Love it or hate it, using Craigslist to generate leads tends to bring out strong reactions from those Real Estate Agents who have used it. Many agents who do use it end up feeling like it is a waste of time -- bringing them no sales and crummy leads.
I can tell you that it's not a waste of time at all. In fact it is responsible for 3-5 sales a month for me, and has put over $236,000.00 in my pocket …for free! So not only does it work …it works predictably and consistently when done correctly.
If you have tried Craigslist without success, I know that it is because of how you used it and the kind of ads you ran. In fact, there are five common reasons that a Craigslist ad will fail. Do any of these things, and I can almost guarantee your ad will bomb:
1. Your Ad Was Like Everyone Else's Ad
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in crafting and creating your Craigslist ads is to model them after the other ads you see on there. Look at what everyone else is doing - and DO NOT do the same. Do something different and bold.
Every time I hear someone tell me, "But Vince, no one else in my marketplace does Craigslist ads this way," my response is "COOL!" That is the exact reason you want to do them differently …it is the way you will become an industry leader.
So, for example, when you see all of the headlines on most real estate Craigslist ads looking the same, and giving the same boring information, RUN. You want your headlines to be bold. Don't be afraid to say things like "once in a lifetime" and other dramatic type language.
Only headlines that move your audience will get them to click -- which is the objective of placing all these Craigslist ads. Plus, you want your ads to stand out from all the others, not blend in with them. So start getting creative and make your headlines pop!
2. Too Much Information!
Another mistake that many real estate agents make is to try to include every selling feature of their listings in their Craigslist ads. This is not only not necessary, but not advisable.
While you DO always want to include a picture, you want to provide vague information …especially in the headline. Do not try to give as much detail as possible. Don't say, for example, "1,497sq ft., 4 br, 3 bath..." because you want them to click on your ad not just read it. What I will explain more later is that the objective is not to sell anything in these ads, but instead to get people to click on the ad and go to the next step (it's what I call going to the next point of success, which is KEY!)
3. You Tried To Sell In Your Ad
I started leading up to this in the last section, but one of the quickest ways NOT to get sales from Craigslist is to try to sell something in your Craigslist ad.
Sound counterintuitive? Sounds nonsensical, right?
It is true though! I don't sell homes in my Craigslist ads - ever. It's not my objective. My objective with my Craigslist ads is to generate leads, and to drive those leads to contact us. Then I can convert those leads into a buyer presentation over the phone.
My job is to sell ALL the homes in the MLS -- not just one. So I never make my objective in my Craigslist ads to sell one particular property.
Your job when you create Craigslist ads is not to sell, but instead to create value and point people to your lead magnet website (more on this in the next section), and to get as much information from them as possible so that you can convert them to a client.
4. You Sent People To Your Business Card Website
So let's say you have created the ideal Craigslist ad. It has a killer headline, and people are clicking on the ad left and right. What can kill all of this great momentum, is sending people when they click on your ads to your business card website.
What is a business card website you ask? Well, if you have a website that just has your picture, your phone number, your email address and your listings -- and that's it -- then you have a business card website. It is any website that serves another function other than only lead generation.
The only reason you want people clicking on your Craigslist ads is so you can CAPTURE THEIR INFORMATION! Capturing people's information allows you to do your job, which is to convert them into a customer and, ultimately, a paid closing.
Capturing people's information is your number one job! So don't ever post Craigslist ads that send people to a business card website. It is setting your ads up to fail.
5. You Timed Your Ads Wrong
The last and final mistake you can make when posting Craigslist ads is to not be strategic about when and how many ads you post.
Some people believe if posting one ad is good, then posting twenty ads is better. While I am a proponent of posting multiple ads, you do not want to post all of your ads at one time. This will backfire on you.
Lead generation and marketing is the most important thing we do as real estate agents. So you need to spend 70% of your time on this, or you'll fail in this business.
Being strategic about your Craigslist ads, and taking some time to spread out when you post your ads will go a long way toward your ads succeeding. So ideally you want to break up your ads so that they are posted at different times of the day.
Avoid these five major Craigslist mistakes, and you will see your results from using the great, free resource of Craigslist, explode. Take advantage of this great resource, and hit it right, and you could start seeing consistent sales every month from it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and I would like to thank everyone who read my most recent articles and for the hundreds of comments, emails and letters.
Vince Villegas is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Realty; he has been licensed since 2002. After 6 straight years of doing business the “old fashion way” and killing himself working 90+ hours a week, Villegas finally hit the wall in 2008 and went from selling 56 homes in 2007 to just 8 by October 2008. It was than he faced the scariest decision in his life …either get out of the business or find a better way. He of course chose to find a better way; it was then he began his journey to understand the principles of long-term business success. In 2010, after uncovering the secrets of a successful business, Villegas finished #49 in Sales for Coldwell Banker North America and climbed to #27 in Sales by May 2011 (Villegas joined Keller Williams in August 2011) all while working an average 5 hours per week. Agents across North America have been taking note of his success and began seeking his knowledge, today we at CrackerJack Agent are honored to have him sharing his advice and knowledge with our readers.