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Tricks for Promoting Your eBay Business

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Michael Miller provides tips on using advertising, publicity, and other marketing techniques to help you drive customers to your eBay listings just like the pros.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

You can put 1,000 listings on eBay and not get a single bite—especially if nobody knows about them. Yes, your auction listings show up in eBay's search results when customers go searching, but that's not very proactive marketing. (And you can't rely on eBay's search results if you have an eBay Store because Store listings don't normally show up in eBay's search results.)

To establish your eBay business and drive customers to your listings, you need to promote your business. That means employing advertising, publicity, and other marketing devices—just like the pros do!

Trick #61: Brand Your Business—And Market It

You have a choice. You can promote individual item listings or you can promote your business as a whole. (Or, of course, you can do both; they're not mutually exclusive.)

This is an important point. Many sellers have the initiative to promote the items they sell, but don't have the foresight to promote their businesses. Naturally, promoting an item listing can help that item sell, but it doesn't do much good for you in the long term. When you promote your business, however, you create long-term awareness—and help to promote your short-term item listings.

The first step toward promoting your business is to create a business identity—that is, you brand your business. A brand identity defines your business, tells the world what business you're in, and how your business is unique. Without a brand identity, you're just another anonymous eBay seller. With proper branding, you stand out from the crowd with a unique and memorable identity.

The ABCs of Branding

What's involved in establishing your brand? There are a lot of separate steps to take, but I like to think of them collectively as the ABCs of branding:

  1. Tell 'em who you are—Give your business a name. You're not just JoeSmith014; you're Joe's Discount Aardvark Accessories, or Aardvarks 'R' Us, or Aardvark Emporium, or International Aardvark Supplies, or Aardvark Super Warehouse, or Aardvark Boutique, or the like. Your business needs a unique name that conveys what you sell and how you sell it (Discount? Warehouse? Boutique?), along with a little bit of your personality.
  2. Tell 'em what you do—Tell your customers what you sell. That can (and probably should) be part of your brand name; if not, it can be conveyed in a tag line or as part of your logo. And it pays to be specific—you don't want retail shoe customers calling you up if you're a footwear wholesaler.
  3. Tell 'em what you can do for them—Now we move beyond the name and logo to your brand's positioning. It's important that customers know what your business can do for them. You might be Joe's Discount Aardvark Accessories, but what does that mean? The unique benefit offered by your business becomes clearer when you say "Lowest prices on the Web" or "Biggest selection of custom accessories" or "We provide custom solutions" or something similar. Why should a customer buy from your business? That is the question you have to answer.

Establishing the Brand

Theory aside, what concrete steps do you need to take to establish your brand? Here's the short list:

  • Business philosophy—Before you do anything else, stop and think about what it is that makes your business unique. Use the ABCs of marketing to help define what type of business you want to run. Are you the lowest-priced retailer? Or the one with the biggest selection? Or the one with the best customer service? (It's difficult, if not impossible, to be all these things simultaneously.) Equally important is to define who your customer is; you don't sell to everyone, but rather a targeted segment of the overall market. Determine what it is that makes your business what it is, and then define your business's philosophy based on this.
  • Name—After you know who you are, you need to give your business a name. Make it short yet memorable; you want customers to easily remember who you are.
  • Slogan—Many businesses have a slogan or tagline that accompanies their business name. This slogan should express your business philosophy, and further define what it is you do.
  • Logo—People remember pictures. That's why a visual logo is important to a business. When you see a big block "M" with the smaller scribbled "TV," you know you're seeing the MTV logo. When you see a lowercase "ups" in the middle of a brown shield or the purple and orange "FedEx," you know you're seeing the UPS or FedEx logos. A logo should be distinctive and easily recognizable. It can be as simple as your business name in a specific font, or as fancy as a stylized graphic. You can even incorporate your business slogan in your logo, if you want.

Reinforcing the Brand

The previous steps establish your brand. Now you need to reinforce and promote the brand. How do you do this?

The first thing you want to do is make the logo the dominant part of your business presence. That means plastering your logo on everything you do—your website, your eBay Store, and every single item listing. You also want to put your logo and slogan on your shipping labels, invoices, business cards, boxes, and envelopes. And, of course, if you create printed brochures or catalogs, as well as print or online advertisements, your logo should be prominently displayed.

You want your customers to know that they're dealing with your particular business. Yes, they're buying a specific item, but they're buying it from you. It's the you they need to remember the next time they're in the market for something you sell. After all, you remember FedEx—even if you don't remember a specific visit to one of its stores.

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