Writing Assignment: Write a Craigslist Ad for Something That Someone in Your Family Wants to Sell.



From: "Business Course I" by Gary North
Lesson 105

An analysis of an ad I placed recently follows.

"Samsung Series 7 TV, 32 Inch, Full HD (like new) FOR SALE"

This is the title that appeared on the local classified advertisement on Njuškalo in Zagreb.

I chose to list it this way in order to most accurately identify the exact item. Though redundant, I included the words "FOR SALE" in order to score well on external search engines such as Google.

A detailed listing narrows down the audience to parties with particular interest. It also winnows out people who are not willing to spend money on the item.

The Ad

The "title" of the copy was actually the first sentence in the ad.

I strove for clarity over either creativity or hard-sell because Craigslist and Njuškalo shoppers are shrewd. Waxing eloquent or writing flashy comes off as just so much hype.

Title: "Bring brilliant picture quality to your living room at a bargain price."

I did, however, push a little salesmanship in the title.

Here are the benefits. Proof follows below.

Subtitle: "If you are interested in buying this TV, please call ___ . I can deliver the TV to you if purchased within 7 days."

The subtitle places the Call To Action (CTA) right at the top. Some shoppers already know at this point they want to proceed, and the CTA should be easy to act on.

The offer to deliver is an added benefit. It sweetens the deal. I also take the opportunity here to create scarcity: "...within 7 days."

The Body

Here is the proof. I included:

And I closed with a direct quote from a respectable reviewer with hyperlink to the full review.


This ad is clear and complete. Prior to my studies in Marketing, I would have written it much shorter. However, I took the opportunity to write long copy and tell something of a story.

The review which served as a testimonial was the strongest "proof" of the items benefits. The quote is juicy, but at first I hesitated to provide a link to the full review. It contained a description of undesirable characteristics. However, I decided to link it because it is best to alert parties whom would consider one to be a show-stopper. No use wasting their time or mine. And in the worst case, no sense selling them an item they don't want.

One takeaway for me is that I considered some attributes of the item obvious and not worth mentioning, but they can trigger a buyer's interest. Also, more terms help trigger search engines.

Since data is required for evidence based analysis, I ran an "A/B Test." However, the A and the B became convoluted (in a statistical sense) so the results were not meaningful.

Writing this ad was an instructive exercise in the basics of copywriting. I used the opportunity to research marketing - in particular Gary North's 31 Rules of Reason-Why Advertising. The best lessons are learned through doing.

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