Converting Lookers Into Buyers
Originally Published: 7/1/2000
"There's a phrase you hear often in the
collector car business: ""This car
speaks for itself.""
Unfortunately, the phrase isn't true - and
it's a lesson worth learning if you want to
receive the most amount of money when you sell
Consider a potential buyer at an auction. He
or she will probably look at dozens, or hundreds,
of cars within a few hours. You need to make
your car stand out from the crowd. You need
to convert lookers into potential buyers.
""It's not unlike designing an attractive
storefront, or having the menu on display outside
a restaurant,"" says Mitch Silver,
president of Silver Actions. ""You've
got to get buyers in the door. You want to give
them a reason to look further at your car.
Cars don't speak for themselves; you need to
speak for them. And an effective way to do that
is with sales literature and other marketing
materials. When you walk into a new car dealership,
you'll find dozens of brochures, banners, photos
and other promotional material about the cars
You can use the same principle to sell your
own car. Some ideas:
an original sales brochure for your car. (This
'isn't as hard as it sounds; Hemmings Motor
News will have dozens of potential sources.)
The brochure will look nice on your dashboard
but - more importantly - it will give you
marketing ideas. A brochure will reveal the
neat old names for parts of your car (Ease-O-Matic
Transmission, Flow-Thru Aire, or whatever)
and also tell you what options are on your
vehicle that can be emphasized - hound's-tooth
upholstery, for example, or chrome backup
owner's manuals, warranty books and guides
to accessories (convertible top, radio, air
conditioning). These make great display pieces.
a chronology of your car's history, if known.
Potential buyers feel reassured if they can
see there's been a clear trail of ownership,
especially if the car has significant historical
a car has been extensively or professionally
restored, prepare a notebook with receipts.
But also prepare a 1- to 2-page sheet with
highlights. If a car received a frame-off
restoration at a reputable shop, say so.
having a professional sign made to highlight
your vehicle. Prices range from $10 to $100;
a quick-print copy center usually will have
someone who can do a nice job. Set it up on
a stand next to your car.
an inexpensive flier or brochure that can
be handed out in quantity to potential buyers.
If you don't have access to a computer and
laser printer, a quick printer or copy shop
usually can make one. Make sure a photo of
the car is included - even a Xerox copy is
a color postcard of your car (color prints
are inexpensive in volume; so are pages from
a color copier). If you're using prints, get
a copy shop to run off labels to stick on
the back, containing key information about
your car. Again, the idea is to give people
something that will keep your car in their
a notebook with clippings about your car from
magazines, books, or even this magazine. If
your car has been picked as one of the great
sports cars of the '70s, or unsung collectibles
of the '50s, share the news. Remember that
the majority of cars sold at auction are impulse
purchases. The more information you provide,
the easier it is for somebody to persuade
himself to bid on your car.