Thursday, May 11, 2006

eBay Cha-Ching: Why Titles Are So Important for Marketing

There’s something I don’t like about my book The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing. It’s the title. I’ll tell you why and what it has to do with eBay listings in a second.

I was involved in creating the title little, but the publisher deferred to its in-house experts and came up with the final version.

Technically the full title of the book is The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing: Creative Strategies to Boost Profits Now. I like the 2nd half of the title better than the first. Why? Because it offers a picture or a feeling about what the reader or buyer is going to get from the book. It’s tangible and specific – profits, boost, now. But that’s immaterial. The main title is the real issue.

First, let me tell what you what elements I like about the main title. I like the 7 Essential Steps part. That concept works for me, and I’d encourage you to use similar formats when informing your eBay audiences. Visually, numbers are interesting in titles, and taking a few steps in order to achieve a goal sounds pretty easy and organized. People like that. “If I do x, I’ll get y.”

I don’t know if Essential is absolutely necessary, though. I’m on the fence about that one. I also like the word Marketing in the main title. It sets the book apart from all the other noise that’s out there and focuses the target audience onto a fairly specific topic.

Now, what do I not like? I don’t like the word Successful. To me, it’s very vague and general. If I’m reading a book title, I want to know exactly what’s in it for me… immediately. Especially with a business book. Otherwise, I’m moving on. I also need to be attracted by something unusual or interesting. There’s nothing interesting about “Successful eBay Marketing.” It’s just bland.

So what should a title do? If you’re selling a book or a lunch box or a cell phone, what do you want your title to do? First you want it to attract eyeballs. Then you want it to convert the eyeballs’ brain into a buyer.. or a potential prospect at least.

This concept of attraction and conversion is discussed in much greater detail by Sean D’Souza in his PsychoTactics newsletter. It’s a good resource with lots of insider marketing information. And it works.

First you attract, with a unique or unusual title. Then you convert with the big benefit. My title might have been better with one of the following treatments, for example:

eBay Seller Smarts: How to Increase Profits and Save Time Listing with Proven Marketing Techniques (unique main title, two specific benefits)

eBay Cha-Ching: Ring the Online Cash Register with Proven Marketing Tactics (unique title, benefits implicit, clear images)

How does this relate to eBay listings? Well, you have two opportunities to use titles like these. Once in the keyword title, and again within the text of your listing. I’ll warn you against using this title attraction/conversion technique in the keyword title however. If you have room for it, give it a shot. (Testing will show the truth of the situation.) But you’re better off using the keyword title for just that – keywords. Those are gold, and you need to make sure everything is there and accounted for – this is where you cast a wide net.

However, you can use the technique on the listing page itself. Place a big title at the beginning of your description. Use one that sticks with the customer and gets them thinking about how your product is better, faster, sexier, etc. Translate that to what specific benefit they’ll reap.

If you do this effectively, your listings will instantly attract more interest and be set off from all the other returns that the prospect has looked at. It’s about differentiation. eBay is a competitive marketplace, but it’s not that difficult to stand out. With a little care and planning, you can get a distinct edge.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

eBay as Entertainment - De-Mystifying Angelina Jolie's Bra, a Mutant Steak Chunk and an Anti-Oprah Winfrey Helmut

Not only is eBay an auction medium.. it's rapidly becoming an entertainment medium. It's almost like a goofy cable access QVC show that knows no bounds.

There are people selling Angelina Jolie's bra and panties from the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." Someone's selling animal crackers in compromising positions. There's a "gross valved steak chunk" that was found in a can of soup.

One guy's even selling a a PBR helmut that's designed to keep him from watching Oprah (that's who I'm guessing he's referring to).

So what's the point? Wildness and entertaining stuff is viral. If you can strike it big with a humor piece that also features gallery views of your other eBay auctions or eBay store offerings, you can make some dough via the humor email circuit and the sites that track this stuff.

Be careful that you don't offend your users, though. A misstep could cost you some customers.

DISCLAIMER: I don't endorse any of these sites or condone their taste. Just a little fun before the weekend starts.

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Pain Motivates More than Gain - eBay Selling Secret #42

Excerpt from The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

We’ve talked a lot about benefits, and they are very important. However, here’s a little secret that’s emerged from psychology research, and it directly relates to scarcity: Customers desire benefits, but they are even more moti­vated by the prospect of losing something. That “something” could be any number of things:

• The winning bid itself.
• Freedom of choice. (For example, a lot of people buy different kinds of athletic shoes for different sports and exercise routines. They want the flex­ibility and the freedom of wearing the best shoe for the right occasion.)
• An opportunity. (For example, a bargain, a chance to make more money, a shot at personal improvement, or a chance to acquire some rare, cov­eted object.)
• An experience. (For example, tickets to sporting events, plays, and other activities.)
• An insight or educational experience. (For example, instructional CD-ROMs, classes, seminars, or “Webinars.”)

You need to hammer on benefits, of course, but then supplement them with unique benefits that bidders or prospects stand to lose if they don’t make an offer on your merchandise or service.

Here’s an example. This is a bit of text taken from an eBay listing for a tree irrigation device: “Give your trees a hug and yourself the gift of knowing you’re doing your best for your precious trees and saving time and money at the same time.” There’s a lot of emotion here—with the gifting and looking out for your trees pitch—but the seller also indicates that you’ll spend more time and money if you water your trees without the device. The seller could have been even more forceful, saying something like, “Don’t throw away pre­cious money and waste your afternoons watering large trees. Use our device and you can get in that golf game and afford drinks at the 19th hole.” If you don’t have this thing, you’re going to miss out on all that fun.

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New Site Showcases Marketing Deception – eBay Sellers Take Note

If you want to understand what kinds of customer service and marketing practices drive customers and prospects crazy, take a look at this new site:

It’s a site that gathers stories about customer service nightmares, legal fine print, marketing deception, and broken promises.

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.

Check back with this hogwash site to see the latest results. They’re getting quite a bit of media attention, so I’m guessing that they’ll start to rack up some nice stories soon.

While you’re there, 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. 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.

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