- THE MAGAZINE
Craigslist is booming with listings from carpet cleaners. Since Craigslist is a free media to put out your cleaning company’s message, many cleaners take advantage of the offering. However, not everyone has good success with Craigslist. And furthermore, could it hurt your reputation?
It’s free. And it takes less than three minutes to post on Craigslist to put your message in front of hundreds or thousands of local consumers. This alone makes it attractive. Technically, it’s not advertising because “advertising” means that you are paying for the media. But the question is whether or not you want to associate your company with this media. Some cleaners have strong opinions about not being associated with Craigslist.
The main complaint is that there are too many price shoppers searching Craigslist. And this makes sense. When you advertise in a free media, the prospect is in a cheap mindset. Combine that with the fact that most cleaners advertise $XX for X rooms and the value of Craigslist goes downhill quick. The posts in any given city largely announce low per-room prices.
Most cleaners who try Craigslist don’t get much response with qualified leads. In big cities, the posts that were placed after yours can quickly bury your post. Staying at the top of the list can be too time consuming to get a good return.
So should you avoid being listed with all the other low price guys? A few cleaners have taken on the task of being the anti-low price cleaner on Craigslist. They never mention their price, but only educate about the dangers of hiring a cheap carpet cleaner.
Frank Davis, owner of Advantage Carpet Care in Richmond, CA, told me, “I get an average of 3-5 bookings a month. I don’t advertise prices.”
Why does he get a good response? One reason is that he has a picture of his beautifully lettered van with him in it! Second, he uses an anti-competition type message, but done in a tasteful way to make readers doubt the other Craigslist ads. In his ad, he writes, “DON’T BE FOOLED BY FANCY WELL PLACED WORDS OR IMAGES, 99% OF CRAIGSLIST ADS USE OTHER COMPANIES WORK PHOTOS AND CLAIM AS THEIR OWN. WE DON’T COMPETE WITH CHEAP, WE MAKE QUALITY AFFORDABLE.”
David Hebert, owner of Hebert’s Reliable Cleaning Service in Chicopee, MA, said, “We get several jobs a week using Craigslist, but we also post several times a day in several categories in several areas. We use software to do this. We use call tracking, know what ads are pulling, what ones are not and record the calls to see how the person answering the phone is doing. Only once so far was price the issue. My feeling is this is where salesmanship comes in.”
Like Frank, David does not mention his price in the post. Readers must call to get an estimate.
As with any ad media, what you say in your ad makes all the difference in how your company is perceived. If your ad is just like all the others, you’ll be valued the same as the others. But if your ad makes a unique selling point, you can capitalize on this and any other ad media.
An important side benefit of being listed on Craigslist is that it can boost your search ranking. That’s right - simply getting listed on a popular site like Craigslist can slightly help your ranking. All you need to do is list your company name, phone number and website. When possible, list your address exactly as you have it on your Google Local profile. This helps your ranking because you’ll have mentions of your company in several places throughout the web. Since Craigslist is a highly reputable site, the mention is even more beneficial.
Craigslist no longer allows clickable hyperlinks that go directly to your website. You can include your website domain name in the post, but it won’t be clickable. But this doesn’t matter much. The mere mention of your website is a big bonus. Quite honestly, this alone is worth the few minutes it takes to create a post here.
Some tips for better Craigslist advertising:
- Include an offer, but don’t put your price in the ad! Instead, it’s better to put a dollar amount off the total price or to offer of a free extra service you’ll do with a cleaning purchase. Including prices in a free media only encourages a price war.
- Use a good title. The title of your ad is what you should use to pull the reader in.
- Bold your phone number and website. This will draw more attention to your contact information, which is the most important part of your ad. And it can help boost your search ranking a little.
- Include a picture of you, your vans or your shop. You need something to personalize your ad. Plus, this is an opportunity to get some free branding for your business.
Want to do more than just Craigslist? After you write your Craigslist post, you may as well place it on other websites. There are many other similar sites. Some include www.Oodle.com, www.Backpage.com, www.Classifiedads.com, www.Webcosmo.com, www.Gumtree.com and www.Ebayclassifieds.com.
If you have a few minutes to invest each month, you may want to give this a try. If you do it right, you can get new clients for zero marketing dollars and help your website ranking. Go ahead, give it a shot.