How To Grow Your Business on Craigslist

June 22, 2014

General, How-to

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fieldA few months ago, a friend of mine came over to have coffee and talk about business. He shared with me that he was struggling to get very much business from his Craigslist listing in the service section. So I suggested a number of changes to both the listing and his pricing. The results even blew me away. He immediately went from getting about one call per week to getting five to seven calls per week. In this post I’ll go over what we changed and what you can do to help grow your business on Craigslist.

So what did we do? We simplified everything, changed the title, changed the body of the listing, changed the price and pricing structure and added a graphic. All the components are important and we’ll go through them one by one.

1. Make a good title

The title of a service or business listing is as important as the sign on the front of a building advertising a business. It’s either going to cause people to stop and check out your business, or they are going to keep driving by. Here’s a few ways to improve your title.

A. Keep it short. Try to keep the title to as few words as possible. Listing as many services as possible in your title is not going to cause people to click on your listing. People are usually searching for one specific service or product, so help them find you by simply listing what they are searching for.

B. Focus your title. What does your business do or offer? Put the core of what you do at the beginning of your title. Window washing, stump removal, mole trapping or WordPress sites. People prefer specialists over the jack of all trades business. Even if you do offer multiple services, focus your listing on one of them at a time.

C. Briefly mention a unique value proposition. How do you do things better than your competition? What extra service, or value do you offer? How do you do things differently? Briefly mention it at the end of your title.

Here are a few examples of value propositions.

1. Free phone consultation. If you offer a service or product where your customers tend to ask a lot of questions before they purchase, offer free phone consultation. This communicates to people that you care about solving their problem and you are willing to talk with them about their specific case beforehand for free.

2. Free Delivery. Delivery of products is a huge value to people and definitely catches people’s eyes.

3. Price. If you have figured out a way to offer your service or product for noticeably less than your competitors, mention it in the title.

4. Same day service. Can you come out and perform your service the same day, or deliver or produce a product the same day, mention it in the title. People want things fast, like yesterday.

2. Produce great content

If you are wanting to grow your business, I’m assuming you already have a great product or service and the world simply needs to find you. The body of your Craigslist listing is the place where you showcase the value of your business. This is where you let your business sell itself. Don’t give people a reason to click back away from your listing.

So here are some important things to keep in mind.

A. Keep the content simple. When you are writing content, ask yourself these questions.

1. Do people need to know this about my service or product?

2. Do they need to know this information right now?

3. Does this create more questions than it answers?

4. Is this content going to help people call you?

5. Do people know exactly what you are going to provide for them?

Only put content in your ad that is needed, helpful, informative and that will encourage people to call you without clicking away from your listing. People aren’t interested in reading a book when they come to your listing.

B. Keep the pricing simple. If your pricing is too complex, it will drive customers away. A complex pricing structure is annoying and if it causes people’s heads to hurt, they will go search out a simpler alternative. If you have a complex business where there are many different variables that go into the final price, do the hard work of figuring out a way to simplify it. Flat fees are your friend.

Here’s an example. If you have a mole trapping business, don’t list one initial price setup price, then another price for mole #1, and another price for mole #2 and yet a third price for moles #3 and up. Ask yourself what’s the average number of moles caught at a persons house? If it’s two, advertise a flat fee that includes setup, and the first two moles caught. You can then mention the price for all additional moles caught. This is simple and easy doesn’t cause people’s heads to hurt. Think of the customer when you are coming up with your pricing and remember, complex pricing is the devil.

C. Address peoples fears.

1. When they are uncertain if they want to buy. Many people will look at their options when they are still uncertain if they want to spend any money on a product or service. If you suspect that a lot of your potential customers are at this state, address it right off. What are the consequences of waiting another week, month or year to purchase a product or service? For moles, the consequence is obvious, they will fill your yard with mounds of dirt. A leak will cause mold and rot. Be honest and don’t stretch the truth in this area.

2. When they are ready to buy. You know people want a certain product or service, but what are their fears? Are they concerned that you are going to do a good job? Are they concerned about the quality of the product or that you use environmentally responsible products? Are they concerned that your product is going to kill their dog? Addressing these fears does a number of things. It shows your experience in the business that you know what their concerns are before even talking with them. It adds a personal touch as it shows that you care about them as a person enough to address their fears. It builds trust and makes it less likely that they will look for an alternative.

3. Offer free consultations. This will encourage people to call and get their questions answered. Don’t let one fear, or one unanswered question cause you to lose a customer. Once on the phone, then it’s just a matter of you convincing the person that you are the type of person they want to do business with. If you care about helping them, that shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.

D. Call people to action. The most common way to do this is to tell people to call today. Be enthusiastic about getting new customers or business by showing them you want to talk with them. You’ve convinced someone that you or your company is a great place to do business, so tell them what they can do next.

moletrappersalalaska
3. Make a graphic

If the title of your ad is the equivalent to the sign on the outside of your business, the graphic is like your storefront. It’s the first thing people see when they come inside your business. It makes the first impression. It also provides you another opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Most service or business listings are just giant walls of text because it’s easy and quick and takes the least amount of effort. If you want to grow your business, you are going to have to put in more effort than your competitors. A nice eye catching graphic is a great way to do that.

What makes a good graphic?

A. Make it simple. Try to come up with a graphic that communicates or represents the product or service that your business offers while at the same time, it’s relaxing and pleasant to look at. Don’t clutter it up. We made one with a sky and a mole hill. Another friend of mine made one with nothing but a stack of pancakes, and he has gotten more business than he can shake a stick at from that listing. If you clean pools, have a blue sky, green glass and a clean pool. If you’re a tree trimmer, just have a tree. Make t shirts, have a cartoon tshirt. Print business cards, draw a business card.

B. Make it pleasant to look at. Put some thought into your colors and shapes. Put in enough effort, and get enough feedback that people say that it looks good. It’s the first thing that people are going to look at, make a good first impression.

polishedconcrete
C. Use pictures of your work.
This can be really important. Take good pictures or examples of your work, service or product. You can talk things up all you want, but a good picture will speak loudly to a potential customer. A good picture of your best work can sell your entire business.

If you need to, hire someone to take pictures of work that you are really proud of. Make a portfolio of your work and use the best images in your listings. (I used to polish concrete back in the late 2000’s, the picture above was some of my work.)

D. Fill it with helpful information.  One of the nice things about a graphic is that you can use it to structure information any way you’d like. You can use different colors and sizes of fonts etc.

E. Make it yourself. I think people are kind of sick of the slick, stuffy, fake professional logos and graphics that litter the marketplace. People want what is real. Come up with an idea and try to make it yourself, in Microsoft paint if you have to. If you need someone with better graphic design skills to help you make it, that’s fine. Get as much feedback as you can. You want it to look good, so ask for help if you need it. Just make sure it has your, or your business’s personal touch to it.

In the end, you want to make it as easy, and pleasant as possible for people to find, and do business with you. Sometimes making a mountain out of a molehill makes all the difference in the world.

What have your experiences been like listing your business or service on Craigslist? What has worked well for you? Find any of these helpful?  I’d love to hear from you and let me know if you have any questions!

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4 Responses to “How To Grow Your Business on Craigslist”

  1. Katana Leigh Says:

    I did this last night as soon as you posted.

    Thank you! I am looking forward to finding out how this works,

    Reply

  2. Jillann Knutson Says:

    Can I somehow list an item in the help wanted part and it goes to every single town…or do I have to do that individually?!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      They need to be listed individually and you probably won’t be able to list the same ad in other towns.

      Reply

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