10 Serious Mistakes Made By Classified Advertisers That Inevitably Lead To Poor Results... And ... How To Avoid Making These Blunders So That You Get The Response You're After!

Copyright © 1999, 2000 by Robert Boduch 


MISTAKE #1: Trying to close the sale in the classified ad.

This is one of the more common, serious mistakes classified advertisers make. The problem is that you just don't have the space, in a classified, to convey all the benefits of even the most basic, or lowest cost product. To try to shortcut the sales process by trying to close the sale right away, can only result in a less than spectacular rate of response. You may sell a few, but I'd be willing to bet that this strategy will cause losses far more frequently than profits.

Many entrepreneurs start out this way convinced that their product or service is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel, only to become dismayed by a lack of sales. Any ad that lists a price for a product or service is guilty of making mistake #1. Try using your classified ad only as a lead-generating tool instead. Make the sale with your follow-up material where you can provide qualified prospects with all the advantages you offer. This puts you in a much better position to sell virtually anything!

MISTAKE #2: Pushing your product instead of the great benefits the customer gets as a result of having or using the product.

People respond because of what they "get". They never buy products, services or businesses, they buy advantages or helpful results. It's the benefits of your offer that you promise in your ad that triggers response. Don't talk about the features of your product, communicate instead all the great customer benefits your customer can have when he takes advantage of your offer. Leave it at that. If he's interested, he'll respond. Then you'll have a qualified prospect you can work with until he is converted to a customer.

MISTAKE #3: Not providing enough information to incite qualified readers to respond.

If you don't tell enough about what your product can do for the reader, your results will not satisfy you. You may generate response, but, it likely won't be of the high calibre, qualified kind. In fact, the only response you're likely to get will be those people who respond to any ad, particularly those that offer something "free". Don't skimp for the sake of a few dollars. You've got to say enough to arouse interest or you might as well not advertise at all.

MISTAKE #4: Not using your biggest bang as your headline, thereby running the risk of losing prospects who might otherwise be interested in your offer.

What is the greatest benefit you offer? Or, what could you say that would command the attention of the greatest numbers of qualified prospects? This should be your lead, and nothing else. You've got to use your strongest attribute right up front, or you risk losing the scanning reader, who just may be a good prospect for your offer. Don't hold back! You only have a fraction of a second to capture the attention of the only person who can make you and your ad successful: your prospect. If your strongest enticement doesn't work to command attention -- a lesser lure surely won't work either.

MISTAKE #5: Not providing a strong, compelling offer to call, fax, write, E-mail, or otherwise connect with you.

The world is one huge competitive marketplace. Your prospects don't need you as much as you need them. They have a multitude of choices available, even if your product is a totally unique one-of-a-kind product. You need prospects to become customers. The first step to converting prospects into customers is to woo them in, to attract them, to gently prod them along, to interest them enough so that they take action.

Some classified advertisers seem to assume that any one who reads their particular ad is automatically going to respond. There is no incentive to the reader, no enticement to inspire action. Without the appeal of a meaningful reward, how likely is it that your prospect will get out of his comfortable chair and do what is necessary to connect with you?

Inaction is always easier for the prospect. It's the inertia factor. In order to move your prospect to action, you've got to dangle a "carrot". And, the "carrot" you choose must be of vital importance to your prospect.

MISTAKE #6: Not addressing what's most important to your prospect.

This mistake is easily preventable by knowing your audience. The wrong appeal simply won't work. This should seem obvious to anyone who's prepared to spend hard-earned cash on a classified ad, but I see it all the time. Some ads have no apparent appeal at all, they just take response for granted. You may get a trickle of response this way but high levels of response can only be won by utilizing intelligent marketing strategies. You can only do that with a strong appeal that is interesting, inviting and appealing to your target audience.

MISTAKE #7: Offering something that seems to be readily available elsewhere.

Nothing can take the place of uniqueness in terms of what you offer in the marketplace. If generating a huge response from your classified ad is your goal, then you need to offer some sort solution to a problem that is not readily available to your target audience.

If what you have to offer can be had through a number of other sources, and this is common knowledge to your audience, then what you offer has no original advantage. If your product or service can be obtained elsewhere, possibly with less effort and expense, perhaps even through a source that is well-known, why would a prospect even be interested in responding to your ad? A competitive advantage would certainly help, such as a bargain price, but that in itself may not be enough to move your audience to contact you. Repackage, re-invent or re-engineer your product or service so that you can position it as something that is unequalled in the marketplace. Be different!

MISTAKE #8: Using someone's name (who's name is not of the household variety) in an attempt to attract attention and interest.

Assuming that your audience will immediately recognize a name and hold that name with the same reverence that you might, is arguably the biggest mistake on the list and the easiest way to kiss your advertising dollars goodbye. This mistake is most prevalent in the multi-level or network marketing field. Here is an actual ad as it appeared in a national magazine.

MLM - *Rick Ramjet challenges America, "Join Me Step-by-Step to Freedom" Information: (800) 000-0000
What's wrong with this ad? Well, there's plenty, but point I want to drive home here is this: using names as drawing cards in classified ads can never work as effectively as a direct benefit statement. This advertiser assumes that his or her prospect not only knows the Rick Ramjet name, but will want to take action simply to join along with this individual.

Where's the benefit in this ad? You might say the benefit is the "Step-by-Step to Freedom". Although it's a weak generalization, at least it offers some promise to the reader. For that reason alone, this particular advertiser would have fared better to lead with that benefit, instead of "MLM - Rick Ramjet challenges America..." * the actual name has been changed to protect the inexperienced and misinformed 

MISTAKE #9: Providing one option only as the sole means of contacting you, when that option may not be accessible to the entire potential readership of your ad.

This can be very frustrating to a prospect; I know from personal experience. For example, living in Canada, I have often been shut off from an advertiser simply because I could not make the connection to an 800 line. In many cases I was anxious; I really wanted what the advertiser promised. I was sold! But, I was also stuck.

What could I do? I usually tried to call more than once, only to hear the same voice tell me the number was not accessible from my area code. Very frustrating for a prospect. Very costly to the advertiser in terms of lost sales. To what extent? No one can be certain, but the solution has got to be to provide alternate means of contact. All you need to do is provide a mailing address, a fax number or even an E-mail address; anything that would allow any possible prospect to respond. You never know from where in the world a response may come. This is particularly true with on-line marketing, but it also applies to any major publication you may choose to advertise in. Be available to anyone who may want what you have to sell.

MISTAKE #10: Making a claim that is too general or too unreal. 

To proclaim that one can "make a fortune" or "earn six figures" overnight by performing some simple task rarely, if ever, works for an advertiser. Instead, such claims triggers doubt, disbelief and inaction. Everyone has heard it all before and many have been fooled, at least once, into replying, only to be deeply disappointed at some point. Anyone can make a general claim, but you can enjoy a far greater rate of response by being specific, with actual numbers; numbers that appear to be realistic. In no way am I implying that you should manipulate the numbers so that your statement of claim seems very real to your prospect. What I am saying is that whatever claims you make must appear to be truthful in the eyes of your prospect. Real, actual figures can help you achieve this objective.

For more information on creating winning classified ads, see my book,
Classified Magic ...How To Make Your Small Ads Pay Off BIG!

Copyright 1999 by: Robert D. Boduch. All Rights Reserved.

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