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Writing an eBay Ad 101, Part Three


Well, I still can't tell if there is interest since there are very few replies and no questions. This "course" has had like 50 views, while the controversial one has nearly 1,000!!! But, anyway, here is Part Three....

Okay, now on to the actual writing and how to make your ad appealing. In the last two installments we learned of the four important things to know about any item you are offering for sale. Now, how to convert that basic knowledge into well written words that make your prop very appealing to potential bidders yet retains perfect accuracy in pointing out any flaws your item may have.

Before we get to that, I'd like to point out another cardinal rule in ad writing. Know how to spell!!! There is nothing that projects a poorer image of both the seller and his goods than reading an ad with misspellings all over the place. And, since ads are generally done on computers and they all have outstanding spellcheckers somewhere on the hard drive, there is really no excuse for bad spelling. Sure, there are typos that are going to slip through, like typing the word "now," for the word "not," etc, but your ad should be as perfect grammatically and spelling-wise as possible.

In keeping with that thought, be absolutely sure there are NO errors and NO typos when it comes to the name of the item! I've seen everything from a Peter-Lewis Dove Pan to a U.S. Grant Strat-O-Spheres on eBay so be absolutely sure you spell the name of the item correctly. Even the "big names" do it. The original Rings 'N' Things, for example, introduced the Don Allen Chop Cup and the Oketo Coin Box in their early days! But, don't join the club; spell the title absolutely error-free.

Let's start with an example of the worst ad you could write. We'll use an item that embodies all the techniques we are going to discuss later. It is the Amac's Educated Pencil. Here's the worst possible ad,

           "Educated Pencil."

And, believe it or not, a few years ago one was posted on eBay with that exact ad! It sold, to me, for $9.50. I put it on eBay two weeks later with an appropriate ad and it sold for $320.00! Unbelievable? Well, it's absolutely true. Now, a good ad isn't going to do that for you every time, but it will increase the interest and often the bidding activity almost every time.

Before going further I would like to address the above example. Some may read this and think it is price gouging. Think back about what I wrote about the benefit of a true auction? The operative word there is "true." It allows the bidders to set an item's value. So, even though I paid $9.50 for something and it sold two weeks later for $320.00, I did not hold a gun to anyone's head to make them bid. In fact, I advised two bidders that it seemed to be going a little high and they might want to think carefully. Despite that, it sold for that figure with high bidding activity The point I'm trying to make here, is that a well written, well planned and truthful ad can generate bids that may surprise you. Inflated reserves or high minimum bids do quite the opposite; they discourage bidding. How many would have bid had I opend the Educated Pencil at $300.00? So, keep that in mind when you plan you sales strategy.

Okay, back to ad writing. The first thing to do is to point out who manufactured the item, even if you think buyers may not know the name. Secondly, if it originates from a country other than the U.S., specify which. So, to begin, it should now read,

       "Amac's Educated Pencil from England."

The next thing we need to do is add a "teaser" or appealing lead-in for the description of the actual effect. This can be anything along the lines of a very brief history of the prop or its creator. Just be sure it's accurate. Or, it can be a brief statement of your honest assessment of the effect. This is a powerful tool if the effect is honestly great in your estimation. If you are genuinely excited about the item you are selling, that excitement will come through in your writing. On the other hand, if you are dubious of the effect, but trying to write an exciting ad, that doubt will also come through. So, now, our ad looks like,

"This is Amac's Educated Pencil from England. Created around 1938, even some 70 years later this is still, in my opinion, the best magic puzzle of the "I-can-do-it-you-can't" genre ever created. I have owned one for years and have yet to meet anyone who could figure this out unless, of course, they knew of it beforehand. Yes, it is that good. Here's the effect."

Re-read that opening and see how it does several things. It names the item, names the maker, gives the approximate date of origination and then goes on to give my honest assessment of how good a trick it is. It further strengthens that assessment by clearly stating of my actual experience with the effect. And, finally, it generates excitement and makes the potential bidder want to read more.

Now, you need to briefly describe the effect. Be concise. Describing the effect is not where you want to add any embellishment. Be sure to state, very briefly, any conditions or procedures required by the effect. Don't lie by omission. For example, "You can balance a pencil on end and the spectator cannot no matter how hard he tries," is NOT a sufficient description for this particular prop, even though that is exactly what happens. You need to briefly describe the tube and caps and the shaking done during the effect. Doing so won't help anyone figure out the method, but it is important that the buyer not receive the item and think, "Hmmm, the ad didn't say anything about putting the pencil in a tube, etc."

After the effect description, if it will make your item more appealing, you can add here a staple of most classic magic ads. That is, "no this, no that, etc." It used to be a common joke that if you read all the "no this and no that's" in an old Abbott ad and figured what was not included in those statements, you would then know how the trick worked. Of course, that is an exaggeration, but if the effect, of itself, suggests a method, you might want to use this technique to eliminate those thoughts and enhance your ad. So, now we are at:

"This is Amac's Educated Pencil from England. Created around 1938, even some 70 years later this is still, in my opinion, the best magic puzzle of the "I-can-do-it-you-can't" genre ever created. I have owned one for years and have yet to meet anyone who could figure this out unless, of course, they knew of it beforehand. Yes, it is that good. Here's the effect.

The magician shows a small pencil, a chrome tube and two brass caps. He then inserts the pencil into the tube and caps both ends and gives it a little shake. He then removes the pencil and stands it on its end. He then challenges a spectator to do the same. No matter how much he tries,he cannot make the pencil stand! The magician may immediately take the props back and repeat, but nobody else can do it!

Keep in mind, this uses no magnets, no threads, no sticky substances and no outside gimmicks of any kind. It is entirely self-contained, only the caps, pencil and tube are used, nothing added or taken away. Absolutely no amount of examination will reveal the secret of this ingenious mechanical pencil!"

Study the ad so far. It describes the exact effect in a concise manner. No extra words or sentences. Once the effect is described, the next sentence begins to eliminate methods that might have come to the bidder. The purpose of eliminating these methods is not really to protect the secret, but rather keep his interest in buying the item. Most magicians are secret-oriented. If you've sold magic for any length of time, you realize that once you reveal the secret of a trick to a potential buyer, his interest immediately diminishes. So eliminating his wrong solutions keeps the buyer interested.

Finally, the body of the ad thus far concludes with two additional words that will appeal to most buyers. Anyone know what those word are? Well, how many times have we all read a great effect and ordered it, sending in our $20.00 only to receive a playing card and a sheet of instructions? No matter how good we thought the effect was, the first reaction is always moderate disappointment. So, to eliminate the suspicion that he might receive a pencil, tube and caps and some Snapper-type "move," we added two words, "ingenious mechanical." Those two words end the description portion on a big and appealing plus in the minds of potential buyers. They now know they are getting more than ordinary props, they probably cannot imagine how a thin small pencil could be mechanical in any way, and even more they find a prop that it is not just mechanical, but ingeniously mechanical to be very appealing.

Next, we'll deal with how to finish the ad.

More to follow.....






Last edited by John Mendoza, 1/26/2007, 3:36 pm
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cfrye Profile
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Re: Writing an eBay Ad 101, Part Three


John,

Even though I hadn't replied before now, I am following your eBay ad writing course very closely. I don't sell a lot on eBay, but your advice will certainly help me when I do put items up for auction.


Curt
1/27/2007, 4:11 am Link to this post Send Email to cfrye   Send PM to cfrye
 
George Guerra Profile
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Re: Writing an eBay Ad 101, Part Three


Appreciate the advice, John...always an interesting and educational reading in all your ebay ads, even though I may not bid on the items.
1/27/2007, 6:58 am Link to this post Send Email to George Guerra   Send PM to George Guerra
 
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Re: Writing an eBay Ad 101, Part Three


John, your threads on selling on eBay are great!! It almost makes me want to start selling something. As I get older (I’m already qualified for Social Security) and the hands work less and less easily and I am forced to consider downsizing, I guess I will have to get rid of over 50 years of accumulating props, books, videos, etc, etc. maybe I’ll have to give eBay a go. Goodness knows I’ve bought enough stuff from eBay (mainly from you!).

Thanks for the course in writing the ads!

Harry Murphy aka M'peas
2/2/2007, 4:31 am Link to this post Send Email to mumblepeas   Send PM to mumblepeas
 


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