Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Goat, Some Coffee And eBay Marketing

Sometimes I go to the local coffee shop – Diedrich’s. Yesterday was one such day.

They had an odd piece of information up by the register in a holder. You can see it below – I scanned it. They had 30 or 40 of them stacked in a stand-up paper/brochure holder. The piece itself was printed in B&W on a standard 8.5X11 piece of paper. Super low tech. Very non-threatening (from a marketing perspective). It’s a story about how coffee got started. Take a look.

Kind of interesting. A conversation piece. You might tell your friend or wife about it after you stopped into the shop. It’s something to read while you’re waiting for your latté.

It’s not trying to sell anything. But it leaves you with a positive feeling about Diedrich’s.

Essentially, I think its purpose is to spread the word about the particular patron’s trip to the coffee shop. You might come home from work and tell your wife that “goats discovered coffee.” This is one of those fun, Cliff Claven-type factoids. You tell her the story and where you saw it. Then she thinks, “I love going to coffee houses, maybe I’ll go tomorrow.” This type of effect is probably working for Diedrich’s as we speak/read.

I like it – nothing to sell but some information that’s connected to the establishment. The word will get passed on, and the brand will be mentioned.

Can you think of stories that are not your own that you could co-opt for marketing or customer information purposes? Try it out. Find some stories that relate to your eBay products or eBay store and fashion them to your liking. Pop them into shipped packages. Send them to your newsletter subscribers.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Paris Hilton Crashed My Marketing Party (figuratively)

I noticed something this weekend, and it led me to think about what is perhaps one of the truly brilliant marketing moves of the 21st century.

We were in Palm Desert, CA – perhaps a bit altered by too much Thanksgiving tryptophan and residual Burgundy effects. I noticed that lots of the young guys and some of the young gals at The River (a hip mall) were wearing baseball caps with the Hilton “H” on the front.

I got to thinking….hmm.. Hilton, a $22 public stock on the NYSE. Hilton.. a big hotel concern with 70,000 employees and more than 2,300 properties.

What if… what if Paris Hilton is just a marketing ploy? What if her antics and exposure are ultimately designed to serve the company stock (HLT)?

Think about it. Where is the one piece of advertising real estate that virtually everyone has to view? Let’s say you’re a consumer that doesn’t watch TV, listen to the radio or go to the movies. Where else could you be ambushed with brands and marketing messages? The supermarket check out line, of course. Those “billboards,” the tabloid covers, might be selling something. Maybe a hotel chain in this case.

I wonder if Paris Hilton has helped propagate the Hilton Hotel brand. Maybe she’s not even their child. Maybe she’s an actress that they hired to build mindshare. Perhaps they grew her in a Petri dish and trained her to party and giggle her way to the check out stand headlines.

Tongue firmly in cheek (kind of).

Seriously, though. Think on a smaller scale. Could you come up with a device similar to Paris Hilton that gets you into the press or at least into the minds of your target market? T-shirts and caps come to mind, but that’s so “old hat.” Golden Palace has made a habit of purchasing outrageous, news generating items on eBay (remember the Virgin Mary toast?). That’s pretty original.

Anyone have some ideas (large or small) that are currently working? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. sells "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" for 32% off the cover price. sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey is Good, But I’m Thankful for Something Else

I’m thankful for quite a few things… but as it pertains to this blog and the eBay Marketing book, I’m thankful for several authors and writers who influence my work and have guided my thinking.

Bob Bly
Jack Forde
Dr. Robert Cialdini
Jay Conrad Levinson
Seth Godin
Jack Foster
John Caples
David Ogilvy

If I can think of some others, I’ll add them.

If you’d like to add some other authors to this list, please do by clicking on ‘comment’ below.

I’m also thankful for all of you – the readers and avid eBay sellers that visit this blog week in and week out.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday!


P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How Do You Deal with the Inevitable "Challenges" That Come Through the eBay Door?

“Giving up the illusion that you can predict the future is a very liberating moment. All you can do is give yourself the capacity to respond. . . the creation of that capacity is the purpose of strategy.”

-- Lord John Browne

This quote applies to a lot of things. I couldn’t help but think about eBay, however. As a store owner, a retailer, an online merchant, you inevitably deal with “whatever comes through the door.” Usually it’s profitable and a pleasure – but sometimes it’s a challenge.

What are your strategies for dealing with “challenges?”

Comment, and we can discuss.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 21, 2005

"Secret Sauce" or Technical Nonsense - eBay Marketing Fundamentals

Excerpt from "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing."

“Secret Sauce” Features vs. Technical Nonsense

Some vendors and manufacturers crave differentiation so desperately that they devise strange, incomprehensible product features. They get into all kinds of trouble describing crazy features and “XM-3000 performance statis­tics” that are lost on the potential customer’s dream receptors.

If your product really does something different, if it’s oozing with “secret sauce,” then certainly highlight that. However, do it by connecting with buyer benefits and keeping it simple.

Here’s a good benefit list about a Palm handheld device that was listed on eBay:

• Read and reply to your business and personal e-mail.
• Send an SMS message and collaborate quickly with colleagues.
• Type an e-mail to your team on the thumb keyboard.
• Use the phone feature to make a call and take notes at the same time.
• Edit spreadsheets, documents, and presentations on the Tungsten W handheld’s crisp, high-resolution color screen.
• Keep track of calendars and contact information.

Notice the seller didn’t lead with confusing features like “Motorola MC68VZ328 33 MHz Display, TFT active matrix - reflective - 16-bit (64K colors).” Those may be important when it comes time to compare the device to others, but the dream needs to be sold first.
P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Value Your Customers' Success -- Advice from Seth Godin's New Book

I’m a fan of Seth Godin’s books. I don’t get paid anything to promote them, but I just end up doing that because I read them and always find a few gems of wisdom within. The marketing/advertising/good-business books are light, airy and fast paced. They’re not chock full of compelling research or detailed justification, but that’s part of the reason they’re good. They don’t weigh you down, and, for some reason, they come across as authoritative anyway.

They’re also very entertaining – in the way a light, sophisticated comedy film or a smart sitcom is. Godin’s books may be a part of a new book genre – business books that instruct yet seem like entertainment. Curious stuff.

The one I’m reading right now is called The Big Moo. Here’s a takeaway that I stumbled across yesterday (It’s nothing new, but he puts it aptly and it’s a good reminder for all of us in marketing):

“Customers sometimes love the simple stuff, having a human answer the phone on the first ring, receiving work ahead of time… and getting a special thank you reminding them that you value more than their business… you value their success.” [my emphasis added]

I’m going to take this advice today and reach out to some of my business customers with this very message. I do value their success, and every brochure and white paper I write for them is an attempt to win them more business.

By the way, I value your success, too. This blog is designed for that express purpose. And if you bought the eBay Marketing book, I appreciate your business. If you’ve read it, you’ll see that it’s designed to help you sell more and bring in more profits. Your success is my success.

If you’ve found the book valuable, please spread the word. And comment to this blog or email me ( if you have some examples of how you’ve put some of the strategies to work.

Enjoy the weekend!

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How FAQs Help eBay Sales

Excerpt from "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing."

Write FAQs to Improve Your eBay Marketing

eBay item descriptions serve multiple purposes, one of which is to act as a retail sales person. In a traditional retail environment an effective salesperson takes the opportunity to present the product in the most favorable light possible. She calls attention to details, recommends uses for the object and answers questions. On eBay, a Frequently Asked Question section (FAQ) serves the same purpose.


* Dispel fears
* Overcome common objections
* Communicate benefits in the Q&A format
* Clear up nagging questions that don’t fit into selling copy
* Educate less experienced prospects* Clear up technical concepts

Let’s say you sell those new mini-bikes, the tiny little motorcycles that you see buzzing around suburban neighborhoods.

Buyers have lots of questions about these bikes that need answering before they move forward with bids. Here are just a few:

* Do I need a motorcycle license to drive one of these?
* Are they safe?* Are riders required to wear a helmet?
* Can a regular motorcycle mechanic work on them?

Imagine how long it would take to answer every question of every prospect via email. An FAQ solves the problem and gives you a new opportunity to stress benefits and reduce resistance. You also spare yourself the loss of a customer who goes to a competitor’s listing to find the answer to their question.

Hint: Only one out of 10 people with a question will take the time to actually email you. So, nine others had the same question but didn’t bother. If you don’t address details and FAQs up front, you’ll most likely lose those nine “invisible” customers.

Many sellers find that FAQs are much easier to write than prose-style text. The whole Q&A process really gets the creative juices flowing. Once you’ve put together a compelling description for one of your products, you’ve got a boilerplate for other products. Click the “Sell Similar” button (Figure 1) to reuse that description wherever you need it and adjust as necessary.

Figure 1: Sell Similar allows you to easily re-use boilerplate description informationThe whole process is not all that daunting – especially when you have so many ways to dive in and so many techniques at your disposal to get the process going.

You can:
* Write FAQs
* Estimate value
* Use the bucket brigade
* Link features and benefits
* Zero in on positive factual information

We’ll have more tips and tricks in the Fine Tuning Your Descriptions section ahead, and Chapter 5 goes even deeper into the persuasive approaches that work best on eBay.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

eBay Marketing: Keyword Fundamentals

Excerpt from "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing."

Keywords and Item Titles

Keywords help buyers find your product among the millions of items available on eBay. So, you need to carefully choose the words that potential customers will use to describe your product in their searches and use them in your item title and description.

Put yourself in the prospect’s place and brainstorm the words they would use to search for your product on eBay. Obviously, the primary keyword would be the object itself. Other essential keywords include:

* Manufacturer or brand name* Model
* Style
* Color
* Material
* Country of Origin (if indicates quality or uniqueness)
* Age or Year Made (especially important for antiques and collectibles)
* Condition (new, mint condition, etc.)
* Size
* Different spellings of the item

Zero in on the best keywords to use in your title and description by using the eBay search engine to figure out what keyword titles work well historically. Search your own keywords and see what comes up. Sort by completed item sales and by highest price first.

Hint: You can use your brainstormed keyword list to create keyword advertising campaigns, a topic we’ll discuss in Chapter 6.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 14, 2005

eBay vs. Real World

Selling on eBay is a lot like selling in the physical world, except you're confined to this little browser window. It doesn't have depth like a real window display. Your salesperson can't emote with her arms or kick the tires to show the customer durability. The right marketing and presentation approach, however, can help you achieve the same persuasive and emotional results.

Lots of photos coupled with an ironclad guarantee is as good as kicking the tires, for example. By writing clear, strong benefit statements you can connect directly with customer desires. That's a form of emoting. If you describe your product and make the effort to close throughout the description, that's better than most retail sales staff efforts. Think about it. You have to train sales staff and then keep on them to make sure they're presenting merchandise properly. With an eBay description, you write it once and then the same presentation is viewed by multitudes (hopefully). You can even tweak it and improve upon it and measure the performance of your changes in terms of bids and purchases.

There are a lot of upsides to selling on eBay. You can build relationships via the Web and eBay that you might not otherwise been able to develop. You can easily cross-promote, getting varied merchandise in front of the customer immediately. That's not something that always possible in the physical world. As Martha Stewart would say, it's a good thing (as she curses her probation tracking bracelet).

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Friday, November 11, 2005

eBay Launches New Data Mining Tool – Big News for Sellers (and buyers)

The Motley Fool investment site posted an article today about eBay’s new buyer and seller database mining features. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s worth your while to check it out.

“..the twist here is that instead of marketing its information to data-hungry corporations, eBay's new service is aimed at the same growing community that it is drawing the data from in the first place.”

That means you, sellers! Some buyers will use this, but it’s the sellers that have the most to gain. The opportunities are endless. And this may put some pressure on 3rd party software parties like DeepAnalysis and SmartCollector. eBay is encroaching on their existing tools.

Any thoughts? Excitement? Enthusiasm? Let us know what you think of this development, and tell us how you intend to use it (if at all).

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Selling eBay Books for Fun and Profit

Part of my job is to make sure The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing sells. These days, just because you’re published by one of the biggies doesn’t really count for much. As an author, you have to pound the pavement (seminars, radio shows, interviews, etc.) to keep sales brisk.

One thing that I know of that helps sales is reviews. So, my plea for the day? If you have the book and have gotten some value out of it, please post your opinion to the review portion of the book listing (the link is right next to the stars in the product details section, here). I’d really appreciate it. Your thoughts and support would be going to a good cause – book sales help me continue research work, develop new books, and work on the next version of the eBay Marketing book.

Thanks ahead,


P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

How Is Shipping Marketing?

I’ve posted some information on shipping in the past few days. It’s not directly related to marketing, but the indirect ties are undeniable.

Let’s start with customer satisfaction:

* Customers who love your service come back
* Good feedback ratings generate more business
* Satisfied customers tell two friends.. and so on
* Your product becomes more valuable when it’s shipped quickly
* Items that are packaged right arrive intact and unblemished
* Efficient shipping operations support all of the above

Next, marketing efforts:

* An item that arrives unscathed delivers on your promises and guarantees
* Promotions and flyers in the packaging generate repeat business
* Clean, professionally packaged goods reflect positively on your company and brand
* Customers that rave about your efficient, professional operations will post good feedback and tell their friends about your store/listings

That said, what are your experiences and tips? What’s the best way to ship items of a particular size and weight? Do you have complaints or suggestions for the big shipping outfits? What could be better? Where is there room for improvement?

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

When and How to Use the eBay Shipping Calculator

Some sellers like using the eBay shipping calculator feature. If you ship via USPS or UPS, you can put the shipping calculator option into your listings to automatically show buyers exact shipping costs up front. They put in their zip code and viola – shipping fees for that item are presented based on the weight and options you pre-determine. You can even include handling fees that are transparent to the shopper.

One warning: Make sure you get your weights accurate. If you make a mistake you’ll have to either suck it up and eat the cost or ask the buyer to pay your (not a fun alternative). Most sellers who find themselves in this predicament just eat the cost and move on.

If most of your items are the same, you’re better off just posting flat rates for your shipping. You don’t need to have the calculator on every listing. Consider your product mix and then try it out.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!
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Build Business by Specializing - eBay Needs You

In the early sections of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing, we talk a lot about niche marketing. As eBay becomes more and more competitive, it’s important to be an expert in a particular industry or product line and then transfer your knowledge to customers and prospects. It’s a great way to build business – plus, it’s a great way to live. You become intimately involved with your business and you learn along the way.

You come across the “specialize” theme quite often in business books.. so don’t just take it from me.

Cases in point:

“Those who attain to any excellence commonly spend life in some single pursuit, for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.”

Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784, British author)

“It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world. The great man or woman is the one who never steps outside his or her specialty or foolishly dissipates his or her individuality.”

Og Mandino
(1923-1996, American motivational author, speaker)

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Did You Know? – eBay Shipping and DHL

I recently wrote an article on eBay shipping for Entrepreneur Magazine’s eBay issue. It comes out in the Spring. I won’t repeat that content here, but I do have some extra info that didn’t make it into the article. I’ll share that over the next few weeks. A lot of it is interesting, and it relates both directly and indirectly to marketing and customer service (the two primary topics of this blog).

A couple of things about DHL are interesting. This company is building out its ground routes in the U.S. in order to step up competition against UPS, FedEx Ground and the like. Those routes aren’t totally complete, however. Not even close. So, they often ship items via air to make up for their lack of ground coverage. That means sellers often deliver packages “next day” but at ground rates. Customers love it.

On the downside, DHL often hands their packages off to the USPS because they haven’t established routes to rural areas. If you ship to some backwater zip codes you could find that it takes longer to deliver the package. At times it can take up to seven days. In this case, it’s best to send the package USPS Priority Mail or UPS rather than DHL. However, in most cases, it doesn’t’ take any longer than a standard UPS ground package.

If your reputation for fast shipping and stellar customer service is important, consider these issues carefully. You might be able to differentiate yourself competitively and build some lasting relationships with customers – which is what good marketing is all about.

There’s lots more info about shipping tips and strategies in The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing. Check it out.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Everyone Lives by Selling Something

“Everyone lives by selling something.”

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Not much else to explain here… but I’ll try to add a little. Many of us often retreat from the word “sales” because it sounds underhanded. Negative spinning from groups that look down on persuasion and progress would have us believe that we’d be better off in some Luddite utopia where everyone hunts and gathers for their own subsistence. But RLS has it right – when you persuade and sell, you move survival and pleasure resources in your direction.. and, perhaps more importantly, you efficiently move resources toward others that need them. That’s what the free market’s all about. Dig it.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Is It Wise to Re-Name a Product?

Bob Bly is a famous copywriter that has been developing copy for companies and teaching others how to write for years.

His latest newsletter featured a nifty article about semantics. Here’s the gist – you shouldn’t call a fruitcake a fruitcake because of the negative associations people have. Call it “Native Texas Pecan Cake” and you’ll see sales go through the roof.

Check out his site ( to see all the resources and services he has to offer. If you’re looking for a copywriter and his rates are out of your range, drop me a note or a call and I’ll see what I can do for you (

And think about this semantics issue. Are there products in your eBay store or auctions that could use a semantic make-over?

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Load Up the eBay Shopping Cart by Cross-Selling and Up-Selling

We talk a lot about cross-selling and up-selling in “The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing.” These are the two strategies that help you build sales by increasing the amount or value of items in a shopping cart.

Cross-selling is where you suggest complementary items to the original item purchased. This is easily done with eBay gallery templates. Up-selling is the close cousin of cross-selling, where you increase the value of the item or the solution by suggesting more purchases (with volume discounts, for example) or a selection of options (like small, medium or large; or good; better; best).

These two strategies often cross-pollinate. Some cross-selling involves up-selling and vice versa. It’s all good.

StartUpNation posted some tips on cross selling today. Take a look at that article for more ideas and further discussion.

P.S. and have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A New Phenomenon in Marketing: SEO – Search Engine Optimization

Usually, I go on about how traditional marketing concepts apply to modern situations. You have to inform, make promises, develop attractive images, create offers and guarantees, and close throughout your eBay description copy. Those are given.

There are some new aspects of marketing, however, that can drive even the most accomplished marketing pro nuts. One is SEO or search engine optimization. This is the practice of optimizing your Web pages (be it an eBay Store, a company page, or an ecommerce site) so that you rank high in search results of Google, for example.

Marketing Profs posted a good article on the subject this morning. It’s worth the read. They cover the basics, offer some advice and then give some sound warnings about what kinds of hazards to expect.

P.S. and have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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