Ads That Sell
by Chris Kilian, Stealth Promotions

Why advertise, unless you want your ad to sell? The secrets to successful advertising, ads that sell, are available if you remember the last time you went fishing. Ever been fishing? I don't get to go as often as I want, but I have noticed some truths that apply to successful fishing trips also apply to successful advertising.

Whether you are on the water in a boat, on a shoreline, or a pier, you will notice the same thing happen over and over again. The successful fisherman goes where the fish are.

Watch the action the next time you go. Everyone stakes out their own territory, and begins individual efforts to find fish.

After some time, if conditions are right, someone catches a fish.

There are ooos and ahs by those who have caught nothing. However, if no one else is catching fish, especially if the successful fisherman catches another, there is a migration towards the area where the action is. After a while, the successful will have to contend with people right next to them, but everyone goes home with fish.

The first lesson about ads that sell is to follow the action.

You, as an advertiser, must go where others are. You could be a true explorer and find your own success alone, and you may wish to do that to some extent. However, in addition to that strategy, until you find your own areas where success comes more easily, you should go where others are advertising now.

As you select your own location or medium for advertising your product (free classifieds, paid classifieds, usenet groups, newsletters and the like) follow the action. The first measurement you must assess before you spend much effort or money is whether others are being successful in that medium.

Success breeds competition. Competition gets the medium noticed, which brings more potential clients, which leads to more success. Success is contagious. Catch it.

If your offer is not bringing you success, examine where you are placing your offer.

I have never caught a fish in a tree, although I have strategically placed a few lures there. I had all the right gear. The bait was perfect, but the location was all wrong. I can't catch fish where none exist. Follow the action, and you will have success rub off on you. You can leave your bait in a tree, if you wish, (I have) but to succeed with your offer, put it where you find similar offers.

Ok, so what if you are right next to successful advertisers, and you are not making sales?

The next lesson for success also comes from lessons learned on the boat. Have you determined that you are in the right area, your target market is all around you, but you still get no bites? Examine your bait.

The second lesson for ads that sell is to use appropriate offers for your target market.

There have been many times, that successful fishermen have had to share not only their location (which is hard to hide) but their bait.

Look at what the other person is using to be successful. When I was in the boat, and fish were biting artificial bait, I switched to artificial. When live bait brought bites, I used live bait.

I matched what I saw was working, rather than foolishly being smart about what "should" work which leads to more of the same.

Don't you notice that when you find a good medium, there seem to be many offers that sound the same?

You should do the same. Your offer may be the best thing since sliced bread, and you should point out your competitive differences, BUT your offer, at least as you start your venture, should have the look and feel of other successful offers.

You may feel that your success rate would drop, because there are so many of the same type of offers there already. The truth is that the market you want is probably reading many of those same-sounding offers. They are there because they want to read information about your type of product or service. They might as well read yours too. If your offer has the same delivery style (not the same words) you will have potential clients look at your offer too.

IF you follow my first lesson to follow the action, your chance of having ads that sell will depend on using an offer that matches your target market.

OK, so you where your target market is with the appropriate offers, but still no sales?

The third lesson for ads that sell is how you handle your hook.

I love fishing with kids. Their eyes widen with just a nibble, and they explode with excitement when they get an actual bite. Kids love to fish, but they are not always as successful as they could be because they haven't learned how to work with hooks.

Haven't you pulled out your young fishing buddy's line to find the right bait with the hook exposed? Fish are not sympathetic. When they come to bait, they can get excited, but they will not bite an exposed hook. That makes them uncomfortable. A hook must be properly handled to be effective.

Exposed hooks have the same effect on your target market. Tell your target market what you want them to do too early, and you spook them.

They will see your offer for what it is and run.

However, if you can disguise your offer as something valuable without your own self-interest screaming at them, they will take the bait. Empty, naked requests for your target market's money have no more chance of success than empty hooks in the water. You may catch something occasionally by accident, but you won't have an ad that sells.

On the other hand, if your advertising is where similar advertising can be found, explaining an offer that is appropriate to the market, discussing your reader's interests first, you will have an ad that sells.

OK, so you are following the action, with an appropriate offer, and your hook is not obvious to your reader, but still no sales?

Your next lesson is to learn how much bait to offer.

Fisherpersons must know how much bait to use for the specific conditions they are facing. Some types of bait, artificial lures for example, are complete as they are. They are without discretion. If you have determined your offer is a one-size fits all offer, this part of the lesson may not apply to you.

The rest of you should think about children fishing. Have you noticed that they need your guidance on how much bait to offer at any one time? If one worm is good, isn't two or three better? That is their under-developed reasoning process. They don't mind wasting extra bait (especially before they are required to bait their own hook.)

Unless you have unlimited resources, you must decide how much information to offer your target market. Your advertising can be very specific and detailed, or you can be a bit more general, or you can just tease your market towards your offer. You must decide how much to deliver in your advertising, and that answer may change with when, where, and how you are delivering your ads.

The more information or bait your deliver, the more comfortable your market will be with you. The less you explain, the more intrigued your audience may be, but you may lose prospects to distrust if they wonder what you are not telling them.

Online advertising, especially classified advertising or free for all links phrases, necessarily deliver less content, less bait. The idea is that it is better to deliver more information later through a web page, phone, fax autoresponders, email or otherwise. I agree with this idea for this medium.

Ads that sell are located in places with action with offers attractive to the market delivering a message your audience wants in an appropriate amount.

OK, so you are following the action with an offer attractive to your market and your concern for your audience is on display providing the right amount of information, but still no sales?

The final difference between a meal from the frying pan or a meal from a drive through window could rest with your ability to set the hook. You must be able to get your audience to act now.

Ads that sell have an effective call to action.

People are generally resist advertising. They generally want to be left alone.

In contrast to this is a strong self-interest.

That is why advertising is effective. We want to be attractive, smell better, drive cool cars, use neato gadgets and have a better life. Offer them that, and you have the audience's interest.

But interest alone is NOT enough. You must give them a reason to ACT on that interest NOW. Without action, your ad is wasted space. Give them a reason to act. Set the hook.

Your ad that sells will have four key components. It will create attention, interest, desire and action.

Actions come from your command to do something. "Email us. Phone us. Fax us. Contact us. Go to our web pages." If you have an ad that contains the first three elements, your suggestion to take the next step towards a sale will be followed.

The final thing to remember about action is timing is critical. Tell your prospect to do something. Tell them how to do it. Tell them when to do it. They will.

Once you have an ad that sells, what do you do?

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat......

Like any venture, fishing and advertising take practice and experience. One thing that can increase success is to take advantage of the right combination of elements in your ads that sell, and to do it over and over.

The next lesson is you should repeat successful ads that sell.

While kids may be misguided when they ask for a fistful of bait when a finger-full would be appropriate, they are right on target in another area. Once fish are being caught, you can catch more if you use two lines rather than one. The only problem may be dealing with trying to land all the fish you are catching.

When your sales offer is getting results, the best and fastest way to increase your sales is to repeat that combination over and over. You will know what is working.

You will have your advertising where the action is. It will have an offer that is appropriate to your audience. Your own self-interest will be secondary to you reader's desire to gain from your offer. You will be telling your target market enough but not too much, and when the time is right, you advertising will cause your audience to act.

You have an ad that sells. Use it.

Chris Kilian is owns Stealth Promotions. ( )
Stealth Promotions builds, hosts and promotes web pages. They will create your internet presence from scratch or improve the effectiveness of existing web sites.



Pam Jones specializes in offering quality information and services that will keep you on the right track with your online marketing to help you increase your profits. Visit the Internet Marketing Resource Center at, for tips, tools, resources and helpful articles. Or find out about web hosting, website design or redesign, domain name research & registration, online marketing & promotion and website maintenance services at affordable prices for small to medium sized businesses at Clearwater Web Solutions at

Search This Site



Help keep this web site free

Did you find the information on this site helpful?
Please consider making a donation to
Clearwater Web Solutions /
Internet Marketing Resource Center.

Sign up for CBClicks ... FREE

Home | ResourcesTourSite Map Books & E Books ArticlesOnline Survey | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Mission Statement  

Contact us


Copyright 2001-2004, Pam Jones, Clearwater Web Solutions.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.