[Note from editor: This was and shared here since it’s relevant to the Geek Estate audience]
A Familiar Scenario
Let’s say I owned a commercial website like, say, The New York Times online. I have editorial content and ads that run throughout the site. There are ads all over the place where you consume content but also there are entire sections with nothing but ads. Let’s call that the classified section. Now, unlike something such as Craig’s List where it’s free to place the ad and free to sell your wares, I require you to buy these ads upfront. I get paid whether or not you get a single phone call or email. I get paid whether you get ANY response whatsoever. I simply provide the eyeballs because I am a destination site and people know to come here to get a great user experience and great content. This all sounds pretty normal and you are all pretty familiar with this concept, right? I am sure that most people reading this have used this type of advertising in the past – and maybe at present. There’s nothing wrong with it and it has shown results for some time.
Here’s the thing: sites like The Times are in trouble and have been for a while. They can’t price out online ad space competitively enough to cut it in this market. Perhaps this is not the case with your local paper or classifieds sites/blogs but that may only be because you (or they) haven’t really been able to measure proper ROI on your advertising dollars. This is a hard thing to do and this is not a pot shot at either of you. However, there are plenty of people that place ads like this to sell a house, apartment, car, bike, or whatever, that never get any response. The ad runs its course and your money is spent with a ZERO ROI.
Like I mentioned, Craig’s List is free of charge. So, other than your time, the investment is zero. Odds are better to have a positive ROI right? Perhaps, perhaps not. The thing with Craig’s List is that it’s pretty much the wild west. Anyone can use this service and are left to their moral compasses in terms of the claims and content of their ads. It’s pretty easy to set up a bogus ad to simply generate leads, create a bait and switch environment, or just downright swindle people out of their hard earned cash. People can report a spammy, scammy, or fishy ad but they don’t put a tremendous amount of effort into policing the system. It’s really a buyer beware kind of atmosphere. Doesn’t sound like a very professional environment – especially if you are looking to market a big tag item, huh? Well, it’s not. Oh, and the look and feel are also god ugly.
In a Perfect World
Well, the best way to do this is to create your own website so you can control everything and the traffic is yours. Then again, that takes development resources to build and maintain. It also will take online marketing expertise that is separate from the code jockey you have building the actual site. They will have to be well versed in user experience, design, web analytics, and content strategy. Oh, and they will have to be specialized in the vertical you are trying to sell to. This wouldn’t be free and if you want to do it right, you’re looking at six-figures+ to get this up and running. Then you will only have to pay for maintenance and modifications to the site to tweak things and update your marketing efforts. You can go cheap on the staff for probably under six-figures – a year.
What to do, what to do….
So you want a good, clean look and feel with a solid user experience that is safe for buyers and sellers and will be free for you to use for selling all of your stuff. Well, I don’t know any place that is good for all of your stuff so let’s just focus on one type of item for sale and maybe consider others once we have solved this riddle. For the sake of time, let’s use the biggest ticket item we can think of since solving that riddle will make the solution easily applicable to other smaller and cheaper things. The biggest ticket item I can think of that most people will have the opportunity to buy or sell is real estate. So let’s use that shall we?
ad·ver·tise·ment – Noun: A notice or announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service, or event or publicizing a job vacancy.