Findings: What I Learned Spending 100s Of Dollars $$ And Hours On Craigslist Ads
Reading Time: 9 minutes
The truth about using Craigslist ads to grow your practice or small business is not what it seems. Also, it’s not as FREE or simple as you might think.
Let’s talk about it:
“Why do you have that on your car?” asked the curly brunette in front of me.
It was less of a question and more of an accusation. I was in my early 20’s, working hard for a political campaign I believed in–and it was plastered all over my car’s backside.
She had been pointing at the words and symbols that offended her–then started to rip the sticker off my bumper.
I remember not knowing what to do. Certainly, I was offended but these were supposed to be my people. These were church people.
She would walk away, laughing it off to her friends in the parking lot, the ones I had to catch up with. I did what I had been trained and brought-up to do, and chased after them. We were on our way to a late night movie and I didn’t want to rock the boat.
Over the years, I did my best not to bring up my different views, about equality, about the sort of music that made me feel alive, or anything that hadn’t been approved.
And if I ever made that mistake, there was always someone available to give me a disapproving look or comment to get me in line with the program.
The program took many forms over the years, the way I dressed, spoke, who I hung out with. It went on like that for over a decade.
What does this have to do with B2B lead generation?
Well, you see, in the midst of my trying to get with the program, I hemmed and hawed, internally struggled and wriggled, always stressing over the question,
“How can I get [Mary/Chan/Jeff] on my side? How can I get them to like me?”
But the only question that mattered was the one I never thought to ask,
“Am I searching for acceptance in the wrong place?”
And that is the question that should be repeating in your mind as you take up your B2B lead generation activities.
It doesn’t matter how deep the well goes, if it’s full of water you can’t drink.
What I Learned Spending Hundreds Of Hours And Dollars Doing Craigslist Ads
There’s a marketing myth out there that says marketing has to be expensive. So, I often run into different business owners (marketers, personal trainers, cleaning companies, agents in insurance/finance) who think they’d rather put some Craigslist ads and see how it pans out.
First off, If you’ve reached the point when Craigslist has become your best alternative, you better be in the appliance, home goods/maintenance/equipment space. Otherwise, you’re just gambling with your time — and you probably just need to clear up some mental blocks around business development.
Not convinced? Read on. A while back, I believed Craigslist might be the Holy Grail for advertising my business at a ridiculous discount, so I doubled-down on my bet. I spent hundreds of hours and dollars on doing Craigslist ads for myself (and some unfortunate others). And I learned some things.
Craigslist is for cheap customers and clicks
There are a lot of ways to screw things up in business and one of the most foolish ways is to attract bottom-feeders then try to sell them high-quality goods.
If you’ve been in business for any significant time, you can easily split your leads into two types of people:
- People that value your offering enough to pay what you’re worth
- People who think you cost too much (no matter the price)
There is no saving the penny-pincher business purchaser. Don’t waste your time. They don’t want to spend the money.
Listen, I have sold:
Marketing packages for $99
Marketing packages for $300
Marketing packages for $1000
Marketing packages for $30000
In each price category in which I’ve sold marketing packages, I’ve always gotten price complaints. This cannot be avoided if you’re trying to make an honest living.
But you shoot yourself in the foot by going after neighborhood-type bargain bin shoppers online. That is what Craigslist was intended to be, a place for local classifieds, the same place where you sell mattresses, used cars, and fitness equipment.
In my case, I spent loads of time driving clicks and sign-ups to my generous free offer–only to have every ‘lead’ totally ignore any further conversation (about actually buying something).
The only way to make a splash is with volume
I’m not saying Craigslist can’t get attention. I originally churned out my ads to get a 12% conversion rate (when people in marketing are easily happy with 2%). However, it took me having to post to multiple cities, multiple times a day, with multiple ads.
And remember: this entire approach led to $0 of new business.
The problem with the volume approach is that it’s forbidden on Craigslist. That’s not what it was made for.
Craigslist doesn’t like multiple posts
Oh, and did I mention that because Craigslist does not like multiple posts on its site, it will actively remove them or block them with phone verification gates? And they will not let you use your new Twilio or Google Voice number to create an ad (noooo, that would be too easy). You need a bonafide-real-deal-call-your-momma-on-it phone number.
I tried taking different tactics with this but it always came out to the same result: ads were taken down. In order to work around my ad longevity problems, I paid some skilled freelancers to do this posting for me.
And while this did get some eyeballs on my offer, it lead to a glaring revenue problem (see above)
Also, another added ‘goodie’ of Craigslist you wouldn’t see coming: the site is replete with jealous sellers in your category. And these people often pay for software that will automatically flag your ads for removal.
Because Craigslist is built like a local community site, whenever someone flags your post it is immediately removed, no discussion, no chance to call foul.
That’s why you need the volume.
So, out of desperation, you might want to go big time, with some super-ad-posting software. I know I did.
All Craigslist software sellers are liars
No hyperbole. Try it for yourself.
Run the gamut, search for Craigslist posting software examples, downloads, and reviews. What you will find are some web 1.0 shady-looking pages styled 1996 style.
None of these softwares want to give you a free trial (without viruses, I should add) and even if you do pay them (I have, unfortunately) that’s no guarantee they will actually deliver working software.
I had to open up claims with 2 different payment processors in order to get my money back and stop the recurring payments on my card.
All that said, start with the right place with the right people in order to avoid bottom-feeders who will waste your time and not pay you.
There are too many legitimate places to find your target customer to waste your time in places that don’t work.
Take LinkedIn for instance, where you can
- Reach 660 million professionals online, from anywhere in the world
- Create larger deals (proven)
- Find and connect with the right people at top businesses
- Build a network list of sales leads
By the way, if you’re looking to do LinkedIn Lead Generation that produces amazing results for you and your business, I’ve created the “Ultimate LinkedIn Sales Lead Generation Guide” so could better use LinkedIn for B2B Sales.
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