Garage Sales and Online Classified Ads: Examples of C2C Marketing

The world has changed. Thanks to technologies like the Internet and social media, consumers have become more informed, empowered, and engaged. In response, traditional marketing has had to adjust – and marketers have had to become specialists in digital marketing.

What is C2C marketing?

Simply put, C2C marketing is “consumer-to-consumer” marketing, or promoting products or services between two friends or family members. Thanks to the rise of social media, people are more likely to entertain offers from friends, family, and neighbors than they are from companies they don’t know or trust. For example, if I had a friend in India who was looking for a wedding dress, I might suggest she look into bridal shops in Mumbai – but if I didn’t know anything about bridal shops in India, I wouldn’t bother to suggest such a product.

As a result, C2C marketing has become one of the most prominent types of marketing. Companies like Carfax, Experian, and Monster provide specialized tools designed for consumer-to-consumer marketing, and many large organizations use specialized software to facilitate C2C marketing. Marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot take the drudgery out of maintaining and analyzing consumer data, meaning marketers can focus on growing and maintaining relationships with clients.

How does C2C marketing work?

Consumer-to-consumer marketing is all about creating a conversation between strangers – or friends, family, and neighbors with limited interests – that will result in one person offering some product or service, and the other person accepting the offer. This is why C2C marketing is mostly digital; if you’re using tools like Craigslist or ThredUp to connect with potential customers, you’re essentially engaging with them in a digital space where you can develop a relationship and make a sale. In this scenario, the offer is usually some kind of discounted product or service that may or may not be related to the initial offer of the product or service that prompted the conversation. For example, if you’re having a garage sale and a consumer offers to buy your old stuff for a discounted price, you can use this as an opportunity to sell them your gently used furniture or appliances.

The rise of online classified ads

It’s important to note that C2C marketing didn’t emerge out of nowhere. In fact, there were numerous examples of offline marketing and sales techniques being utilized in a digital space way before “the golden age of digital marketing” emerged in the mid-2000s.

Take online classified ads, for example. They’ve been around for almost as long as Craigslist itself, but until recently, most people used them for simple, one-time transactions. This changed with the rise of social media, which provided people with online spaces to engage with brands and others users in real time. Suddenly, people wanted to be able to find and engage with other users – regardless of whether or not they were looking for a specific product – in order to get feedback, advice, and more importantly, to start a conversation that could result in a sale or an engagement that could result in a sale.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, computers are able to analyze voluminous amounts of data in real time, and can engage with consumers in an almost infinitely more sophisticated manner than static ads on Craigslist or other classified ads sites would allow. Further, as a result of the increasing complexities and inefficiencies of traditional marketing, marketing automation software has emerged to help businesses ensure they’re reaching the right person at the right time with the right message, and analyze the results of all their marketing efforts – be that SEO, PPC, email marketing, or social media – with one view of the entire digital landscape.

The rise of social media marketing

Another significant factor behind the rise of C2C marketing is social media. Thanks to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, along with sophisticated digital marketing tools, marketers are able to target and engage with consumers wherever they are – whether they’re on social media or not. For example, if you use the hashtag #whatshouldiwatch on Twitter, you’ll receive news articles, other people’s product reviews, and even advertisements from brands related to that hashtag worldwide – not just those within the social media platform itself.

The result of all this is that even if you don’t sell products related to technology, you’ll likely be familiar with or have heard of at least one of the following:

  • Garage sales
  • Online classified ads (Craigslist, etc)
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc)
  • E-mail marketing
  • PPC (Pay-per-click ads)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Digital marketing

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these terms, be sure to educate yourself. They’re not difficult to learn, but they are ways of marketing that are likely to be unfamiliar to you. For example, if you have a small business that creates websites for customers, but you’ve never done any digital marketing, now might be a good time to learn.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather an overview of the most prominent examples of C2C marketing. We hope it will help you understand the principles behind this type of marketing and how to apply them in your own business.