Marketing through Classified Ads

The Deer Farmer Classifieds continue to be the busiest section of our website. Although we do not have any hard data on how successful advertisers are, the feedback we receive is that they work – extremely well in a few cases. One farmer sent us a note a day after advertising a piebald buck. He asked us to remove his ad as he sold the buck 15 MINUTES after he posted the ad on the Deer Farmer Classifieds. Another person mentioned that she had her first phone call 9 MINUTES after she posted her ad.

So why did we change our Classified Ads software? There were four reasons why we wanted to install a new program. The most important reason was to provide more features and control to you, the advertiser. Second, we wanted to expand the Classifieds to include other species of deer, elk and related products/services. Third, web visitors had mentioned it would be more convenient if the ads were grouped by categories. Finally, the FrontPage developed classifieds were a processing hog and did not have any easy management or administration features.

The new Classified Ads software has a number of attractive features:

* You can still post your own ad, and in up to 3 categories at once
* You can change, delete or renew the ad yourself on-line
* Ads can be posted from 1 to 3 months, at which time they are automatically deleted
* The program notifies you by e-mail when your ad is about to expire
* You can browse selected categories, all the ads or search for specific keywords
* You can request the program to notify you by e-mail when ads of interest to you are posted
* You can “upload” a photograph or graphic as part of your ad
* The Classified Ads are still FREE!

We have set up 14 categories in which you can post your ads:

* Antlers – sheds, mounts, velvet, etc.
* Auctions and sales – for deer and elk
* Axis, fallow and sika deer
* Elk and red deer
* Reindeer and moose
* White-tailed and mule deer
* Hunting – hunting ranches and preserves
* Deer and elk products – crafts, hides, urine, etc.
* Equipment and supplies – fencing, chutes, feeders, etc.
* Real estate – deer and elk farms and ranches
* Professional services – vets, A.I., DNA, insurance, etc.
* Venison and meat – fresh, frozen, jerky, processing, etc.
* Workshops, meetings and conferences
* Miscellaneous – other stuff of interest to the industry.

[TIP: Because most recent ads are posted first, click on “View All” to see all the latest ads.]

Here is some advice for using the Classified Ads most effectively:

1. Put your name in the ad (it’s required). Customers are not going to buy deer/elk or related products from anonymous or unknown persons.

2. Include a phone number as well as an e-mail contact. Many people will want to call to ask questions or get more information. Also, a few people who see the ad may not have their own Internet accounts. In some cases, the e-mail address is wrong, and then there is no way anyone can get a hold of you.

3. Put your state or province (and country for the geographically-challenged). This is necessary in deer and elk farming because of the regulations affecting cross-border movement.

4. Put your farm name or brand name. You want to increase brand awareness and impress on people’s unconscious minds your identity. Put this at the end of the body of every ad. Also include other contact information such as fax or cell phone numbers and any deer/elk industry associations to which you may belong.

5. Provide adequate information – description of deer/elk, numbers, prices and any other information to make the choice easier for the buyer. Some people want to provide as little information as possible in their ad. They want potential buyers to call them so they can give them the sales pitch. I do not agree with this approach because you are thinking of yourself rather making things easier for the buyer. You want your ad to screen out the “tire-kickers” and make it easy for serious buyers to do business with you. (The ad description limit is 125 words).

6. Sneak in some competitive advantages if possible, e.g., guarantees, delivery services, installation, set-up, follow-up support, etc.

7. Advertise regularly (but not too often so that you are perceived to be spamming).

8. Offer something free or near-free – an article on bottle-feeding fawns, a research report, a newsletter, a video, etc.

9. Research shows that the ad headline can greatly affect response rates. Think about writing a catchy headline that will attract notice. (This is a separate field in the posting form – craft it carefully).

10. Don’t be too quick to delete your ad after you’ve sold out. Take a tip from the real estate agents – they leave their SOLD sign on your property until you have to threaten them to take it off. If you sell out of your fawns, don’t delete your ad; instead edit your ad to say something like – “Sorry, sold out! Now taking orders for next year’s fawns! Don’t be disappointed, book now!”

In addition to facilitating buying and selling, Classified Ads have other useful applications. For example, Classified Ads can provide you with market intelligence on such things as prices, competitors, supply and demand. They are also a good place to locate potential strategic partners, and to find contacts, suppliers and consultants.

For deer and elk Associations, the Classifieds have a place to post information about your upcoming meetings, workshops and conferences. Take advantage of this free high-traffic service to promote your organizations and events.

Bet you didn’t know that the lowly classified ad could do so much for you. USE, BENEFIT, and PROFIT from the Classified Ads!