyer, the use of such services costs you nothing. Why not use them?

Telling prospective buyers to make an offer.

Most readers will skip over ads that require an initial offer be made for an item. If you did not know the price you would accept for an item you would not have listed it for sale or trade in the first place. Don't force the prospective buyer go through the trouble of making and offer, etc. When you insist that your prospective buyers make an offer, you cause over 80 percent to walk away from the deal! All of us are use to doing business a la Wal Mart -- here is the price if you want we sell it at this price. Nice and easy, NO extra effort on the part of the customer! Always post the price you will accept for each items in your ad. If you are willing to negotiate the price you have given, say so. If not, list your price as FIRM.

Overcharging for shipping.

Interested prospective buyers will skip ads where seller is obviously over charging for shipping. Almost any day one can find an ad where the seller is over charging for shipping. For example, selling a 2.5 inch panel meter and wanting ten dollars to ship it CONUS. (The actual cost to mail the item is $4.75 and the USPS will furnish a free shipping box!)
There is no place for overcharged shipping costs. Charge only the actual cost to properly pack, insure and ship the purchased item. Also, be sure to check with your buyer to see what carrier he wants to use.

Picture of item out of focus.

Most prospective buyers will just move on to the next ad if provided pictures are flawed. There is no reason for an out of focus picture. It leaves the prospective buyer wondering what the seller trying to hide something. Use only quality images in your ad. Properly focused, cropped and framed images are easy, using digital cameras and digital image editing software. If using digital technology is a challenge for you, get a friend to help.

Picture of item too small for view.

Most prospective buyers will move on the next ad. More often than not, the size of the ad will be determined by the system used to record and display your ads, i.e. the Internet site. Find out what the maximum size allowed, in pixels, and use the largest allowed.

Avoid writing a poorly worded ad, with misspelled words, or an ad with poor grammar.

Whether we like it or not, your ad is the only “representative” a prospective buyer has of you. Ads with misspellings, poor grammar, unclear text, poor capitalization, and other obvious flaws are seen by some prospective buyers indicators of flawed sellers.

Always use a spell checker and, if available, a grammar and syntax checker. Word, WordPerfect and many other word processors make the tools available. Google offers an “add-in” checker for your browser that is very easy to use.

Also, read your ad out loud to get a feel if it sounds right. Have another person read your ad then question him to see if he fully understood what you want to convey to your readers. You are the writer, editor and publisher so maximum effort is needed to create your ad.

Stating "unable to test" the item or "the condition is unknown".

"Unable to test" or "condition unknown" statements are worse than not reporting the condition of an item. They indicate you can't or won't tell your potential buyers the condition of your equipment.

Also, buyers are very wary of ads from Advanced or Extra class hams saying they are unable to test a piece of ham gear because they don't know anything about it or don't know how.

At the very least, if, for some reason, you are selling an item of unknown condition or you are unable to test the item, provide a plausible and acceptable explanation of WHY the condition is unknown or WHY the item can not be tested. If not, readers will skip over the ad.

Avoid indicating the item has a "small issue" but it is "easy to fix".

Common sense suggests if there is a "small issue" that is "easy to fix", it should have been fixed before the item is posted to be sold or traded. Avoid making statements indicating your items has minor faults without providing a detailed plausible explanation. If at all possible, resolve all "small issues" yourself or have the equipment repaired before putting it up for sale. Such issues substantially reduce the market value of the item!

Asking readers to go to a retail vendor site to see a picture of the item.

Any picture that is NOT the item being offered is useless to potential buyers. The only purpose of have a picture is to let potential buyers see what you have to sell. No picture is better than a surrogate picture. If you are unable to provide a recent picture of the item, include the phrase "No picture available" in your ad.

Asking reader to go to another site to learn more about what he/she is selling.

Most users will ignore ads that are incomplete or ads asking readers to go through some procedure to learn what should already be in the ad. Always make sure your ad is complete and provides all the key information needed for users to make a buying/trading decision. The key information items include a picture of the item offered, a price, a statement of condition, the location of the item, the method payment accepted, the shipping arrangements, how to contact the seller and trade consideration.

Selling if item is "dirty" and/or "could use a good cleaning".

Buyers are not attracted to equipment that needs to be cleaned. Some will regard the seller as lazy or not willing to take care of the equipment. One of the least costly and most effective way to increase the value of your sale item is to properly clean it prior to putting it up for sale.

Indicating you will accept only PayPal as payment.

Don't reduce the number of potential buyers by getting hung up on method of payment. It makes no difference--you aren't going to ship until your have a secure and valid payment in hand. Be flexible on the method of payment by allowing a set of reasonable payment options, never just one. Don't be overly concerned about the method but do be concerned about how quickly payment will be sent to you. Also, be sure include a "payment due" deadline in your arrangements for payment.

"Going into the dumpster if it does not sell."

Most readers would wonder why you haven't already put it in the dumpster and why you are placing an ad to try to sell it.
Telling the reader you intend to put your gear in the dumpster is bad strategy. If your item is not likely to sell because of it's bad condition or because it is out-dated, consider offering it for parts. There almost always a need for parts, especially on older gear.

Readers fail to see a usefulness for your item.

Most prospective buyers will move on the next ad. Suggesting some practical uses or benefits for owning your item can help the reader see the advantage of buying.

Saying item is "Going to eBay if it does not sell."

To some, this is like telling your readers that if they don't buy your stuff you are going to dump it on eBay. Readers who do not like eBay or other auctions will take offense and skip over your ad. Telling the reader you intend to put your gear on eBay is bad strategy. Keep your reader focused on buying your gear here and now. Forget what you are going to do later, it is irrelevant to the business at hand.

Using long list of items

Long lists of items do not allow the prospective buyer to focus on what you have for sale. Your ad might be ignored.
A complete ad for a single item with condition, pictures, price, etc. is ten times more likely to net you a sale than a list of items of any length. Help the prospective buyer focus by posting each item in a separate ad. Placing two or three items in a single ads is pushing your luck. Placing a whole "Garage Sale" list in an ad makes it certain that readers will skip reading the ad.


What is wrong with this ad? (This is an actual ad from classified, modified to protect the guilty.)

Radios-HF- Model 16 Transceiver
Please don't bother responding unless you REALLY WANT this unit. I have no patience with bargain hunters. I will only respond with a price. This is a rare find in this condition and I am asking a lot for it. Buyer must be someone wanting for this beautiful radio and not afraid to pay my price. If you lean toward frugality, DON'T WASTE MY TIME.
Listing #999999 - Submitted on 03/24/05 by Callsign KN5ZFA
Click Here to Email


Rude approach to buyers

Too high a price (likely)

Condition not given

Unnecessary buyer "hurdles"

No picture provided

No price given

Offer required

No shipping information given

Conclusion: Chance of making a sale is Very Slim.

Posts: 93
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:39 pm
Location: W PA

Oh yeah!!!

Post by KB3RPE » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:33 pm

Me thinks you about nailed it!!!! I'm sure there is no "perfect" ad to suit everyone's "needs" but there sure as hell are too many imperfect ones...HIHi :D

Posts: 329
Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:32 pm

TRY --

Post by N9LCD » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:42 pm


I recently sold an Icom IC-207H and, I swear, that I had more inquiries after putting "SOLD, PENDING PAYMENT" in my ad.

Maybe starting your ad with that will improve results.



:roll: [/b]

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