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Classified Ads: Big Results for Small Businesses

Posted on November 28, 2000

by Kevin Nunley

You've seen those statistics that say 3 out of 5 small businesses give up within 5 years. The number one reason small firms give for closing shop is "we ran out of money for advertising." The Internet's thousands of free classified ad sites are coming to the rescue. They aren't for every business, but if you are starting your own empire on what you can eke out of the grocery money, free ads may be the answer. Don't expect them to be a magic bullet for success, however. Because free ad sites are free, EVERYONE posts on them. Your ad message is lost in the crowd more often than not.

But those who have an attractive offer, a well written ad, and some determination often pull in 10 to 20 prospects a day from free ad sites. How do you write the ad that will bring in these results? Well, there are a few things to keep in mind:

First, write your ad in complete sentences. Then cut out non-essential words to make your ad the required length. Start sentences with action words. Use short phrases.

To increase the impact of your ad, start the first two or three words in all capital letters. These words should grab your prospect's attention. Readers skim down the column of ads and only read the beginning words that stand out from the others:

"NEVER MIND people who say you won't be successful."

"YOUR FREE COMPUTER is waiting in our exciting sweepstakes."

Next add a few sentences that talk about your product, service, or opportunity. Keep sentences short. Don't have to be complete. Start with action words:

"YOUR FREE COMPUTER is waiting in our exciting sweepstakes. Enter while you browse our complete line of speed-demon computers. LOW prices!"

Wrap it up with your phone number, address, email, or web site URL:


Once you have your first ad written, keep on writing -- write several versions of your classified ad. I usually try to knock out six at a time.

After you have your ads written, test them. Run them all on free ad sites, in ezines, newspapers, or magazines. Be sure to include a code in your response info so you will know which ad produced the inquiry or sale.

Once you find an ad that works well, leave it alone. Resist the temptation to tweak an ad that is already successful.

Don't worry if you or your associates become bored with the ad. Your audience is not as close to the ad and is only assured by its repetition.

Classified ads have often been called the poor person's advertising. The fact is, they work for almost every business. Check the pages of your local "shopper" newspaper and you will see most of the BIG businesses in your town using classified ads, too. With strong, high-impact writing and a little persistence, classifieds can be one of the Internet's best bargain for your dollar.

Kevin Nunley provides marketing and copy writing. Read all his free tips at Reach Kevin at or (801)253-4536.


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