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Section - 4. How to write ads for newsgroups.

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  Ultimately, the most important aspect of any ad on the
    newsgroups is the ad copy--the subject and text which tell
    the reader what she needs to know.  Unlike older methods,
    however, the network newsgroups require a slightly different
    approach to advertising for both individuals and enterprises.

***Offering Your Items For Sale***

  Three sales methods are prevalent on the newsgroups:

    Stating an asking price in the ad.
	If you have an approximate knowledge of what your item
	  is worth, then we recommend this method as the most
	  effective.  Most people will pay attention to a stated
	  asking price, whereas they will often ignore other
	  means, because they do not want to waste the effort on
	  an auction they might not win.  One tip: make sure you
	  mention whether your price is firm or negotiable.

    Soliciting offers.
	Another method is to solicit offers without stating an
	  asking price.  This may be your best alternative if you
	  don't know what your item is worth, but it is not
	  nearly as effective as a stated price.  "If you gotta
	  ask, you don't wanna know," is an American adage that
	  sums up the situation--many people who might otherwise
	  be interested will not offer a price, and thus you miss
	  a large number of potential buyers.

    Conducting an auction.
	A final method is to offer items for sale through an
	  on-line auction.  This method is acceptable, but not
	  recommended.  Again, many people will ignore ads
	  without stated prices.  In addition, some readers
	  object to auctions because of the bandwidth they
	  consume.  The best type of auction is a buy-or-bid
	  auction, where you state a maximum price at which you
	  are willing to sell the item outright.  Also, several
	  guidelines for newsgroup auctions have been developed
	  to minimize the problems caused by bad auctioneers in
	  the past:
		Auctions should end within 2 weeks of the
		  initial post.
		Auctions should be limited to 2 posted updates;
		  updates sent by e-mail to bidders conserve
		  network resources.
		Auctions should be conducted in an ethical
		  manner; all items should be sold to the highest
		  bidder unless a reserve (minimum bid) was
		  stated in the initial post, and at no time
		  should any bidder be solicited for a higher

***The Subject Line***

  Most participants in a newsgroup only read a few of the
    articles posted.  Usually, they scan a list of all the
    subject lines for articles that interest them.  Because your
    ad is very dependent on this first contact with the reader,
    you should take the extra time to write a brief, informative,
    and effective subject line.  

  Basically, you need to present the most important information
    about your ad in 38 characters or less--the maximum allowed
    by some newsreaders.  In your subject, you should specify
    what you are selling--items, manufacturers, styles, and
    sizes, where appropriate.  If space is available, include
    your price and locality, but exclude hype.  Also, don't make
    30 posts in one newsgroup in order to give each item its name
    in lights--you'll lose people who don't appreciate your waste
    of bandwidth. Better is to write one article for each
    appropriate group, then be as specific as you can within the
    subject line.  If your ad is a "Wanted" ad, the inclusion of
    "Wanted" somewhere in your subject is required.

  Great subject lines:

      The best subject lines include items, manufacturers, and,
	in some instances, sizes.  For big items or items you
	don't want to ship, include your city in the subject.
	Prices are also helpful if space allows.

	"Bose Speakers, Iron, Cherry Pitter"
	"Nordica 770 Ski Boots, sz11, $200"
	"Red '94 Camaro in Detroit, $12k"

      For large listings, group several similar items together,
	but don't overdo the number of articles, particularly
	with items under $50.

	Article 1: "Chairs, dining table, hutch FS"
	Article 2: "Iron, vacuum, household misc FS"
	Article 3: "Stereo, 19" TV, Bose speakers"

      Computer items require model numbers and more technical

	"17" Mag 17DX NI .28dp monitor, $400"
	"Gateway VL-Bus 486DX33, 8RAM/512HD"
	"HP Laserjet 4P printer, $650"
      Commercial ads should include product lines, price, and

	"1000pr Nike shoes, export from US"
	"Refurb Maxtor 212meg IDE HD $149"
	"Overstock NEC 14"-20" monitors"
	"Academic Microsoft,Borland software"
	"Trading partner WTD, Hungary Cement"
	"Visual C++ programming svcs $25/hr"

  Terrible subject lines:
      These two have plenty of space for more information--
	"Household items FS"
	"Car for sale"

      Why are you different from all the others?  Which	languages
	can you program?
	"Freelance programming available"

      URLs make noisy, long subjects.  Use the space to advertise instead.

	"Colorado Cumquats"

      Capitalized words are perceived as rude shouting; the
	same is true of	symbols.  The wasted space won't help you
	sell your items--
	"******BOSE SPEAKERS******"
	"---!!!!!bose speakers for sale!!!!!---"

      These items do not belong in the same newsgroup.  The
	article	should be split into 2--

	"DOS and MAC Software FS"

      Several articles have this same subject at any given time,
	and this subject provides no useful information	about the

	"Make money from your computer!"

  Even if your ad is in the appropriate group, it may be deleted
    from some groups just on the basis of a lousy subject line.

***The Ad Body***

  Now that you have a descriptive title, you need to write the
    body of your ad.  The key to a good advertisement is the same
    as the subject.  Keep it short, but include as much pertinent
    information as possible.  For example, the best ads in the
    newsgroups usually fit on one screen--about 18 lines.  In
    this space, you should include:

      The item or service offered explained in technical detail
	Include every technical detail you can:  color, size,
	year of manufacture or purchase, and technical
	specifications in the case of computer equipment.  If
	your item is particularly unusual, you may want to say
	what it is in layman's terms.  Not everyone knows that a
	Berrien Sandrail is a kind of dune buggy.

      Your reason for selling
	Did you buy a more powerful item?
	Is the sale from a divorce?
	Does it have any problems?
	Businesses: is it refurbished, overstock,...?
      Sales terms and contact information
	Your full name, e-mail address, _and_phone_number_
	Any warranty you will provide, or lack thereof
	    Working on arrival is standard practice
	Your location (city & state/country)
	Will you ship the item elsewhere?  Internationally?
	Who pays for shipping?
  Occasionally, offerings will be so lengthy as to merit longer
    articles.  If you have a long list of CDs, household goods,
    software, or computer hardware, try to put one item to a
    line, single-spaced.  The fewer times a potential customer
    has to scroll through the pages of your article, the more
    likely he is to see the items at the end of the list.
    Biz.marketplace users are subject to additional length
    restrictions, as described in the later section on commercial

  One final note, please do not include binaries in your
    advertisements.  Pictures of your advertised items are nice
    for potential browsers, but you must remember that your ad
    will be stored on a few thousand different news servers.
    That adds up to a lot of memory; enough that it is usually
    bad netiquette to post binaries to any groups that aren't
    specifically for that purpose.  Also, many people have to
    download all of the articles in a group in order to read that
    group.  Binaries cost heavily in transmission time.  A better
    idea, if you have a picture available, is to mention it in
    your ad, and offer to send the binary by e-mail, uuencoded or
    MIMEd, to interested parties.

  This tried-and-true format is the most successful way to
    advertise on the Usenet Marketplace.  Usenet readers just
    want facts.  Marketing hype and personal commentary is not a
    good idea because many people see it as wasteful--don't
    forget who is ultimately paying for the distribution and
    storage of your ad.  If your article is more than a
    screenful, and you are only offering a few items, make your
    ad shorter.  Otherwise, the majority of readers will simply
    ignore it.

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