The chain on my bike broke this morning, so I took it to my nearest cycling emporium…

In the window they had a beat-up looking bike with scuffed paintwork, a flat tyre, a frayed saddle, and a price tag – £100. It made me think.

It made me think, ‘Hmm, must be an antique. Or maybe it’s a fancy name brand. Or maybe it’s got some specialist parts that only bike geeks can see…’

I only realised it was an offer to buy customers’ used bikes when the guy behind the counter explained it to me.

Yes, it’s a clever trick. And quite funny when you think about it. But why should you have to think about it? Wouldn’t it have been better to include a message so that anyone passing would realise instantly what the offer was? It doesn’t even have to be blatant, just enough to put customers in the zone – something like ‘Your bike here’, or ‘Cash for trash’ could have made an okay idea into a good one.

The point: Good writing can include diversions and additional meanings. It can take you in unexpected directions. But it should have a message, and if you’re selling, that message should always be clear.