Can Craigslist be a Teaching Tool? YES.

It’s always a good feeling when students are able to easily critique bad writing, especially online. Folks say that these young whipper snappers can’t write or read a darn thing because of all these computer gadgets they’re playin’ with. To some degree I agree, but I know they can cut through the digital mess with guidance.

As a society we are completely over-stimmed with information. Research has proven that our mind trims off excess information as a means of preservation. Hence, we miss typos. Plus, there’s no doubt, we read less now than 50 years ago. As a teacher, I’ve noticed that students who read non-fiction or informational texts, are almost always better writers. Those that don’t read, make oodles of mistakes.

Really, we all make mistakes. I’m no grammar elitist, that’s for sure. Still, there has to be value in a carefully crafted sales message, even if it is just for Craigslist.

I asked my students to critique a few Craigslists ads against the AIDA format. Boy, did that open their eyes! It’s such a simple format, but very few ads on Craigslists follow a model.

Here are a few samples they thought provided poor examples of the AIDA format.

Word Choice & Document Formatting Matter

Today I attended a clearance sale for a clothing and shoe store. At the checkout I noticed coupons if customers were willing to travel to the downtown store to continue shopping.

I was looking for new shoes for work. Read the coupon below, specifically the part about shoes.

Upon arrival, I immediately started looking for must-haves. I was standing close to another customer reviewing the details of the coupon with an associate. The associate was very cordial and explained that the coupon is entirely misleading. Shoes are only 10% off.

How should the coupon be reworded to reflect what they actually intended?

How should associates handle frustrated customers?

ps. I really like this store by the way! This happens to be a very teachable moment though. 🙂