In Part I and Part II of our eBay Listings Secrets series we talked about the mechanics of creating an eBay listing that maximises your opportunity for selling success. In Part III we'd like to take a step back and talk about the importance of establishing an overall selling philosophy and a “unique selling proposition” or “USP” to maximiuse your eBay sales.
Your Strategic Approach
Successful EBay sellers will tell you that while it’s terrific to be able to employ a “lowest price” strategy, that’s rarely possible unless you are moving a very large volume of products. Given the reality that, most of the time, you are not likely to be the lowest priced seller of an item, you need to have a selling strategy that defines how you will price your items and relies on something besides price to make you attractive to potential customers.
Strategic approach and USP need to be developed in unison. For example, if your unique selling position is that your merchandise is for the high end, discriminating buyer, your pricing can also be high end, reflecting the value of snob appeal of your product. If on the other hand, your unique selling proposition is affordable quality, your pricing can be higher than others because you are selling quality, but still needs to remain in the range that your market considers affordable.
Unique Selling Proposition
Now it’s time to start thinking about how you differentiate yourself from the rest of the sellers in your market space. Here are some possibilities to think about.
You may sell a product that’s available through many sellers, but you have secured a higher quality version of the product. For example, if you sell backpacks, you might want to position yourself as the seller with the backpack that will last through your child’s entire elementary school career, or the backpack that distributes weight well enough to make it easier for kids to carry, and protects young growing spines.
Your product may be just a little different than anything else out there and that makes it desirable. You may import your beads from little known sources in Lesotho or Morocco so the true bead enthusiasts will line up to buy your specialized offerings.
Your product may be a real problem solver. This strategy works especially well in an area that you know well, so you have a good understanding of the common problems that people face, and which solutions might resonate well. For example, if you sell craft supplies and you find a glue gun that won’t burn a surface if it falls over, or a utility knife that is idiot-proof enough so that even accident-prone crafters can use it without slicing a finger, your selling proposition is clear – you fixed a problem and that’s always worth a look.
You don’t always need a unique product. Sometimes you can simply be a unique seller. For example, you can be the seller of silk scarves that can tell customers how to store them properly, clean them correctly, use them in 101 different ways and so on. Maybe you send along a little pamphlet with each scarf sold or send a link to an eBook with special information for your customers only.
Some products are easy to understand; others require some expertise. You can differentiate yourself as the seller who not only sells the product but also helps you use it. If you sell video games, maybe you have special website that users can go to exchange information about playing the game. If you sell books about business success, you include two phone calls where you answer questions or give advice.
Or, be the fastest shipper around and/or the safest shipper. Guarantee same day shipping along with shipping insurance and special packaging. Online buyers appreciate any methods that reduce the cost and hassle of shipping and waiting for delivery.
Here’s a fun selling proposition if you can manage it. Do you know someone with some celebrity status who uses your product and will endorse it for you? Maybe you sell high end pet supplies and saw a picture in an entertainment magazine of a celebrity toting her toy poodle in your carrier. It might be possible to simply use the photo (with permission) or contact the person and see if she’ll talk about why she likes your carrier. Your products begin to have “snob appeal” and you can build on that status.
Using Your USP
Once you determine your USP, you need to use it to brand yourself and your eBay listings. Try to condense your selling proposition into one clear and concise statement. For example:
- “Let our book bag take the strain off your child’s back”
- “Rare beads for serious beaders”
- “Treat your pet like celebrities do”
Use the USP in all your listings and marketing materials. You don’t have to repeat the same phrase all the time, but be sure your theme runs through your marketing materials.
Build your pricing model based on your USP. If your theme is high quality, rare or high status, your pricing can be higher. If your theme is catering to the family budget with affordable quality, you may want to run specials in line with family occasions, such as back to school, summer vacation and so on.
Finally, deliver on your USP’s promise. If your theme involves quality, be sure that your products stand up to scrutiny and offer a money back guarantee for anyone not satisfied.
Sellers who can successfully differentiate themselves in the EBay marketplace are the most likely to succeed.
In Part IV we will discuss how to position your eBay listings at the top of the eBay search results.