Article: Brooks Owen

The Small Business Library

February 6, 2001

Seven Steps to Getting More Customers and More Sales from Small Ads

No matter what business you're in -- mail order, Internet marketing, publishing, networking, consulting, whatever -- potent tiny ads are the most cost-effective way to reach qualified prospects who are ready to buy. It's what I call the "David vs. Goliath Strategy."

Classified and small display ads are powerful sales tools. Yet many business owners overlook how these little profit-boosters can affordably bring in new customers day after day... all year long. Whether or not you've ever placed an ad before, or even if you've been using small ads for years, you can generate greater cash-flow when you follow these seven simple steps:

  1. Observe my AEIOU principle.
    A profitable ad must grab Attention, create Excitement, arouse Interest with a compelling Offer, which Urges your prospect to respond... NOW.

  2. Put "U" before "I."
    It doesn't work that way in the alphabet, of course, but in advertising "you" comes before "I." It's another way of saying that when you're selling put the emphasis on the reader. Your ad must spell out what the benefits of your service or product will do for your prospect.

  3. Be aware of the small ad's limitations.
    You can ask a small sum for a catalog, sample or a modest "loss leader" product. But leave your full sales message for larger ads and direct mail; the small ad's job is to coax prospects to write, visit your web site, go to your place of business, or call for more information.

  4. Use power-packed sales words.
    There are certain words that are generally successful in all advertisements. The favorite six are: free, new, you, how-to, now and easy.

  5. Don't worry about word count.
    Your first job is to get all the benefits and selling words about your product or service on paper. Then you can edit and polish to fit the ad space.

  6. Say more with fewer words.
    Find brief ways to say the same thing: use "satisfaction guaranteed" instead of "money back if not satisfied;" say "details free" or "free information" rather than "write for free details."

  7. Key your ad.
    A "key" is a device to code an ad so you can tell where an inquiry or purchase came from. It should always be used when you advertise in more than one publication. There are many ways to key. For example, in one magazine ask your prospects to write for "free booklet N" and in another magazine, "free booklet A." You can also change initials in your name, or add a letter to your box or street number, like: "PO Box 10A" or "1113-C Main Street."

Small display and classified ads let the little guy profitably compete on an equal footing with larger companies. Unlike other methods of getting your message out, dynamic small ads are well within the reach of most small and new businesses.

If you want to increase your customer base and are on a limited budget, consider adding the power of traditional, time-proven small ads to your marketing mix.

Article by Brooks Owen, Small-Ad Specialist. You can get 237 additional free tips, techniques and ideas to promote your business for "Maximum Profits at Minimum Cost" by visiting Brooks Owen's site at