As an online seller, I have learned a few tricks along the way.
The Secret to Selling Online Is to Stand Out
I just found 937 couches listed on Craigslist. So if you're selling a couch (or any other item), how will your post stand out?
In order to maximize the amount of people who click on your post, you need to give potential buyers more value. You don't have to be a professional copywriter to come up with a post title that will sell your couch fast. You do not even need to have that great of a couch. I found that there are just a few simple techniques you can use to get more traction and ultimately sell your items faster and at a higher price on places like Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace.
1. Know the Value of the Add-on Surprise
We have all been there before. You are trying to declutter and so you put up items for sale on Craigslist. You are not sure how to price your items or whether or not you will get any traction on your posts. You take a few photos, write a quick description, post it online, and see what happens. You may get crickets or you may get the occasional "Is this still available?" email.
After going through this process many times myself, I found that a simple trick helps your listing get more traction and more potential buyers, which ultimately results in a faster sale at a higher price.
The trick is to include an add-on.
It is one thing to buy a love seat. It is another thing to buy a love seat that comes with a "free" unique item. With the love seat I recently sold on the Facebook Marketplace, I included a bar shaped like a small globe that opens to reveal a hidden barrel and small glasses for a spirit of your choosing. I received triple the amount of responses on this listing as compared to other posts where I did not include an additional add-on item.
You may not have a unique globe like the one I had, but you most likely have something lying around that is unique and adds a bit of character to your post. Maybe it was something you picked up at a garage sale one day. The point is to differentiate your post by including another small item to complement the one you are trying to sell. In the eyes of the buyer, your item will have a greater perceived value and perhaps even a story. Which leads me to my second tip...
2. Tell a Story
It is more and more important to involve potential buyers in the story of the item you are trying to sell (or the add-on item you are including). You might think that someone will buy a couch because they need a place to sit. But that is only the external problem a couch is solving. There is a deeper problem that a couch has the potential of solving. There is a need for significance and approval from others that influences buyers. By including a backstory in your post, you give potential buyers even more value when they decide to purchase your item and you meet their deeper needs. The person who bought my love-seat now has a story about they also got this amazing globe with it. The experience of buying the love-seat was fun and memorable and add to its significance.
The backstory could be as simple as talking about where the item came from or how it was used. While it is important to include a detailed and informative description, the backstory is where you can get creative and attract more buyers.
For an example, here is the title and post to the love-seat I sold:
"Retro Love-Seat w/pull-out bed from wealthy grandmother"
It's true. This was a hand-me-down from my uncle's mother who lives in California and is a multi-millionaire. I think that makes it my grandmother once removed or something. Either way, this love seat is fantastic. You can snuggle up and watch a movie with your lover and then pull-out the bed to let your poor friend who lives with you sleep on it while you retire to your room. I just got married and am cleaning house of all my stuff. This thing is super cool and I know you'll love it. SPOILER ALERT! I will also include the super secret globe that contains a little goblet for a fine spirit and four small glasses. Your guests will be surprised and delighted by this little treat and addition to your home.
As you can see, I include story elements in the title as well as the description. A story involves the reader and gives them motivation to take further action.
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.
— Robert McKee
3. Create a Sense of Urgency
Auto dealerships are the champions of creating a sense of urgency. They have sale events that only last a month or two. They play on a proven tactic that gets people to buy quickly. Potential buyers feel that if they do not make a purchase quickly, they will lose out on the sale opportunity.
Auto dealerships create a sense of urgency, and so can you. All you need to do is simply state in your title that your item must sell by a certain date. Typically, the date needs to be a week or less in order to create urgency. The key is to be honest with yourself and price the item accordingly. If you overprice your item, you cannot expect a sense of urgency to magically make the sale for you. But, if you price the item correctly and include the two tips mentioned above (include an add-on item and tell a story), a sense of urgency will be effective.
There are many other ways to improve your results when selling on Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace including taking excellent photos from different angles in good lighting and ensuring you have the correct price. However, if you seem to be doing all the basic things right but want to sell items faster (and at a better price), you will find that including an add-on, incorporating a story, and creating a sense of urgency will help tremendously.
Leave a comment with any other tips or tricks you have found that have helped you sell on Craigslist!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Cleo Addams from USA on September 18, 2018:
These are great tips. I will definitely try them sometime. I especially like the globe with the glasses - too cool!
Bryce Vernon (author) from Nashville on September 11, 2018:
I think telling the story is the most fun part! Thanks for the comment - I appreciate the feedback.
Christopher Wanamaker from Arizona on September 10, 2018:
Great tips. I especially like the one about telling a story. I've noticed that this same approach helps to improve sales on eBay as well. Your example story was great because it made me visualize myself sitting on the couch and popping in a movie to watch. I imagine it did the same thing for others as well.