Anybody run continous classifieds?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Green-Pro, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    I was disappointed to say the least with the advertising results we didn't get last year, I don't know if its just our area or not getting the right message out at the right time in the right method to the right people. Word of mouth was like wildfire for us last year and I fully expect that to be the case again this year.

    I don't intend to give up on advertising altogether and one thing I'm trying is a simple to the point inexpensive classified. I vaguely remember a blurb about the effectiveness of such an ad from an advertising class many moons ago.

    I wondered if anyone else did this and if it generated any positive results?

    The classifieds I'm starting are:

    locally produced bulk mulch
    delivered or installed
    reasonable rates
    xxx-xxx-xxxx

    and

    dependable lawn care
    reasonable rates
    xxx-xxx-xxxx

    I figured the mulch would be a good plug especially now with all the kooky emails floating around about termite mulch from Louisiana. I plan to run these as classifieds for a continuous run.
     
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I don't know, I mean... I've had the same bad experiences with paid advertising and results I never got. I found over time, it is a matter of running short 'test' spurts (inexpensive quick runs) in different papers / different locations of the paper until one finds the sweet spot.

    I put an 1800 dollar ad in the yellow book which thus far has gotten me nothing, thou I did get 2-3 tire kickers and a solicitation for money (another business, I really hate that when they call me from my paid ad to solicit me for whatever they're selling).

    But I run a small newspaper ad box (about 1.5 x 3 inches) in a local paper (not the big paper but a community thing) and I run that from mid-march until end of may, then EOW through june. Costs around 80 - 100 / week and sometimes I can get 10 or 12 weeks for the price of 8, stuff like that. Some folks call it a classified ad but it's not, it just happens to be about the same size as one, but it doesn't go in the classifieds section and the price isn't that of a classified, either (classified is far cheaper). As for me, I'm not impressed with the classifieds section, I get very few calls and the quality isn't all that.

    That little 2x3 boxed ad has been the best thing come around, it beats word of mouth ten fold and is the reason why for me, nothing beats paid advertising - But you have to find the spot that works. Mine goes in random locations (it's picked by the computer) so some weeks it may be near the back of the paper but watch out the week it ends up near the front, it is a bit of a crap shoot but it always works, just less some weeks and more on others <- Consistency is key, although I don't run it year-round because I get enough response in 12 weeks, I do run it constant for 2-3 months straight and am ready to go year-round if need be.
     
  3. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    C'mon nobody has tried this? I'm simply curious as to the response, seems to me most folks read the classifieds, they go right past the ads.
     
  4. JKOOPERS

    JKOOPERS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,259

    i just submitted an ad today we will see how long i leave it out there .
     
  5. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    Yep, my first classified will run on Monday for 26 editions straight, I am interested in seeing if there is a noticeable difference setting the ad as a classified as opposed to a 3 x 2 or larger stand alone ad. I really have a hunch from a cost effectiveness standpoint the $60 26 edition classified will out preform the $100 + two times run stand alone large ad. I asked some other folks around here about the larger ads and it seems no matter what business your in the stand alone ads just don't resonate with people, I can't see p!ssing that money away on these larger ads.
     
  6. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    We have a local shoppers guide that anyone can sell things or advertise services. Its about 50 pages 8x11 that when it comes out everyone grabs, they are free. I keep a listing in that year round as a Branding type thing. I just list my company name and phone number. it is randomly placed in the guide with no classification. As people are looking for cars, clothes refrigerators etc they will come through my listing. I figure seeing my name 52 times a year will help burn it into there heads, so when they see our trucks and trailers they are easily identified. I think it provides reasonable results. By mid summer all the new lawn guys ads are out of there by then and most of the winter there are no others so at least they have seen it many times before spring hits the new ad season.
    Now something that i experienced was that a business card sized ad yielded very little results but a listing only ad provided much better response. I believe that people relate a larger more expensive ad to a larger more expensive price. Even if the price were the same. This what i've found in my local area.
     
  7. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    I would be inclined to agree with you as far as a 3 x 2 ad getting very low results. I am anxious to see how this pans out, I believe most folks around here gloss very quickly over the large advertisements, but actually scan/read the classifieds. Maybe it has something to do with population and the size of daily papers related to that, heck I don't know I'm just spitballing this one :) I haven't completely gotten away from using large ads but have tried to find ways to bring the cost of larger ads down by sharing the cost with another business. One that we will buy their goods at their cost to use as an inducement to purchase our services (i.e. free xxxxxx with purchase of one lawn application) Their company logo will also appear on the ad and we will share the cost.
    Also contacted some other local business's similar in nature to lawn & landscape in that operational methods are similar. We have agreed to exchange promotional materials (business cards, brochures, coupons, etc.) to stuff our invoice envelopes with.
    I want to get some exposure but don't believe you have to break the bank to do it, especially for measly 1 to 2 % returns. I'm trying to be a little more creative, and flexible on getting that exposure, at the same time I believe it provides me with a better target to aim for in relation to the market segment I wish to go after.
     
  8. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I haven't tried the classifieds with the local paper, but I do run classified ads in several HOA newsletters that are printed monthly. The response is not tremendous, usually just a call or two per month, but they DO call, and the ads are dirt cheap compared to a larger print ad. It's nice supplemental advertising, I find a lot of the people that call from them prefer to pick someone from the newsletter vs. the phone book.

    Maybe a classified ad comes across to the client as a smaller, more customer friendly company?
     
  9. Landscape25

    Landscape25 LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 199

    That is an interesting theory about a just having a classified type ad versus a larger ad. There is a neighborhood newsletter which I was considering just putting a classified ad in which is in the back. It is 25 dollars a month, really about as much as I want to spend for the results I have gotten with other methods, getting a little tired of wasting money. I figured I would put my website in there too.

    I guess with the yellow pages the theory is the other way around, the smaller it is the less calls. I have a small ad, not a one liner but an in column, and have not had very good results for the most part with that. I am beginning to believe the tire kicker theory. I have done it myself, so who can blame them. I just don't think it is a good form of advertising for me. Now that I have a business I see why things are so expensive though. I guess with the smaller ads they do think you are less expensive, then you drop the ball on them :).
     
  10. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    I don't know the whys for a customer call back rate being better with smaller inexpensive classifieds vs. larger ads ( if the rate is indeed better, I will soon find out).
    Bottom line is I'm looking to have some form of advertising out there and am striving to find the one ad vehicle that demonstrates a consistent and higher ROI than the standard flyer, doorhanger, direct mail, large newspaper ad. I guess when I see these posts on here of the large amounts of money spent on these materials and avenues of advertising and time after time see the low percentages of response, I really question the futility of how that money is spent.
    Don't get me wrong I'm all for advertising and funding it with a generous budget. Just seems like I see a lot of "Let's throw a handful of this against the wall and see what sticks" mentality. Once I find out what will work best for us other than word of mouth (which has been very good so far) I will commit more resources to it.

    This is without a doubt the most difficult part of being in business IMHO, am I the only one that feels this way? UGGGGGGGggggg!!!!!:dizzy:
     

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