By Leigh Ann Kristiansen
Success in any advertising campaigns depends on four things: a good product or service, good ad copy, the right market and repetition. The item or service that an advertiser is promoting is a major variable in the equation for successful advertising. Unfortunately, that is something that companies such as ours cannot help you with. Once you have the product or service that you are going to promote and you are certain that it will be of value to others, then we can help! Here's where we start...
How to write an effective classified ad...
The single most important thing in an advertising campaign is GOOD AD COPY. We all understand the importance of having an ad that illicits positive responses from readers. What everyone does not understand is how to achieve this. To assist you, we have come up with a few basic rules to writing an effective classified ad. Here's where you start...
Effective classified ads should have three basic parts.
1. THE HEADLINE
2. THE BODY
3. THE CALL TO ACTION WITH CONTACT INFORMATION
THE HEADLINE is the most important part of your ad. It is in the headline that you will either get the readers attention and pull them in or you won't. If you don't spark their interest with the headline, then you have lost them and they simply will not read you ad. A good headline should have action verbs that encourage the reader to do something. It should also be believable. Examples of how to use action words in headlines are as follows.
"Earn up to $3000 per month!"
"Save $$$ on grocery bills!"
"Get the financial independence you've dreamed of!"
THE BODY is where you need to elaborate on the headline. Don't overdo it, keep it short and simple. With a classified ad, you are generally trying to keep the word count to 15 to 25 words, so you never want to actually sell the reader in the ad, you just want to spark their interest enough to make them want to learn more.
A common error that many unsuccessful advertisers make is trying to put too much in an ad. This results in a busy ad that lacks focus. To make matters worse they often abbreviate words to the point they lose meaning. Through the years, we have made many a telephone call to customers to have them explain to us what they are trying to say in over-abbreviated ads. Unless, an abbreviation is commonly recognized by the common person avoid using it. You do not want sacrifice an ad campaign to save a buck!
THE CALL TO ACTION is basically the end of the ad. Generally, it is not much more than a sentence in length. Effective classified ads will not have just a phone number or web address at the end of the ad. They will have contact information paired with action words. Sometimes in trying to keep the price down for an ad, advertisers will omit simple words like "call now" or "log onto". This is not recommended as readers need this simple call to action to entice them one last time to respond. Studies have been done and it has been shown that these simple words increase response to classified ads.
Here are well written examples:
"For FREE information, call now! 1-800......"
"To get started, visit www......"
"Call Toll-Free! 1-877...."
One last bit of advice for this portion of the ad is to pair it with a special offer. Being able to use statements like "limited time offer", "special bonus to first 100 customers" or "this week only" can significantly increase response.
How will your customers contact you?...
Here are a few more pointers that advertisers should know. The means that customers respond will dramatically effect results. A toll free telephone number is still the best means to generate leads. This is not used by all advertisers for a variety of reasons, but those who have the capability and the budget are encouraged to include a toll free number. If a toll free number is not in the budget then a regular long distance number is the next best thing. A live person answering the calls is going to result in more sales than an answering machine providing the operator is knowledgeable and courteous. The easier you can make it for a reader to respond and buy your product or service the more successful you will be!
Web addresses are more and more popular in classified advertisements. Adding web addresses to ads, will generally increase the responses, but if it is in conjunction with a phone number (which we recommend) you will get fewer calls as some readers will simple go to the website instead of calling. So make sure the website is professional and properly functioning. If you are considering using a web address in the ad as a sole means of contact, please keep in mind that not all people have web access or are comfortable doing business online so you will be limiting the number of potential responses.
Anytime readers are required to write for more information, responses drop. However, the up side to this option is that there is less expense to the advertiser. Through the years, we have seen a variety of successful advertisers utilize write in responses, so it can be done. The most important thing to remember is to have professional literature to mail to the potential customers. This literature will make or break your sale so make it good!
It has been my experience that the worst method of responding that we have seen time and time again is asking the customer to send money in the mail for a product or service. These will not work for a variety or reasons. First, you are requiring a small classified ad to sell something in three or four sentences. A difficult task to say the least. Second, most people are understandably wary of sending money in the mail to a company that they know nothing about. The public has been warned time and again about scam companies who prey on people using this means of advertising. If you have a good product or service avoid going this route. You simply will not be pleased with your advertising results!
Where to Advertise and How Often?....
Once you have a good ad written, the next step is to seriously consider your budget. We get calls from new customers regularly who ask for guidance in what program they should purchase. The first thing we always ask is what is your monthly budget. It is surprising to us that many advertisers cannot answer that question. Before you begin, look at your finances and figure out what you can comfortably invest in advertising on a monthly basis. Take that figure and divide it by four to get a weekly figure. Then, unless you are limited in geographic regions, search according to price range on our website. For example, if you have a $175 weekly budget, go to the $100-$199 buys and see if there is anything that would suit your needs. Keep in mind that you could run one buy for $175 or several smaller buys to meet your budget. If you are limited to a certain geographic region, you will want to search by state.
The most important thing is to stick to a budget so that you can afford to run the programs for a four week run. There are several advantages to this method. First, you will get repetition which will greatly improve your response rate. We will talk more about this a little later! Secondly, we have several programs that offer multiple week discounts at four weeks. If you purchase four weeks at one time you can save a great deal of money and possibly allow you to buy into an additional market with your savings!
As for the importance of repetition, we cannot emphasize enough how critical this is! Repetitive advertising builds credibility in your advertising campaign and allows the reader to feel comfortable in responding to your ad. Repetitive advertising also builds responses. In college, we were taught the Rule of Seven. Basically, the Rule of Seven claims that a reader must see an add seven times before he or she will respond to it. New advertisers are often surprised by this number because they are not realistic in their expectations. The facts are that a newly published ad may not get noticed the first few publications, then when a reader see it, they may or may not respond. Most customers do not respond to ads the first time they see an ad, but each time they see the ad, you are building trust with them. As you get more and more visibility, you will get more responses and increase sales. The first week you advertise will never be your best. If you do a four week trial run for any program as suggested, you will be off to a good start and get a good feel for what the program will do for you.
Professionals can assist you with copy writing when you order from their service like AdvertisingResults.com, but it is important that you learn to recognize a good ad when you see it. You know your business better than anyone else. Who is the best choice to promote your product or service than the one person that knows your business inside and out... YOURSELF!