ADVERTISING (from Chapter 6: Selling Your Used Car)

    Your car is running its best, it's all detailed and looking good, and you California residents had it smogged. You are ready to run your first ad. As I mentioned earlier in this book, there are plenty of places to advertise your car, so how do you decide which publication to start in? If there are any publications in your area that offer free classified advertising, like we have here in Southern California, then by all means take advantage. Unless there's some kind of emergency in your life and you are in a big hurry to sell, there's no need to grand slam every venue with an ad. This will guarantee you a big advertising bill when maybe only one ad would have worked fine.

    Remember I said never be in a hurry to buy a car? The same goes for selling one, too. Never be in a hurry to sell a car. You will never get full market value for it. Sure, all of us would like to sell our cars within a few days, but sometimes it takes longer to find the right buyer. If you are anxious to sell, you certainly don't want to show it when a potential buyer is looking at your car. If they sense you are in dire need of money, they will low-ball you with an offer. So make like the poker player with a full house and be deadpan.

    As for advertising, you can start by putting a "For Sale" sign in the window. Make sure you don't put it where it will cause a dangerous blind spot. The rear driver's-side passenger window would be a good place.

    If you live in a local area where people post ads on bulletin boards around post offices, grocery, and hardware stores then take advantage and make up some posters. As long as it's free, why not? A nice color photo of your car attached to your ad will make it stand out from the rest.

    For paid advertising, I always start in the local newspaper classifieds and suggest you do the same. Your local paper is probably the most popular publication in town and anyone who's looking for a car will certainly be scanning the ads for one. A week-long ad should be a good start.

    In all advertising, the more lines you need the more you will be charged. Keeping it short and sweet will save you some money. The goal is to make it reach your target buyer(s) and be appealing at the same time.

    You should start by including the year, make, and model. Include engine type i.e., 350, V6, 4-cyl, etc., only if your model offered more than one engine size. Mention whether it has an automatic transmission or 4-speed, 5-speed, etc. If your car offered either 2- or 4-door models, mention what yours is. If your car has low mileage then you definitely want to include it. If it has high miles, don't mention it. State any other key features that it may offer like convertible, four-wheel-drive, etc. Also, if your car has air-conditioning and you live in the south where air is highly desirable, mention it as well. Some people, myself included, can't live without AC.

    If you are the original owner or the second owner, mention it. If you had some major work, like a rebuilt engine for which you have receipts, mention that too. You only have so much room in the ad and you can't include everything, so all that middle- of-the-road stuff you had done to your car can be described later over the phone. An ad stating new brakes or a new battery or a new clutch really won't sell your car any faster.

    The ad's whole purpose is to attract the right person, and finding the right person will be easier when you list the key features of your car. For example, if you fail to mention that your car is a 5-speed, everyone interested in an automatic model will be calling to find out what yours is, wasting their time as well as yours.

    As for all those frilly things like power windows, power this and that, and your fancy stereo, you can save it for your pitch over the phone or, if your car has them all, use one word - loaded.

    Finally, one last descriptive word for the hook. You want to end your ad with something like Dependable, Clean, or Garaged. So a properly worded ad might go something like these:

'79 Chevy Camaro. Rebuilt 350

w/receipts, auto, loaded, runs xlnt,

2nd owner, clean. $2400 555-1234

'84 Toyota Corolla. 4 dr, 5 spd, air,

95k. Dependable $2700 555-4321

 Always abbreviate where you can. If you're not sure what to shorten, the ad consultant in the classified department who does this all day long can help you. Make sure you include your asking price; otherwise you will be plagued by callers wanting to know your price. Remember, dealers read the ads daily, always looking for a deal. Listing the price will screen them out along with the wishful thinkers.