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
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
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