Building and Marketing
Your eBay Business - Part 2
"Niche Marketing vs. the Shotgun Approach..."
By Steve Myers, Online Marketing Consultant
Who are you? What do you want to accomplish? Your online business success
depends on answering these two questions accurately and honestly.
Who Are You?
Your background makes you uniquely qualified for a particular
niche online. What should you sell on eBay or
your web site? Someone with a strict marketing background
might tell you it depends only on what you can sell at a profit.
While you have to choose a market segment that's profitable,
that alone won't do it. Yes, it's true that certain products
tend to do well on eBay, for example. A research tool like
HammerTap can help you identify profitable products to sell
But you'll find thousands of products you can sell at a
profit on eBay. The trick isn't in finding things you could make
a profit selling on eBay. It's in finding what you should sell.
Play to Your Strengths
What do I mean by that? Here's a simple example. I love
woodworking. My wife bemoans that fact that she'll never
get a car in our garage. That's where my woodworking tools
live. The cars have to stand outside in the cold.
In all fairness, my wife has fed my habit by buying me saws,
drills, sanders, and other power tools. Her dad worked for
Black & Decker for years, so she came by her love of tools
So what's this have to do with selling on eBay? It's just
to say that when choosing a product to sell on eBay, I'd
be better off selling tools I can sell at a healthy profit than I would be selling
collector dolls, for instance.
You might be thinking, if both products are equally profitable,
why should I care what I sell? Well, while I could make
a profit with either product category, which do you think
I'll be more excited to sell?
I'd have more fun selling woodworking tools. That enthusiasm
will come through in anything I write about them. I'll tend to put more time into my business if I sell something I enjoy talking about. Perhaps
more importantly, knowing a thing or two about them helps
me write better product descriptions for my eBay listings
and on my web site.
It also helps me come across as an authority
on the subject. That may not seem so important when selling
on eBay. But when you're selling on your web site, which
many eBay sellers do, specific product knowledge is king.
More than Just a Shopping Cart
Let's get one thing clear. An ecommerce web site is not
just a shopping cart. No really effective one is, anyway.
Why? If you want to compete on anything more than price alone,
you don't stand much of a chance at making a good income
with your web site if it's just a catalog of products.
Don't get me wrong. If price is your clear advantage, it
might be enough of an upside to persuade people to buy from
you instead of your competitors. However, if that's the only
reason they buy, understand the downsides and risks in doing so.
Risks of Competing on Price
When you compete on price, you're in direct competition
with web sites, eBay sellers, and traditional retail stores.
It's unlikely that you have the buying power they do. They
can buy in large bulk. In doing so, they almost always can
buy products for less than you can. If people only buy from
you because you're cheapest, they'll go away once someone
undercuts your price.
The other major reason that price is often a risky choice
as the main reason people should buy from you is that you're
deeply cutting into your bottom line. Even if you can buy
products at the same wholesale price as your competition,
my guess is you have bills to pay. You can't work for nothing.
And unless you're doing something to get not just a one-time
sale, but long-term customers, you can't entertain the notion
that they'll come back if you raise your prices.
In short, I never compete directly on price alone. And the
good news is, you don't have to. Chances are, when you're
looking for most consumer items, you choose where to buy
from based on price. Let's say you're looking to purchase
a big-screen television. Where do you likely start?
How Do You Shop?
of us, we check the ads in the newspaper, looking for a good
deal. Why do we often approach major purchases this way?
Simple. It's probably how our parents found bargains.
If we want the best price, we may use a tool like Froogle.com,
a search engine of sites that sell products online. It ranks
results on the price you'd pay.
Why Your Customers Willingly Pay More
But many customers see beyond price alone. Think about it.
You've probably heard of, or even shopped at a Nordstrom's
store. They have a few products you can only buy there. But
for the majority of the products you'll find on the racks,
you could buy the same identical item at Walmart for much
So why do people shop at Nordstrom's? Are they unaware that
they're paying more than they'd have to? Of course. So why
do they pay more? Simply put, they're buying the experience
of shopping at Nordstrom's.
Nordstrom has a no-questions-asked
returns policy. I've known of people who shop thrift shops
for worn out Nordstrom shirts. They return them to the store
and exchange them for new. Nordstrom knows this sort of thing
happens. But it's the price they're willing to pay to maintain
a no-hassle-shopping experience.
Here's another example. When you go out to eat, what are
you really buying? If you go someplace nice, you're paying
quite a premium. You could pick up a raw steak at the grocery
store for much less than the price you pay at a nice restaurant.
If the point of going out to eat is just to cure your hunger,
you could pay a lot less at McDonalds.
Provide More than the Product
As with buying at Nordstrom, when you eat out, you're buying
the experience. You're buying service. When you ask the waiter
for a recommendation of what's good to eat there, you're
buying his or her knowledge.
With some planning and a little extra time on your part,
you can break free of competing on price alone when you sell
on eBay or your web site. But to do so, you need to view
your buyers differently. Change your goal from making a sale
to getting a new customer.
After all, if you get a new customer,
you also get the sale. But more importantly, when you take
good care of a customer, you are likely to make many sales
in the future.
This brings us back to our original point, why you should
sell something you have a passion for and knowledge of. When
you choose a niche you can speak authoritatively to, you
have an advantage over web sites and eBay sellers who pick
a product strictly on what they can make from selling it.
Building a Relationship of Trust
Even on eBay, people buy from those they trust. That's why
eBay has their seller ranking system, to give buyers confidence
in purchasing from those with a good track record. But on
the web, you have a much better chance to build a lasting
relationship of trust.
So how do you build that trust on a web site? First of all,
make sure that for every sale you make, you live up to your
customer's expectations. In fact, exceed their expectations
when you can. Throw in a little something extra. You'd be
surprised how a small gift and a thank you note for their
business added to customer orders can change the relationship.
You're allowed to send email messages to recent customers
who buy from you. Use that to your advantage. Send out a
newsletter describing new and exciting products related to
the one your customer purchased. Just make sure you give
valuable information and not just a blatant sales pitch.
Give helpful hints and point customers to relevant articles
on your web site.
Again, you want profit margins that look more like Nordstrom's
than Walmart. When you position yourself as the expert who
delivers outstanding customer service, you no longer have
to compete strictly on price. More importantly, you put yourself
in a position to get long-term customers who stick with you.
Make the most of your auctions with research!
Try HammerTap FREE for 10 Days and remove the guesswork!
Determining what works and what doesn't when it comes to your listings requires research.
Anything less puts you at risk of not making the sale or not making as much as you could be on each sale. A research tool like
HammerTap helps you bypass the costly trial and error process by quickly giving you the key information you need for profitable online auctions.
Why not take HammerTap for a FREE test drive? We'll give you 10 days to put HammerTap to work for you. Use its power to determine:
- Successful Keywords
- Best Auction Type For Your Products
- Best Listing Duration
- Which Listing Features Improve Your Chance to Sell and Which Increase the Closing Price
- Optimal Start Price to Use
- Best Day of the Week to Start and End Your Auctions
- Seasonal Trends
- And much more!
As a bonus, you'll receive 10-lesson Power to Profit course to help you immediately see the effects research can have on your auctions.
We'll also throw in selling tips from Industry Experts in our members-only Auctionography newsletter.
You owe it to yourself to take the guesswork and risk out of your auctions. Try HammerTap free for 10 days. If you are
not absolutely sure you'll increase your eBay profits by the $19.95 subscription price, you're free to cancel. It costs you
nothing to prove to yourself there's a more profitable way to eBay.
Click HERE to See How HammerTap Gives You the Power to Profit