Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Goat, Some Coffee And Low-Key Marketing

Sometimes I go to the local coffee shop – Diedrich’s. Yesterday was one such day.

They had an odd piece of information up by the register in a holder. You can see it below – I scanned it. They had 30 or 40 of them stacked in a stand-up paper/brochure holder. The piece itself was printed in B&W on a standard 8.5X11 piece of paper. Super low tech. Very non-threatening (from a marketing perspective). It’s a story about how coffee got started. Take a look.

Kind of interesting. A conversation piece. You might tell your friend or wife about it after you stopped into the shop. It’s something to read while you’re waiting for your latté.

It’s not trying to sell anything. But it leaves you with a positive feeling about Diedrich’s.

Essentially, I think its purpose is to spread the word about the particular patron’s trip to the coffee shop. You might come home from work and tell your wife that “goats discovered coffee.” This is one of those fun, Cliff Claven-type factoids. You tell her the story and where you saw it. Then she thinks, “I love going to coffee houses, maybe I’ll go tomorrow.” This type of effect is probably working for Diedrich’s as we speak/read.

I like it – nothing to sell but some information that’s connected to the establishment. The word will get passed on, and the brand will be mentioned.

Can you think of stories that are not your own that you could co-opt for marketing or customer information purposes? Try it out. Find some stories that relate to your products and fashion them to your liking. Pop them into shipped packages. Send them to your newsletter subscribers.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Paris Hilton Crashed My Marketing Party (figuratively)

I noticed something this weekend, and it led me to think about what is perhaps one of the truly brilliant marketing moves of the 21st century.

We were in Palm Desert, CA – perhaps a bit altered by too much Thanksgiving tryptophan and residual Burgundy effects. I noticed that lots of the young guys and some of the young gals at The River (a hip mall) were wearing baseball caps with the Hilton “H” on the front.

I got to thinking….hmm.. Hilton, a $22 public stock on the NYSE. Hilton.. a big hotel concern with 70,000 employees and more than 2,300 properties.

What if… what if Paris Hilton is just a marketing ploy? What if her antics and exposure are ultimately designed to serve the company stock (HLT)?

Think about it. Where is the one piece of advertising real estate that virtually everyone has to view? Let’s say you’re a consumer that doesn’t watch TV, listen to the radio or go to the movies. Where else could you be ambushed with brands and marketing messages? The supermarket check out line, of course. Those “billboards,” the tabloid covers, might be selling something. Maybe a hotel chain in this case.

I wonder if Paris Hilton has helped propagate the Hilton Hotel brand. Maybe she’s not even their child. Maybe she’s an actress that they hired to build mindshare. Perhaps they grew her in a Petri dish and trained her to party and giggle her way to the check out stand headlines.

Tongue firmly in cheek (kind of).

Seriously, though. Think on a smaller scale. Could you come up with a device similar to Paris Hilton that gets you into the press or at least into the minds of your target market? T-shirts and caps come to mind, but that’s so “old hat.” Golden Palace has made a habit of purchasing outrageous, news generating items on eBay (remember the Virgin Mary toast?). That’s pretty original.

Anyone have some ideas (large or small) that are currently working? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. sells "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" for 32% off the cover price. sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey is Good, But I’m Thankful for Something Else

I’m thankful for quite a few things… but as it pertains to this blog, I’m thankful for several authors and writers who influence my work and have guided my thinking.

Bob Bly
Jack Forde
Dr. Robert Cialdini
Jay Conrad Levinson
Seth Godin
Jack Foster
John Caples
David Ogilvy

If I can think of some others, I’ll add them.

If you’d like to add some other authors to this list, please do by clicking on ‘comment’ below.

I’m also thankful for all of you – the readers and marketing experts that visit this blog week in and week out.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday!


P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Liberation Strategy: How to Respond to the Unknown

“Giving up the illusion that you can predict the future is a very liberating moment. All you can do is give yourself the capacity to respond. . . the creation of that capacity is the purpose of strategy.”

-- Lord John Browne

This quote applies to a lot of things. I couldn’t help but think about marketing projects and small business in general, though.

When you’re in the writing and/or marketing business (which I assume you are), you have to adapt to so many different people and projects. Only the flexible – those who respond positively despite what came before – keep getting good work and building business.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 21, 2005

"Secret Sauce" or Technical Nonsense - Marketing Fundamentals

Excerpt from "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing."

“Secret Sauce” Features vs. Technical Nonsense
Some vendors and manufacturers crave differentiation so desperately that they devise strange, incomprehensible product features. They get into all kinds of trouble describing crazy features and “XM-3000 performance statis­tics” that are lost on the potential customer’s dream receptors.

If your product really does something different, if it’s oozing with “secret sauce,” then certainly highlight that. However, do it by connecting with buyer benefits and keeping it simple.

Here’s a good benefit list about a Palm handheld device that was listed on eBay:

• Read and reply to your business and personal e-mail.
• Send an SMS message and collaborate quickly with colleagues.
• Type an e-mail to your team on the thumb keyboard.
• Use the phone feature to make a call and take notes at the same time.
• Edit spreadsheets, documents, and presentations on the Tungsten W handheld’s crisp, high-resolution color screen.
• Keep track of calendars and contact information.

Notice the seller didn’t lead with confusing features like “Motorola MC68VZ328 33 MHz Display, TFT active matrix - reflective - 16-bit (64K colors).” Those may be important when it comes time to compare the device to others, but the dream needs to be sold first.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Value Your Customers' Success -- Advice from Seth Godin's New Book

I’m a fan of Seth Godin’s books. I don’t get paid anything to promote them, but I just end up doing that because I read them and always find a few gems of wisdom within. The marketing/advertising/good-business books are light, airy and fast paced. They’re not chock full of compelling research or detailed justification, but that’s part of the reason they’re good. They don’t weigh you down, and, for some reason, they come across as authoritative anyway.

They’re also very entertaining – in the way a light, sophisticated comedy film or a smart sitcom is. Godin’s books may be a part of a new book genre – business books that instruct yet seem like entertainment. Curious stuff.

The one I’m reading right now is called The Big Moo. Here’s a takeaway that I stumbled across yesterday (It’s nothing new, but he puts it aptly and it’s a good reminder for all of us in marketing):

“Customers sometimes love the simple stuff, having a human answer the phone on the first ring, receiving work ahead of time… and getting a special thank you reminding them that you value more than their business… you value their success.” [my emphasis added]

I’m going to take this advice today and reach out to some of my business customers with this very message. I do value their success, and every brochure and white paper I write for them is an attempt to win them more business.

By the way, I value your success, too. This blog is designed for that express purpose. And if you bought the eBay Marketing book, I appreciate your business. If you’ve read it, you’ll see that it’s designed to help you sell more and bring in more profits. Your success is my success.

If you’ve found the book valuable, please spread the word. And comment to this blog or email me ( if you have some examples of how you’ve put some of the strategies to work.

Enjoy the weekend!

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Six Persuasion Tips for Writing, Selling, Speaking, Marketing

1) The message is about the reader and his interests, needs, and desires, not you and your wants.

2) It should contain some significant promise of benefits (again to the reader), implicit or stated.

3) The benefits should be concrete -- easy for your reader to imagine.

4) Any claims you make should be supported by facts.

5) Difficult concepts should be included only if you can clearly illustrate them with examples and analogies.

6) Simple is better. One overriding idea presented repeatedly in different ways and with building evidence is much stronger than a string of related but distinct ideas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How to Improve Web Content Readability

An excerpt from Susan Greene's Web content guide follows.

By Susan Greene
Most of the people who visit your website won’t read every word. More likely, they’ll scan to find the information that’s relevant to their needs. Therefore, you want to write your copy to make it easy to skim. Here are some suggestions:

· Use strong headlines.Grab your reader with a headline that essentially screams, “You must read this!” That is, lead with your strongest benefit, the main reason someone is going to be interested in what you have to offer.

· Use lots of subheads.Subheads break up big blocks of copy. They also, in just a few words, summarize what the upcoming paragraph is all about. They tell readers where to “jump in.” Someone who scans your page should be able to get the key points of what you’re saying by looking at the subheads.

· Use bullets and numbered lists.Like subheads, bullets and lists break up big blocks of copy. They convey large amounts of information in concise form. People like reading lists. The white space around them helps set them apart from the rest of the copy and attracts the eye. Use bullets for lists when the order doesn’t matter. Use numbers for procedures or steps, when the list should be followed in order.

· Use white space.Don’t cram every inch of the screen with text. White space helps make a page more scannable and less intimidating to the reader. Leave lines of space between sections to help set them apart and look for other opportunities to use white space.

· Keep sentences short.The Internet is not the place for long-winded, complex sentences. Because text on a screen is harder to read than text in a book, you need to keep your sentences concise. Basically, use one thought per sentence. Break long sentences into two.

· Keep paragraphs short.If you look at the newspaper, you’ll notice that most paragraphs are two to four sentences. Apply the same rule to website copy. Readers tend to skip over long paragraphs. Stick to one key point per paragraph.

· Keep line width short. If your line width is too long, it will be hard to read. Use columns, if necessary, like newspapers. A good rule of thumb is 40 to 50 characters per line.

· Use colors, bold and italics for keywords. If you want to make certain important words stand out, put them in a different color or use bold or italic type. Don’t use underlines because these usually suggest hyperlinks.

· Use illustrations. Even on the Internet, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. If you can actually show the reader what you’re talking about, you’re more likely to make your point.

..... There's more.. Check out the full list at Susan's site

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Why Giving away Freebies Promotes Sales

Give away something original, artistic, informative or of recognizable value and your sales will increase. End of story.

This little tip has been working for centuries. It’s built into our societal code of ethics, our culture, and our collective behavioral systems. People reciprocate when they are given a gift. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like the gift or the giver. They feel an obligation to reciprocate.

You may say: ‘Hey, that’s not me. I don’t feel obligated to reciprocate.’ You may eat the cheese at the supermarket freebie station and pass on purchasing. You may receive personalized address labels from the American Heart Association, actually use them and then still toss the donation card into the garbage. It’s probably because you recognize and analyze the marketing concepts at work and second-guess your impulses.

Most people do reciprocate, though. On impulse, we’re trained to reciprocate and feel guilt and shame when we don’t live up to that contract. Giving back provides closure when we’ve been given to.

You can really see the power of the contract in action when you try to return or refuse a gift. Have you ever been given a gift and then decided to give it back after accepting it? You usually don’t give it back because you don’t want it or you can’t use it. You give it back because you don’t want to be bound by the reciprocation contract. You don’t want to be obligated to the exchange relationship. When you accept gifts, you accept the reciprocation obligation. This is where the phrase “much obliged” comes from.

Remember, gift giving in combination with originality increases sales conversions. Address labels and cheese samples are pretty worn concepts. Think creatively and offer value. Simple art, inside information and inspirational gifts will help your generosity stand out and your prospects remember this unclosed loop of debt.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Selling Books for Fun and Profit

Part of my job is to make sure The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing sells. These days, just because you’re published by one of the biggies doesn’t really count for much. As an author, you have to pound the pavement (seminars, radio shows, interviews, etc.) to keep sales brisk.

One thing that I know of that helps sales is reviews. So, my plea for the day? If you have the book and have gotten some value out of it, please post your opinion to the review portion of the book listing (the link is right next to the stars in the product details section, here). I’d really appreciate it. Your thoughts and support would be going to a good cause – book sales help me continue research work, develop new books, and work on the next version of the eBay Marketing book.

Thanks ahead,


P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

How Is Shipping Marketing?

I’ve posted some information on my eBay Marketing blog about shipping in the past few days. It’s not directly related to marketing, but the indirect ties are undeniable. This applies to all kinds of businesses, not just eBay.

Let’s start with customer satisfaction:

* Customers who love your service come back
* Satisfied customers tell two friends.. and so on
* Your product becomes more valuable when it’s shipped quickly
* Items that are packaged right arrive intact and unblemished
* Efficient shipping operations support all of the above

Next, marketing efforts:

* An item that arrives unscathed delivers on your promises and guarantees
* Promotions and flyers in the packaging generate repeat business
* Clean, professionally packaged goods reflect positively on your company and brand
* Customers that rave about your efficient, professional operations will post good feedback and tell their friends about your store/listings

If you ship, pay attention to your practices. It's marketing in disguise.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Build Business by Specializing - People Need Your Expertise

As business becomes more and more competitive, it’s important to be an expert in a particular industry or product line and then transfer your knowledge to customers and prospects. It’s a great way to build business – plus, it’s a great way to live. You become intimately involved with your business and you learn along the way.

In the early sections of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing, we talk a lot about this – niche marketing.

This “specialize” theme pops up quite often in business books.. so don’t just take it from me.

Cases in point:

“Those who attain to any excellence commonly spend life in some single pursuit, for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.”

Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784, British author)

“It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world. The great man or woman is the one who never steps outside his or her specialty or foolishly dissipates his or her individuality.”

Og Mandino
(1923-1996, American motivational author, speaker)

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Selling Via Education - 6 Critical White Paper Tips

Delivering white papers over the Internet is a great way to communicate in-depth information to highly targeted audiences. White papers also offer companies the opportunity to build marketing lists…. But, you’ve got to write them first. Some tips for producing first-rate white papers follow:

1. Offer a solution. Many white papers waste all kinds of time and ink on theory, probability and speculation. Good white papers establish well-defined problems and offer easily understood solutions. Leave the pontificating to the industry analysts.

2. Reduce marketing language to a minimum. These days, this tip even applies to marketing materials. The more you economize your exposition and eliminate hyperbole, the better.

3. Support assertions with evidence and examples. Tangible, mentally vivid examples help pull readers through long pieces of text and provide them with ammo when they go to present your assertions to somebody else. Metaphor is also helpful (for example, ammo).

4. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Classic business presentation structure.

5. Use graphics, charts and pull quotes. White papers tend to be long. So, help the readers along with visual cues and graphics that complement the text and illuminate your explanations further.

6. Watch the length. Less than 15 pages is preferable for a given topic. If you find that your page count is hurtling toward novella length, consider breaking the project into several separate but related white papers.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Everyone Lives by Selling Something

“Everyone lives by selling something.”

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Not much else to explain here… but I’ll try to add a little. Many of us often retreat from the word “sales” because it sounds underhanded. Negative spinning from groups that look down on persuasion and progress would have us believe that we’d be better off in some Luddite utopia where everyone hunts and gathers for their own subsistence. But RLS has it right – when you persuade and sell, you move survival and pleasure resources in your direction.. and, perhaps more importantly, you efficiently move resources toward others that need them. That’s what the free market’s all about. Dig it.

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Is It Wise to Re-Name a Product?

Bob Bly is a famous copywriter that has been developing copy for companies and teaching others how to write for years.

His latest newsletter featured a nifty article about semantics. Here’s the gist – you shouldn’t call a fruitcake a fruitcake because of the negative associations people have. Call it “Native Texas Pecan Cake” and you’ll see sales go through the roof.

Check out his site ( to see all the resources and services he has to offer. If you’re looking for a copywriter and his rates are out of your range, drop me a note or a call and I’ll see what I can do for you (

And think about this semantics issue. Do you have any products that could use a semantic make-over?

P.S. knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). sells if for 36% off!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

How to Load Up the "Shopping Cart" by Cross-Selling and Up-Selling

We talk a lot about cross-selling and up-selling in “The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing.” These are the two strategies that help you build sales by increasing the amount or value of items in a shopping cart. By the way, you don't have to be selling on eBay to learn about these. The same concepts apply in all kinds of selling situations.

Cross-selling is where you suggest complementary items to the original item purchased. Up-selling is the close cousin of cross-selling, where you increase the value of the item or the solution by suggesting more purchases (with volume discounts, for example) or a selection of options (like small, medium or large; or good; better; best).

These two strategies often cross-pollinate. Some cross-selling involves up-selling and vice versa. It’s all good.

StartUpNation posted some tips on cross selling today. Take a look at that article for more ideas and further discussion.

P.S. and have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A New Phenomenon in Marketing: SEO – Search Engine Optimization

Usually, I go on about how traditional marketing concepts apply to modern situations. You have to inform, make promises, develop attractive images, create offers and guarantees, and close throughout your marketing copy. Those are given.

There are some new aspects of marketing, however, that can drive even the most accomplished marketing pro nuts. One is SEO or search engine optimization. This is the practice of optimizing your Web pages (be it an eBay Store, a company page, or an ecommerce site) so that you rank high in search results of Google, for example.

Marketing Profs posted a good article on the subject this morning. It’s worth the read. They cover the basics, offer some advice and then give some sound warnings about what kinds of hazards to expect.

P.S. and have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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