We had a yard sale this weekend.

Everyone who has had a yard sale knows what’s involved, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure of hosting such an event I’ll share a bit of the process. You start weeks before the designated date, going through all your junk valuable items, trying to decide what you can unload bear to part with. You have to put all of this stuff somewhere in your house where it won’t get in the way, but will be easy to get to on the day of the sale.

Then on the day, you carry everything out into the yard, set up folding tables, arrange everything artistically so that it will be attractive to buyers, and wait for the customers to arrive. Actually that’s not quite true.

While you’ve been carrying boxes out, someone arrives an hour early looking for antique pottery. The chances are good they want to pay $5 for something that’s worth $300. When you tell them you don’t have any, they leave without looking at anything else. The early visitors are all like this, they’re looking for specific items and don’t even bother with buying something to compensate you for taking time to talk to them.

Later visitors browse the tables, and some of them want to actually buy your junk valuable items. You’ve already priced things to sell, because you don’t want to carry it all back into the house. Maybe you’ve put $5 on a desk chair that cost you $90 new. Someone is going to come up to you and ask to get the desk chair and a pair of blankets for $5.

Yard salers are like that.

And that’s the moral of this slightly off-topic story. Know your audience before you try to sell something to them. You won’t get top dollar out of people who are obsessive about looking for bargains. If you market to bargain hunters, make them think they’re getting a bargain. If you market to collectors, make them think they’re getting something valuable.

Whoever your audience is, research them thoroughly and make sure you understand what they’re looking for and why they want it before you start.

Otherwise you’ll be disappointed in the results, and probably carry most of your junk back into the house afterward.

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