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Craigslist can be a lucrative source of business for some companies. If you currently post on craigslist, or plan to, here are some suggestions to make the most of them:

  • Post often. Posts can get buried quickly as new postings come in frequently. Craigslist will not let you post the same ad more than once within a few days of each other. So consider developing at least five different versions of your advertisement that you can rotate through.
  • To help you come up with different ad versions, while increasing your responses, develop different ads targeted to specific types of people. Don’t worry that being so specific will turn others away. In fact, in the sea of ads on Craigslist, being more specific allows you to stand out more to whomever you’re targeting. In most cases, this approach should receive more responses than a more general ad. For instance in your ad titles, call out to stay-at-home moms or runners. Or make it geographically specific like: Violin Lessons for Costa Mesa Residents.
  • In your ad copy, break up your paragraphs into smaller chunks. People scan and they scan very quickly. Breaking it up makes scanning easier and they capture more of what you’re saying.
  • Include images. If you’re selling your services, then include a photo of you. In a service business people are buying YOU so let them know who you are. Other visuals are also good to portray what you do (like musical instruments if you’re a music teacher). Also include your logo. Consider taking some of your key selling points and making them a graphical image you can include like: Great references!
  • Always check for typos and grammer. People are wary of scams and typos or poorly worded ads are one way people screen for businesses to avoid.
  • Put in your ad title the words you think people will use to search for a business like yours. Not everyone will search by going to particular categories. Some will use the search function like “music lessons”. Determine what you think people would use to search for a business like yours and then include that in your title.
  • Make your ad stand out. Use special characters in the beginning and end of your title. Use unique characters that aren’t on the keyboard like stars or musical notes, etc. You can create these in a Word document and use a symbol type font. Then cut and paste into the Craigslist ad creator.
  • Post when your audience is on Craigslist. You know ads quickly disappear to the bottom. Desk professionals are usually on the Internet right before lunch and right before they leave the office. I think mid-afternoon is a good time too. Think about who your target audience is and when they might be searching the Internet.
  • Track to see which ads get the most traffic. That will help you fine tune your ads to perform even better over time. Use a service like: http://bit.ly/. They shorten your URL to your website that you include in your ad and at the same time it tracks how many clicks you get. By creating a different bit.ly URL for each ad, you can see which ads drive the most traffic. And if you use a bit.ly URL for each ad you do for certain times of the day, you can track to see what times of the day are the best to post an ad.
  • Happy advertising!

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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    It’s not uncommon for me to hear a small business owner ask for some free and low cost tactic ideas. Makes sense since I tell them I offer advice on this. But there’s an important piece that needs to come before we discuss tactics. It’s the difference between decent advertising and advertising that moves the needle.

    That piece is understanding who your niche target audience is. Develop a clear and detailed picture of who they are, what they do, what they think and more. Your definition should fill at least one page. Once you have this, the tactical ideas just come bubbling up. 
    People actually appreciate being advertised to when it’s something of value to them. It’s true. I’ve even received thank you emails from them. The trick is to find the right people to talk to and to deliver a compelling message. That comes from a deep understanding of your audience. 
    Small business owners have a leg up on this over many larger companies. Small businesses interact with their customers one-on-one on an ongoing basis while the bigger companies have lost touch with them; shielded in their corporate offices. Take advantage of this!
    Have you written out a detailed description of who your target audience is? Have you done any research on the Internet or at your local business library? What about any primary research through surveys or interviews? The information is out there. Do the research your business deserves. 

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2009 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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