Writing an Effective Personal Ad


“I never get any replies to my ads!” said Melvin, one of my most appreciated clients from the Caribbean. We met after almost a year while I was returning to The Hague from Amsterdam. We talked while recalling some of our past projects. To my surprise he asked me, if my expertise in advertising goes towards writing an effective personal ad for online dating sites. Although, I don’t consider myself an expert but I gladly joined him to his talks.

“Does the ad have anything to make a surfer stop and take a second look”? I asked him. “Human nature is no different online than it is offline”. “Spot an attractive face and you turn to take a second-look see a humorous punch line and you invariably stop to read”. “So, it really boils down to if you have or haven’t put in the right effort while making your profile, because if you have not then that’s exactly the kind of replies you’ll get – none!” I told Melvin, while he was sitting across me, starting at me with his surprised look.

I used the basics that we often do while designing an advertisement. I talked to him and mentioned a few tips that I have outlined below;

INVESTMENT. Be it your time or money. This is a stand you have to take. If you cannot spend either or both, you really shouldn’t bother. Because an incomplete, half done profile is like an uncooked dish, very unappetizing. Online Dating is all about making a good first impression; because once someone clicks to the next ad, there’ll be no second chance.

OPENING LINE. Splatter your profile with humor, drama, funky metaphors…That is what catches the attention and also the interest. You have barely 2 minutes before the surfer clicks to the next profile, if not intrigued to read yours!

HONESTY. Lies can never be the root of a strong relationship; those based on it will eventually crumble. Being honest portrays you as a better human being, which down the line is the only important thing. Are you married? If yes, say it. It won’t necessarily stop you from finding matches. If you are just looking for a casual date, don’t imply that you are looking for marriage just to get more emails… it’s a waste of everyone’s time. If you are looking for a long-term relation, don’t think you can “convince” a casual date to spend more time with you. You are asking for disappointment.

STRINGS. I see guys making a crucial mistake in their profiles. I remember reading a study of female psychology reveals that women are seldom, if ever, looking for a “no string relationship.” There simply is no such thing… if it is a relationship; it has to have strings of SOME sort. If you don’t want strings, you are looking for an escort service. Women of any description can find casual physical relationships without lifting a finger to a keyboard. Don’t lie, but think about which “strings” are okay with you. Seeking a torrid summer romance is fine and honest, so is “I am not eager to move in or get married. I want to have a regular date for parties and cookouts with my friends.”

Ladies, this counts for you too. If your personal ad sounds like you might be offering paid sexual services, you are going to get some rude offers. You might avoid phrases like, “looking for a wealthy man with good taste in jewelry.”

BE POSITIVE. And avoid negatives. The place has been provided to list what you are looking for and not all the things you don’t want. Turn your own lifestyle quirks into positives, not obstacles. Workaholic? Try, “My career keeps me very busy, so I need someone with a flexible schedule for spontaneous one-day adventure.”

POST A PHOTO. It’s a proven fact that a profile with a clear, happy picture is 80% more likely to get a response. Don’t use a photo that isn’t current… it isn’t worth the rejection you will face later.

COMMUNICATE. It’s important to come across as a progressive individual who seeks growth. Say what you think and believe in, and would wish the other to know about your personality. Exploring new interests? Diversifying in Career Prospects? Passionate about something! These are things that matter. Talk about what is important in your life. Highlight your positive points; this is what makes a profile interesting enough to be read.

PASSIONS. Listing ALL your favorite things can be a handful… Choose one good example and talk about why you like it. Choose something that gives the reader an insight into what you enjoy. You want people to be able to spot things you have in common, but also feel that there is something new and interesting to learn about you. Interest them in learning more with a “teaser” about something fascinating about you. Ask a question for them to answer via email.

Display your personality in a tasteful way, take all the time to do a good job, and put up a good photograph. These itself will get you far ahead of the remaining anonymous pack.

For questions and consulting with advertising and marketing, please write to: 

Consulting Sobti

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