Tips for a Better UsedVictoria Ad
Having bought and sold a few hundred used bicycles, as well as an assortment of other items, I’ve come up with some ways to improve your UsedVictoria (or Craigslist, or VarageSale) ad, to help sell your stuff.
You want your ad to pop out from the long list of ads the potential buyer is scanning through. If you’re selling a Honda Civic, you can still have ‘Civic’ in the title, but you want it to hop off the page and into your buyer’s lap, as there’s probably a few other Civics for sale.
For an example, I took a look at an ad that shows up under cars on UsedVic, and the title is ‘Honda Civic LX’. The actual body text of the ad clearly lists some benefits that could be put in the title. Instead I’d put something like Civic – Low Miles, Maintained, One Owner.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but the biggest mistake I see, is that there is too much going on in the background. I’m going to be flying through the ads on my cell phone, so if it’s not easy to see the item as it flashes by in a small photo, I might miss it.
If it’s a bicycle I’ll usually lean it against a fence or a brick wall, as long as the lines of the fence are not too prominent. Be careful about doing this in bright sunshine, as the shadows created by the bike will cause the same issue. Ditto being in partial shade. Your best bet is in full shade, but of course bright enough to see what you’re looking at. Don’t take a photo of your whole garage with the bike being on top of a pile of junk.
You want this to be short and sweet. First I put a quick description of the item, listing benefits. Example – “GT Backwoods, 20″ aluminum frame would suit rider over 6′. Shimano STX-RC components and Rock Shox Jett front suspension. New grips. Ride it away.”
Here I’ve put not only the size of the bike, but the size of person it’s for, listed a couple of highlights for bike savvy people who want to know what parts are on it, and pointed out that the grips have been replaced and the bike is ready to ride. You want to think about the questions you might get by email, so you’re trying to eliminate the ones that will say “Does it need any work?” and “I’m 4’2”, is this a good bike for me?”.
Then, even though I’m going to put in my postal code so UsedVictoria includes a map, I’m also going to describe where I am – “Quadra McKenzie area”. You’re trying to make it as easy as possible for your customer to buy your item, without having to work too hard. I’ll also include in my ad that I’m available by text message – the fastest, easiest form of communication, so that someone can reply to me quickly, and I can respond quickly.
If you’re looking to sell something quickly, I’ve found it’s better to list the item for exactly the amount you want to get, rather than to list higher and have someone haggle you down. The reason is that if you want to sell something quickly, what you want is a lot of interest. You want to get a dozen people inquiring, and be able to just reply to the person that says “I’ll take it, can be there in 20 mins”, rather than the email that says “Is this still available?”. If you list it too high, you’ll filter out too many people – if you list the bike for $150, when you’ll take $100, then a lot of the people searching for a $100 bike will have skipped your ad.
I’m also suggesting you don’t necessarily go with the first person responding to your ad. A lot of the “Is this still available?” replies you get are people that are just trying to be first in line, and may not have a true interest in buying your item. How many people do you want to show your item to? Let the ad run for 24 hours and then reply to people in order of most likely to buy, based on their communication. If someone’s ready to race across town immediately and buy, then respond to them immediately.
If you’re looking for top dollar for your item, then price it higher. I don’t believe in ‘OBO’ (or best offer). If you place a higher price than you want to get, you’ll either get someone who is willing to pay the higher price without haggling, or you’ll get hagglers. OBO is not necessary.
If you’re not sure what your item is worth, don’t put a price. Just list open to offers, and let it run for a while. You’ll get lots of low ballers, but you can see what your highest offer is and then assume that is a little low too.
If you’re having a tough time getting rid of something, I’ve found offering the item for trade works well. Put this in your title so it gets spotted, something like “Air Compressor – All Trades Considered”. Then in the body of your ad, provide a list of some items you might be interested in trading for, for example “Open to trades of tools, furniture, motorcycles or try your trade.” You might get a lot of random offers, but it can be worth it if you hit on the right item.
I once paid $70 for a bike that needed some repair, and didn’t get around to fixing it. It was a bike I’d usually sell for about $150. I posted it for trade, without a price listed, and got an offer of an ipad mini. Traded for the ipad mini (worth about $300 used at the time), and then decided I didn’t need the ipad, posted it and traded it for a camera worth about $600.
Hopefully these tips help you with your ads. If not, take a look at a bunch of ads similar to what you’re selling, and try and figure out which of those ads pop and why, and which ads you’d reply to and why.