Do these four things right now!
Set up a website and email list
It doesn’t have to be expensive. You do not even need a designer. Go to Wix or Squarespace and set up one of their sites yourself. I set up ExpertEstates.com on Squarespace. If you don’t have a lot of content it is OK. There are just a few things you need on your site: contact information, your biography, a page for your upcoming events (if you already have sales or if you are speaking to groups in your community about your business), and way to capture emails. To capture emails, give customers coming to your site something for free that they can download. This way you can capture their email address and grow your list. You can also just ask them to subscribe details on upcoming estate sales.
Your list is vital to keeping your customers engaged with your estate sale business. Don’t use an email service from one of the estate sale listing websites, estate sale listing websites will send your customers links to their listing page and before you know it - your customers are mixing up your business with another person’s estate sales.
Make sure everyone coming to your site can find your company name, your address, your contact number. Give everyone visiting your website a quick way to get in touch with you. If you are a decent writer (or an aspiring decent writer) start a blog on your website. If you want a blog but you don’t know what to write about, email me and ask for my Estate Sale Blogging eBook. I will send it to you for free!
Capture referral sources and identify your ideal clients
What kind of estate sales do you want to run?
Who are your ideal clients?
How can you best reach them?
Get clarity and then come up with a plan for how to talk to your ideal clients so that you can get leads. You have to have a way to inform the world you are an estate seller. Some of the best lead sources are Realtors, but anything can be a good source, you just have to find what is your best fit. If you are active in your church, that might be your best source; if you are active in a mom’s group, ask the other mom’s who in their circle of friends and family might need an estate sale.
Stay in touch with your lead sources, bring them cookies and pretzels, send hand written thank you cards, call them and ask how they are doing. You don't do each of these things every day, that would be creepy. One thing every three weeks or so is good.
Get free word of mouth advertising
Set up social media accounts for your business. Go to your mail contacts once you are ready to spread the word about your business, and invite all of your friends and family to like your social pages. Ask them directly to share your page with their friends. Don’t be shy, you are an estate seller and you want everyone to know! Post articles about estate sales from news stories, post photos of nostalgic things you sell, and share quotes about antiques or collecting on a regular basis. Try for every day if you can.
The idea is to create content that people can share so that everyone knows you are an estate seller. As your list of followers increases, you have more people seeing and sharing your brand. As you post, notice which things are shared the most, and create more of those kinds of posts. This is an extremely low cost way (and honestly free if you don’t pay to boost posts) to increase your brand recognition.
Network in real life
Everything you are doing online is great, but nothing beats face to face meetings. Ask your friends and family if there are groups they are in that would let you come do an appraisal day or talk about estate sales with them.
Hand out your cards and brochure, or your estate sale checklist to your local network. Have give aways that are helpful so that people want to save them - like my Estate Sale checklist.
Check out the local Chamber of Commerce in your area. You can join if you want to, but you don’t even have to - just check out the calendar and start going to ribbon cuttings and anniversary events for other businesses in your area so that you can meet people face to face. Ask what they do and listen to their answer. Wait for them to ask what you do, then explain why you are an estate seller and who you help. Later you can refer people to them and ask if they know anyone who needs your services.
Think about how Realtors are always giving out their cards to everyone they meet. Why do they do that? Because it works, people will remember you and a lot of them will save your card.
See and be seen to succeed as a start up.