Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito, King and the State of the Union crowded me off the sched for tomorrow. (Wed)....

The Today Show segment got bumped again because of big news today and tomorrow...

I'll post again when I get the word about the new time slot/day.

I swear it really did happen.. a crew was here and everything... ;-)

Should air Thurs or Fri..

Monday, January 30, 2006

'Today Show' Appearance Time Rescheduled for Wednesday at 7:16 a.m.

The air time got shifted - it's now this Wednesday morning - Feb 1st.

More specifically, at 7:16 a.m.

NBC’s Today Show Visits eBay Author and Blogger

An NBC News crew was at our house yesterday. An interview with me will be on the Today Show tomorrow, Tuesday - Jan 31st (with family/home footage). The producer said it will probably be in the 7am to 8am segment.

The topic is "people who don't read (physical) newspapers." They got enough footage to make me either look like a whiz nerd or a total idiot. We'll see how the editing process goes.

I tried to insert "ebay author" and "ebay marketing" into my answers as much as possible. I hope some of that makes it into the piece -- or that they identify me correctly. I think they're going to paint us as an All-American family -- just consumers and everyday folks. We'll see.

Please tune in or Tivo, and be sure to pass the word along to others who might be interested.

My Best -

Phil Dunn - (949) 515-3510
Marketing Writer, Author

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

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Incensed at Google Adsense: eBay Sellers Angry and Not Going to Take It Anymore

Ina Steiner’s excellent eBay information site AuctionBytes ran an interesting story today about Google Adsense ads that appear at the top of eBay listings.

Seems that when shoppers come to eBay listings from Google they’ll now see an ad at the top of that eBay listing that encourages them to go to other listings.

“One seller asked: ‘Why would I want to have a "store" and promote it , like a business should, just to have eBay tell my customers to "look elsewhere" when they came to look at My Product?’”

Let’s keep an eye on this story and see how it develops. I’m guessing that the program won’t last long in its current state.

Speaking of keeping an eye on news stories, there’s a nifty Google News alert feature that allows you to track stories. You put in your keywords and they’ll email you when stories that relate to the terms show up on the wires (Can I still say wires or am I dating myself?).

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

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Overcoming That Impersonal eBay Feeling

Excerpt from The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

A Little Personality Goes a Long Way
Another drawback for customers shopping online is that the Internet can feel a bit impersonal, isolating, and detached from reality. You can achieve the opposite effect by implementing a few simple strategies to personalize your customer interactions. Small efforts to reach out to customers in such a way can reap huge benefits in customer satisfaction.

Consider the appeal of an old-time general store, with a friendly proprietor who knows her customers by name, treats everyone with sincerity and warmth, and conducts her affairs with dignity and honesty. Retail corporations spend millions trying to cultivate the mom-and-pop vibe. This is where

Figure 6-2 Selling Manager Pro’s e-mail interface features pull-down menus with e-mail options and click-and-send efficiency to save you time and effort.

small businesses have a distinct advantage over their larger counterparts. If you are, in fact, a mom-and-pop–style business, that exact vibe is an easy and natural one to convey. Cultivating personalized interactions helps build your eBay brand, too. It gives your customers a solid, positive feeling about your personality and how it is reflected in your business.

A simple way to inject personality into your business is through youre-mail correspondence. If your business does a small enough volume, you may have the luxury of writing a personalized e-mail for every customer interaction. However, as soon as you begin to sell in any sort of increased capacity, you need to automate those communications while still conveying a personal and friendly demeanor. It’s easier than you may think to accomplish this.

Edit E-mail Templates in Selling Manager Pro
eBay’s Selling Manager Pro provides you with prefabricated e-mail messages for a variety of situations. However, the standard text provided in these messages is a bit sterile and cold. You can revise the templates to use your own voice. Simple efforts to make the text more personable greatly improve customer perceptions of your business. It also disguises the fact that you are essentially sending form letters to your customers.

You can customize your e-mail messages in a myriad of ways. To begin, click the edit template hotlink of Selling Manager’s e-mail. Figure 6-3 shows the edit template interface. Use the pull-down Insert menus to create macros that automatically insert your customer’s name, a link to the item listing, shipping calculators, and dozens of other options. Edit the text itself to convey your personality, and use a friendly tone and style. Add colloquial greetings—a cheerful "howdy" suits some sellers. Consider messages specific to seasons or holidays, such as "Warm wishes for a Happy New Year." A little flattery is always nice, too: "It’s been a pleasure doing business with you" is a timeless classic.

Take some time to find your "voice," and rewrite your e-mail templates to communicate that style. Your customers will notice and appreciate the effort, and it will increase their satisfaction in your business transaction.

Tip: If you use a third-party listing management service over eBay’s Selling Manager Pro, be sure to explore all options available for automating and customizing e-mail correspondence with your customers.

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

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Top 6 Ways to Boost eBay Traffic on ‘The Streets’

Excerpt from The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

Real-World Ways to Boost Traffic
The brick-and-mortar world is the one with the dirt on the sidewalks and the clammy-palmed handshakes. It’s not a show on MTV or the glass monitor, e-mail introduction world of eBay. The real world is a great place to promote your eBay Store.Top 6 Ways to Boost Traffic on ‘The Streets’

• Make sure your eBay Store URL is printed on your business cards, let­terhead, stationery, thank you notes, invoices, car bumper sticker, hol­iday cards, and promotional post cards. Recall our discussion of the eBay Stores referral credit from Chapter 2? Any outside links from these sources will result in a 75 percent credit off your Final Value Fees for store inventory purchased.

• Talk up your business with anyone who is willing to listen. Uncles, grandparents, delivery people, Rotary Club poo-bahs, and parole offi­cers should all hear about your enterprising business. Give them busi­ness cards, get their addresses (real-world and cyber), and invite them to attend your talks on digital photography (or whatever niche it is you’ve developed to sell goods).

• Send prospects and former customers already on your mailing list pro­motional items that bear your URL and store logo/name. The usual promo items include pens, t-shirts, sticky notes, and coffee cups. You can get creative and offer more intriguing items, though, such as toys, fans, fly-swatters, CD holders, and other items.

• Offer gift certificates. Every restaurant and many retail stores do this, so why shouldn’t you? It allows customers that like what you offer to foist your wares onto their unsuspecting friends and relatives. Certificates can be created in both real-world and cyber forms.• Conduct seminars and informal talks about your area of expertise. If you can get press coverage, you’ll expand your reach even farther.

• Write articles for trade magazines and local papers, and submit press releases to any media outlet that might cover your type of business and customer/product profile. Don’t be afraid to think big. You’d be sur­prised at how many newspapers, radio stations, and even TV programs are interested in fresh, interesting angles on commercial enterprises and the people who buy from them.

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

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Site Offers Insight into Customer Minds

There’s a new Web site that gathers stories about customer service nightmares, legal fine print, marketing deception, and broken promises. If you want to understand what kinds of customer service and marketing practices drive customers and prospects crazy, take a look.

I’m thinking that this could be a really good resource for getting into the consumer mind-set. Obviously, there will be some garden variety cranks showing up with comedy routines, a la “what’s the deal with airplane food.” However, I suspect that they’ll be gathering some good stories that honestly uncover the real nonsense that goes at some companies.

How does this apply to eBay? Well, you’re in the customer service business if you sell on eBay. Your shipping terms, payment terms, description tone, restrictions/legalese and more all have an effect on prospective buyers and bidders who’ve already won the item. All this stuff impacts your future ability to gain market share and build biz.

While you’re checking out the hogwash site, take a look at the ads that run on their pages. Pretty savvy marketing if I don’t say so myself. The site is sort of a blog that produces stories about how customers are getting hosed (and the content is provided by readers, BTW). Then they turn around and promote advertisers whose sole “brand” or marketing concept is to provide service that counters those trends. The example I’m seeing today is their ad for SunRocket, “The No Gotcha Phone Company.” This is a nice little business model. We’ll see if it works.

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

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On eBay, As with So Many Things, It’s About Overcoming Ego

When you’re writing listing descriptions or even your About Me page, there’s a golden rule that applies: You must orient the copy toward the customer, and cast your ego and pitch aside for a moment. In other words, avoid “me, our and it,” as in my company, my product, our greatness, and position your talk in term of “you, your needs, your fears and your benefits.”

This is especially important in lead paragraphs. And, if you can write fairly well, you can continue it throughout the copy and make all your points and features directly relevant to your audience.

Acknowledge the difficulty, pain or dream of the shopper. Treat the exchange as a one-on-one encounter and talk about that person directly (even though your listing will be seen by thousands). Write as if you’re writing an email to a friend. Ask questions. Acknowledge feelings and emotions – as if you were Oprah or Barbara Walters empathizing and connecting with people.

Here are a couple examples of wrong and right approaches:

“You are bidding on a Cartier ladies tank francaise watch. It’s solid 18K yellow gold set with original Cartier top quality round cut diamonds on sides of face. It has a deployment style bracelet, and comes with two extra links.”

Fortunately there are lots of these kinds of descriptions on eBay. I say fortunately, because that means you can do a little bit better and look like a dream in comparison.

“These gorgeous and incredibly brilliant earrings are sure to please any taste! They are specially handcrafted to let the sparkle of the Ideal cut Diamonds light your face with inner glow. Be envied!!”

This set-up will work well with features and specs that follow. The lead makes a one-to-one connection with the reader, bringing up those intangible benefits that jewelry provides, and then they go on to offer all the details.

The thing is, almost everyone else selling jewelry is writing it like the first example. The net effect is that shoppers think they’re shopping apples to apples. But the fact is, you can’t possibly compare jewelry in an apples to apples manner. People need to understand what specifications mean what – as in, what benefit do I get out of a certain color rating on a diamond? If you can explain that, then you’re a big step ahead of the competition.

The trick is to get your self out of the way. Stop presenting items as if they’re part of your ego, and present them as if they look gorgeous on the person trying them on (pretend). This doesn’t work if you’re selling hard drives, of course.. kidding. It does, actually. The same rules apply. Get out of the way. Explain specs in terms of benefits (negative or positive), and allow the shopper to start to feel good about the product on their own terms.

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

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Noon Field Trip to Staples – and Some Priceless Marketing Lessons

I went to Staples today to pick up some odd-sized envelopes and accidentally got schooled in marketing 101 and new color printer technology.

The first tip off was a huge, colorful Hewlett-Packard van parked in the lot. I walked in the door, and a couple of young ladies asked me if I’d like to see their printers. They had a little demo area set up. In keeping with my character, I glanced away and game them the “oh gosh, I’m just so busy” shrug.

But as I picked out my envelopes, I realized – maybe I could learn something from these demo reps. They’re schooled by HP. How bad could they be?

[I don’t plug anything but my book in this blog – so don’t take the following as any kind of pitch. Everything I write about I’ve tried and like. I don’t get paid by anyone but my publisher and my own clients (for actual writing work). This is just part of the story.]

I asked the young gals if they would give me a demo. I told them that I write blogs for eBay sellers, and that maybe there would be interest in color printers for small promo and flyer print runs. They were excited, because they understand the small biz market and they know that they’re competing with low-run print houses and online printers like VistaPrint and iPrint (both services which I use and recommend, BTW).

They showed me a couple of nice printers. I forgot what the third one was. It was beefier, faster and more expensive then the others. The printing was nice. The multifunction (fax, copier, printer) one did photos, too – comparable to what you’d get at the drug store.

Anyway – the point is, this is an option. If you include flyers and promos in the boxes you ship, you should consider this option and compare it to the rates you get from your printer (and factor in the flexibility that’s available with an in-house machine). HP has a nifty calculator that helps you estimate per-page printing costs based on how much of the page you cover.

Please let me know if you’ve considered this. I haven’t, so I’m a bit clueless. I suspect it’s only an option for eBay sellers that do low volume but want to provide superior promo and customer service (for high-ticket items that include nice photos). You’d have to be graphically inclined, too.

The second part of this story is about the marketing methods used by the ladies at the demo table.

They demonstrated the machines and features well. They could have asked more about my interests or the interests of my blog readers, but no biggie. The impressive part was that they gave me a free marketing toolkit that integrates with MS office. It’s nice software for simply and quickly creating everything from brochures to post cards. I’m guessing that you could even export/print to a PDF (I use a program called PrimoPDF for this) and then send it to the printer.

The thing is – it was a gift. And I probably would have been hard pressed to write anything about my experience if I hadn’t received it. That’s how gifts work. You end up feeling obligated (thus the phrase “much obliged”). I’ve posted on this obligation and gifting psychological phenomenon before.

They also gave me a 64M thumb drive. It had the logo of another company on it (a logo design company), which made it a cross promotion. I’ve talked about cross-promos before, too. (There’s lots more on that topic in the 7 Steps book.) So their costs were probably pretty low, because they were shared with the other company. I wrote about LogoYes before. This is a similar outfit called LogoWorks.

Gifts, gifts, gifts. I was very happy. And I’ve got a good feeling about HP and their printers. Good marketing. Good lesson in the real world of Staples at noon.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Do Guarantees Work for eBay Sales?

Don’t think that by offering money-back guarantees on your eBay products you’ll be sending out refunds on a daily basis. If you’ve described your products honestly and accurately, requests for refunds won’t be common. And the trust that such guarantees inspire will generate much more money than what you may lose with the occasional refund.

From chapter 6 of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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