One major advantage a local newspaper has over its media competition is the ability to remain in a subscriber's home long after the first glance. This is why a well-placed classified ad can be so effective. Literally thousands of potential buyers or applicants receive newspapers every day, and a significant percentage of those subscribers read the classified ad section routinely. The same holds true for free shopping magazines distributed in restaurants and other retail outlets. Today's browser can become tomorrow's buyer. But what should you consider before placing a classified ad in your local newspaper or shopping tabloid?
One of the most important elements in a classified ad is wording. Newspapers typically charge by the word or line, so brevity and clarity should be your goal. Think about your item or service or job opening from the point of view of a potential customer or applicant. What would be the most essential pieces of information a classified ad could supply? In the case of a used vehicle, for example, you might want to mention the model, the color, the mileage and the asking price. These are most likely the questions a potential buyer would ask, so edit your classified ad copy to include basic descriptive information. Information that might be nice to know but not essential can wait for a face-to-face meeting. Look at existing classified ad copy or work with the newspaper's customer representative to pare down your description.
Another consideration is personal contact information. Make sure you are comfortable with publishing your home or work phone number in a public forum. A classified ad can generate a significant amount of legitimate interest, but it can also generate some unwanted attention if you fail to set limits. If you cannot receive phone calls after a certain time, or you would prefer to have callers leave messages on an answering machine, mention this in your classified ad. Even if you sell your item on the first day, the classified ad will often continue to run until you cancel it. If you don't want to continue receiving inquiries, run your classified ad for a minimal time.
Many potential customers know precisely which categories of the classified ad sections they'll need to scan, so make sure your ad is properly placed. An unwanted couch may be considered furniture, but it could also be considered a household good. If you have a combination of items to sell, one classified ad under a Miscellaneous section may be appropriate. The most descriptive words about your item should appear first, beginning with the name of the item. Many newspapers arrange classified ads in alphabetical order, so an ad starting with, "Sofa, brown and white, rarely used" will be more noticeable than "Brown and white sofa for sale."
Another consideration before placing a classified ad is the price of the item, as well as your allegiance to it. Haggling and counter-offers are often part of the process for private sales. If the price is non-negotiable, use words like "firm" in your classified ad. If you have some flexibility or are willing to haggle, you may want to include the phrase "or best offer" (often abbreviated "OBO") after your initial asking price. This will let callers know that a reasonable offer may be acceptable. If the point of the classified ad is to move unwanted items quickly, indicating flexibility on the price may be a good plan to follow.