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Is Your Classified Ad Effective?

Updated on October 12, 2009

Recently I was asked by a potential advertiser about the effectiveness of classified advertising. Based on my own experiences, I have concluded that classified advertising can be extremely effective if used in the correct way. Unfortunately, due to inexperience and lack of understanding on the part of the advertiser, too often it's not.

Since I started in publishing in the early Eighties, I've published and / or edited more than a dozen periodicals which carried classified advertising and I have to assure you that I've seen all kinds of ads, great, horrific, and everything in between. The basic problem is that most people place classified advertising either on a whim or in a hurry, and they don't give it anywhere near the amount of thought and focus that they would give to a display advertisement. Classifieds have a reputation for being a "quick and dirty" advertising medium, and that is why it is often not as effective as it can be.
There can be a multitude of reasons why a particular classified or sponsorship ad does not bring the results expected. Here are some points to consider when using classifieds to promote your product, service or opportunity.

1. In my opinion, a classified or sponsorship ad should not be used to sell a product, service or opportunity. It should be used to entice your prospect into asking for more information or clicking over to your site where your real sales material should be. This is done by listing a benefit(s) for the reader. (Don't confuse benefits with features.) Frequently I see ads that tell the whole story and the advertiser wonders why they don't get a very good response. Classifieds and Sponsorship advertising should be the first of a two-step process.

2. Too often I see ads that promise the reader they will make millions in the next 30 days... and in their pajamas no less. Ad copy not only needs to be enticing but it also needs to be realistic. Most people can't visualize themselves as millionaires in 1 year, much less 30 days. If they can't perceive it, they won't believe it and will move onto the next ad.

3. Ads are not run long enough to determine if they are effective. Here is part of the verbiage I once sent out in my renewal offer to all our advertisers that purchase ads for 6 issues or less. "As you may know, most prospects don't respond immediately to a single marketing communication, or perhaps even several of them. The average person will see an advertisement 7-9 times before responding."

4. Your headline alone should call your readers to action and be strong enough to be used as a stand alone ad. If you took away all your ad copy (except your headline), would your headline be sufficient enough to prompt your reader to respond? It should be.

Of course there are other issues around advertising that come into play as well such as having a product / service / opportunity that others want, knowing who is most likely to want what you have to offer and where the most logical place is to find this type of person.

Do your homework before you place an ad and you'll stand a much better chance of success!


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    • darklion profile image

      darklion 6 years ago


    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      You're very welcome! It's interesting to note that classified ad sections in newspapers have been largely devastated by craigslist, kijiji and others, but the essential structure of the ad itself is essentially unchanged from the paper days.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      Many people talk about ad blindness, suggesting that classified ads are ignored by many, but I guess someone who is looking for something will check out the classified section as well, right? I always do.

      Thanks for this article. :)