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    1.1. What's Next?


    2.1. Sales Consistancy
    2.2. The 3 Idea Approach


    3.1. Listing Classified Ads
    3.2. Shipping Label Printing
    3.3. Packing Materials
    3.4. Order Processing


    4.1. Maximizing Classified Ad Sales
    4.2. Ad Selling Styles
    4.3. Choosing Title
    4.4. Description Ad Copy Techniques


    5.1. Analyze Your Sales
    5.2. Analyze Your Ads


    6.1. Profit in Shipping Costs!
    6.2. Pricing Techniques/Testing
    6.3. The Importance of Having a PayPal Account


    7.1. Phone Automation


    What's Next?

    At this point, I am assuming you have a good idea of what publications are decent for placing ads, whether it is with Thrify Nickel, Bargain Trader, or some other publication. I would encourage you to a couple ads in some of the bigger ad publications like Thrifty Nickel & Bargain Trader and a couple classified ads in some of the smaller Newspapers. This will lead to you learning faster through trial and error, as there will be more to analyze and learn from. If you sell in only one publication, it will be difficult to analyze any of your sales data, because it will be small. But, if you have multiple sales a day, you can learn generally many times faster.

    Over the years, I have learned many many tips and tricks for selling. So many, that I will not even be able to collectively remember them all or even a fraction. I guess, over time, I will consoldate them all here, but at first, I will just include the most relevant and basic..


    Sales Consistancy

    Probably the most surprising thing I came across when I first started selling through publications was the fact that its not sporadic as one might think. There is actually consistancy in sales and its not very difficult to acheive. Sure, there are what I would call "waves" within the sales pattern, but they are not very large. The first type of wave would be customer demand wave. You would think it would be a wave you could somehow predict, but actually, that is not the case. It generally comes bi-weekly. You will see some weeks will be a little low (80% average), while other weeks seem exceptionally high (120% average). The good news is that over time, they balance each other out into an average. The next type of wave would be based on how you have your ads situated. If you have only a few ads out on a given week, you can expect there to be lower sales. On the other hand, if you have many ads within publications on a given week, you will most likely have higher sales. This makes sense and is pretty obvious. Now, the last type of wave, is the worst type and it seems to come about once a year. It would be best described as a storm and it is usually something you can not control or prevent. I would say many of these storms are a result of any number of occurances out of your control. OVERALL, though, I would say that I was amazed at the fact sales were consistant. Prior to selling through ad publications and online, I was a Mechanical Engineer, so I had no understanding of how sales worked. My thoughts were that business was "risky". I can tell, that is not the case, if you approach it correctly.

    The 3 Idea Approach

    This is probably my most important tip for doing any type of business. Its called the "Three Idea Approach" and it can basically be summerized as:

    Always come up with three good business ideas/products, so that atleast one will succeed.

    Generally, people will start a business because they think that they have this one "grand idea" that will be the best thing since sliced bread. They are convinced it will work, also. This is point where most businesses fail. For, you need atleast three good ideas to succeed at business, as usually only one out of three business ideas will succeed. It does not matter how convinced you are regarding your business idea or product. You should come up with three great ideas or products. Atleast then, one of them will succeed and you can continue with building your business. I developed this principle based on the statistic that "one out of three businesses fail" and from the common fact that most start businesses with their "one grand idea". So far, this has worked very well for me and I have found that it is VERY true. Generally, I will come up with three killer new products and only one really works great, while the other two just fizzle or end up being not worth my time (not enough money in them).


    Listing Classified Ads

    First thing you will need to do is utilize one of the websites, which allow you to place classified ads in just about any newspaper around the country (21,000 newspapers, 60 million readers). Learn how to place classified ads through their website. Classified ads are far more simple to place than an auction ad on say eBay, as you are only allowed around 15 to 25 words in a classified ad.

    The second thing to consider, would be the fact that the main way of contact for you would be by phone. Obviously, its not fun having the phone ringing off the hook. It might seem fun at first, but trust me, after about 2 days, it will drive you nuts. SO, the best thing to do is AUTOMATE your phone! Yes, believe it or not, you can do this. The idea is to buy a toll free phone number service, where you can place your automated messages. For instance, it would say something like "Press one to hear more about this product. Press two to find out how to order...." This way, you do not have to answer any phone calls and can just wait for the orders to come in!

    Now, you might be wondering, how are the orders going to come in? Well, the simplest way would be to give your address and contact info so they can send you payments such as money orders or checks. You could even point out your website address where they could buy it online. Last, you could set up a credit card by phone processing service, but I would suggest this only to those doing high volume, as it is an expensive service.

    Shipping Label Printing

    1. First thing that you should do is buy some Fellowes Shipping Address and Return Address Sheets for your printer from stores like Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, etc.
    2. Next, you download the payments your received for that day or just enter them manually into MS Word for printing of your address labels or use our automated MS Word macro program(only works with Paypal orders) that will make the shipping label printout for your days orders. Click here to download the MS Word program and its directions for installation and use(Only works with Paypal Orders).
    3. After printing out the shipping labels, correlate the labels with the products you packaged for that day.

    Packing Materials

    • SMALL ITEMS - For small items, such as software, music CDs, movies, information packet, etc, we use "Bubble Mailers" which can be found at stores like Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, etc. Bubble mailers are just bubble insulated thick envelopes. They usually only cost about $0.45 each and come in packages of 6 or more.
    • LARGE ITEMS - For larger items, such as musical instruments, we first try to use the box it came in as, atleast, part of the shipping container. In the case of amps, this is often all that is needed for the container. For other items, such as electric guitars, it is wise to buy a second outer box to put thin inner box in. We buy the outer box from Uhaul(Large Mirror Box) and cut them down. Of course, Office Depot, Office Max and Staples also sell boxes. ALL items that are larger should be packed with styrofoam pellets to protect the product during shipment. ALSO, all larger items should be fully insured through the shipping company of choice (we usually use FedEx Ground for larger items).
    • ODD SIZED ITEMS - Stores such as Office Depot, Uhaul, Office Max, Staples, etc are good for buying packing supplies. Unless you are doing large volume, I would suggest not buying a large volume of boxes from a box creation company. But, if you are going to be doing large volume, it might be a way to save a little money. Anything of larger size should have styrofoam pellets or other filler to protect the product in question.

    Order Processing

    During order processing, it is wise to keep order records of some sort, whether electronic or by paper. The good news is we have programs written to make processing orders much easier. You see, I am a programmer, by hobby, and I have written code that works with MS Word to automate saving a record of your sales on your computer(Works only with Paypal orders) for each and to make a shipping label page that you can print out! This cuts down a lot of the work in this area to make it more of a breeze. Helps a ton when you have a ton of orders. Please refer to the Shipping Label Printing Section for the program details and download.

    Once you have the file on your computer and the printout for the labels to go on the packaging, you can easily streamline labeling the packages by comparing the two.. For example, lets say you have 5 orders of Product "A" and 4 orders of Product "B" and 7 orders of Product "C". You can package all the orders first, before labeling them. Then, download the data from Paypal, run it through the order processing program I wrote for MS Word and add in any mail order payments that came in the mail for that day. Then, simply print out the list on your home printer using Fellowes Address Label Sheets found at stores like Office Depot, Staples, Best Buy, etc. and put the labels on the corresponding products that you packaged.


    Maximizing Classified Ad Sales

    One of your biggest goals selling is to maximize your profit through trial and error selling. A good idea is to keep track of your sales data, physically analyze and write down your sales. Later, you can analyze your data, to improve your sales strategy.

    Some of the variables that are worth modifying when figuring out how to maximize profit are:

    1. The Price (while attempting to maximize the Shipping Costs within reasonable parameters).
    2. The Ad Placement Style (refer to Ad Selling Styles Section below. Includes many options, patterns, etc).
    3. The Ad Copy (apply professional ad copy techniques and test)
    4. The Title (diversify and use multiple titles for multiple ads.)

    The more you sell, the more experience you gain and the more you understand the theories, selling styles, etc that will work for you. It become easier and easier as time goes on. Now, I don't do much modifying of variables as I have done it all in the past. Occasionally, if something seems to be faltering, I will try to modify a couple things to bring it back up to the level I desire.

    Ad Selling Styles

    Over the years, I have developed several ad selling styles through ideas and experimentation. Here are the ones I use most often:

    1. Border/Higlight Featured Ad - This was the first ad style I developed. Basically, you take a solid low priced product and you put it in a bordered classified ad. The idea is to have a couple of these bordered classified ads for this one product up in different newspapers (first do testing). To have several duplicate ads for the same product, you make them all have the same ad copy and advertisng approach for a couple weeks. Then, develop new ad copy and try it in the same publications again for a couple weeks. Do this with about 4 or 5 different ad approaches for the same product to get an idea which of them is works best. You want to be effective with your advertising, so it is good to do a lot of testing. So, once you have about 5 titles, 5 different approaches for your one product, you will have a lot of data telling you which ones work where.
    2. Low Cost Grab Ad - This is an ad where you do not feature it, border it, or anything. You just put it up in plain manner. The type of product for this style is a "grab item". Generally, grab items are the ones you see near the checkout at a store. You just grab it. Not much thought is put into the action. So, the idea is to take this grab item, put it in just as a plain ad, but the idea is to form an atmosphere that it is for a "limited time only" or that it will be "gone soon". So, they need to buy it now, if they are going to buy it. Generally, this tactic works really well with grab items, because you are not allowing the buyer to think about ordering later. The reason is because they think its going to be gone soon and you are subliminally telling them they can not put it off till later. Usually people want time to think about it, so they will circle your item and forget about it. The cool part is that the classified ad will only cost minimal list. For grab items, the trick is to have very low prices and rack up the shipping. So, you could put the price at 99 cents, which makes it so low, people often will just "grab it". But, the shipping cost is $5.95. Whats cool is many (over half) already have made up their minds by the time they see the shipping cost of $5.95, so they continue to buy it.. Its kind of like grabbing something kind of near the checkout, getting up to the lady and finding out it costs a couple dollars more than you thought. Are you going to take it back or are you going to buy it? Often, you will just buy it.

    Choosing Title

    1. TITLE - When choosing a title for your item, think "catch phrases", "eye catching words". This is the primary importance of the title. Another concept to use with your title is making more than one for each product. This requires much brainstorming of keywords. So, multiple titles, focusing each title to work with its publication. The last thing to do is use the keywords in some test ad and monitor how they perform and maximize them over time.

    Description Ad Copy Techniques

    There are too many principles for me to discuss them all in detail here. I will mention just some of the main principles. For more further information beyond what I discuss here, please find a good book on "product advertising". For instance, anything that would discuss advertising on the outside of a product box, internet ad, newspaper ads or just product advertising in general.


    1. Benefits Vs. Features - The main concept in advertising is to emphasize the benefits, rather than the features. A benefit is something that the customer needs or desires that will benefit him. A feature is a specification of the product you are selling. For example, a TV's benefits are that you can watch the news, see your favorite TV shows, watch movies, etc. A TV's features are that it is 27", color TV, Audio/Video Connection, etc. So, instead of just listing that a TV is 27" and is a color TV, it would wise to point out the benefits of having this TV. Even better, pointing out the benefits that this TV has versus other TVs out there. For instance, a benefit that it can receive high definition programs or that it has certain relevant connectors in the back so the buyer can plug in all their devices (DVD, VHS, Cable Box, etc). Often, people will just point out features of a product, but neglect to point out its benefits to the customer. If you are wondering still why it is wise to point out the benefits, realize that you are assuming the customer understands all the benefits that seem obvious in your mind. You might see its greatness, while others do not. That is why you need to point out its greatness through its benefits to them.
    2. Pictures - Pictures, photos, etc are very important to your advertisement, but sometimes the price can become an obsticle. The only thing the customer sees when buying is your ad itself and what it leads to(toll free number, website, etc). So, you can see how a picture can be worth a 1000 words. The problem is that with Classifieds, its not often offered, so it is wise to have a website that they can visit after seeing your classified ad. Another way to use photos is to show the item being used or in action. This is wise, as it will help them see it in action and possibly see its benefits. If you can get a picture or two in of people, it is an added benefit.


    Analyze Your Sales

    Although I have tested/screened the products we will supply you, I encourage you to analyze your sales. It is always wise to analyze your product sales, by monitoring your ad's success rate. Over the years, I have noticed that this is one of the biggest mistakes sellers make. What they will do is put up an item to sell and will then will stop thinking/analyzing. They assume that once they have their item up selling, that is all they are able to do or they are just too lazy to analyze their sales results. I came to this conclusion on several occasions as I was browsing through auctions on eBay. Basically, I would find a guy selling something and I would do some number crunching to see what type of profit he was making. Often, to my amazement, the seller was making NOTHING. Literally, there are sellers that will sell items, and make little or no profit. The reason it occurs is because they take their thinking cap off after putting up the ad. This is where they are tricked, per-se: They will put up the ad and will get a few sales. They think to themselves, wow, I am selling! Then, they will fail to analyze just how much money they made from those sales. They forget the fact that the ad might have costed them $20. So, they leave their calculator in the desk and assume they are making money, because they have made sales. Yet, when I pull out my calculator and calculate their profit, I often find it being a couple dollars or nothing at all. I have found, even on occassion, people selling and making NEGATIVE money. So, PLEASE, do not assume that if you are getting sales, you are making money.

    The good news is that this negative can be turned into a positive! Yes, and it only requires a little work! All you need to do is modify a couple things within the ad to turn it from little or no profit to a healthy profit generator. As my CPA says, "if you have break even, you win", as you can always fix something that breaks even. I have had to do this on SEVERAL occasions. Many of the products I am now offering you have been "fine tuned" from making little money to mega profit generators! Some of things that often are best to alter in the process of acheiving good profit are: the price, the advertising options used, the title or improvement to the ad copy.

    Analyze Your Ads

    Besides analyzing your sales data, it is wise to analyze other sellers ads. It is the best way to judge how well you are doing. Generally, you can get some really good ideas when looking at other people's ads. I will ask myself, "What is better about their sales technique?" I will look at their ad description, their title, their placement method(line around ad, etc). After doing this for a few months, it will get easier and easier to analyze other's ads.


    Profit in Shipping Costs!

    With classified ads, people are often expecting low prices. Often, with such low prices on smaller items it seems like it would be difficult to turn a profit, even with a good product. BUT, that is where the "Shipping and Handling" costs come in. When selling low priced smaller items, the key is to get a couple dollars profit out of the shipping cost. It is truly, one of the more famous tricks that sellers use. Often, you will hear that customers don't like this or that it is not fair, but my experience says otherwise. I have found that most (90%) of the customers will pay the shipping cost, even when it is high. For instance, one of the small low priced items I sell is the "100,000 Recipes on CD-ROM". Generally, I will sell it for 99 cents. Now, at first, this sounds like a price that is way too low. But, here is the deal, the shipping cost is $5.95. So, the total payment is $6.94. To create and ship the CD usually only costs about $2.10. That would give me a profit of almost $5.00 just from one sale, due to the shipping costs!!! This method works great for products any where from $0.99 to $200.. An example of a hundred dollar item with profit on the shipping would be an electric guitar. Generally, I charge $32 shipping cost for FedEx Ground, fully insured and solid packaging. In the end, I often get about $10 out of the shipping, which I then apply to my advertising costs, so that the guitar ad is paid for in the shipping costs and the guitar itself ends up being where I make the profit.

    Pricing Techniques/Testing

    It is wise to do testing on the price of your item. I have been surprised a number of times at what a price change did for my sales. Sometimes, it was the exact opposite of what I "thought" would occur. So, don't allow your assumptions to stop you from changing the price. For instance, if you think that raising the price will automatically decrease your sales, that is not always the case. There is a certain type of customer, out there, which will actually be more likely to buy it if the price is higher! Yes, I have found that there are two types of customers: Those that like it cheap and those that like quality. The people that want quality often assume that if the price is higher it is better quality. To me, it doesn't seem logical, as I am other the "like it cheap" category usually. But, to them, it is logical to spend more money to obtain quality, whether or not it is really better quality. Another assumption I have made that was incorrect is that lowering the price too far is risky. If there is enough demand from the "like it cheap" crowd, you can lower the price and see a large increase in orders. I have seen this occur with one of my products.

    When doing price testing, do it in a scientific way. What I mean be meticulous with your methodology and analyzation. So, try raising the price a couple dollars, let it go for a week or two and analyze your sales and profit. Did it increase or decrease? If it increased your profit, keep it. Possibly try increasing it a couple more dollars and let it work for a week or two to see if it increases the profit again. If it doesn't, go back to the previous level that was making the most money. If it does, maybe this is indicating a pattern or possibly, you need to increase it again.

    NOW, this will mess up your thinking, but just because increasing the price made more profit, does not mean that there is a lower price also that can increase the profit. Think of those curves with two humps you used to see in math class. Imagine your first price was between those two humps and you just went to the right with your price increase and saw the profit go up (one of the humps). But, if you would have went the other way, you would have also seen a profit increase. You don't know that, though, as you haven't tried it yet. It should be noted that this "two hump curve" does not occur too often. Generally it is a one hump curve and if increasing the price increases your profit, most likely the opposite direction will decrease your profit.

    The Importance of Having a PayPal Account

    When selling on eBay, Yahoo and through Google Adwords, I receive payment generally in two different ways. The first methods would be through the mail (money order, checks, money orders). This accounts for only about 15% of my revenue. The second and more important method is through my Paypal Account. Now, with classified ads, you will see most of your payments coming through the mail in the form of money orders or checks. But, it is always wise to have a PayPal account for those who goto your website, assuming you would provide this info in your classified ad or on your automated toll free phone number.


    Phone Automation

    As mentioned earlier, it is wise to sign up with a company that provides you with a toll free number and automated call answering. The reason why is because your regular phone would be ringing off the hook otherwise. Unless you intend on selling something or higher value, it would be worth your time to get an automated toll free phone number.

    The toll free phone number could be setup to have a menu with options. One of the options describing your various products in detail, such as describing its benefits to the customer enthusiastically. Another option would give detailed instructions on how to order the product. These two options would be most important and necessary for this to work. Other options could be added, like how to personally call you, how to send an email or fax, etc.


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