These days, classified ads are an often undervalued advertising method to grow your business.

But ads are still the most direct and effective way to get your products or services in front of potential consumers, making them a worthwhile endeavor for any business type. And with, the new (and, for now, only) classified ads search engine that's on the horizon, potential customers would be able to access classified ads even faster. So it makes sense to be visible there.

If you're new to classified ads, this post will give you a crash course of the best practices to help generate business leads.

Speak to Your Target Customer

People are bombarded with advertisements throughout the day: online, on TV, billboards, the radio, etc. Most people make efforts to tune them out, which is why it's important for your advertisement to really stand out against the rest.

Instead of creating traditional ad copy that focuses on your products or services, try and create something that speaks to your audience's feelings and needs, and even offers entertainment value.

One business that's great at this is Manhattan Mini Storage (MMS). MMS has popular billboards all throughout New York City, that don't focus on storage, but instead focus on the unique aspects of life as a New Yorker.

If you can create ad copy that really speaks to your audience, it will be much more memorable. Here are the steps you can take to do this effectively:

1. Develop buyer personas.

A buyer personas is essentially a snapshot of your target audience. It answers the question: what kind of person is the most likely to buy our products or services?

The more detailed you can get about building buyer personas, the better. You could even have primary and secondary personas. Some factors to consider are your audience's:

2. Identify their pain points.

Once you have a clear idea who your target audience is with your buyer personas, the next step is identifying their 'pain points.' Pain points are common challenges that your target audience may face that your business is in a position to help with. How can your business solve their problems? Here's some great advice on how to identify consumer pain points.

3. Create a Unique Selling Proposition.

Lastly, you need to show how your business stands out against your competitors. Why should people buy from you, specifically?

Demonstrate how your business offerings are unique, in a way that can bring value to your potential customers. A lot of niche websites are great at creating USPs. A digital marketer, for example, could create a USP by simply catering to a specific business niche, like healthcare professionals.

Carefully Construct Your Copy

When it comes to actually writing your ad copy, precision is key. Even slight changes in your wording can make major differences in how people react to your ad, and what action they decide to take.

You're not paying for your audience's time, so it's important to use the fewest words possible to deliver your message. Always use actionable language (tell them, don't ask them), and work through many iterations of your ad before deciding on the best one.

Here are a few other tips for writing great ad copy:

Find the Right Places to Advertise

Success in advertising doesn't come from featuring your business in the most popular newspapers, magazines and websites, but by advertising in the most relevant publications for your target audience.

Spend some time thinking about the demographics of your target audience and what publications they're most likely to read. This should be easy to do with your buyer personas.

Also look and see where your competitors are advertising so you know where you need a presence.

Here are some of the advertising options you should consider:

Test Your Ads

Not only should you develop several versions of the same ad, you should also create many unique advertisements that you can test out.

If you're showing your ads in print publications, pay attention to which of your ads are drawing in the most business leads. Some of your ads will be better than others at speaking to your audience, so you can phase out the less effective ones.

You may also find that certain publications bring better results than others. Keep track of how different ads and publications impact your lead generation efforts, and use the information to optimize your strategy.

If you're advertising online, testing your ads is easier than ever. Google Adwords, for example, allows you to A/B test your advertisements. Google will rotate showing each of your ads, and tell you exactly how each performed compared to the others.

As a crash course, this post covered the very basics of how to use classified ads to generate business leads. Keep all of these points in mind when starting your ad campaign, and you'll be well on your way to lead generation success.