Can using Craigslist really boost your business? Will this commerce-based website drive more traffic to your storefront? Can you actually use Craigslist to attract customers and clients at little or no cost?
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes, but not if you’re approaching this task blindly. Here are several tips to make the most out of this free revenue-generating site-
Craigslist 101: Understanding the System
For any business strategy that you may have considered on Craigslist, you must first understand the basics of how this website really works if you are going to take full advantage. This domain serves over 300 different cities and communities throughout the country and receives about ten million unique visitors every day. Much of the posting is free, though Craigslist does charge a small fee to reach certain major population areas such as New York City and Los Angeles.
One major Craigslist rule is that you cannot post an ad to the same city again for at least forty eight hours. When doing so, always delete your previous ad and then re-post your new one. To overcome this restriction, savvy marketers will create at least three different ads for their product or service. Post one every day and rotate them on a three day basis. This way, you will be more than in line with the two day posting restriction.
Tony Kau of Portland, Oregon runs a successful website design company called Vanivo and has used Craigslist extensively to gather in new clients. Tony, however, is a skilled Craigslist user in that he has familiarized himself with all of Craigslist’s rules for posting so that his ads don’t get flagged and removed. Tony has found success through posting different types of ads that tell his potential customers all of the various things he can do for them. His focus is on benefits rather than the special features he offers.
Tony had originally run an ad describing all of his services such as web design and marketing, but he did not see much of a response. Now he runs four separate and distinct ads that describe each of his skill areas in detail. He has found it to be far more effective and he can avoid the Craigslist 48 hour posting restriction as well using this tactic. Also, he keeps his ads friendly and informative because he finds that it is much more appealing to his typical audience.
Spicing Up Your Craigslist Ad
Keeping things simple and honest is the best strategy to approach a Craigslist audience. An ad at this website can be a simple text ad or users can create something with graphics and photos as well.
Being a retailer with goods to sell can get a bit tricky but there are some strategies that you can use to remain effective, draw traffic, and not violate any of Craigslist’s rules-
- Photos of products that you sell will greatly enhance the chances that people will click on your ad.
- Encourage customers to contact you by phone or email.
- When contacted, encourage customers to visit your establishment to view a variety of products
- Whenever possible, list in the “free” section and find something inside your store to give away. In most cases, they will not leave before making a purchase.
- Also, don’t forget to keep track of all email addresses so you can use direct marketing methods in the future.
Posting for Maximum Exposure
Of course, there are also a number of other ways to post on Craigslist to gain exposure and bring in sales. These tips highlight a few of those methods-
- Take advantage of the Local News section whenever possible to share community information, upcoming promotions, and company milestones.
- Announcing new employees (or available positions) are also a smart way to gain free exposure.
- If you structure your announcement more as a press release, and you should get a solid response.
The Local Events section is also a great way to drive traffic and boost business by holding special community events at your location.
- Promotions that are based on local community celebrations (sports teams, outdoor concerts, etc.) gather ample attention.
- Announcing new babies, returning military members, or other community-related news is also a great time to cross-promote your business name.
A Practical Craigslist Success Story
A few years ago, carpenter Joe Raineri of San Jose, California, began to feel the downward slide of a collapsing economy within the construction industry. Things began to get extremely tight, to the point of desperation, when he ventured out into his back yard and began to survey what he had in his scrap lumber pile. He knew he had to do something since he had a family to take care of and Christmas was looming. His wife was out of work as well.
On a whim, Mr. Raineri took some of the scrap wood lying around his home and constructed a dining room table with benches. Of course, he did not know how much they could get for it or even where they might sell, but Joe decided to give Craigslist a shot. He could not believe the response he got from the ad. Within minutes of posting a short description and a photo, he had several convincing offers. Joe ended up selling the table for $600.
Over the days and weeks to follow, Raineri kept building tables and advertising on Craigslist for his new company, Terra Amico. Two years later, he now takes about ten custom orders a week and has begun to branch out into office space and small businesses. Joe is out on Craigslist every night, he says, honing his ads, checking the competition, and measuring his results. In addition, he finds plenty of discarded scrap wood on Craigslist that he will pick up and use in his projects.
Without this free advertising medium, Terra Amico never would have happened. Part of what makes this story so touching is that Joe’s success it hardly unique; thousands of people in every major city across the US use Craigslist to promote their small businesses. With a fast response time and ample exposure, it really is an entrepreneur’s best friend if used properly.