Are you ready to make money – lots of it? Can you spare a little time and just a few dollars? Mail-order classified ads are your ticket to success if you are prepared to fulfill your dreams and realize your goals.
You have what it takes – right now. Classifieds are the best dollar-for-dollar return in advertising, and you can earn a high profit on your product investment.
Classified ads are the easiest to write, place, and cost the least. They require only a simple follow-up and bring in hundreds of sales dollars.
People read classified ads for a purpose. They aren’t interrupted – as in most advertising – and are specifically looking for products, services, and information that appeal to them. Well-placed classified ads will bring hundreds – thousand – of replies month after month, year after year.
You don’t have to have a unique background to make money with mail order classifieds. Any beginner can realize a steady second income or develop a stable, full-time business through classified ads.
But you have to be persistent. You must WANT TO MAKE MONEY and be willing to stick with it. If you do, you will find that being successful is easy. Just follow the steps one by one while climbing the ladder to the top.
WHAT SHOULD I SELL?
Look at the classified ads in the magazines and tabloids you read. They are filled with offers for services, products, and information. And they sound good. The ads show enthusiasm about the materials being offered.
What gets are you going? There are many things you find of particular interest constantly. Could you offer those for sale? Do you have a specific trade or service that can be conducted by mail? Maybe you have a product to distribute, such as stamps or coins, a timesaving gadget, or a do-it-yourself kit. Or perhaps you can tap into wholesale or surplus goods that you can sell at a good profit. Bargains are always in demand.
The most successful type of mail-order product is INFORMATION. The technical information in the form of ideas and money-savers of self-improvement can be easily produced on a low budget and readily SOLD AT A HUGE PROFIT.
Information in the form of how to make or do something is a constant best-seller. People always look for simpler, cheaper, or better ways to improve their crafts. What can you offer?
THE 2-STEP APPROACH
The proven method of selling mail-order items of information is called the two-step approach. You place a short classified ad in the back of a magazine or tabloid. The ad does not mention the price but tells the reader to write for free details. Once you have an inquiry, you then send information concerning what you have to offer and watch those orders pile in. Essentially, a mail-order classified ad buys a name and potential business. It may just break even with the actual orders placed. The real money comes from subsequent sales.
Profit begins at the second sale and gets bigger and bigger as the sales continue.
WHY NOT CHARGE IN THE CLASSIFIED?
You’ll get far more responses from an ad for free information than for goods – at any price. And, since you want a POTENTIAL BUYER, you’ll have more inquiries for materials you want to sell later.
Charging a small fee to cover postage or the cost of the inquiry will never make you break even – people won’t be bothered. And a small fee doesn’t necessarily weed out non-buyers. If you find your classified is pulling people who aren’t interested in your offer, you can change the advertisement to be more specific regarding what you have for sale.
WHERE TO PLACE CLASSIFIEDS
The best advice in placing classifieds is to follow the leader. Find where other goods in your category are being sold and do the same. The mail-order business is not a place to be different – especially as a beginner. However, your product must have an appeal different than the others. Stay with the pack and advertise in the same publications.
Look for repeat business. You can review back issues of publications at your library or buy some copies of the publications you might advertise in. If a certain ad has appeared time after time, you can bet it’s a winner.
Write for the details of some of the offers similar to your. You might even purchase a sample product or two to get a good feeling for what is being offered, how the ads run, and what kind of successful prices.
If you have a specific product or information appropriate to a specialized type of magazine, check out all the magazines on that topic. Which publication carries most of the ads? What is the circulation of the publication? A magazine with a higher circulation may cost more to place a classified, but bargain rate publication won’t be the best investment if they don’t bring the inquiries.
Consider your dollar-for-dollar inquiry. How many people may read your advertisement for the cost it takes to place the ad? Many products have special seasons, and classified ads are no different.
December generally returns varied responses because of the holiday season and is not a good month to include in your testing. The summer months are generally slower for classified responses and mail-order packages. The best time to try your ads is the fall, winter, and spring months.
WHAT IS TESTING?
The most important element in mail-order advertising is to test. Not only do you need to find out if your product will sell, but you have to find out the best price.
You have to test the magazines. One may not draw as many responses as another. Or, after three months, it may not seem to pull at all. Then switch to another publication. You may try several publications at the same time with the same ad to be able to judge which has the best dollar-for-dollar response.
Don’t be too hasty in dropping a publication, however. Sometimes it takes the repeat insertions of three or four months to get the proper percentage of responses. People become more secure with a repeat ad, or they may pass it by the first or second time until they get around to writing for information.
You will also be testing the type of inquiry and the response package containing a sales letter and brochure. You’ll also need to test the frequency and number of times to continue mailings after you have a good customer list.
Testing is the name of the game – and this is where you need perseverance. Don’t get discouraged. GIVE IT A TRY. Because of the low cost of placing classifieds, it’s worth keeping it going. YOU CAN PROFIT.
TYPES OF ADS
Three types of classified ads are qualified, partially qualified, and blind.
The qualified ad is specific. It includes several details to inform the reader about what you are selling. The people who respond to highly qualified ads usually are specifically interested and produce the best quality prospects with the highest percentage of sales. Since the ad may be a few words long, it is the most expensive to place.
The partially qualified ad offers a special benefit, such as money or self-improvement. The readers have some idea of what you are offering but don’t know the specifics.
Blind ads offer only a few details, are inexpensive to run because they are short, and bring in the largest response. However, blind ads produce the lowest percentage of actual orders because they are often answered just out of curiosity.
The best place to start is – you guessed – the middle. A partially qualified ad is a good test ad. It doesn’t need to be specific about your product, so it brings in inquiries that can be used repeatedly for related items. You can rewrite it with more details or trim it down later.
What’s the best guideline? PROFIT. If you compare the actual orders received from the number of inquiries for each of your ads, you have the conversion rate. Aim for the ads which pull best for you.
KEYING THE ADDRESS
How do you determine what inquiry response came from which ad? You code the company name or street address to determine what ad pulled the response. This is called keying the address, one of the most important tips in classified mail order advertising.
The simple key is a two-part letter and number code. The letter stands for the name of the publication, and the number represents the month the ad appeared. You can make up any code as long as you keep track of what publication it appeared in. You can add the key to the address by hyphenating the street address to include the code. Or you can key the company name by adding specific initials.
The surest way to the key is to add the code to the address in the form of department, division, or suite number. Be careful it doesn’t conflict with any other addresses nearby.
Writing your copy for a classified ad is easy. You need to use so few words that you don’t have to worry about being a writer or a professional in advertising. You are your expert in selling your product.
The selection of words is the most important aspect of classified ad copy. You need to choose precisely, but don’t skimp on words to save the cost in the ad.
The best way to prepare a copy is to first write about your product or service at length. Go ahead – list all the benefits. Scrutinize the features and write them down. What sticks out? What is so great about your product? What can it do for the reader who will take the time to write for more information? How can your product help? Will it show how to earn money, does it offer self-improvement, and can it help accomplish something appealing and significant?
Choose a heading that points out your product’s most significant aspect or feature. Follow up with a few words or details, and finish with a request to write for more information. The best word in a classified is “free,” but you must follow up with
SAVE MONEY PLACING ADS
Most classified ads are billed a certain charge per word, so you want to keep your words important and precise. Once you have written your ad, take a closer look at it. Can you eliminate extra words without changing the meaning?
You might be able to delete conjunction such as “and,” articles like “the,” “a,” and “an,” or prepositions like “for,” “with,” or “from.” Perhaps you can make your company name into initials or use just one word.
Each part of your address counts as one word: the number; the street name; the street aspect (boulevard, avenue); the key (if separate); the city; and the state. Many publishers let you include the zip code free of charge.
Use figures rather than words for numbers, but don’t use contractions or abbreviate. You must pay for each word in full, so spell them out completely. That way, you’ll get no confusion when people place orders.
RESPONDING TO INQUIRIES
Once you start getting responses from the classified ads, you should send out your sales literature immediately within one week. The goal is to convert the inquiry into a sale and convert the sale into PURE PROFIT.
Your sales literature can be a one-page pitch for your product. It doesn’t have to be an expensive color catalog. As you get going, you may prepare a sales package and a series of follow-up offers.
You can’t tell from the type of inquiry whether the person is a buyer or not. Postcards or letters are potential profit makers for you. What’s important is to MAKE A SALE.
Type the person’s name and address on a label and make at least three carbon copies of these labels for subsequent mailings. Your second sales packet should be mailed a month after receiving the inquiry and another month after that.
Follow-up sales are where you are going to MAKE YOUR FORTUNE. Your classified draws the inquiries, the first order establishes a good customer, and the rest of the orders are pure gold. Testing is the only way to find which plan works best for you in getting orders. You’ll need to find out which sales packet works best and how often to make mailings.
THE RESPONSE PACKAGE
A typical mail-order package – called a conversion – consists of a personal letter, a brochure, an order form, and a return envelope. How elaborate you want to make your conversion depends on how successful your product seems to be selling and how much money you want to invest.
Always start small. A simple one-page offer can work as well as a fancy catalog. After you’ve built up a few good selling products, you might print up a single-page brochure or catalog. Even at that, you don’t have to go to color unless your product warrants it.
You don’t need an advertising agency to create your sales packet, but you can use one if you want. Be sure to investigate the type of agency and what it can do for you. You should have an agency with a proven background in mail advertising, and you must take a good look at what has already been produced. Talk with clients and see if the agency pulled through for them.
Why don’t you need an ad agency? Because you can produce all the sales literature, you need. You are the best salesperson for your product because YOU KNOW IT. If you have done the proper research, you have already found out what the competition is, how much their products cost, and what sales appeals they are sending out.
As in placing and writing classified ads, do what the competition is doing. Although you shouldn’t – and can’t, legally – take direction from them, you certainly can copy the format and general ideas they project.
If somebody has been selling something successfully for years, do the same thing. Adapt your product to fit. Of course, you can’t convert a sales pitch for surplus goods into an appeal for a self-improvement book, but take notice of WHAT SELLS PRODUCTS.
HOW TO PREPARE SALES LITERATURE
The sales letter promotes you as well as your product. It is a personal appeal to a potential buyer. You want the person to feel special and have a reason to look through the rest of the literature and BUY YOUR PRODUCT.
The appearance of the sales letter is the most important aspect. It should be on company letterhead, cleanly printed, and inviting to read. Although it can be any length, it doesn’t have to be more than one page. But it must be double-spaced and typewritten in clear, easy-to-read type.
The most effective sales letters are printed in two colors. The second color offers eye appeal and provides emphasis on selling the benefits of your products. Printing black on two-color letterhead is the most inexpensive way to produce two-color colors. You may use the second color in alternate paragraphs or as special paragraphs, indented to catch the eye. Blue, red, or green type is harder to read, so keep the second color areas short and important to the reader.
Other effective ways to use a second color are handwritten remarks in the margins of the sales letter, as underlines, and in the signatures.
Write the sales letter as though you’re writing to a friend – keep it direct and personal. Present yourself and your product as worthwhile, honest, and desirable.
The beginning of the letter should have a lead line similar to a classified ad. It emphasizes the benefits of the product and points out the strongest appeal.
Don’t be tempted to use two or three appeals in a row. Choose only one and save the next best ones to try on other sales letters as you test the results.
Follow through on the appeal, amplifying WHY the product is desirable. Emphasize its value to the reader. Build credibility. Will it make me a better, richer, or more secure person? Can it prevent worry, poverty, and illness? Why should anyone want to have it? You might admit what the product won’t do, then present several positive aspects, stating what it will do.
In the next section, mention the price and immediately talk about the money-back guarantee. The reader will be more convinced the product will do all you claim if you are willing to stand by your product enough to offer a full refund.
Finally, restate the major benefits or features of the product and push for the order. If you are offering a special premium for ordering immediately, state it here. Include a good reason for why the person should not wait, but ORDER NOW.
If you have only a one-page sales pitch, you need to provide space for an order form. It should be well-defined by a line or dotted line around it and large enough for someone to write the information. If you plan to send out a complete packet with a sales letter and brochure, print up separate order forms.
Mention the benefit, the product name, and the guarantee. You might want to use the first person in pushing for the order. For example, “Yes! Please rush me, my…” Include the price on the card, perhaps in a manner such as, “I enclose my check for $ .”
Provide adequate space for the name and address with long lines to write on. You may also want to place a key if you are using more than one sales appeal.
PRINTING A BROCHURE
Preparing a brochure or sales catalog is not as difficult as it may seem. It doesn’t have to be a glossy, four-color fancy booklet. You can even send out a one-page description of the product and an appeal for ordering.
The brochure or sales catalog is the visual representation of your product. It emphasizes the features rather than the benefits and goes into detail about the product. Think about what you’re selling.
What are the best points of sale? If it’s printed information, what is the format size, number of pages, hardcover, or soft? Is the author a well-known authority? How is this a better deal than another on the same subject?
If you’re selling a product, maybe you’ll need to include the colors available, sizes, or the type of materials. Or emphasize the clear, easy-to-follow instructions that are included. When you get stuck, just look at all the other catalogs and compare. What information is included? Follow suit.
The important aspect of a brochure is the use of illustrations. Again, these don’t need to be a series of four-color photographs. Although photos are very good ways to sell goods, don’t bother to use anything that is less than excellent in quality. Be careful if you want to use a model. Remember, you WANT TO SELL.
An excellent way to illustrate your product is with simple lithe drawings. Even if you cannot prepare the final artwork, you can probably think of what you want and how to place it on the page. Local yellow pages, newspaper ads, typesetters, and printers are good places to find an artist to do the final work at a reasonable price.
Once you have a good idea about the size and scope of your brochure, you’re ready for the rough layout. And this is easy. Just pretend you’re an artist. That’s right – you don’t have to draw to do a rough layout. Pencil in the type for the heading. You can do a stick figure sketch of a line drawing or indicate the size of the photograph. Draw lines to indicate the body copy.
Write out all the words for the brochure is accurate, clean typewritten copy. Don’t forget anything that will be printed, and don’t misspell anything. Have a friend proofread it for you by reading it out loud. Then take it to a typesetter or printer. Printers can usually work with you to help choose the layout’s type, style, size, and particulars. Or, they may know artists or designers who can help you for a small fee. They usually work closely with a few typesetters, but you work directly with a typesetter to have the type put into final form.
You can obtain a bulk rate permit at the post office if you send out at least two hundred identical pieces at a time. They must be presorted for the destination. The bulk rate cost is lower, but the mail takes much longer to deliver.
The most important aspect of mailing your sales literature is the quality of the list of people you are sending it to. A brilliant sales piece won’t work if it is not sent to the right people. That’s why you must be clear when you place your original classified ad, and that’s why you need to test which heading to use and how many details to include.
Your mailing list is the best one because you know what these people responded to since you keyed the responses. You have already profiled the potential buyer, you have already written a sales piece aimed at that buyer, and YOU WILL MAKE MONEY from that buyer.
Although you can buy or rent lists of names and addresses from a list broker, you can never be sure how well the list will respond to your sales package. If you need more names, just place more classified ads. Test different headings, test different magazines, and test different products.
It is extremely important to keep accurate records in mail order. Only through these record sheets can you determine which ad pulls the best, which advertising lead is the most enticing, and how well your product is selling. Good records are the follow-up of good testing.
Keep copies of all ads and conversion material in a three-ring binder or scrapbook. You may also include in that book – or a separate folder – a record of all the keys you have used. The separate sheets of records per key or publication will help you compare which ads are bringing in the profits.
You can make your record sheet with a pen and ruler. Then have a few photocopied. You’ll need a separate sheet for each ad you place. At the top of the sheet, place the name of the publication the ad appeared in; the issue number or date; the date the issue was placed on sale; the address key; the size and cost of the ad; which ad you used; the price of the product; and – to be calculated later – the profit.
The main body of the record sheet has two main categories: inquiries and sales. First, the number of days should be listed in a column at the left. These don’t necessarily coincide with the days of the month; rather, they start with when the first day’s responses came in. The subheads under “inquiries” should be: date received, number received, and running total. The subheads under “orders” should be the number of orders received, running total, cash sales, and running total for cash sales.
These record sheets will help you determine the responses to classified ads, orders from sales literature, and how much money you are making.
To calculate the cost per inquiry, divide the cost of the ad into the number of inquiries received.
To find the cost per order, add the total cost of mailing the sales packets to the cost of the ad and divide that by the number of orders received.
The conversion ratio is the number of orders compared to the number of inquiries. For example, the conversion is twenty percent if you get twenty orders from one hundred inquiries.
HOW TO CALCULATE PROFIT
Total the number of cash sales. That is your gross profit. Subtract the cost of the product. Subtract the cost of the product. Subtract the cost of mailing. Subtract the cost of conversion and the cost of the ad. That is your net profit, the one that counts. Just stick with it, and you can WATCH THAT PROFIT GROW bigger and bigger with each ad, conversion, and sale.
EXPANDING AND GROWING RICHER
Over the years, good buyers purchase your initial investment in classified ad space many times. A first buyer indicates a second sale; you have a regular customer who may purchase for years.
Promote the field of interest you’ve selected – don’t expand into separate areas. Cultivating your prime customer list takes patience and testing, but you’ll find it rewarding.
Perhaps you started with one product to offer and are ready to try another. You can run new, separate classified ads in the magazines that have tested your other offer successfully. And, you can use your list to send out sales literature for the new offer. Regular mailings depend on the number of items you have, the size of your list, and your budget. But follow-through is very important.
Maybe you are at the stage of printing a small, two-page catalog/brochure that offers five to ten products. You can mail this out to the inquiries from classifieds, or you can use any combination of one-page offers you have used in the past. Always run with what sells. Drop anything that pulls no response as soon as you’ve given it a fair test.
Once you get rolling with your mail-order business, you can try any number of incentives to solicit orders. You can offer a gift – or free anything – certificates, coupons, or fabulous prizes.
You might offer a sample, a trial period, or a special guarantee. One way to push for an order is to indicate that the supply is limited or you won’t stock a certain item for long. Time limitations will elicit quicker responses. You may offer one price until a certain time and then indicate an increase.
A successful way to push for large orders is to offer a discount on larger orders. That way, it is worthwhile to order two or more items – for you because it’s more business and more profit in mailing and handling, and for the customer, it is at a reduced price.
What do the other mail order businesses do? What kind of incentives do they use? As always, check with the competition. What has proven successful to them probably will work for you too. What kind of “special” offer can you make to push for larger, quicker, or more frequent orders?
Not only must you print a guarantee in all your ads and sales literature, but you must honor it. Never send inferior merchandise; never take a chance on faulty mailers or guess lower on postage. Deliver a complete product.
It is only through satisfied customers that you will get repeat business, and through repeat business that you MAKE MORE MONEY.
Don’t try to get away with anything less than you promote, and stand by all claims you make. Honor requests refunds promptly and politely. A customer satisfied with your honesty remains a good buyer and may purchase from your later offers.
MAKING MORE FROM A WINNER
You’ve got a successful product. The conversion for orders is high, refunds are low, and the draw from the classified ad is great. How can you make more money – even if you think you’ve saturated your market?
The easiest way to increase your inquiries is to run another ad in the same publication with a different heading. If the classified section is large, you might request one to be placed at the beginning, the other towards the end. Although several clever readers will notice the same address, it still draws many inquiries. This technique is also good for copy testing to see which heading will draw the most response. Be sure to key each ad separately and keep accurate records.
Maybe you have two or more products that you want to advertise separately. This is a good way to do it without going to other publications. Again, key addresses, and be extra careful to respond properly to the inquiries.
YOU AND THE LAW
You do not need a special federal or state permit to operate a mail-order business. The material you sell must be legitimate, and you cannot be deceptive or misleading in claims or advertising.
If you offer something “free,” it must be free, and all claims concerning money must be honored.
If you use testimonials in advertising, they must be real and available for investigation. Frauds are discovered and prosecuted.
The federal and state governments require you to report all income, but you can take every legal deduction. Once you make a good deal of money, having an accountant fill in your forms is often worth every penny. You will be expected to pay income tax quarterly if your income warrants it.
Most states now have a sales tax, so you’ll have to determine the regulations concerning collecting and paying these fees. An advantage to this, however, is that you can get a state resale number and may not have to pay state sales tax on some of the items you need for your business.
You’ll have no problems if you keep accurate records and report the proper information to the authorities.
Classified ads are the best way to make a high-income return from limited sources. You can buy the extras you’ve wanted, send yourself on an exotic vacation – even create a profitable yearly income.
One of the best aspects of this type of enterprise is that the number of successes increases as the number of errors decreases. You learn as you go along, and YOU PROFIT CONSTANTLY.
Cultivate positive thoughts. As you can see, there is nothing difficult, costly, or extremely risky in making good money from classified ads. What is the best way to get started?
Thousands of people have earned a comfortable income from classified ads – with great happiness and contentment in their own business. You can succeed too if you make up your mind that you want to. Faith is simply a state of mind, but it has been proven that a state of mind can CHANGE DESIRE INTO REAL MONEY. There’s no better time to get started than now.