My wife and I recently downsized to one vehicle from two. While we did reasonably well on a trade of her 2002 Honda Civic, the dealer was not willing to give a lot for my 1999 Ford Explorer XLS, which is why I ended up selling it privately. It ended up taking just under a month from beginning to end, to sell.
As you might guess with gas prices being as high as they are, and with growing popular concern for the environment, the market for used cars, especially SUVs, is very competitive these days. It is most certainly a buyer’s market.
Classified sites like Craigslist, Auto Trader, etc are flooded with used SUVs. I soon realized that I needed to come up with a strategy for selling mine. How would I make it stand out over the others? How can I generate as many leads as possible given the competition? This was my very first time selling something via Craigslist, so I was learning as I went. Here’s what I learned:
- Write a good title for your ad. I highly recommend putting the year, model, and price of the vehicle in your ad title. This will increase the likelihood someone will click through to your ad.
- In your ad copy, provide as much information as possible about the vehicle. When researching competitors’ ads, I was amazed at the sheer lack of information provided. I believe that sharing as much about the vehicle as possible will establish trust between you and the potential buyer, and gets things off to a good start. That potential buyer will be more likely to make an inquiry.
- Take lots of pictures of the vehicle. Craigslist allows you to upload up to 4 photos directly to the ad, so choose 4 of the best and most varied photos you have of the vehicle. Then post the rest on a photo sharing site such as Flickr, and link to those photos from your ad. Or, if you keep a personal website or blog, create a blog post and insert the entire set of photos in a visually appealing way. Web users love photos, and it may help establish emotional and visual connections for the potential buyer.
- Research your price. Autotrader.ca has a research function which contains a “value finder” that provides the high, low and average prices of a certain vehicle, based on pricing information in their current listings. I was easily able to find out an exact range of market pricing for my exact vehicle. I ended up pricing my vehicle towards the lower end of the average pricing I determined in my research. Not surprisingly, I found that price is a considerably important factor in distinguishing your ad from others and getting attention.
- Modify and repost your ad every 2-3 days. I consider Craigslist to be somewhat ‘transient’ in nature — ads are in one door, and out the other, so to speak. After a couple of days, your ad becomes lost in the pile, and becomes harder to find, especially in a very active category. So, I reposted my ad every 2-3 days. Each time, I changed the photos and even lowered the price slightly ($10-20 each revision).
- Bonus tip: Take and upload a video tour. I recently attended a training session by reachd which discussed the power of web video, supported by success stories and best practices and tips. A highlight for me was the provision of a Flip Camera, which was included in the training fees. Although my intention is to use the camera for promoting my business ventures, I decided a good test would be to create a promitional video for the vehicle I was selling. I am convinced that had I posted the video earlier, the car would have sold sooner. It turns out that the car sold less than 2 days after posting the video to Youtube. And, you can link to your video directly from your Craiglist ad. Here is the video I put together:
Although I did try other classified sites — I even bought an ad in the Buy and Sell — Craigslist was the only site which consistently generated leads.
Do you have any tips to share?