The Art of Writing Classified Ads
Yes, writing classified ads is an art, one that can be learned, developed and perfected in a relatively short period of time. Depending on the nature of your business, a well written classified ad can bring in business and subsequent sales of $10,000 to $25,000 annually, or more!
As with any business tool (and a classified as is most assuredly a powerful tool) you must first become aware of the effective use of these little business builders, then understand exactly what can be expected of them and what cannot be accomplished.
First of all, forget about any notion of selling merchandise from a classified . Some of the "experts" will tell you that a classified ad can bring cash orders for 50.-$1- up to $3 or more, but this is the exception rather than a general rule. Even in cases where small amounts of cash are received, total results usually are considerably less than if no money had been requested.
Instead of wondering, speculating and experimenting with your advertising budget, concentrate on offering free information to attract as many interested prospects as possible for what you have to offer. Realize from the beginning that your ad should serve only one purpose: to target a specific audience consisting of people who need and want what you have to offer.
You want inquiries: letters, notes, postcards---anything on which might be scribbled the words, "Send more information." When you start receiving them, quickly reply with professionally prepared sales material to tell your story and make your sales pitch. The standard material will consist of a sales letter, descriptive circular or flyer, and a return addressed envelope for convenience in you the order.
Zero in on Your Market
Unlike display advertising which must attract, reach out from the printed page and grab the reader, your classified ad is placed under specific heading according to subject. Readers interested in your subject will scan the heading in much the same way they would scan the Yellow Pages of the phone directory. They are looking for something. You have what they are looking for, or what will help them achieve what they want. Tell them!
No deception, please. What you want are quality names of prospective buyers... not a large quantity of names. It would be easy to promise the moon in your ad, but if it can't deliver it in your follow-up advertising, you will not only lose the initial sale, you will have alienated your prospect by deception and he/she will not be receptive to anything you say in the future.
Place your ad under the most appropriate heading. If you're offering something appealing to sportsmen, the heading would be probably SPORTING GOODS. If you're aiming at a specific type of sportsman such as hunters, fisherman, or bowlers, you might find such a heading. In some cases you can have the publication create a new heading for you for an additional charge. It could be worth the extra cost.
Be Stringent with Wording
The best way to write your ad is to disregard size and cost at first, writing everything on paper that might attract readers. Tell it all. Stress the need for what you have to offer, what it will do for readers, how they will benefit, what they can expect by using your product, how easy or more pleasant life will be for them.
When you have finished writing, you might have a long paragraph or a full page. Now is the time to think of size and cost. You will pay by the word, so you will have to be selective in your choice of words in the final ad.
If you've been in mail order for more than a month...chances are you've been ripped off by one or more ad sheet printers. This report won't make you a mail-order genius but might keep you from loosing your shirt prematurely.
When you have accumulated sufficient knowledge from preparing your own circulars and from co-publishing magazines and ad sheets of others, you may want to become a publisher.
Have you placed your display ad in a national magazine with over 20 million readers, then waited for the orders to pour in? But the days go by and there is little or no responses?
There have been entire volumes written on mail order selling. For printed information, the best way to learn HOW & WHERE to advertise is to go to your newsstand and check through all the magazines carrying large numbers of classified and space ads.
Regardless of what you're trying to sell, you really can't sell it without "talking" with your prospective buyer. An in attempting to sell anything by mail, the sales letter you send out is when and how you talk to your prospect.
This method of getting free printing is currently being used by several different mail dealers. It works! Here's the plan: Run an ad similar to this in any mail order magazine:
The opportunities for getting free advertising for your product or services are limited only by your own imagination and energies.
Here are some interesting results of a study conducted on readerships of magazine ads. Most of the stats are from Starch INRA Hopper, Inc and other studies.
What is a Big Mail? If you are a total beginner to the mail order world, you will have no idea what the term means. Before I knew better, I used to think a Big Mail was just a big envelope containing some type of free samples.
Most business beginners think Direct Mail means purchasing a mailing list and mailing an advertising flyer to a bunch of folks they know absolutely nothing about. This IS NOT what Direct Mail marketing is.