Marketing Your Business on Craigslist: Is It Right For You?

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Marketing Your Business on Craigslist: Is It Right For You?

Postby Dale King on Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:10 am

I have to admit, I'm personally not a user or fan of Craigslist. Nothing personal against Craigslist, I just don't like free classified sites. Why? It's been my experience that Craigslist users are notorius bargain hunters, and that's simply not my clientele. That being said, in recent months, I've discovered that many small business owners use Craigslist as a marketing vehicle with good to excellent results.

However, Craigslist is not for everyone. For example, if you sell expensive items like art or Rolex watches, or are looking for lots of walk-in traffic, Craigslist is probably not going to work for you. But if you offer personalized, inexpensive or competively-priced services like consulting, tutoring, massage, auto repair, hairstyling, etc., you could conceivably do very well marketing your services locally on Craigslist. Items like collectibles, electronics, used cars and furniture also do very well on Craigslist.

I've talked to several real estate agents who claim they do reasonably well when they list their real estate services on Craigslist. I've also talked to at least a half dozen individuals who promote their ebay stores on Craigslist. They also claim to do well with Craigslist traffic.

Apparently, one of the keys to being successful on Craigslist is to get involved. In his article "The Guide To Marketing Your Business On Craigslist," Media Consultant, Matt Alderton wrote:

"Craigslist isn’t just a place to sell your stuff; it’s a place to interact with your community. That community tends to be wary of businesses that simply post and profit on Craigslist. Earn your customers’ trust, then, by interacting with them in the virtual Main Street that exists on Craigslist. Respond to others’ postings, participate in areas of the site where you’re not selling and engage in conversations as both a consumer and a business owner."

Shanon Lewis a web-marketing expert who specializes in marketing on Craigslist, and author of "The Unofficial Craigslist Book" has this to say about marketing your business on Craigslist:

"Like any other advertising medium, Craigslist requires some strategy, though paramount to its usefulness is simplicity. To start, you need to determine which city or cities you're going to post an ad. If you're a service provider, you can identify available cities on Craigslist that encompass your service region. Keep in mind that some regions overlap. For instance, if you're a mobile groomer working in Orange County, California, but service from Los Angeles to San Diego, Craigslist reaches your service area across four cities. So you'd want to develop your messaging and a posting schedule in each of these regions to increase your exposure. If you sell a product or offer a service nationwide, the opportunity to reach new customers is even greater.

Posting on Craigslist, either nationally or locally, requires an understanding of the rules. Craigslist has in place--a set of rules that prohibits advertisers from over-posting or spamming users. You can follow these rules and still get excellent exposure. To start, develop unique ads for each city you post in, focus on specific products and rotate them on a promotional schedule. Never post the exact same ad within 48 hours, and be careful to delete your old ad. Craigslist users are quick to spot businesses that misuse the system and can be quite unforgiving. The Craigslist flagging system puts the power of spam control into the hands of the users."

If you are interested in marketing your business on Craigslist and would like to maximize its full potential, I highly recommend you pick-up Shanon Lewis' Book, The Unofficial Craigslist Book.

One final note: Craigslist currently doesn't have any type of system for rating buyers and sellers. Therefore, it’s extremely important to protect yourself against fraudulent customers. My advice: Be prudent and speak with each new customer by phone. Verify all credit cards to make sure that they're not stolen and that they match the cardholder's address, and only ship merchandise after you’ve received payment.
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Dale King
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