Email Marketing And The Art Of The Garage Sale

This past weekend I held a garage sale with a dear friend and neighbor. It was the first garage sale I had done in 20 years, and I will not likely have one for another 20 years. It was painful -- not because it was a a garage sale, but because it was something I don't do very often. To put it bluntly, I didn't know what the hell I was doing!

I can admit it. All my garage sale-ing friends had all kinds of "after-the-fact advice" (like, Thursday is the best day for a garage sale -- uh, OK) that made me realize that there are best practices for everything. For anything in the world you can do, there is someone there to tell you how to do it better. But better for whom?

So for fun, here's how garage sale best practices relate to email marketing (as everything in my life seems to -- or do I force it to by design? Either way, it makes for fun conversation).



The early bird gets the worm. You need to know your audience and when they are likely to engage. As proven with garage sales, there are always early birds looking for the best deals and the premium selection. If you have your garage sale too late in the day, you may miss out on a segment of your audience that gets started at 6 a.m. and calls it quits at 10.

Customers are willing to work for a deal. Those same early birds are working for their deals! These people show up at the crack of dawn to get the most robust selection and to haggle for the very best deal. I think as email marketers, we can learn from these early birds. Consumers are willing to work a little for a good deal -- so why do we always try to make it so darn easy?

Feature your best items out in front near the curb.  While this seems like an obvious statement, I was more worried about ordering things categorically at my garage sale -- kids section, housewares, etc. I'm told this is a ridiculous approach for a garage sale, but I am a bit neurotic, what can I say. As with the garage sale, you should put your featured or best items right up front -- which we can translate to "above-the-fold." If your best stuff is buried in the back, potential customers might drive on by without ever noticing.

Look for cross-sell opportunities. Garage sale shoppers are there for the good deals, but their early morning scouting might also make them perfect customers for some fresh coffee and donuts. Don't overlook opportunities to provide complementary products and services that can drive extra revenue while also enhancing the shopping experience.

The more work you put into planning, the better the day.  It is a no-brainer that a garage sale doesn't come together overnight -- and neither should any email you send out the door! Take the time, plan it right and set yourself up for the greatest success possible. The extra effort you put into product selection, pricing and promotion will translate into increased traffic and sales.

I think I will stick to email marketing, because I am just not cut out for garage sale-ing. So much so that I think I may just need a vacation!  If you have any other garage tips that translate to email marketing, please share them in the comments.

2 comments about "Email Marketing And The Art Of The Garage Sale".
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  1. Ned Newhouse from Conde Nast , September 29, 2011 at 1:06 p.m.

    Good analogy

  2. Joanne Rusch from Multi Edge Media, September 29, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.


    Agree with NeD, GREAT metaphor AND "fun" read. Was nice to see something come in that didn't have numerical or negative titling for a change!

    Thank you!

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