The internet may be the dominant advertising medium these days, but newspaper and magazine classified advertising is still a very powerful advertising medium that can reap big rewards. Classified ads are much more cost effective than other forms of advertising, it is easy to target your niche, and the ads are simple to prepare and submit. Think about it. If someone picks up a paper or magazine or better yet has it delivered to them, the likelihood of them reading your ad has greatly increased. With online advertising it is much more challenging to pull them into the ad space. And those ads only get one shot if that, since most people click by the ad as opposed to clicking on the ad. If you are using any type of advertising campaign at all, consider classified advertisingI discovered classified advertising years ago when my first book Rose Marketing on a Daisy Budget came out. I was reading the latest issue of Flowers & Magazine and was perusing the classifieds when I noticed someone selling books! I thought here’s another great way to see how the potential for marketing Rose Marketing to a highly targeted industry ~ florists will pan out. So I called the advertising dept. to inquire about the cost (I think it was around $40 for a 3 line ad – which is higher today), designed the ad and sent it in. Two things you should know – the ad I created was not terribly impressive and I didn’t test more than one ad to compare results. I simply sent it in. From that ad I received 11 orders (at $19.95 each) and added another 40 + florists to our newsletter database. Had I done some of the things outlined below, I am sure that number would have been significantly higher.
The second time I tried classified advertising was in 2003 for the launch of the Women’s eCommerce Association, International. I did several things such as pay for placement in online newsletters at $10 to $25 per issue (spending a total of about $200) and posted several ads on free advertising sites as well as surfed the net for free advertising in exchange for space in our newsletter. The results were better than expected. We received 537 leads from the ads, most of which joined at the BASIC level (which is FREE), and surprisingly 15 women and 1 man upgraded to paying members.
Since that time, I have traded advertising space with other non-competing women’s groups, online calendars and newsletter publishers who cater to women who do business on the WEB each with positive results. I have also posted classified ads in two smaller women’s magazines with moderate results. Sometimes the trade is a one-time deal and others it is ongoing. The point is – Classified Advertising WORKS and I recommend you research your market to see if it could work for you. The first place I would check out is Craig’s List.
I have also put together a small list of sites that accept FREE classified ads which will be in the resource section.
Keep two things in mind when putting classified advertising into your marketing mix. Writing a classified ad to sell your product begins with the copy. Effective copywriting strategies begin with research.
Here are a dozen more tips to get you started:
1 Start studying the classified ad sections in magazines and publications (online and offline) that reach your target audience – the more targeted the publication, website or ezine, the better.
2. Study how other advertisers are writing their ad copy. You can start with the ads in newspapers, magazines and newsletters to which you already subscribe.
3. Surf the WEB for free classified ad sites and study the ads listed on those sites. Respond to those ads to see what else they do to market their products. (Note: set up a free email account just for this purpose).
4. Use each of the above as “models” for designing your own ads. Test your ad in those same FREE Classified Ad Sites before placing paid ads in paid publications.
5. Find out which category fits your niche. Look for categories with lots of ads. When you see lots of ads selling the same kinds of products that generally means the ads are working and these kinds of products sell well.
6. Advertise in the right places. Before placing your ads, study the publications you have identified that reach your target market.
7. Use the two-step method to sell expensive items from a small classified ad. A two-step method could look like this: send the reader to your website for free information they must register for – when you have captured their info, begin an auto response campaign to send more details that includes longer ad copy to effectively sell your product/service. Keep in mind, the higher the ticket item, the more steps you may need to close the sale.
8. Cast a wide net – Place ads in more than one publication, each with either a unique phone number, URL or other identifying tracking device so you know which ones are getting the most action. Advertising is a numbers game and in order to see results, you must spread the word far and wide.
9. If the copy isn’t working, change it. Effective advertising is all about Testing. Testing headlines, length of ad, wording, and which details you focus on. For instance, in one ad you might focus on a number metric to get results such as 101 people Use ___________, or 2703 People Can’t be Wrong!” Numbers can be very effective in ad copy. Two words of advice here – BE Honest. Use real numbers not made-up ones. And don’t round out the numbers. It is much more effective to use 11193 than it is to say More than Eleven Thousand. The question readers will than ask is “how many more?”
10. Keep records of everyone who responds to your ads. This is where a good auto-respond program such as Constant Contact or aWeber comes in handy. You can then follow-up withappropriate messages about your product. The beauty is that these email management programs have opt-out options built in so you don’t have to manually remove anyone who makes that request.
11. Contact other ezine/newsletter publishers to arrange an ad swap. You run their ad in your ezine in exchange for them running your ad. You can find other publishers in Ezine directories such as http://www.myfavoriteezines.com, http://www.ezinelocater.com and http://www.amazines.com/
12. Read the fine-print. Some sites will require a link back so you must decide if the extra traffic is worth potentially loosing the traffic to other sites (and competition). Other require you to subscribe which can mean hundreds of newsletters in your inbox you don’t have time to read.
If your ads fail, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Sometimes all it takes is changing a few words in the copy, the headline or even the advertising medium. Classified ads are inexpensive and can be very effective. In order to really see results you have to keep at it awhile. Create a budget you can afford, in a medium that hits your target and run the ad for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. If using newspapers as your medium find out which days are considered prime and run your ad in those days only (for newspapers its generally Wednesdays and Sundays. You may pay a little more, but the results will be better because more people will see the ad, read it and if the copy is working will respond.