A growing number of businesses are using auctions to attract a steady stream of customers. By listing on an auction site such as eBay, your business will be exposed to an audience of 22 million people in over 100 countries.
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Using Internet Auctions to Promote Your Local Business

Here is a little-used but highly effective way of reaching potential customers, even in your local market: online auctions.

A growing number of businesses are using auctions to attract a steady stream of customers. By listing on an auction site such as eBay, your business will be exposed to an audience of 22 million people in over 100 countries. But more importantly, it can reach the people next door.

The small listing fees are a small price to pay for the kind of exposure you get, especially on the granddaddy of all auction sites, eBay. There are small businesses out there that get 80% or more of their sales from eBay.

And not all of the sales happen on eBay - you can use your "About Me" page to drive traffic back to your web site. Then you can get your prospect's email address and sell to them directly, saving yourself some listings fees and commissions. And with eBay's feedback system, potential customers can get bona-fide firsthand testimonials from your previous customers.

If you want to sell multiple items, you can set up a Dutch auction. To make sure you earn a profit, you can set a minimum price, known as a reserve price. You can also set a "Buy It Now" price, which allows someone to buy the item immediately without waiting for the auction to end. And finally, you can set up your own eBay store for as little as $9.95/month.

There are many tips and tricks to eBay auctions -- so many that there are a slew of books and services and software programs just for helping people to manage their bidding and selling activities. Check www.geolocal.com for auction resources.

As far as reaching your local market, major cities are set up as regions on eBay. Consumers can easily search by region and category at eBay Local Trading. This is where people will go if they want to buy something locally, such as furniture or something expensive.

A recent development has made it even easier for your local customers to find you. AltaVista -- one of the major search engines -- announced a deal to feature listings from its shopping-comparison guide on eBay. According to AltaVista's senior director of global product marketing Gannon Giguiere, "We can now allow consumers to compare Web, localized brick and mortar stores and auction listings with a single glance."

I buy lots of stuff on eBay. A few weeks ago I went looking for sheepskin slippers and saw a lovely pair up for auction. I could tell that this was a business, so I contacted the seller directly. I knew from past experience that we might be able to work out something and sure enough, we made a deal for 2 pairs of sheepskin slippers.

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