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An Open Letter to Musicians Scanning Classified AdsI’ve been listing a bunch of classified ads as of late (mostly to sell guitar and studio gear), and I’ve noticed that a lot of musicians are a little clueless around responding to listings.

Of course, we all do dumb things at times, but this isn’t rocket science. Once you have a basic framework for how to communicate, you can carry it into a variety of situations (and hopefully this one specifically).

Here’s what I’d like to see more musicians doing while they are scanning and responding to classifieds.

Read the Ad

If you’re contacting me about one of my listings, I assume that you’re interested in what I have to offer. If so, you need to read what the ad says.

I’m not long-winded, nor do I use complicated language with my listings. I get straight to the point.

Don’t text bomb multiple buyers and then ask, “what guitar was yours again?” You’re clearly not serious, and you aren’t informed enough to make a good buying decision.

Listings usually contain vital information about the product that’s being sold (i.e. it has a scratch on the neck, it needs a setup, one of the pickups is broken, etc.). If you don’t know what ad you’re responding to, you might be prone to whining about things you “didn’t know about” later. And that’s just bad planning.

Commit to the Purchase

Either you’re going to buy or you’re not. It’s a good idea to make up your mind before contacting the seller.

Some prospective buyers have attempted to facilitate entire conversations with me (about their day) via text messaging. If you’re interested in what I’m selling, stop trying to “feel things out”. Get on the phone right away, and take some initiative and ownership over your actions. First come first served.

Personally, I’m not interested in playing games. I create classified listings because I have something to sell. If you’re not going to take another step towards buying, I shouldn’t be hearing from you in the first place.

By the way, I would respect anyone that chose to walk away from a deal that wasn’t right for them. At least they took the time to look over the product to understand what they would be getting themselves into.

Be Fair

While I can’t speak for any other sellers, when I list products on classified sites, I usually adjust the price to reflect a fair value based on research and product condition. I’m not haphazard with how I price things.

If a seller has a listing that’s a little on the high side, you can always gently point this out to them, but you shouldn’t be outright hostile or rude. Just say, “hey, I think you might want to see this” and point them to a few other sellers that have the same product at a reduced rate. If you’re nice to them, they might be willing to do something for you.

Of course, you still have to do your homework. There are some cases in which modifications or upgrades can increase the value of the product, so this is where comprehension comes into play (also see the earlier section, “Read the Ad“).

Also, don’t try to negotiate via text (this is like trying to sell rice to Japan). Arrive at my door with cash in hand, and I might be willing to haggle. Even if I don’t budge that much, at least you’ll know why.

Follow Up and Follow Through

If you say you’re going to call at a certain time, call. Even if you decide overnight that you’re not interested in the product, follow up and follow through with your commitment.

Not only is it good manners, it demonstrates how accountable you are to yourself, to others, and ultimately how much you trust yourself.

Have you ever been upset with the cable company who told you they would show up some time between 10 and 3 to hook up your connection? Well, guess what? That’s the same thing you’re doing when you don’t call back when you say you will. Worse yet, you’re not showing up! At least the cable guy shows up at some point, even if it’s a day later.

If you respect your own time, you will respect other people’s time too. If I can’t count on you for a small thing, I definitely can’t count on you for a big thing.

Conclusion: Classified Ads

I believe it’s important to conduct yourself professionally, no matter what the situation is. This includes responding to classified ads.

If you’d like to read more on the subject, I wrote a post about a classified scam that was going around last year. Sellers beware.

David Andrew Wiebe

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