How a lawn care business should write a classified ad.

We got into a discussion about classified ads on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. This is a very important topic because a lot of lawn care business owners experiment with them. Print media is not yet dead. As long as your potential customers are reading the newspaper everyday, classified advertising is still a viable marketing method to attract them. No matter what marketing method you are using, you always want to get the most bang for your buck. Here are some tips on how to make your classified ads as effective as possible.

Here are three quick basic rules you need to follow:

  1. The top line of your classified ad is your headline. It MUST be something that freezes a readers eyes in their tracks and stops them from continuing on in their scanning of the page. If you fail to do this, you have lost any chance you had at them reading further.
  2. The next few lines of your ad are your body. The text found in there must keep the excitement going and build up the momentum to get the reader ready to act.
  3. End with a call to action. Tell the reader what they should do to get the great offer you just made.

With those rules in mind, let’s now jump to a classified ad that fails this test.

ABC LAWNCARE
888-555-5555
all calls returned
spring special 20% off first month of new lawn service
services availible: mowing, edging, mulching, powerwashing storm clean up

First off, using your business name in the headline WILL NOT GRAB THE READERS ATTENTION. It absolutely fails rule #1. Business owners do this all the time because they are proud of their ad. They are proud of their business name. They want to show the world how proud they are. This is a huge reason why such ads fail.

Second line is the phone number. As I read it I have to ask myself, why would I call this business? Let me look to the third line which says ‘all calls returned.’ Well I certainly hope all calls that come into that business are returned. That is not enough for me. Most readers would pass right by this ad.

Now on the opposite end of the spectrum is the classified ad that reads:

FREE LAWN MOWING
I will mow your lawn for free.
Find out how! Call now!!
xxx-xxx-xxxx

Free always seems to be the key word in advertising that stops a reader dead in their tracks. If you ran an ad like this, you would most certainly get more calls than the one above. With this ad you could have a promotion where if a lawn care customer signed up with you for an annual contract, they could get 1 or 2 free mowings throughout the year.

The customer would benefit because they would be getting something they could use for free. You would benefit because you would get a lawn care customer that would generate revenue all year long.

The more outrageous the offer, the more response you will get. Sure instead of free mowing, you could say, free estimates. But won’t the reader know that everyone gives free estimates? Put yourself in the consumers position for a moment when you think about this. Which offer would get you motivated to call? If one stands out over the other, use it!

You will also want to experiment with the ad’s position. Some newspapers allow you to pay for a higher ranking ad. If you can afford to go with the first spot, go for it. Also experiment with using the business services section of the classified ads, over the services offered section. It seems when newspaper readers are looking for contractors, they look in the business section first. The reason is readers feel these advertisers will be legitimate vs. someone simply working out of their trunk.

As with all your marketing efforts, test them. Try something, track the results and then change one element of your ad to see if it increases the response rate. If it does, experiment again by changing one more element. Keep this experimentation cycle going and you will find much growth in your future.

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