Advertising on craigslist is a great way to get new clients fast. I’ve received up to 5 calls in one day from ads posted to craigslist for handyman services. For a new handyman business owner, craigslist can be a very effective way to supplement your income while you work on more long term marketing methods such as building your website, etc. In this post, I’ve got some great tips for maximizing your efforts and dominating the craigslist competition. I’ll show you strategies that I still use to generate leads during my slow times.
***Update August 2014: I’ve made a few changes to this article since Craigslist has changed it’s policy on using HTML within posts. Basically, you can no longer use HTML within your posts or titles.***
Hook Em’ With The Title
The title of your craigslist ad is equally, if not more, important than the ad itself. After all, the potential customer won’t even read your ad if you don’t don’t entice them to click on it.
Can you get leads with a mediocre title? Yes, but you won’t get as many. A lot of craigslisters will simply click on each ad starting at the top and just call each number until they reach somebody. I’ve had customers tell me that this is exactly how they found me.
Regardless, having an attractive title that gets the attention of the customer will help significantly and it only takes about 30 seconds of extra time.
There are a few ways you can spice up your title.
- All caps.
- Limited time offers
- Succinct and Clear Titles
As far as the wording goes, I try to stay away from getting salesey, but try to make it interesting. Instead of just handyman, I’ll write “Skilled Handyman” or something.
Make It Easy to Contact You
The sole purpose of the craigslist ad is to get the customer to pick up the phone and call you. It’s important to make this as easy as possible. I recommend placing your name and phone number at the top and the bottom of the post.
Additionally, if you have a website (if not you should build one), it usually makes sense to direct interested potential customers to it.
Unfortunately, Cragislist banned the use of HTML so you can’t insert a clickable link, but you can still include your web address in your contact info, which I highly recommend.
Adjust the tone of your listing.
I’ve tested several different listings written in different tones. I’ve tried really salesey tones with lots of exclamation points and excitement, and I’ve tried the down-to-earth-regular-guy tone. The salesey tone didn’t work well and I found that just sounding like a regular dude trying to get some work has received the best reaction from customers.
Never Say Cheap!
Craigslisters are the type of customer that are usually looking for a really good deal. You will draw a lot of attention by saying you offer handyman services for $10/hour. However, this is the opposite of what you should do. Not only will you scare away people that are smart enough to realize that you can’t sustain a quality service for $10/hour, you’ll get a ton of straight labor type work.
Saying things like “cheap handyman services” or “lowest price in town” will make you look desperate and even unqualified. Instead, I like to say “Free Quotes” or “Free Estimates.” This helps the potential customer to feel as though they’re getting a deal. After all, I’m just trying to get them to call me. Once they call me or visit my website, that is when the sale takes place.
Have Multiple Postings
I’ve found that it’s helpful to have several different ads as opposed to just a single “handyman services” ad. Here is the format for posing that I use.
I have one generic handyman ad that tells about my experience and lists the services that I offer. I use all of the tips I’ve already mentioned above to help conversion rates. During slow times I update or re-post my listing every three days to keep it at the top of the list.
I then post ads for individual services such as “Fence Repair”, “Door Repair”, or “Window Screen Repair.” The idea here is to target certain keywords that people type in. If somebody is looking to have their door repaired and they pass an ad that says door repair, chances are pretty high they will call you. In the body of the ad you can go into detail about how much experience you have with door repair and why you would be the best person to call. It’s a very highly targeting approach to craigslist and works well.
Know The Laws
Before you post any services on craigslist, I recommend you fully understand the laws about handyman advertising. Depending on whether or not you are a licensed contractor and which license you carry, you may be limited in what you can advertise.
In my state, as an unlicensed handyman, I’m not allowed to advertise for any of the trades including tile, drywall, carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. I was actually cited for listing painting as one of my services on craigslist. As I write this I’m speaking with lawyers to contest this.
The easiest way to know what you can and can’t advertise is to call your state’s contractor’s board and ask them. Try to speak with an investigator if you can because they know the laws best.
Test, Test, Test.
The tips you see above are from me trying several approaches to advertising on craigslist. I’ve tested about 50 different titles and am constantly making small tweaks to my ads. I highly recommend you do the same. What works for me in my city, won’t necessarily work for you in your city.
Also, take into account that I’m only one person and these are my experiences. By using what I’ve already found and continuing to test, you may uncover a strategy that gives your handyman business the boost it needs. If you do, please share it in the comments!