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Musings About Online Marketing

The Power of Craigslist and Other Free Classifieds

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A few years ago, I remember riding in a cab in New York from Laguardia to the hotel we were staying in the week of the Search Engine Strategies show.  The cabbie was a very engaging person, and while we were discussing what we were visiting New York for, the conversation shifted to Craigslist.  It wasn’t the first time I had heard of Craigslist, but at the time, I only saw it as a useful tool for those in large metropolitan areas.  Being from Kansas City, I had my doubts that the community would adopt this method of advertising for various reasons, a big one being that the metro area is spread out.

Man, was I wrong.

As my wife and I were preparing to have a garage sale to unburden ourselves of various baby items we still had stockpiled, I looked at our options as far as advertising the sale.  The obvious first choice was in the Kansas City Star.  After reviewing their packages, and seeing that it was going to take at least a $10 investment to get listed online, and $21 to do both print and online.  Considering the timing of the sale (November 1), I opted out of doing an ad with the Star out of concern that a bad turnout would result in a null investment.

So, this is what brought me to Craigslist and KC Backpage (the service The Pitch uses for classifieds).  Listings were free, I could create a listing every day leading up to the sale, and their ad guidelines are pretty loose, so I could even yell in the headline of my ads on Craigslist.  🙂

Within 1 hour of posting the ads a full 3 days before the sale, I got my first response.  By Halloween (the day before the sale), I had more than a  half dozen inquiries about the sale and some of the items there.  We knew that we would at the very least sell some of the baby items.

After the sale on Saturday, we had made the most money we have ever made at a garage sale (we have had one a year for the past 10 years).  The most incredible thing of all is that we are STILL getting inquiries about unsold items, and will most likely sell the remainder of baby items next weekend.

From now on, when I want to sell an item that isn’t eBay worthy, I’m not going to hesitate placing the listing on Craigslist and KC Backpage.  The response was incredible, and the price for advertising can’t be beat.

I’m sold.

Whether it’s small businesses looking to create awareness of their services, or someone looking to unload some junk, free classified do work, probably moreso than their print counterparts.  When you have a small or nonexistent advertising budget, this can be a way to create some awareness for your business or services you offer, and you won’t have to spend a dime.

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Written by rogersikes

November 5, 2008 at 10:37 pm

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