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Time for a Tuneup?

How to refine and revamp your marketing campaign

Webster’s defines a campaign as “a series of activities designed to bring about a particular result.”

As you look ahead to the change of seasons, now’s a good time to determine if your online business might benefit from a change of approach in terms of what you sell, how you sell it and where you promote it; that is, a renewed marketing campaign.

To sustain and improve your online business results, you need to maintain a perpetual vigilance to seek out new ways and new places to propel your results upward and increase your business’ visibility to as many potential customers as possible. Since the goal is to continually boost sell-through rates, here are several steps you can take to establish a new or revised market campaign that keeps your approach fresh and compelling.

Tapping (and retapping) the marketplaces

Before beginning any sales approach, be sure you have an intimate understanding of the market itself. This equates to due diligence, a prework, if you will, that includes a thorough review of the most promising sales venues, online and off. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the trade shows, now’s the time to get reconnected with consumers, face to face.

Then revisit the local consignment stores, the antique troves and the crafter’s malls to find out what’s up for sale in these venues, how it’s priced and how well it’s selling. Then, turn your attention online and scour the Internet for new or changing Web sites and auction venues to gather the same sort of data.

As you analyze the information you’ve collected, you’ll discover what goods are selling and where, helping you refocus your reinvigorated infusion into the various venues.

Long-time sellers have learned that some items just seem to sell better in certain settings

Crossing venue boundaries

While it’s of terrific benefit to rotate your inventory within your virtual store or auction listings, keep in mind you should also seek to rotate your products across multiple venues. Long-time sellers have learned that some items just seem to sell better in certain settings. High-end antiques might be better suited to shoppers who frequent the upscale antique mall and who regularly visit similar specialty Web destinations. Collectibles are still a draw at eBay, and it seems the bidding wars have returned for rare goods that have been rather scarce of late.

If your research indicates the market has been starved for quality collectibles that you might offer, let the bidder do their work at bringing you higher sales prices, the sort that might as yet be scoffed at in a fixed-price venue. At the same time, consider that certain sorts of items are simply “tactile” in nature, seeming to sell better in off-line venues where customers can touch, feel and even smell merchandise.

Your task, then, is to rotate your items through the various venues until you find that perfect match, where the largest audience will notice your items and your goods can be sold at the best possible prices. And, as nothing is static anymore, you might find that some items do well in a sales setting for a while but might soon require replacement to reenergize demand. In the context of a market campaign, the importance of determining where and how to place certain items cannot be underemphasized.

The venues to venture into

So, besides your eBay Store, personal Web site and auction listings, what other venues might help you increase visibility and, ultimately, sales for your online business? Consider these:

  • Related Web sites: Don’t be afraid to make contact with the Webmasters of other sites that sell or discuss items like yours, inquiring if they’d agree to post a banner or link to the site where you discuss and offer such goods. You’d be surprised how many will be more than eager to offer online space in exchange for a reciprocal ad or banner from your site to theirs.

  • Trade journals: No, the Internet hasn’t completely rendered the print journals as completely obsolete (believe it or not, there is a large population of shoppers who still haven’t gotten online). Visit the larger bookstores like Borders or Barnes & Noble and mine their magazine racks for the sorts of publications that reach the same or similar audience that you’re working to attract.

  • Liberally promote your other sales destinations in all of your advertisements and customer correspondence
  • Flea markets, garage sales and classified ads: And, for those items that just don’t seem to sell online or might be too cumbersome to ship across country, these time-tested venues still work well. Whether online or in print, seek out the places where folks congregate to find good deals, and where you can still convert sales of otherwise stagnant goods in your inventory.

Cross-listing and cross-selling

The big retailers are never bashful about telling you of their satellite stores, factory outlets, or subsidiaries, and neither should you be. Be sure to liberally promote your other sales destinations in all of your advertisements and customer correspondence. When you’re selling at a local show, have flyers on hand that tell of your other sales outlets and always provide updated Web or e-mail addresses. At your fixed-price Web spaces, promote all the different online destinations where your products can be found. And, when auctioning goods, make reference to the other items you concurrently have up for bid. Even if your auction venue discourages promoting other portals where your goods can be found, be sure to make that information available within your off-venue correspondence.

Good timing for best results

Lastly, don’t forget that timing can play a big part in your marketing campaign or revised market penetration push. Besides finding the right venues to sell in, you’ll also need to consider the best time to offer items in a given venue. Again, turn to your market research and keep records of when items sell best, then rotate your goods to maximize the peaks in consumer interest.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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