My client owns a medium sized apartment complex in Silicon Valley in an area that has many similarly sized and situated apartment complexes. She advertised on Craigslist.org, but needed to get better response to her ads, especially in this highly competitive rental market.
The owner commissioned imagiNed Web Design to come up with ads that would stand out, that would be memorable and visually elegant and, most importantly, that would bring qualified, prospective renters to her units. These ads succeeded on all three counts. The apartment mangers report a very high response rate every time the ads were run over the 18 months they’ve run so far.
There are four ads in this series, and you can view them on the web (where they are embedded in a web page, instead of a Craigslist listing, because these ads only go onto Craigslist when an apartment is up for rent.)
(Also note: When the ads run live, clicking on a slideshow link takes the viewer to a Flickr.com slide show. In the following four example pages, these links have been deactivated and point instead to a note saying so.)
- The “Poster” Ad – not quite like those old movie posters, but the background wraps around the photos and text in a very classy way.
- The “Checklist” Ad – minimally simple in layout, but leads the reader through a checklist of features most renters would find desirable in an apartment.
- The “Q & A” Ad – the lists of attractive features are presented in a question and answer table, where every row has a thumbnail, that, when clicked, launches a slide show about that aspect of the apartment.
- The “Mondrian” Ad – reminiscent of the artist Mondrian’s strikingly arranged rectangles, four of this ad’s six rectangles also launch slides shows about their focus area.
Now it’s one thing to design a nicely laid out web page, but quite another to do any kind of sophisticated layout inside a Craigslist ad, where the subset of HTML statements that are allowed is quite limited. That’s one reason you rarely see ads this sophisticated on Craigslist.
The other reason is that a fair bit of design time goes into these ads, making them moderately pricey, ranging in the hundreds of dollars. You wouldn’t want to get an ad like this to sell your old exercise bike on Craigslist, but in the rental market, where every day an apartment goes unrented could cost fifty or a hundred dollars, well, then it’s worth it.
Above is the client’s “back of napkin” sketch that she sent me as a “design specification.” When I say that I “work in creative collaboration with my clients to turn their vision into a well crafted reality,” well, here’s a great example of that.
The screenshot above shows the fully developed ad, just as an apartment hunter searching Craigslist would find it. It helps to have a client who is highly creative and who can give very clear directions as to the final result she wants.
UPDATE: As of July 2012, we no longer try to run ads with HTML layout on Craigslist (the limitations and new restrictions became too cumbersome). Instead, I built a website for the apartment complex, and we use Craigslist for simple text ads with links to pages that look like these ads in the list above, but are mobile-responsive.