"Get the Customer,
Not Just the Sale..."
By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant and Research Education Specialist
You're probably working too hard. Once a listing closes
on eBay, you move on to the next one, right? For most eBay
sellers, once they make a sale and send off the product,
they don't think about that sale again.
If so, they're cheating themselves. Don't view a sale as a
transaction. See it as the beginning of a relationship with
a customer. If you sell to a niche audience, this is especially
Let's say your niche is selling golf-related products. If
you sell a set of golf clubs, what can you do to make a new
customer, not just a sale?
The Gold Is In the List
An old marketing saying is, "The gold is in the list." What
they mean is your customer list. Each time you sell a product,
keep track of who bought and what they bought. If you sell
a few different types of products, you may want to keep a separate
list for each product category.
You are allowed by law to contact your customers after the
sale. Typically, you can email or phone them within 90 days of
the last contact. What that means is that as long as you contact
your eBay buyers every few months, you can continue to contact
Back to our example. Let's say you sell a set of golf clubs
to a customer today. It's probably safe to say they'll need
golf balls. They may need a golf towel, shoes, and a glove
as well. This is one more advantage of marketing to a niche,
rather than selling all kinds of products. You don't just make
a sale, you get a new customer.
It gets better. One biggest complaints we hear
is the rising price of eBay listing fees. It can really cut
into your profits. But if you sell your products on a traditional
Web site in addition to selling on eBay, how much will you
spend in eBay listing fees when you invite them to buy on your
Of course, you won't pay eBay any fees whatsoever when a customer
you found through an eBay auction buys on your Web site - all
the more profit you get to keep.
Keeping In Touch
So how do you make it easy to stay in touch with your eBay
buyers? I use a service called Aweber (www.aweber.com). It's
a convenient service that makes it easy to create different
groups that you send emails out to.
You can create a different
group for each product you sell. You use their service to send
out emails announcing sales you might be running or products
you might have recently listed on eBay. The system even makes
it easy for people to unsubscribe if they choose not to receive
any more emails. That way, you can never be accused of email
People buy from those they know. Think about it. How many
places do you buy groceries? I only buy from one. Do you rent
movies from more than one place? From how many places do you
order pizza? You get the idea.
We're creatures of habit. Once I find a barber I'm really
happy with, I stick with them. I don't spend a lot of time
comparing prices. I just know I get a good haircut, so I keep
Provide great service to those you sell to on eBay. Don't
just deliver on time and meet their basic expectations. Go
the extra mile. How do I mean? Let's go back to our earlier
When someone buys a set of golf clubs, give them something
extra. Maybe throw in a pack of golf tees, along with a note
telling them it's a free thank-you for their business. Make
Seth Godin, author of "The Purple Cow" and "Permission
calls this a "free prize." Recently, I've been reading
his marketing book entitled "Free Prize Inside." Seth
points out that to make an impression in the mind of your customer,
all you have to do is just a little extra, a little more than
they expect, a little more than they paid for.
How much does a pack of tees cost? A couple dollars.
Compare that with the price of a set of golf clubs, which can
easily run in the hundreds of dollars. The tees don't cut into
your profit much, but what may the ultimate result be?
You've just made an impression. Your customer is more likely
to buy from you. But more importantly, they are more likely
to spread the word about your service.
Did you ever wonder why as you wander around your local grocery
store, you often see someone passing out free samples of food?
I used to think it was to get me to try something new. If I
liked it, I'd buy.
That's only half the story. Robert B. Cialdini, in his well-known
book "Influence: The Science of Persuasion," points
out a powerful marketing principle... "reciprocity." He illustrates
how when someone gives us something, we have a natural urge
to want to reciprocate... to give back.
He gives powerful examples of how reciprocity is used to get
something from someone they otherwise would not be eager
to do. He gives the example of the Hare Krishna Society, which
in the past solicited money at airports.
He tells a story of
how one of their members one day shoved a flower
in his hand, a "gift." Once he was holding the gift,
they would not accept it back. They would then ask if he would
like to make a donation to their cause. Note that they didn't
ask if he wanted to pay for the flower.
Mr. Cialdini describes the obligation he felt to give something
back, even though he didn't want the gift forced upon him.
He ended up giving them a few dollars... money he wouldn't
have considered giving before being offered his "gift."
He tossed the flower in the nearest trash can, where many
others had been discarded as well. As an interesting side note,
he mentioned that he saw members of the group collecting up
the flowers to use again.
The Hare Krishnas knew the flowers
were not wanted in most cases. They also knew the power of
reciprocity. They got more by giving, even when the recipient
didn't want or welcome the gift offered.
Long-Term Success vs. Short-Term Gains
Many businesses don't expect to make a cent on an initial
purchase. Sound absurd? Not really. They just realize that with
an ongoing plan to re-sell and up-sell to existing customers,
they will make a lot more from a long-term relationship than
they ever can by viewing each customer as a one-time "sale."
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