I recently had a piece of feedback from one of my newsletter subscribers in which they asked for some better tips on lead generation. One thing they were using as their current strategy was to use Craigslist to build their sales pipeline. Now, if you've been listening to the podcast at all, you'd know that although you can find some customers on Craigslist, I am not a big fan of it.
Here are a couple of reasons why.
Know your audience
Why are people on Craigslist in the first place? That's right, deals.
One of the first ever web development jobs I had received came from Craigslist. The buyer was a great guy and very nice, but we spent about an hour negotiating whether his website (a fitness bootcamp site) was going to cost him $80 or $100. After my poor negotiation skills kept me at $80, the whole ordeal took about 5+ hours to complete.
On top of that, although he was extremely pleased with his new website and referred me to other people, he let them know that they could get a site for under $100.
You are a commodity
Whether you like it or not, as soon as you post your ad on Craigslist you are a commodity. There is nothing that differentiates you from anyone else there except price. This goes against every sales strategy and technique there is. Not only that, why would you want to work with someone who is not going to value what you have to offer over the hundreds of other people trying to make a sale in the same industry?
Craigslist is for the lazy business owner
If you are my competition, by all means please use Craigslist. While you are getting 50, $150 – $300 deals that take up 80 hours a week of your time (half of which won't pay in the end), I will be schmoozing with my target market at networking events and bringing home 10K+ projects that take 10 hours a week of my staff's time. Plus, when my client is happy, they'll refer me to their friends.
Most folks that rely on Craigslist for their lead generation do so because they are afraid to talk to real business owners directly. I don't mean to sound judgemental, I was the exact same way, but at some point you need to either call, meet, or email your target market directly. This is the only way you are going to get deals that are going to truly push your business forward.
Forget Craigslist and start small
Start with five emails a week to your target market, that's easy enough. Little by little you'll start building a pipeline of people who will pay you what you are worth.