Archive for January, 2007

No Experience Necessary

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

My local Petsmart has a sign in the window looking for someone to do obedience training. What caught my eye was "no experience necessary." I would think that the person who gets the best results out of dogs needing obedience training would be people who have experience doing this and knowledge in the area.

This tells me that the obedience training is something anybody could learn out of some book or corporate manual, and may not be because someone is skilled and has a long history working with dogs.

That’s bad marketing.


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That Cookie from atwola.com

Monday, January 29th, 2007

I have my browsers set to ask me before any cookies are set. That way, I can set the ones I want and reject others. It’s sometimes surprising to see what domains want to set cookies when I’m not even on their site.

I think the most interesting one is one I see often and always end up totally rejecting. atwola.com

Visit htt://pr.atwola.com or http://ar1.atwola.com, and you’ll see "Nothing to see here." That doesn’t tell us who this is. www.atwola.com leads us nowhere. It’s only a WHOIS that reveals that it’s AOL. I’m not hitting AOL.com, and as far as I know, I wasn’t hitting any sites owned by AOL.

Maybe AOL wants to track your surfing. Why else drop a cookie under a domain that goes nowhere? I found this on a site about cookies and how to manually remove them:

"Atwola is an unwelcomed cookie which is shared among two or more web pages for the purpose of tracking a user’s surfing history."

You may want to say no to having your surfing history sent to AOL.


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eBay Titles

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

An aforementioned self-appointed eBay expert has done it again. He has put in his blog something he suggests you do with your eBay titles, and I strongly disagree. So here I am now to tell you what you should do with titles.

His blog gives these examples of GOOD titles:

JERRY RICE SIGNED FOOTBALL JERSEY FROM 1982 SEASON -NR

TRUE RELIGION DESIGNER BLUE JEANS, SIZE MEDIUM 30 WAIST

Here are my problems with these titles.

  1. In my classes and in those taught by eBay University, they tell you to NOT capitalise all words in your title. All caps is considered yelling online, and the things we read every day aren’t in all caps. It’s just not a way we’re used to reading entire lines of information. Bottom line? If eBay is out there saying don’t capitalise all the words, I would do what eBay says. eBay wants you to sell more so they can make more money. :) If all caps worked better, eBay would know that, and they’d tell you to do that. But they tell you to NOT do that. You CAN, however, capitalise important words so that they stand out from the other words. But if they’re ALL caps, then certain words don’t stand out.
  2. Official eBay instructors and I always tell people to get random characters out of titles like commas and dashes. Those are wasting characters you could use for something else, and nobody will search for -NR.
  3. Speaking of things people are unlike to search for, do you think people will really write "from" in his football example? What about "1982 season"? Is that the 81-82 season or the 82-83 season? Unlike baseball, football seasons span two calendar years. I put "football 1982 season" into Terapeak for a 30-day, closed items search, and it told me ZERO. I put in "football 1982" and it showed me 941 items that sold around 37% of the time for an ASP of $19.65. I put in "football from 1982" and Terapeak showed me 7 items of which 5 sold for an ASP of $6.81.
  4. Similarly, you have to think like your shopper when crafting titles. Is he thinking "signed football jersey" or is he thinking "signed NFL jersey"? I put both into Terapeak to compare, and guess what. "Signed NFL jersey" sold more often and for higher prices than "signed football jersey." So I’m really not liking that example of a GOOD title. I think that title will make you less money than other titles could! That’s one of many reasons why I tell people to use Terapeak.
  5. Size 30 WAIST? I ran that in Terapeak too, comparing "True Religion 30" to "True Religion 30 Waist." Guess what. :) 7 items were run in the last 30 days with "waist" in there. 6 sold for an ASP of around $71. Without the word waist, 1074 items ended with 56% selling at al ASP of $94.56. Hey, that’s better. I think people don’t search for "waist" in jeans, so get that word out. Do people still think of these as "blue jeans"? Evidently not. According to research I did on Terapeak, "jeans" is a wasted word. Sellers who had "true religion blue jeans" saw their listings sell 52.3% of the time for an ASP of $72.26. Sellers who just had "true religion jeans" without "blue" saw their listings sell 57.27% of the time for an ASP of $89. Hey, that’s better!

So while so-and-so suggests JERRY RICE SIGNED FOOTBALL JERSEY FROM 1982 SEASON -NR as a great eBay title, I think if you have that item, you will do better with this title:

JERRY RICE signed NFL jersey 49ers 1994 autographed NR

That’s 54 characters of a possible 55. If you have a Rice jersey from 1982, then that’s from Mississippi State when he was a sophomore. Chances are that you have a jersey from his NFL career, so I picked 1994 when he was in the Superbowl. It’s good to get his team in there since someone could be looking for a 49ers jersey. And they might say "signed" or "autographed," so let’s get in search results both ways!

Where he suggested TRUE RELIGION DESIGNER BLUE JEANS, SIZE MEDIUM 30 WAIST, I am suggesting:

TRUE RELIGION jeans NEW NWT sz 30 x 33 Billy Desperado

"Sz" does better than "size" by the way. I have NEW and NWT in there for people who specifically wanted "new with tags" and knew the lingo. I had the length of the jeans, and I even had the model and wash. People who know designer stuff are probably looking for the Billy jeans, and not EVERY pair of True Religion jeans there could possibly be. I think shoppers for designer goods know what they want, so we have to adjust our titles to cater to them. We have to use the words they are likely to use.

I just bought jeans on eBay. I searched for "old navy 6 stretch." A woman was selling two of them, and I bought both. If you didn’t put in stretch in your listing, you didn’t show up in my search results. I also searched for LONG in there. If you didn’t mention the jeans were long, then I didn’t find you either.

So there you go. I am still saying that people who are claiming to be eBay experts should really know more about this stuff, and should advise you differently. For now, I’ll keep these people nameless since even though I found this in one guy’s blog, I think a lot of those "experts" have the same messages. I think some of the advice is flawed, and when it doesn’t match what eBay says in their official classes, I just don’t like that.

When eBay gives you advice, it’s naturally geared toward how they can make money. They make money by you selling as often as possible for the highest prices possible. That means that eBay does better when you are successful, so their advice would naturally be skewed towards your selling success. eBay would only recommend features, promotions, practices, techniques, and ideas that are likely to make you money. In some cases, I’ve found ways to be more successful than some old advice eBay gives. But in the case of most of what eBay puts out there, what I’ve heard eBay Uni instructors say about titles, and what eBay allowed me to say in my recent eBay Uni classes, titles are not best done how a certain "expert" has presented them.

They’re just not, and that’s bad marketing. Anything that makes eBay sellers less likely to be successful is bad for the marketplace.


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Overused Rhymes in Songs

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Are you anything like me? Are you sick of hearing the same rhymes over and over in pop songs? There’s not much we can do about it, but we can compile the ultimate list of crappy rhymes and vote on them!

http://www.squidoo.com/overusedrhymes/

Yes, this is just for fun. Nobody will be hurt, sued, or boycotted in the wake of this Squidoo Lens. You must be a registered Squidoo member (which is painless and free) to add and vote. So add, vote, and tell a friend!


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People Who Claim to be eBay-Certified

Friday, January 26th, 2007

There are plenty of people out there claiming to be certified by or connected to eBay in some way. Today, let’s look at some of the designations and logos you might see, and learn which is real and which is not (as of right now)!

eBay Certified Developer – You might even see an oval logo with this one. eBay never certified developers, so this logo and designation are meaningless. The person using it may be in eBay’s programme that supports people who develop applications for the eBay platform, but note that eBay doesn’t certify developers.

Certified eBay Education Specialist – This is a bastardisation of what the real title is supposed to be, which is "Education Specialist Trained by eBay." In that sense, eBay has not certified these people. eBay doesn’t go hear what I like to call the "EduSpecs" speak. They don’t interview people who attend their seminars. You can be a pretty crappy speaker and still get this designation! Some are great, some are not. But none have been "certified" in the way you might think when you see that word.

eBay Business Consultant – Look out for this one. You might think that my company would be an eBay Business Consultant, but this designation comes from the same department/company behind the EduSpecs. I technically don’t qualify to be an eBay Business Consultant even though that’s what I and my entire company have been doing for nearly 7 years. I didn’t have enough student feedback through the EduSpec system, so I don’t qualify. I’m not sure who does! Bottom line is that these people are not certified the way you might think. You’d hope that somebody has checked their track record with helping sellers and businesses, but as far as I know, nobody has.

eBay Trading Assistant – This could be good! This should be a person who specialises in selling items on eBay on behalf of other people. That way, that person can sell for you, you never have to really learn or understand eBay, and you split the money. This can work out well with the right Trading Assistant.

eBay Certified Consultant – This is someone who has passed a test showing that he or she knows general rules and best practices on eBay. This is not a test of how good a coach this person is nor does eBay check on how good a consultant this person is. Nobody reviews if this person’s consulting clients succeed or not. It’s really a certification of knowing eBay rules and best practices. I think that most PowerSellers could pass this test since they have probably been selling long enough to know the rules and best practices.

eBay Certified Solution/Service Provider – This is the good stuff. :) As Was is a Certified Service Provider. For this designation, which does come with a logo, eBay checks out the company and speaks with clients to try and make sure that people are happy with the products and/or services. This should be the best of the best of eBay-related companies.

eBay Compatible Application – This means that eBay has checked out software that a company built, and found it to work within eBay’s guidelines and rules about how you can build software that interfaces with eBay. This is not any kind of certification of the company. It only means that this application is built to work with eBay’s platform, interfaces directly, and eBay has approved the way it works. If you see a piece of software, such as something that you can add to your eBay listings, and it’s NOT a compatible application, I would think twice!

eBay University Intructor – eBay tries to find the best speakers out there with the best information and knowledge of eBay. These people are then sent out around the country to inform you! These are generally great speakers with great experience and knowledge that can really help you. However, one thing I’ve found is that some of them also act as consultants, and sometimes are paid by other companies to recommend the other companies’ products. That means that a recommendation the instructor might make could be one he or she is making because he or she was paid to do so. So if you’re gutsy, you might want to ask if that recommendation comes from using the system or from being paid to recommend it. You deserve to know!


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Damned If You Do…

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

In the wake of eBay’s eCommerce Forum, I’m hearing two very opposite things from different people. I tend to hear these anyway, but it seems to be magnified lately.

One group complains about eBay throwing an event like that… eBay is spending THEIR fee money on catered dinners, fun, and hotel rooms for big sellers. People are grumpy about how they see their fees being spent. Evidently, they’re not noticing Q4 sales up, stock being stronger, and the other fun stuff. They are mad that eBay fees are going to events like the Forum, which is mostly a seller appreciation event.

The other group tells me that eBay does nothing to show them appreciation. They don’t email them to thank them for selling. They don’t reach out to them. They don’t care about them. I think that these people wouldn’t be happy with anything. If eBay emailed them now to thank them, they’d probably say too little to late. If they had been invited to the Forum, they’d probably join group one in complaining about how their fees are being spent. But this group says eBay doesn’t do enough to recognise them and show them they are appreciated.

So the eCommerce Forum is mostly an event showing appreciation. Group one is against it since it’s evidently frivolous. Group two is mad that not enough appreciation is shown to them in some secret way that they want it shown.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


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Disney World Park Tickets

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I’m going to call this good marketing since the pricing is SO interesting. Let’s say you’re taking a trip to Walt Disney World. You’re going to be there 6 days, but you’re not sure you want to pay for park tickets all six days. Maybe you would pay for 5 days, and have the kids just do a day at the pool and around the resort thinking that’ll save money.

That’s from Disney’s website, where you can price out rooms, tickets, and full packages. Notice that there is no real significant financial difference between buying a 3-day ticket for $287 and a 10-day ticket for $294. This includes the "Park Hopper" option, which means you can do Magic Kingdom in the morning, EPCOT in the afternoon, and MGM for dinner. It includes the water parks, separately priced at $36 per day per park.

Notice that the 4-day and 5-day tickets cheaper than the 3-day. Disney doesn’t want you finding anything else to do around the Orlando area. :) Hey, I don’t mind if their park tickets are relatively reasonably priced! Why so reasonably priced? Because once you’re there, you are spending so much money on so many things. I think that’s why Disney resorts are also relatively reasonably priced, especially considering the perks they offer over staying off the Disney grounds. They just want to GET you there.

To me, that’s good marketing. Make the comparable expenses seem reasonable or do-able, and then the rest is what it is once you get there. Though I will say that on my last trip there, I found food to be New York City priced, so it was high but not unheard of for a vacation.


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Selling Information Products on eBay

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

I just read a blog post from someone that evidently some of you still trust, and his message was that you should be selling information products on eBay. What is an "information product?" Mostly an e-book. Why not just say e-book? E-books require no storage or shipping, probably no support or attention, and according to these websites, they’re just endless money-makers!

I’m here to tell you to not do that. Why not?

  1. You’re one of a zillion people doing that. Some just read the same website did about selling information products. You’ll have new competition every day. Anything presented as THAT easy is going to attract people like wild. That’s great for the guy selling you something that’ll help you enact his recommendation!
  2. Many people sell these just to build their feedback. I see this as a form of fraud. It would be like gaining a reputation around your town as a wonderful dentist, and then starting a plastic surgery practice. You may not be the best plastic surgeon, so is it right to ride off your reputation as a dentist? This is basically what you’re doing when you "buy" positive feedbacks for buying or selling cheap items like e-books, and then embark on selling different items, especially those of greater value.
  3. eBay agrees with #2 above, and is starting to crack down on people they feel could be building their feedback through the buying and selling of e-books. If you care about not being suspended on eBay, you’ll want to NOT do this! It would be great if the "eBay Expert" who told you to do this knew that eBay is cracking down on this… wouldn’t it.

Remember, if it’s presented as easy and nearly effortless, and if the person presenting it has something to sell you, look out. Be really careful. Do your research, and don’t just believe everything you read.


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Don’t Be Alarmed

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

From an elevator…

Don’t be alarmed, but press alarm. I think this could have been written differently if you didn’t want to inspire a sense of ALARM.


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A Very Special Meal

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

I often get special meals on flights in the hopes that someone had to put the meal together and pay more attention to what’s in it. That way, I don’t get cheesy cheese covered in cheese. I typically get "vegetarian non-dairy" so I can’t get mystery meat covered in cheese. This time, I tried "gluten-free."

On one flight, I was given a piece of salmon. When’s the last time you got salmon on a flight? This was especially odd given that I am DEATHLY allergic to salmon. So now, the airlines need to come up with "gluten-free, no fish" I guess.

Another flight, I got lots of fruit. Here is a picture of my meal with some of the paperwork that came with it. Please note the exceedingly moldy strawberry. That is one special meal.


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