Do You Make These 9 Classified Ad Mistakes?

Classified ads can be a really effective way to sell your products or services. Internet classifieds work and when you have a tight budget, free classified advertising can be the best way to find your customers.


Over the last 20-plus years, I have written thousands of classified ads - mostly for car dealers. I used to dread it. And if there is a mistake that you can make, I have made it and paid the price.


I contributed, in a way, to the death of the print advertising business model.


But I learned. I worked at it; studied what worked. I tested things and threw out what wasn't effective. Save yourself some time - and money. Don't make these mistakes when writing your classified ad.


1 - Don't write your headlines or descriptions in ALL CAPS TO SHOW EMPHASIS! IT LOOKS LIKE YOU"RE YELLING AT YOUR BEST CUSTOMER. It's not a bad tactic to use bold text or caps to highlight a key feature - like the model year of a car - but using all bold text or caps is bad a practice.


2 - Here's a simple mistake that I see car dealers make all the time. Do not put the color of your car (or sweater, bicycle etc) in the ad. If You put "Red Ford Mustang" in the ad, you never get a shot at the folks who don't like red.


3 - Follow up promptly. If at all possible, use a phone number where you can be reached immediately. Cell phones are best. If you include an email address, link your email to your cell phone. Did I say respond promptly? It's important.


4 - Some experts will tell you to game the system to get to the top of the listings. That's where the "AAA AArvark endorses my plumber" ads come from. It doesn't work. Trust me, I've tried it. You're better off knowing who your target customer is and writing a great headline.


5 - If you type your ads directly into the classified site, eventually, you will lose your work, due to a system crash, accidental deletion or ISP interuption. It's happened to all of us. Instead use a simple free program like Notepad on a PC or Textedit on a Mac. These text editors let you write your ads offline. Write your headline, description and keyword text. Then save the text file and you can use it later to paste your copy into your ads. You've already done the work.


6 - Double check your ad for accuracy. And then check again. Include a phone number and email address but make sure they are correct. It sounds obvious, but mistakes happen. A wrong phone number means your customer can't find you. Make the wrong typo and they won't even try.


7 - If you use print media classifieds - and you're paying for them -  you are wasting your money. The internet has killed print. Find the online classifieds that hit your target market and start posting ads.


8 - In most cases it's a bad idea to use jargon or abreviations. Think of of it this way; you eliminate everyone who doesn't understand the term you are using, and you will turn off some of the people who do.


9 - Don't ask for the sale in your classified ad. That's the wrong "call to action". You can't sell your product or service with the ad. My headline, description, photos and placement have one goal. Contact me!


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22 May 2010

By Charlie Turner