Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did Someone Say Garage Sale?

I really love this time of year. The sweltering days of summer give way to cool breezes, birds are making their way back to the South, festivals abound. Everybody wants to be outside, enjoying these beautiful days while we still can. Because, like it or not, winter is just around the corner. Pretty soon we'll have to close the windows and turn on those heaters. If you're like me, your house could stand a bit of clearing out before cold, icy winds start blowing you indoors. So, get out those boxes and start sorting. The website Get Organized Now has a lot of good tips for decluttering your home. Most of those tips involve filling boxes with items you no longer use. But, what to do with those boxes once they're full? Have a garage sale!

Of course, in order to have a good sale you'll need to advertise. Small, local papers like the Old River Peddler are an extremely cost effective means of getting the word out. Start out with an attention grabber like "5 Family Sale", "Early Bird Specials" "Moving Sale" or "My Junk, Your Treasure". The object is to peak the reader's interest. Then go on to list where, when and what. Where? Give the address and, if it's off the beaten path, brief directions. When? Day/date and time of the sale. What? List a few items you think will draw people in. Don't be too specific. Instead of saying "Bed, rocker, chair" say "Furniture". That way people will come to see what kind of furniture you have. You may not have the piece they want, but they just might buy something else that catches their eye. You may not want to put your phone number in a garage sale ad unless you have lots of help. It can be frustrating to be talking to potential customers on the phone while actual customers are asking questions.

You might want to check with your local courthouse/government regarding permits and signs. Some areas have rules regarding the number of sales you can have per year as well as rules on where you can or can't place signs. You don't want to use all your garage sale profits paying fines. I have other tips about pricing your items and displaying them attractively, but The Yardsale Queen has a great website with a whole slew of useful tips. She is definitely worth a visit if you're planning a yard sale.

Have a great sale!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ad Writing 101

Through all my 17+ years in classified advertising, the most frequently asked question has been "What should I say?" Cost is usually a concern, and a lot of folks want to say as little as possible. I completely understand wanting to save money. But, if you don't say enough to capture the reader's attention you won't get any calls, and you've wasted the money you did spend.

So let's start with what you shouldn't say. I call them "space wasters".
  1. For Sale. That's a given. People assume, unless you say otherwise, that the listed item is for sale. Don't waste space stating the obvious.
  2. Please Call. When they see a phone number they'll know to call.
  3. Leave Message. That's another given. If they call and get an answering machine, then they know to leave a message. Just list your phone number and then change the message on your machine to say "If your calling about the ??? (whatever it is you advertised) please leave your name and number and we'll call you back." That way the caller knows they have the right number and will leave a message.

That being said, here's what you should say:

  1. Begin at the beginning. Start your ad with the item you're selling. People don't want to read half the ad just to find out if you have what they want. The first thing they should see is what you have. For example: Say you have a beautiful, hand-carved, solid oak, perfectly restored antique roll-top desk. A lot of classified readers will "skim" down the page, so if you don't start strong they'll skim right past your ad. So grab that skimming eye. Start the ad with the item (i.e. "Roll-top Desk" or "Desk, Roll-top").
  2. Details. Now that they know what you're selling, give them the specifics... color, special features, what condition the item is in, any extras that may be included (like a desk chair, drawer organizer.. any lagniappe they'll get if they buy the desk)
  3. Price. You'll increase the number of serious calls if you go ahead and put the price of your item in the ad. Many readers think an ad with no price means it's probably so high you're afraid to list it and won't even bother to call. You may get a lot of folks looking for a hundred dollar desk asking about your thousand dollar desk. Avoid dissapointment and save time by listing the asking price.
  4. Contact Information. Make sure any interested reader can get in touch with you. You may think that's obvious, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who forget to include a phone number or some alternative means of contact. And be sure to list the complete phone number including area code. Many papers, like the Old River Peddler, are available online, so you never know what area readers may call from. Phone number, fax number and/or email address... include the contact information!

So, the beautiful, hand-carved, solid oak, perfectly restored antique roll-top desk we mentioned earlier would be:

DESK, Antique roll-top. Beautifully hand-carved, solid oak. Perfectly restored. Swivel desk chair included. $1000. 555-555-5555 or me@me.com.

That's it! The basic formula for a successful ad: Item, Details, Price, Contact Information. If you need help putting it all together, the folks here at the Old River Peddler are glad to help!