It’s All about Getting Attention

by Gary on March 13, 2008 · 4 comments

in E-commerce,Online Marketing

I just read Mat Siltala’s post on how he sold his car in an hour on Craigslist. The post is a month old but for those who missed it and posts ads on Craigslist you might be interested in reading the entire entry. Here’s a recap on how he did it and some related issues.

Mat Siltala sold his 1995 Nissan Maxima in under and hour and got 30 offers during that time by doing something really simple – typing his post title in ALL CAPS and placing asterisks before and after key phrases. He also placed the phrases “TODAY ONLY” and “ONE DAY OFFER” making it all feel more urgent. Note though that when he was selling the car he points out that he was NOT trying to spam anyone and that he was really in a hurry to sell his car. Those who saw his post raised very valid points though including…

  • the fact that Craigslist explicitly states that you should avoid using ALL CAPS and unnecessary symbols.
  • the format (ALL CAPS and lots of asterisks) looks spammy to some people making them avoid even taking a look at the offer
  • this won’t work if everyone starts doing this
  • it will lead to a really ugly and looking listing if lots of people resorted to this

In my opinion though what Mat did still works since he DID sell his car REALLY FAST. Someone pointed out that this only happened because he must have been asking for a really low price but if you read his post he came up with a similar posting minus the new title presentation and wasn’t able to sell his car before that. My point is that right now people do not normally do this ensuring that if you do your ad will stand out and thus get people’s attentions. However, it does defy common courtesy in Craigslist so what I think you should do is that do this only when you have really something valid to sell and if you really are just in a hurry. DO NOT use this technique to spam Craigslist (or eBay or any other online store/listing). In the end selling is all about getting people’s attention. If you can’t get anyone’s attention then your sales pitch won’t do you any good.

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  • Domain Registrar

    I sold a PC on craigslist by doing the exact same thing. I put the ad in all caps and put **before and after the title. I announced it as only being sold today or I would simply keep it. I sold the PC in about 4 hours and got around 20 offers in one day.

    Very good advice here!

    • Hannah

      Good for you. This reminds me…maybe I should tell my friend who’s trying to sell her PC to place an ad on Craigslist. ^_^

      Ha! My bad.

  • Matan Media

    He did defy some common courtesy’s but he was original and did what he needed to do in order to achieve his goals.

    Of course if everyone starts doing it for everything then the method will lose its effect and I am sure it would make a lot of regular C-list users very unhappy. But hey, his regular post did not do the job, so can we really blame him for trying something else?

    Interesting post, dfferent from the regular SEO I read everywhere. Cheers

    • Hannah

      As Mat said “you have to adjust”.