Advertising Magic: The Basics of writing winning computer ads that sell!

This is what will make or break your business. Get this right and the world is your oyster. Get it wrong and you could end up losing your shirt.

How newly acquired marketing skills turned me from failure into an overnight success

In January 1995, I placed a small advert in a local free ad paper that cost me a few dollars. It brought in about $48 worth of business and I was charging $14 per hour – way too little. As a result of this small test, I concluded it was not worth pursuing, as there wasn’t enough money in it. How wrong I was.

At that stage, I didn’t know how to word my advert and I had no understanding of a very important concept: the lifetime value of a client.

Later that year, I wanted to get into the mail-order business and so I studied marketing. Then in January 1996, just to try and give me some immediate income, I tried advertising for computer training again. I reasoned that there are many people who need tuition after having bought a computer for Christmas.

You must remember that at this stage I was desperate for money and needed cash badly. I was in real danger of going under financially.

The difference in my approach to advertising this time around was like night and day. I knew far more about what makes an advert successful.

The result? A measly $3.58 this time around gave $128 worth of business in the first week. Then I increased my advertising spend and my income increased again. Within no time at all I was earning a very healthy wage doing what I enjoyed and with no boss to answer to. I had cracked it.

Four excellent methods for advertising your services

Let me share with you the secrets that made all the difference in the world.

Classifieds

Classified ads are what launched my career and they remain an excellent method of generating business. They are cheap and cost effective.

The key to generating business this way is to place enough adverts in several different publications. This way you will get a large number of people reading your advert and hence a large number of enquiries.

So you can see, classified adverts are cheap, low-risk yet an extremely effective way of building your business. In very little time, I went from no business whatsoever to nearly 70 hours a week using classified ads!

Not everyone wants to work 70 hours a week and I certainly don’t. But it got me started and I was then able to restructure my business so that I could do less hour buts still get paid handsomely.

Display

These types of adverts normally have a box around them. They tend to be larger and more expensive. I avoided them at outset because of cost. However, they are another means of getting your message out. The downside is the higher risk, since the advertising rates for this type of space are higher. Initially, I recommend you stick with the classifieds until you are snowed under with work. Then you can afford to test alternatives.

Yellow Pages

These adverts are expensive so I do not recommend them when you first start. However, once established, Yellow Pages can give you a consistent source of business. When people go to the Yellow Pages they are normally hot buyers actively seeking your services.

This is different to classified and display advertising where someone may accidentally stumble across your ad and make a tentative enquiry.

If you have an advert in the Yellow Pages that works well, you can also run it in editions in surrounding areas. Chances are it will work just as well.

Website

This is one of the best value advertising opportunities around, but it takes a while before you get a steady flow of visitors to your website. The benefits of websites include:

  • Low cost
  • Low risk
  • You can compete with much larger companies

You can get your website hosted for as little as $5 per month. This low cost means you have little risk by spending money on something that may or may not work. Compare this with a mailshot that could run into hundreds of dollars yet may not produce any sales.

If created with professionalism, your website can make you look much larger than you actually are. One of my companies’ websites is often mistaken for Microsoft and consequently we get all sorts of enquiries unrelated to what we actually do.

We had the following email sent once:

“I wish to thank Bill Gates and his staff for allowing a 71 year old lady to enjoy a super time on my new webtv, which my children got me for Xmas. I am still in the process of learning about it. I am on a fixed income but this has made my days shorter.  Thanks again.  xxxxx xxxxxx”

Very funny!

The point is though, that even if you are working out of your home, the internet surfer does not know this. If the website looks good, they are quite likely to assume you are of reasonable size. Great for enhancing credibility.