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When my sons were growing up they started playing hockey when they were 6 years old. Each of them, in their first year, scored more goals than the rest of their team combined. How did they do this?
Have you ever seen a hockey game between two teams of 6 year olds? The puck is like a magnet to them. Where ever the puck goes they follow like a swarm of bees. The game is one mass of young kids all clustered around the puck, pushing and shoving each other. It's like a rugby scrum.
The result of this is that usually the puck squirts out of the mass of bodies, slides 10 or 15 feet down the ice, and stops. A few seconds later the mass of bodies descends on it and the process starts all over again.
So how did both my sons score so many goals?
It wasn't hard to score in those games - if you could get the puck near the net. The goalie was just one of the kids, and he or she was just waiting their turn to join in the scrum.
On the way to the rink for each game I reminded my sons to stay away from all the other players. I would tell them when everyone gets in a clump around the puck, don't go near them. Be different. Stay about 10-15 feet away from everyone else and when the puck pops out, go get it, skate to the net and shoot.
Many times my son's team would win by a score like 12 to 0 and he'd scored all 12 goals. Actually, in one game the score ended up 9 to 1 and my son scored all 10 goals (at age 6 it's pretty easy to get turned around and go in the wrong direction at times).
That same advice can help you become more successful in your auction business - BE DIFFERENT!!
As eBay and the other auction sites grow, it becomes easier and easier to become lost in the crowd. Where there used to be 13 Elvis Presley "Blue Hawaii" 45's available at any given time, now there are 78. That hard to find Doric depression glass covered serving dish the used to appear once every 4-5 weeks now goes looking for bidders. Not that long ago there were just a few sellers offering digital cameras. Now it seems as if everyone is getting into the act.
If you are going to survive and succeed on eBay you need to stand out from the rest of the auction crowd. How do you do that?
1. Be more knowledgeable than your competition
If you want to stand out, seek more knowledge. Actually this applies to all areas of your life, not just your auction business.
There are all kinds of great sources of information floating around - both on-line and offline. All it takes is just a little time and effort, and you can get a lot of useful information.
If you sell pottery, it's not hard to become more knowledgeable about Rosemeade Pottery than 99% of the other people selling it. Let that knowledge show in your item descriptions and you will soon have a devoted following of bidders looking for your auctions.
The more knowledge you acquire, the more successful you will be.
2. Look down the road
Obviously, we all want and need to make money this week, this month. But, to insure your continued success, it's just as important to be continually building your business for tomorrow.
Build a list and use it. At the very minimum, your About Me Page (you do have one, right?)should have a way for buyers and potential buyers to add their name to your list. I collect aspirin tins. I also sell a lot of them on eBay. Over time, I've built a list of other aspirin tin collectors. Every two months or so, I send out a newsletter with 1 or 2 articled about these little tins along with a recap of the harder to find ones that have appeared on eBay and the prices they sold for.
This is just one of 11 different lists of buyers I maintain. With a little thought you can come up with a way to use your list, in an unobtrusive manner, that will benefit both you and your customers.
3. Blow your own horn
Don't be shy. Look for ways to place your name in front of as many customers and potential customers as possible. You will find this is probably the most beneficial step you can take to insure your success.
If you sell antique windup toys, write a monthly or bimonthly newsletter about them (you're building a list, remember?). If you offer a quality newsletter about windup toys, your name will become associated with them.
If I sold used children's clothing I'd do a little research and come up with the three most effective ways to get grass stains out of clothing. Then, with every package I shipped I'd include an insert with this information on it along with my name, address, eBay user name, web site address, and a link where they could add their name to my list.
If you were a young mother looking for good buys on clothing for your children would they remember me? Would you seek out my auctions in the future?
There are numerous ways you can promote yourself. Write articles for collector ezines, a quality newsletter and web site with valuable information, develop a e-mail course, No matter what you sell, you should be able to come up with several different ways to put your name in front of your buyers and keep it there.
4. Follow the Golden Rule
The auction process should be fun - a win/win situation for both the buyer and the seller.
Unfortunately, way too many sellers look at each of their auctions as individual battles to be won. They treat every bidder as if he or she were the enemy.
It may seem like there are an unlimited supply of bidders out there, but there isn't. Believe me, bidders do communicate among themselves. I communicate with several groups of bidders (some several hundred people strong) with similar interests.
Be obnoxious or rude with one of these and you haven't just lost one potential customer in the future, you've lost several hundred. You can't do that too many times and remain in business.
Conduct your business with class. Have fun. Enjoy the people you deal with. Your life and their will be enriched many fold. It takes time and work to build a good reputation. Putting your name in a bad light can tarnish or ruin that reputation forever.
Treat every customer with honesty, respect, and friendliness. Isn't that the way you'd want to be treated?
Gary Hendrickson has been making his living selling on eBay for more than six years. He's the author of two eBay related ebooks, has a blog for eBay sellers, and is the owner of ColdItems.Com.