Advertising Effectiveness
How To Code Your Classified Ads

by Ray Wimple

Coding advertising is not the big secret or the involved process many would have you believe.

A great many firms sell reports on how to code your advertising for $3 or more, when it's nothing you can't learn with a little study of a few mail order publications.

Coding advertisements is simply a means of determining where your orders come from, and in cases where you don't use coupons or separate order forms for several different products, a method of double checking on what the customer actually requested.

For the purpose of demonstration, let's assume you have a company called JONDO COMPANY, your name is JOHN DOE, and you market publications by PRINTCO and PUB-GUYS. You decide to run ads for different products in three publications and teaser ads for your catalogs in two others, one for each publisher's catalog. Coding the latter two is easy.

For simplicity, where you put the name and address of the company when offering Printco's catalog, mark the name as PC JONDO, ADDRESS, ZIP CODE. When the envelope arrives and no indication is given of what was requested, you can tell at a glance what was requested.

Now Printco and Pub-Guys sound and look alike, so for the second ad, mark it JONDO-PG. If you're advertising the same catalog in three different magazines, use different codes for each to see which one gives you the best response, for example JONDO-PG, JOHN DOE PG AND P.G. JOHN. You can easily separate them as you receive them.

The permutations are endless: P.G. DOE, P. DOE, G. DOE, DPG, JPG, JDPG, and if that's not enough, code the address, perhaps BOX 99, DEPT. PG, BOX 99-PG, BOX 99 DESK PG, BOX PG-99, and so on.

The person ordering wants to be sure you get his request and almost always faithfully reproduces whatever is listed as the correct address right down to the last comma. You can never run out of ways to code. PG is the obvious code for PUB-GUYS, but you could use an arbitrary number code chosen by you and in fact, number codes are invaluable codes for making dates on the ads, to see how many trickle-in orders you get long after the ad stops running, and what months and season are most productive for selling your products.

Date coding involves using numbers in sequence to indicate magazine issue number, sequence number, or date published.

This coding is virtually essential in later campaigns. Once you've got a fair-sized mailing list, it will be far easier to use advertising codes to indicate their interests than to keep a complete ledger of every person and what they purchased. It also makes computer entry a snap, especially with a good filing program.

One thing that scares people about coding is receiving checks or money orders coded like the ads. People become somewhat afraid that they won't be able to deposit them because their account is registered to JONDO, not JDPG or whatever. Have no fear. Your company will be registered to your mailing address. By showing the clerk a copy of the advertisement with the address, there will be little doubt as to who should rightfully receive the money, and your checks or money orders will clear like clockwork. If by chance you do encounter a bank that won't accommodate this requirement, bank somewhere else where they understand the workings of mail marketers.

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