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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