It Pays, To Get Personal

I wouldn’t call myself an eBay guru, but I do use it from time to time to sell good used items that we no longer need.  In most cases, we tend to sell electronics because I’m a gadget lusting geek that has mastered the justification of trading up and selling hand-me-downs in order to buy new shinier things.

With over 10 years experience in working with the design and marketing of ecommerce sites much of my time spent has involved writing good copy.  In a fiercely competitive environment, good content makes all the difference when trying to sell products or services.  Knowing how to write good sales copy doesn’t come from a book, school, or any online training course.  It comes from testing.  Anything that can be measured can be improved.

For a fun exercise, I’ve decided to change how I write my sales copy when selling my most recent items on eBay.

Anyone that has used eBay before either to buy or sell an item knows that a portion of the buying decision comes from trust.  Either trust in the seller to truthfully describe the new or used item or trust in the buyer to supply payment.  Luckily, eBay has many systems in place to protect both the buyer and seller but still when a buyer is presented with multiple sellers that offer the same item, what makes your item different than all the rest?

Reputation of the seller is one of the main factors that a buyer will use to decide on whether to purchase an item from that seller.  But, one of the most looked over methods to sell an item quickly and for the most value is not only in the reputation or even the item itself that is being sold.

Writing Ad Copy That’s Personal

My theory was simple .  Could I sell an item on eBay quicker and for a higher amount if I put more thought into the description content and personalized it.  For a successful test, I would put two auctions out for the same exact camera at different times but with different descriptions.

What do you mean Personalize it?

Of course I don’t mean for you to reveal a family secret or something.  Instead, it’s important to appeal to the buyer on a personal level, especially with a used item.  Other than the basic item specs that can be found at any electronics forum or website, the buyer probably has other questions such as:

1. Why is this item being sold?

2. Why should I believe you?

3. What makes you so different?

4. Why do you need to sell this item?

5. Will I get any added benefit (monetarily or emotionally) from buying this item from you?

Telling a Good Story

A thought provoking, understandable, or even funny story behind what is being sold can make all the difference in making the buyer remember you.  Everyone likes to hear a good story, so long as it’s kept brief.

The Experiment

I chose to put up for auction at two different times and under the same eBay account a Nikon Coolpix S230 digital camera.  For the first posting, I used eBay’s convenient product matching to auto-populate much of the cameras specs and even the picture.  After looking at what other sellers were offering this camera for used I chose to start the bidding at $90 and offer a “Buy It Now” price of $120.  Don’t forget about the “Buy It Now” price point, I’ll get back to that later.

The Control) An auction for the Nikon Coolpix S230 Digital Camera listing all specs and a very basic description that wrote: “Camera less than two months old, in perfect condition!”

The Result) After a 3 day auction, this ad received 3 bids and reached $98 dollars.  I canceled the auction explaining that the item was no longer for sale and then posted a new auction, but this time with a different description.

The Variable) An auction for the Nikon Coolpix S240 Digital Camera listing all specs and a description that included a brief story about how, why, and where the camera was originally bought.  Why we are selling it…  I made a little funny about how this camera was for my wife as a “push present” to take pictures of our first newborn baby boy and how she wanted a camera of her own.  I also explained that we need to sell this camera because now my wife would love to get a new iPod Touch instead and so here we are, selling this camera! (True Story)

The Result) After a 3 day auction, this ad received 13 bids and the winning bid totaled $152.50 not including shipping!  I even had prospects interested in the camera email with questions and also make a funny personal comment about my situation and how similar it was to experiences they too have had in the past.

That’s right, making my sales ad copy increased my sales by nearly 40%!

I can’t truthfully say that I’ve conducted a flawless experiment here, but this approach to writing good sales ad copy has helped me both professionally and personally in online selling.  Making a personal connection with the prospect can be more profitable than any other combined online marketing effort if executed properly and respectfully.

I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, or questions about this and I recommend you try this approach when trying to sell your next item.

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It Pays, To Get Personal

One Response

  1. Awesome idea, I’ll have to try this next time.

    Crystal September 22, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

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