Classified ads are a brief, direct way for buyers to grasp the essentials of what you have for sale. Many readers find the classified sections of newspapers and trade magazines to be virtual directories of products and services—no fluff, just easily understood information in a sensible way to buy.
People who have time to read a newspaper or magazine also have time to read your ad and act on it. They read classifieds because they are looking for something. When readers elect to study ads they do not ask you to arrange tricky displays, stock every style, color, and imaginable quantity. They do not take up time asking questions about your product or service, then walk out the door. Their reading time is just as valuable to them as your advertising is to you.
Classified ads require no professional art work, photographs or drawings, no expensive typesetting or elaborate mechanicals. The magazine or newspaper assures correctness, and delivers your ad into the hands of its readers. You may see newspaper and magazine articles like "Mail Order Buying Tips." Notice how frequently they stress, "Write or phone for a current catalog." That's another job your classified ad can do. It tells readers what you sell, and how to get additional information.
Know Your Prospects
The objective of any advertising—especially classified ads—is to reach people with purchasing power who have need for a product or service, immediately. You want to make the reader aware of an unsatisfied need or wish.
Offer a Benefit
Classified advertising can specialize. Offer that specialization in your ad, rather than pay a less-than-qualified salesperson who is not trained in your particular field.
Know Your Audience.
Make the offer specific. These facts motivate the reader toward a decision. Your classified ad must answer the question: What is in it for the buyer?
Develop a mental picture of people who will be interested in your product or service. Imagine how they talk, what they like, even how you think they look. After you have put yourself in their shoes, try to write your ad in language they can understand.
You do not have to pick winning, top circulation magazines. Instead, select local business journals, trade magazines, and the classified section of your community newspaper. Select the publication in which to run your ad by finding out about their readers and the editorial material they feature. You can also use classified advertising to call attention to your display ads elsewhere in the issue. Classifieds make frequency in advertising possible without breaking a modest budget.
The average reader devotes about three seconds to reading an ad. Make that time a good investment. Use those three seconds to make your ad interesting and hold the reader's attention. First tell the story, the advantages, benefits, descriptions, and details. Then get to the details of how to order or request additional information.
Tests show that buyers act more positively when no decision is required in a buying decision. When no choice is required, the only decision is yes or no to respond to your offer. Good classified ad copy presents the nuts-and-bolts information in a readable style that is distinctive, arresting, and sticks in readers' minds.
Select the publication you plan to advertise in by getting to know it. Read the articles. See who is advertising. All of this tells you about readers. Study the specifications for classified ads in that publication. Select a suitable classification—do not select one just because there are only a few ads under that heading.
Key your ad. Keys are used for testing and tallying your advertising. A key is a word, number, or change in spelling frequently in the address. When tabulating results, be sure they are clearly defined. Do not make a major decision based on minor results. Did you allow sufficient time to elapse before you cut off tabulation? Consider the pass-along life of the publication.
There is no quick or easy way to find out what months or offers are best for you. Tabulating the keys will give you the answer. Understand that it often takes two months from the time you send in your ad until the magazine is printed. Allow time for distribution.
Will it work? Before you send in your copy, ask yourself these questions: Would you buy the product based on your ad? Is the ad clear and easy to read? Have you told the prospects everything of importance? Is your ad brief and to the point?
Once customers have confidence in you, they become prime prospects for additional offers. Classifieds can be used to build a mailing list and solicit additional business. Whatever you do, keep in mind that nothing happens until somebody sells something!
George's company, ProTrain, is available for special assignments in sales and marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
author: By George Reinfeld