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When used effectively, classified ads can be one of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to increase your sales. A well written classified ad can generate thousands in sales, yet could cost you pennies to write and run.
Most people don't appreciate the power of well written classified ads. They think classified ads are for selling cars, or finding jobs, and not for expanding a business. While it's true a classified ad is a good way to achieve the above, it is also true that classified ads can be used to launch and expand multi million pound businesses.
Many businesses rely exclusively on these low cost ads to generate a substantial amount of their annual turn over. The reason is simple. Once you have discovered how to harness the power of these classified ads, you really won't need to run expensive display ads at all.
Note that the key point about classified ads is that they are most effective when used as lead generators, and not to sell from. In these ads you are not trying to convince someone to spend money with you. You are trying to identify a potential customer by having that customer contact you as a result of the ad. Once potential customers have identified themselves, you can then follow up with your direct mail offer for the product or service you are selling.
Writing an effective classified ad is one of the most exacting forms of copywriting. In twenty words or less you have to grab the customer's attention, and excite them enough to prompt them into calling you for more information. You can't rely on eye catching illustrations or professional layouts to catch the reader's attention. It's all in what you say.
Here's how you write a good classified ad that works:
1. First you need to define what you want the ad to accomplish. Do you want the customer to read the ad and smile? Or do you want them to read your ad and call you immediately? Obviously the answer is the latter of the two.
2. Next decide what type of person is most likely to purchase your product or service. This is called creating a customer profile. Ask yourself questions like: Are they a man or a woman? Are they young or old? Are they rich or poor? Ask yourself as many questions as possible to help create a profile for your potential customers. If you struggle to identify who you are going to sell your product or service to, then it is almost impossible to write an ad that will grab their attention.
3. With the most likely customer profile developed in step two above, you should make a list of all the "hot buttons", those words, ideas, and concepts that are most likely to grab the immediate attention of anyone in the group of customers you have identified. These hot buttons might be simple phrases like "work at home", "financial freedom", "lose weight overnight", "exciting job opportunity", or "immediate loans".
4. Using the list of hot buttons you came up with in step three above, you should see how you can integrate them into a twenty word or less ad that accomplishes what you defined in step one. When writing your ad, the most important words are the first three, and must be selected with great purpose. They should call out to your potential customers.
5. If your goal is to get the reader to identify themselves to you as a potential customer, you should offer free additional information about your product or service. This way you get the customer to call you and give you their name and address, so you can send them something in the post. You would normally do this by saying, "for a free information pack please call (your number here).
6. After your ad is written to your satisfaction, you should search out a number of highly targeted newspapers and magazines that your customers might read. Then you find the ones with the least amount of classified ads in, and run your test ads there. Always avoid general interest publications. The ad price rates are too expensive in them and the response too small, go for specialist publications.
7. Before the ads appear you need to develop your ad response pack. This is the free information that people who see your ads will be calling about. It is this response pack that will generate the sale. Having a good response pack is critical to the success of your classified ad project.
8. When your ads appear, you should keep a track of the total number of enquiries for each ad, and from which publications they came from. This lets you know which ad works best, and which publication pulls the most interest. You can then use this information when you roll out the ad on a wider scale.
One final point to remember, the success of a classified ad is determined by the sales that are generated by the follow-up effort (the response information pack), not by the lead generating ad itself. It is important that you spend much time and effort considering the content to be included in your response pack, but that is another topic.
Thanks for reading. If you liked the article please feel free to rate it at the bottom of this page.
Jason Morris is co-author, search engine optimization and marketing consultant of Business Phone Systems Direct. An established communications company, offering advice and implementation of high quality business phone systems.
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