Why Most Investors’ Craigslist Ads Suck (But Mine Don’t)

Cody Sperber
By Cody Sperber |

preOwnedFree doesn’t always mean better. Free marketing – to be specific – often leads us to believe we’re off the hook from putting any extra thought into how we market and who we market to. Who cares if it’s not super effective, right? I mean, it’s free!

Survey says? Eh, wrong!

Free marketing resources usually require more strategic thinking and planning, and among the world’s largest collection of classifieds, jobs and real estate listings is the one and only Craigslist.

Real estate investors use Craigslist because it’s free. And that makes sense. But we don’t always get the results and leads we want with Craigslist. Here’s the thing – placing ads online isn’t all that different than placing ads in newspapers, and the sooner you embrace and enforce the following practices, the better off you and your business will be.

In Text We Trust

Your Craigslist posts can swing 2 ways – text only or html format. But I’m going to highly recommend you swing the text way.

Text only posts that focus on specific keywords or key phrases will get you prime real estate (pun intended) in the search engine world. But you already knew that from my previous lessons about search engine optimization.

So what kinds of ads stand out in the endless crowd of Craigslist ads? What grabs attention and captures audiences?

Create a Headline to Remember

First impressions are everything, so your headline (the first thing your reader will see) has to grab attention and whet your readers’ appetite for more. Create catchy headlines and don’t be afraid to get a little edgy. I said edgy, my friends. That means pushing the envelope just a bit without being offensive and by always being classy.

casketIf you’re thinking right about now that you don’t have a creative bone in your body, don’t worry! You can surf Craigslist for awesome headlines. If one grabs your attention, chances are it will do the same for lots of other readers. Snag the ones that speak to you, and then use them as your own. (It’s not stealing, it’s borrowing, BTW).

If you want an ad that pops, use special visual characters. People relate to and respond to images and visual stimulation, so use stars, arrows and other common symbols to get attention. Again, if you’re stressing about creating an ad from scratch for lack of time or creativity, find an ad you like then copy and paste it, more or less, as your own. Consider making a few tweaks here and there, which will help differentiate it from the original.

Then… BAM! You’ve got a kick-butt ad of your very own. It’s that simple, really.

Everyone Loves a Good Story

People love stories. Wait, let me rephrase that. People love GOOD stories.

So if you’ve got one to tell, share it! Keep it brief and punchy, and tell your own story, one that readers can relate to. And what’s even better than a story people can relate to is one that benefits them.

Just remember to be genuine. Don’t make up a story. Your insincerity will be transparent, and you risk losing credibility. Both mean bad news bears, so be honest.

Write a compelling ad by telling a compelling story that readers will be inspired by, one that will make them smarter investors.

Bigger Isn’t (Always) Better

Avoid using big blocks of text, please!

Text plus big blocks is a formula for failure. It makes your ad seem complicated and difficult to digest.

Plus, you know the old rule about all caps and large letters – it appears like you’re yelling at your audience. So keep your text to inside voices please. Say it big with a big message, not big letters or lots of text.

What Do Your Craigslist Ad and Match.com Have in Common?

When (or, should I say if?) you’re perusing a dating website, do you contact a potential mate who doesn’t post a pic? Heck to the no!

unicornLove certainly isn’t all about looks, but attraction is what separates friends from more than friends, right? Craigslist posts are much the same animal. You’ve got to have pictures to generate interests and produce leads.

And again, I’m talking quality over quantity. You’re much better off posting just a hand-full of crisp, eye-catching pictures than posting a dozen crappy ones.

Tell ‘Em What to Do

No ad is complete without a clear call to action at the end.

Tell your readers to pick up the phone or click on the link to your website or squeeze page. Readers need to understand quickly and easily how they can connect with you, so make this direction crystal clear.

3’s the Charm

So now that you know where and how to post, the logical next question is – when do you post?

To generate the most traffic from your ad and ultimately more leads than you can handle, post three times a day minimum. And those three times should be strategic, not random. The universal rule of Craigslist is to post early morning, midday, and again around dinner time.

One Final Game-Changing Tip

I’ll leave you with this final tip for maximizing your ads on Craigslist…

Set up several accounts with different phone numbers to avoid “ghosting.” Ghosting happens when you repeat the same ad over and over. Craigslist basically catches on to it and gets tired of seeing the same and considers it ineffective (and they’re not wrong), so they inconspicuously remove your ad.

To avoid this phenomenon, hire a virtual assistant to vary your ads and keep them perpetually changing.

Craigslist works if you do it right. And now, you know how.

codyGood luck posting and remember to keep your ads classy!

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