Last year I sold my 2001 Corvette for $15,500. The price we agreed on was within the amount stated for private party Blue Book value in 2010, so why bother writing an article about this? Well, there are a few reasons. First, even though the car was was in great condition with no issues, I wasn’t getting any serious offers. Second, I discovered some effective ways to demonstrate value online. I found out it takes more than throwing my listing on Craigslist and renewing it weekly, let me explain my suggestions on how to sell your car.
The minimum to sell your car…
My plan was to create a better than average Craigslist ad, and highlight the features I thought would help the car sell. I gave the car a thorough cleaning inside and out, and took dozens of pictures. The best ones I uploaded to Photobucket and labeled with titles and descriptions. I then put together an HTML page that I could copy into Craigslist and re-list every week. Here’s what my Craiglist ad looked like when I started. I had listed the car for $16k, which was slightly above good Kelly Blue book value at the time, but as you can see in the photos the car was pretty clean.
After running the ad for about a month, I had received only a handful of poor leads, mostly lookers, or people offering far below what I was expecting. I started looking for other ways to market my car – for free. I tried eBay local classifieds as well as Facebook marketplace. Both I thought were a complete waste of time. All I received from eBay classifieds were calls from car brokers who wanted to sell my car, for a fee ($400, rip off!). Facebook marketplace was better in that I didn’t get any cold calls, but I didn’t get any leads either. I was still only getting the occasional weak lead from Craigslist, so I decided to get more aggressive.
What I recommend to sell your car
Next I decided to do a YouTube video of the car to really entice enthusiasts. I believe my video came out to about 5 minutes – I went over all the key features of the car including many of the customizations I did. I showed just about every angle of the interior and exterior, and revved the engine a few times just for kicks. I also decided to bite the bullet and advertise on Autotrader. I wasn’t too fond of Autotrader at first, I could not link external content (like my new video) and I was really limited to what I could say about the car. I went with the package that runs your ad until the car sells, I believe it was about $60-$70. I listed the car for $15,500 hoping the lower price would attract more interested parties. I also revamped my Craigslist ad with my YouTube video hoping the new bait would get a bite. It was midway through summer and I knew it would be tougher to sell a sporty car like mine once Fall arrived.
How it ended
Once I posted on Autotrader, the car went quick. I immediately received one serious lead, the first person to actually come out and see the car. The next serious lead bought the car. He found the car on Autotrader and also found my YouTube video. It was an easy transaction, the buyer brought a cashiers check for exactly what I wanted, test drove the car, and bought it that day. Was I wasting all that time with Craigslist and eBay classifieds when I should have started with Autotrader?
What I believe made the difference selling my car
In retrospect, I think Craigslist is a great place to post items for free, but you have to consider the audience you’re marketing to. I’m not sure how successful you’ll be with Craigslist if you’re selling something for more than a couple thousand. Whereas with Autotrader, you get more qualified prospects browsing your vehicle. As I mentioned, at first I didn’t like how Autotrader limited what content I could provide – but now I see the value with how they control the experience. Autotrader wants shoppers methodically going through their pages of cars, they don’t want people getting distracted, or clicking away from their site. Now I see it is a better browsing experience. I also think their strength is showing consistently formatted car detail pages, with Craigslist all bets are off when you’re searching. Finally, I think it’s easier for audiences of all ages to use Autotrader over Craiglist – with Craiglist there is less selection and often you get results not related to your search. For my Corvette in 2010, Autotrader was the way to go, but I needed more than Autotrader alone. The guy who bought my car said it was the video that sold him. He had to drive with his wife about an hour and half to get here, and he said specifically it was the video that gave him the confidence to come out for the visit – with cashiers check in hand. All it took was a 20 minute test drive and the car sold itself.
Use as many free online tools as you can like Photobucket, Craigslist, and YouTube to effectively market your vehicle. If you have a used vehicle and you’re looking to get over $5000 for it, consider using a site like Autotrader to help you reach your target audience. Have patience and ask your leads where they found your vehicle, this really helped me connect the dots and find out what worked. You might be saying it’s easy for Chris to spell this all out after the fact, so I’m going to use this strategy again in 2011 to sell my 2003 Honda VFR 800a. I’ll update this page with details of how it goes, let me know your thoughts about this post and good luck selling your used vehicle!
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