Craigslist Marketing Tips for Home Care Agencies

I can scarcely believe it, but this is my 80th post! 20 more and I’ll reach 100, and that, dear readers, is a real milestone. By my calculations, I should reach that milestone in about 4 weeks.

Anyway, the question I answered earlier this week–about how new home care agencies can go about getting those first clients–got me thinking. What are some ways to advertise for free? One of the best ways is Craigslist.

Craigslist has been given a bad rap recently; every time it appears in the news, it’s in conjunction with something sleazy or gruesome. But keep in mind that those instances are but a few amid millions. In other words, don’t let the media hype scare you away from something that can potentially bring in clients, and that doesn’t cost you any money.

Getting Started
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume you know nothing about Craiglist–feel free to skip ahead. When you first log in to Craigslist, you’ll see a list of cities. The first thing to do is select yours. Now you’ll want to create an account. (Don’t worry, it’s free.) Click on “my account”, which will take you to a login page. You’ll see a link that says, “Don’t have an account? Sign up.” Click that, follow the steps, and you’ll be all set with your account.

Where to Post
You’ll need to post your ad in either Household Services or Small Biz Ads. I’ve seen postings for home care in both. (You’ll want to stay away from therapeutic. That’s full of masssage therapists–some who are legit and some who are questionable, hypnotists and psychic palm readers. Plus, Craiglist charges you to post there now.)

Household services, small biz ads

Post in either Household Services or Small Biz Ads. Avoid therapeutic.

 How to Post
The most important thing to remember is be specific. If your ad isn’t clear about what it is you’re offering, you won’t get many inquiries. List the services you provide. Use bullet points. Define terms–remember, your potential clients might not be familiar with terms we use every day. So, if you say you offer palliative care, you’d want to say something like “We offer palliative care (pain and stress reduction)”. Include a link to your website, and a phone number where users can reach you. Be upfront about payments. If you don’t take MA or EW, say so. Conversely, if you accept payments on a sliding scale, let people know! Lastly, a catchy title for your ad can generate more views and increase the calls you’ll get.
 
What Not to do
 Do not post the same ad in more than one location. You will get flagged. (More on flagging later.) Avoid ALL CAPS in both the ad title and in the body. It’s tempting to use all caps, but it looks less professional. Also, do not, under any circumstances, fill the title of your ad with symbols. Does **$$$$##BEST HOMECARE EVER***!!!!! look professional to you? No? Yeah, don’t do that. Also, the system won’t let you post the same ad in the same day. If you want to post more than one ad on any given day, make the ad be for a different service. For example, you can post separate ads for Physical Therapy and Homemaker services. (Actually, if you have the time, I recommend this. It makes it easier for people looking for Physical Therapy to find you because the ad is aimed at them. A separate ad about Homemaker services would similarly target those looking for Homemaker services.) Also, don’t post random images. You don’t need to ad an image for the sake of adding an image. If the image is of a frosty field or the Eiffel Tower, skip it. If it’s a company logo, or an image of one of your nurses at work, go for it!
 
Flagging
Some people really don’t understand flagging. Craigslist users can flag an ad that they don’t like–for whatever reason. Typically, ads get flagged because they were posted in the wrong place, or posted in too many places. (‘Overposting’ is abuse, and you will not get away with it. CL users LOVE to flag people who overpost.) If you get flagged often enough, CL will shut down your account. Keep in mind–accounts get closed only after CL users write to CL staff an complain. So if your account gets closed, it means you’ve ticked off a lot of people. Don’t try to circumevent the rules. The rules are your friends. If you follow the rules, you won’t have to worry about flagging.
 
Lastly, have fun. Get creative. And when the calls come in, be upfront. Answer questions. Be prepared for a few strange calls–there will always be a few. Good luck!
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