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.