I make it a habit to check out the listings on Craig's List at least a couple of times each week. Even though I've been doing this for about a year, I'm still amazed at the amount of print shops or graphic designers posting the equivalent of a brochure online. This is not a good idea for four reasons:
1. Smaller is better. I do agree with the philosophy of a visual on Craig's List. This removes all doubt of what services your company provides. However, be realistic; if the potential client wanted to see your entire portfolio or line-listing of services, they would have clicked through the ad to your website. Most people are impatient by nature, and will merely skim the rest of the ad or not scroll down at all, equating a large waste of space.
2. The ad doesn't really go anywhere. Put yourself in the customer's shoes: if the customer decided to buy your service and they click through the ad, the last thing they want to see is your "about me" page. The ad should click through to an action, or in the case of the client, to an order page. When it comes to online activity, assuming the sale isn't always a bad idea.
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE. I see ads that have a lot of text on them, all competing for the same amount of attention. All this gains the designer is frustration on the part of the client. If you're advertising a hot price on business cards, chances are pretty good the customer doesn't care about the new quad-fold brochure you're selling; the customer just wants to see (and order) what brought the client to their site: the advertisement for business cards.
4. Size does matter. Keep the ad to no more than 350px x 400px (this is my personal preference). One rule I try to keep in mind, but isn't always possible to do, is to advertise in the size you are selling. For example, if you're advertising bookmarks, make your ad approx. the size of a bookmark. This will give potential customers a visual idea of the size of the product while they read about your special price. It's better to put out several ads about different products than only one ad (usually too long) talking about all your products.
Visual advertising does work, even on Craig's List. Just try not to overdo it.
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