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Marketing Me! What blogs can learn from garage sales

Garage sale, yard sale, tag sale, rummage sale.. all names for very similar events.

People pulling their unwanted things out of the house and putting them up for sale in the front yard or garage.

The idea is that with enough advertising and drive-by traffic (and coupled with good pricing and an understanding of what sells), one can make a few extra dollars on a Saturday morning.

This past weekend I got together with a few neighbors and held a garage sale. We started around 7:30 AM and knocked off at 2:00 PM that same day. All in all, it was pretty successful; I ended up netting a couple of hundred bucks!

But the process made me think about the similarity between blogs like Marketing Me! and holding a garage sale.

1) Garage sales fail unless someone knows you are holding one.

For our sale, we placed signs at both entrances to our neighborhood as well as two nearby busy intersections. We put the signs out Friday night and checked them again on Saturday AM just to be sure they were still there.

We placed large signs in front of the hosting home (facing both directions). We put out orange traffic cones in the driveway and directly in front of the house to keep the view unobstructed and to draw attention to the sale home.

The result was plenty of traffic on our street targeted for our garage sale (as opposed to house buyers for instance).

Although we did not place ads in the local newspaper, we could have greatly increased our targeted traffic by using this tried and true method.

Your blog is the same.

What sort of signs are you placing in your neighborhood to drive traffic to your blog?

And if you get traffic, is it targeted to your blog or just readers stopping by for a few seconds?

Do you Digg your blog entries? Stumble? Use Squidoo? Technorati?

How are you promoting your blog outside of your "neighborhood"?

Are you taking advantage of tried and true means to drive traffic to your site?
Like AdWords or MS Adcenter?

2) More than one garage sale in the same location can increase traffic.

Besides the garage sale we held, another neighbor held his own.. next door. We doubled our traffic due to walk up traffic coming to his garage sale which he heavily advertised. The idea of convincing several of your neighbors to hold sales on the same day increases your chance of receiving more traffic.

Your blog can receive more traffic it is associated with another well-trafficked site.

For instance, is your blog directly linked to your company website? Or your personal web site? Or perhaps your blog is directly related to another more popular blog by subject or author relationship? Are you taking advantage of this organic traffic?

3) Know what your buyer wants.

In garage sale Nirvana, finding a priceless antique or an under priced designer outfit is the measure by which garage sale buying success is judged.

Now I didn't put any of those sorts of things up for sale (if I had any!), but I have held garage sales in my neighborhood and I know what type of customer to expect and what they are looking for.

I knew that children's and women's clothing, bedding, electronics, and certain furniture sells well. Then again, I also knew that used children's toys, dishes and standard housewares typically did not move.

So I matched my products according to my market. Based upon my revenues, I must have planned right.

I began the day with three carloads of stuff. I ended the day with only enough leftovers to fill my backseat. Obviously I matched my product to what the market wanted.

Does your blog match your market? Or does your resume assistance blog regularly wander into political discussions? Or maybe what you did this weekend?

If you are driving traffic to your blog, "sell" what your readers want.

On a related note, what type of ads, if you run them, does your blog feature?

Are your ads and offers related to your topic or are they hit and miss?

4) Sell other products are your garage sale to increase overall revenue.

My son and daughter got into the act at the garage sale. They baked a few dozen chocolate chip cookies, made several quarts of lemonade and filled an ice chest with sodas, juice boxes and Gatorade.

The day was hot and the kids sold out of lemonade, cookies, Gatorade and most of the sodas ( the juice boxes did not move; I guess the lemonade matched the demographic better ).

At the end of the garage sale, selling cookies and lemonade at a quarter ($.25) each, my children pulled in over twenty dollars! That was revenue I had not expected nor planned for when putting out my items for sale.

At our next garage sale, we plan on having more beverages, a better point of sale fixture and more cookies. We think we can double our revenue that way.

If revenue from your blog is important, are you optimizing every possibility?

If you are in sales, are you optimizing the way your customers can buy product from you?

In addition to AdSense or other contextual ads, are you offering subscriptions, other affiliate products or even asking for donations to offset your hosting costs?

Blog revenue comes in many shapes and forms. Have you setup your lemonade stand yet?

5) Service matters in every business including garage sales.

Customers like good service.

For my garage sales, I made sure I had plenty of change. I offered to carry purchases to buyer's cars. I provided tie-down rope for large purchases. I thanked my buyers. I welcomed early shoppers and waited for the late comer. I made deals based upon the request of the customer. I "threw in" freebies in order to close bigger deals.

What service do you provide on your blog?

Do you respond to reader's comments? Or do you turn comments off altogether? Do you thank your readers with helpful links, free e-book downloads, link backs to their sites?

6) Measure success and expand upon what works.

When a product moved quickly at my garage sale (let's say baby items), I responded by moving similar items to the front of the sale area. Result? Customers wanting baby items quickly found them and purchased!

Furthermore, I worked up a list of some other steps I will take to improve my garage sale revenues.

a) My next sale will be in front of my house which will allow for better parking and some interesting traffic (and less hauling for me!).

b) I will put out more items which I know will sell and might even contact friends who may not necessarily want to participate in a garage sale, but might want to give me some merchandise to unload for them. (affiliate sales!).

c) I will let my neighbors know it might be a good time for them to hold a sale the same day.

d) I will place more signs in high traffic areas and will run a classified ad this time.

e) I might even use Craig's list to advertise the site (garage sales meet Web 2.0!).

f) And I definitely will have that lemonade stand out front. Goal: Forty dollars in refreshment sales!

What is your plan for your blog? Do you measure your traffic? Do you know what works and what doesn't?

Do you routinely rearrange your website based upon what your readership clicks?

Study your blogs stats and make appropriate changes. If possible, split test your site and take the better results.

A blog is only as good as the stats it generates and the changes which are based upon those findings.

If clutter in the home has you down, plan a garage (stoop, tag, rummage or yard) sale and shrink your material footprint and you might make some great spare change.

If your blog is going nowhere, think about revising, revamping and re-releasing using the garage sale plan and start building some great traffic and you might improve you page ranking a make some real money!

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