There are times in life when one feels hopelessly out of touch with pop culture. Like when I saw this Hallmark display in a CVS. Are people actually giving loved ones greeting cards featuring members of the Duck Dynasty? I’m so confused …
Write a Kickass Craigslist Ad: Six Tips
Looking to offload an old chair or futon? How about that jogging stroller you’ve never used? Craigslist can be a boon if you know how to use it.
As with any ad, when it comes to writing a Craigslist ad, your best bet is to be clear and concise. Especially since your ad needs to stand out on a smartphone, where more and more people are doing their shopping.
Here’s what you need:
1. A strong subject line. Write a brief descriptive headline in 30 characters or fewer. Avoid using ALL CAPS, exclamation points!!!! and the obvious, “used” or “for sale.” Be as specific as possible. Readers should know from the headline whether a desk is an office desk, computer cart, writing desk or vintage secretary desk.
Bad: Used desk for sale!! PERFECT for a student.
Good: Mid-century writing desk, solid maple
2. The right image. Get a clear, close-up image with no clutter or dust in the frame.
- Use your best shot as the first image.
- Include different angles that highlight its selling points (e.g. the solid construction).
- If the manufacturer or brand name is a selling point, include a snap of the label or imprint.
- Add a close-up of scratches or damage (so you won’t waste time with the buyer who wants a perfect piece).
3. A brief, accurate description. Get straight to the point with a few lines of concrete description conveying the condition of the piece (e.g. pristine, like new, light scratches, freshly painted).
- Don’t waste time suggesting different ways someone could use the piece or explaining how your mother-in-law gave it to you for your birthday.
- Don’t sound like used car dealer (Amazing deals! Everything must go!), even if you’re selling a used car. People hate that. Trust us.
- You can have a little fun here. Just don’t be too wordy.
4. The right price. Always include a price, and make it reasonable.
- Research similar items to determine a fair price. If you’re listing something at more than half its purchased price, it better be a high-demand item.
- It’s not necessary to say “or best offer”; that’s kind of implied. But you can say “price is firm” to filter out folks who want to haggle.
- Don’t say, “Make me an offer.” And don’t be one of those jerks who list it as $1 with the real price hidden inside.
5. One product per post. Write individual posts for separate products unless it really makes more sense to group them (e.g. baby items, a living room set). This way, each piece will benefit from its own solid headline and an image that shows up without having to click through to the listing.
6. Search terms. To come up in more searches, be sure to use the generic and brand names in your headline and in the post. For example, an ad for a dining room buffet might have “IKEA desk” in the headline and words like “writing table” “small table” and “work station” within the listing.
What are your tips or pet peeves when it comes to Craigslist ads? Let us know if you have any to add!
There’s a rising trend these days in viral location-based marketing. A lot of people have been talking about this clever campaign for TNT, these secret-agent Coke machines branded toward the latest Bond flick and this hilarious bus stop campaign from the folks at Qualcomm.
What are the agencies behind these campaigns doing right? In a word, spectacle. With talented plants and careful planning, they’ve managed to generate visual fireworks on a dime — and draw the attention of everyone in the area as well. But of course, it all means nothing without the hidden cameras and sleek editing. The real value is in the sharing: watching our friends watch people as they watch something amazing happen.
And let us not discount the can’t-miss alchemy of mixing crazy contrivances with regular folks. You can’t fake some of the reactions in these campaigns, and there’s no getting around the fact that these things really happened. Maybe not to you, or in your hometown, but they did happen somewhere, to someone. That feels very different from a canned spot on a soundstage.
Final bonus: All three campaigns use cleverly integrated slogans to make sense of the chaos: TNT’s “Push to Add Drama,” Coke’s “Unlock the 007 in You” and Qualcomm’s “Born Mobile” all dovetail nicely with their respective marketing concepts.
If we had to pick one bone of contention, though, it feels like only TNT’s campaign relates in a lasting way to the brand. The Coke campaign seems better suited to Mountain Dew, or perhaps Stoli, while the Qualcomm campaign might feel more at home for a bubbly Internet startup than a 28-year-old semiconductor manufacturer. But hey, that’s why they say marketing changes everything.
Some good brand experts are at work here, and our hats are off to them. Here’s hoping that yellow Lamborghini makes a stop in our home of Somerville sometime soon.
Watch all three videos below:
Now that The Hired Pens is four Pens strong, we thought it would be fun to do the occasional roundtable discussion. Our plan is to tackle all the important, life-transforming issues of the day. Like our favorite TV ads from our childhoods. Enjoy …
The Energizer: It’s Going to Surprise You (Dan)
It’s 1987, and I’m a freshman in college. My roommate Chris and I are up late watching Letterman. Without warning, this ridiculous commercial comes on. “Jacko,” a muscled Australian lunatic with spiky, dyed blonde hair, is screaming at us about the merits of Energizer batteries. His eyes bulge out. He sings while holding a giant battery over his head. He rhymes “Energiz-ah” with “gonna surprise ya.” He punctuates the jingle with a demonstrative “Oi!”
All of this couldn’t have been any funnier to Chris and me. Too bad they switched to that damned Energizer bunny just one year later. Jacko, I guess the advertising world just wasn’t made for muscled Australian lunatics like you.
Just One Look … and America Fell So Hard (Anna)
Commercials are better now. I think as a nation, we’ve gotten funnier. Or at least more comfortable with using humor to sell things. I like that.
But let’s be honest. There’s one thing that sells better than humor. That’s right: Cindy Crawford. This 1991 Pepsi commercial does everything a good commercial should: It gets your attention. It’s fun to watch. And it makes you want the product.
Back then, girls like me hoped one day to be as glamorous as Cindy. And the boys we loved hung posters of her on their wall, hoping we would, too — or that we’d at least outgrow our training bras. We all drank a lot of Pepsi. Since then, this ad has been imitated many, many times. It still works.
I Wanted to Like You, Mikey (Karen)
You were cute, in a chubby-faced underdog sort of way. Your older brothers seemed like real a-holes, forcing you to try that cereal no one wanted. As one of seven kids myself, I could relate.
The thing is, Mikey, you let your brothers have all the lines. I didn’t feel like listening to them anymore than you did. “He likes it! Hey, Mikey!” So grating. I’d run for the TV and crank the dial to another channel before they said it, and still that one stupid line would stick in my head all day.
I wanted to root for you, Mikey, but you could’ve shown a little self-respect. You could’ve said no to the cereal. And while your ad ran for 12 years and was considered a huge success, I think America agreed with me. Hence the rabid rumors of your untimely death by Coke and Pop Rocks candy.
I was glad to read recently that you’re alive and well, working as an ad man for a New York radio station — but a little sad to learn those jerks in the commercial were your real-life brothers. I hope you’ve found happiness, Mikey. I really do.
I Hanker for a Pair o’ Kneeees (Zach)
It had serpentine, boneless legs. It had internal rhymes and an elective cane. It even had a recipe: crackers and cheese; serve stacked.
“Time for Timer” was part of a frankly bizarre PSA campaign to combat … hunger? Cogency? I know it received heavy airplay throughout my childhood (WLVI-56!), and somehow that little bolus in boots stuck with me all this time.
Call it the power of context-free marketing, or perhaps a testament to some memorable jingle writing. Point is: I eat cheese constantly today, and I almost never don’t think of Timer. He was an extremely tiny part of my life, and it breaks my heart to see what’s become of him.
Fast Co. has a great post up from Buffer’s Leo Widrich, and it’s all about color. Widrich pulls together different data about how color works (or doesn’t) in marketing. According to the research, our own Hired Pens online color scheme suggests “credibility,” “clean” and “direct” with a little “excitement” thrown in for good measure. Sounds about right.
Widrich goes on to describe an experiment that found that even a minor tweak to a button’s color can have a significant impact on conversion rates. The tricky part? The research into how colors make us feel doesn’t necessarily line up with how things played out in the experiments Widrich cites. But the big, concrete takeaway is that color does matter, and you may find a few small changes can yield a big payoff.
We recently wrapped up two website projects — please take a moment to check them out!
OneVision Resources is a really interesting business that helps rich folks manage all the personal technology in their lives. We worked closely with founder/managing director Joey Kolchinsky along with the superstars at Fresh Tilled Soil to create this new slick site (which looks especially great on iPads, by the way).
Saturn Partners is a venture capital firm focusing on seed and early-stage technology companies. For this site, we relied heavily on input from one of the firm’s partners, Ed Lafferty. Rob Torres and the team at Digital Reaction Total Web Solutions brought the site to life.
Congrats to Hired Pen Karen Dempsey, whose essay, “Lockdown: Teaching Students to Hide From Guns, and Hide Their Fears,” went live on the NYTimes.com Motherlode blog yesterday.
Another new product name has cracked us up this week: The Hot Mess, brought to you by everybody’s favorite Halloweentown nightmare, Jack in the Box. If you are unfamiliar with the Mess, here’s all you need to know: Gooey jack cheese, onion rings, jalapenos, beef. Not necessarily in that order.
Okay, so it’s messy. But the name does far more than that, of course: Anyone under 40 will tell you that “hot mess” is what most of us call someone who’s coming apart at the seams. It is, in other words, a pretty negative connotation.
And that’s the point. The Hot Mess fits squarely into the canon of “rude” product copy, of a piece with The Stinking Rose restaurants, Coyote Ugly and this modern classic. It’s a challenge and it’s subversive, and that’s what makes it cool. That this particular sandwich also happens to be incredibly messy and almost certainly deadly only adds to the pleasing harmony.
This is high-flying brand work, and not the sort of name you’d want to propose at Starbucks or Bank of America. But someone, somewhere, broke through the traditional wall of corporate resistance to counterintuitive product branding over at Jack, and it’s working for them. We can say from experience: It ain’t easy convincing a big company to take a little chance.
In fact, it’s a hot mess.
“I’m designing a new app” is the new “I’m writing a screenplay” for creative types who want to get rich quick — or just impress attractive women at cocktail parties.
Yes, a rare few do actually manage to create a killer app with potential. The next step (at least for the marketing team) is breaking through the very crowded Apple barrel. A good start is to write an effective online ad. A study from idea.org looked at what worked … and what was a dismal failure.
First, here’s what not to do: Mention the price. Or include fancy graphics. Surprised? Me, too. Turns out the most effective ads are simple, text-based ads — and shorter is better.
In fact, text-based ads outperformed visual bling by a startling margin. As in, no one in this study even clicked on the ad with the image, and lots of people checked out the app when it was a simple, single-line request.
The top performer?
“Have an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch? Check out our app.”
The four takeaways from this study:
- Text is better than graphical (a lot better).
- Shorter is better.
- Bright yellow highlighting helps.
- Don’t include a price on the ads.
You can read the full study here (from 2011, but still very relevant). Or just go back to writing that screenplay — the one about the app that takes over the world.
Sometimes a great idea gets all the attention it deserves. Case in point: This incredibly clever résumé by a man in Paris who found a new way to break through the cluttered mess that is the modern job search. His answer: a familiar Web product page, repurposed in every conceivable detail into a viral sales tool:
Of course, the design and layout are the real stars here. Note the new logo, the charming pictures and the verisimilitude of icons and graphics throughout.
But to those of us who live and breathe the art of product copywriting, the real pleasure of M. Dubost’s work is in its conception and creativity. Turning his prior work experience into customer reviews? Brilliant. Recommending the addition of running shoes and a plane ticket? Inspired. And the coup de grâce: To contact this particular candidate, you must add him to your cart.
There’s probably something to be said here about how eerily well the format of an Amazon product page fulfills every requirement of the modern résumé, and what that says about how we are all just faceless numbers in a corporate dystopia. But for now, let’s just enjoy the hilarity of this idea and marvel at its effectiveness: PhilDub.com attracted over a million hits in its first eight days alone, and earned him mentions in Mashable, Adweek and the Huffington Post, among others.
That is one seriously hirable guy.