At first glance, Craigslist is a fairly simple tool requiring basic protocols. It’s like the Dollar Stretcher for the entire country, where anyone can slap up an ad for just about any product or service. You create a single account, post an ad in your specific region with text/pictures/contact information and call it a day. This is the standard method of utilization by business and personnel alike. Basic advertising. And if you leave it at that, you’re in trouble.
Why are you in trouble?
I’ve mentioned it before but Craigslist is in the Top 10 Most Visited Websites in the USA, right up there with Facebook and Youtube. Now, there’s a reason more dealerships are building BDC’s that aggressively work and build their social media presence. For exposure, branding, product presentation, and customer relationship building purposes. Basically, they’re using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest for one fundamental reason: those are places where the people are at.
In 2013, a dealership or any business would be stupid not to have a full-blown social media effort. Having an absentee-run, disengaged Facebook account is as detrimental, however common.
If you don’t take Facebook and your website with a grain of salt, you shouldn’t half-ass your Craigslist marketing either.
How To Get Ahead On Craigslist:
1. Get all of your inventory uploaded and then regularly refresh and repost when allowed. It’s usually every couple of days. It’s unbelievable how many people wait a week or more before refreshing their ads. You want all of your inventory to be at the top of the list as often as possible. It’s the difference between a prospect catching a quick glimpse of your ad or someone else’s, and deals are lost in the blink of an eye like that. Someone beat you to them because your ads were chilling on page 2 or 3 while someone else was ruthlessly refreshing theirs. You don’t settle for second or third place in real life, do you? Don’t start now.
2. Be everywhere at once. Dominate your market by posting every ad simultaneously in three or four nearby regions. I’m in Cape Girardeau, MO so for me that means posting in Southeast Missouri region, St. Louis region and Southern Illinois region. People aren’t afraid of driving several hours to get exactly what they’ve been looking for – don’t be afraid of asking them to.
Generally, the Craigslist site won’t let you post the same ad in more than one area at once. With the same account that is. Have multiple accounts for your Craigslist posting. Think dual monitors with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Firefox all loaded at the same time, each one logged into a separate account.
3. Be original. Don’t use the stereotypical car dealer ads that are outsourced. The more homegrown the ad copy the better. They’ll perceive you to be more human, and people enjoy dealing with humans not faceless companies spamming the web.
4. Always go with payment. If you’re advertising the price you’ll just be another number and you’ll be competing with vehicles of varying quality. More importantly, most people finance vehicle purchases so a payment offer (based on whatever estimate of amount down and with approved credit) is of more interest to the majority. Yes, they’ll still be calling you and asking what your bottom dollar is on the vehicle, but the point is that they’ll be contacting you. I’ve tested it both ways, multiple times, and have experienced more success and significantly more leads in general when posting payment instead of shooting out heavily discounted prices on the advertisements. Once you get them on the phone…
5. Treat Craigslist leads like genuine prospects. The biggest secret to dominating Craigslist isn’t about squeezing out more leads than anyone else or being in more regions than everyone around. It’s about working the Craigslist leads properly. Following the same sales process or “Road to the Sale” that you would with an internet lead or lot up. Persistently digging for information to assist them in making the best ownership decision. Closing them on yourself and your product.
Dominate Craigslist and you’ll be taking your internet sales department to another level.