New Fees = New Opportunities for Trailer Dealers Posting to Craigslist

craigslist

Approached in the right way, Craigslist offers an immense opportunity for trailer dealers to find and reach new buyers. After all, 60 million people in the US visit Craigslist on a monthly basis, and the vast majority are in the “looking to purchase” stage of the buying cycle. However, recent changes to the way Craigslist manages “by dealer” posts in a number of selling categories have the potential to leave trailer dealers scrambling. In order to avoid the scramble and potentially take advantage of the changes, here are a few things trailer dealers ought to know.

Recent Craigslist Posting Changes
Craigslist began charging new dealer posting fees in a number of selling categories, effective Dec. 1, 2016:

ATV, UTVs, Snowmobiles - $5
Auto Wheels and Tires - $3
Boats - $5
Farm and Garden - $3
General for Sale - $3
Heavy Equipment - $5
Trailers - $5

Why Did Craigslist Make These Changes
Essentially, the markets for these particular selling categories had reached a point of saturation. Too many buyers were wading through too many posts. More and more posts were being flagged or even removed, sometimes by frustrated sellers looking to cut down on a competitor’s posting activity. By instituting “by dealer” fees, Craigslist is trying to reduce both buyers’ and sellers’ frustrations. They’re working to retain users by making sure that buyers have a good experience on their site. They’re trying to reduce the number of unnecessary or fraudulent posts. They’re also sending a message that they recognize they’ve become a legitimate advertising space for dealers and that they’re ready to support a new channel of revenue. All boiled down: Craigslist is trying to provide a better, fairer, and more effective marketplace for both buyers and sellers.

What This Means For Dealers
If you’ve considered marketing on Craigslist but just never took the plunge, now might be the time! The buyers aren’t going anywhere, and by embracing Craigslist’s new posting fees, you can take advantage of a relative lack of postings from dealers who’ve come to rely on the site being free. By wading into a disrupted marketplace, you might reach customers who never would have seen your posts or found your dealership before.

On the other hand, if you’ve already been marketing on Craigslist and are wondering how new fees could possibly be good news for you, consider that the reduction in overall posting traffic will mean your posts won’t get buried nearly as quickly, and you’ll spend less time managing them. Paid postings aren’t eligible for renewals and aren’t subject to auto-flagging. Also, if you’re posting to multiple markets, you no longer need to have multiple Craigslist email accounts to do so, which means fewer inboxes to check and phone numbers to answer. Finally, you may find that your new Craigslist postings are more valuable than your old ones. When Cars & Trucks by dealer posters started paying new posting fees three years ago, they saw nearly ten times as many leads per ad. Craigslist, by adding these new fees, is signalling that they expect the benefits to dealers to more than outweigh the costs. Try listing a good portion of your used and new inventory--you might be surprised at the results!

Using Craigslist Effectively
If you’re still wondering how best to navigate through what might seem like choppy waters, keep in mind: some things never change. Creating compelling ads will still be the most important thing you can do to connect with customers on Craigslist. Make sure your ads have relevant headlines, engaging and informative ad copy, eye-catching photos, and easy ways for a buyer to follow up and find out more. Including the trailer type, make, and model in your ad title will still ensure effective ad targeting, and finding a meaningful point of difference that sets you apart from your competitors (free installation? double warranty? lowest price guarantee?) will still pay dividends.

However, in view of Craigslist’s new posting fees, perhaps the best thing you could do as a trailer dealer would be to find a way to “drip” Craigslist posts out to the marketplace on a pre-determined schedule. Draw up a posting schedule and adhere to it strictly, or utilize auto-posting software that allows you to schedule postings in advance. By sending posts out in a constant stream, you would maintain a steady presence in relevant selling categories, maximize the number of eyes on each ad, and get the most bang for your buck.

Craigslist is still a powerful and effective marketing tool and a well-established way to reach trailer buyers. By adopting some of the strategies outlined above, trailer dealers can continue to take advantage of a proven, effective way to generate leads and sales, and may even see their business grow as a result. For more information, please contact Trailer Central at 800-TRLR-216 or www.trailercentral.com.