Last week's eBay Radio Party in Las Vegas was a sellout: More than 300 sellers on the eBay platform, ranging from rank newbies to powersellers with millions in gross annual sales, enjoyed three days of networking, educational programs and (ahem) extracurricular activities.
For those who don't know, eBay has its own Internet radio station (www.voicemarketingradio.com), broadcasting a weekly talk show/podcast on everything eBay, hosted by Lee Mirabal and Jim "Griff" Griffith, eBay Inc.'s avuncular ombudsman to its seller community. With eBay no longer hosting "live" events for its sellers, the annual Radio Party (www.ervegas.com), organized by eBay education specialist and consultant Betsie "eBetsy" Bolger (twitter.com/ebetsy), has become a lightning rod for sellers hungry for information, the latest software tools and advice on how to build their businesses on eBay.
Here are some new developments, news items and choice pieces of advice I picked up during the show.
According to Richelle Parham, eBay's chief marketing officer, more than $20 billion worth of merchandise was sold last year on eBay's new mobile smartphone app (mobile.ebay.com) — that's billion with a "B," folks.
Marsha Collier, author of virtually all the "eBay for Dummies" books and her latest, "Social Media Commerce for Dummies" (www.coolebaytools.com), told me she was very excited about WorldLister, a new easy-to-use software tool that helps eBay sellers list items for sale from their mobile devices with fewer than five mouse clicks (www.worldlister.co).
In her keynote address, Collier gave several tips for marketing your business on Twitter, including:
—tweets with hashtags and links outperform tweets with just one or the other;
—tweets with more than two hashtags get 32 percent less engagement;
—tweets that use more than 120 characters perform best, while tweets with under 60 characters see 1/3 the engagement of longer tweets;
—tweets containing the word "click" average 35 percent more engagement than the brand average;
—tweets containing the words "right now" or "today" average higher engagement than the brand average; and
—link with embedded photos perform 29 percent better than plain text tweets with links.
John "ColderIce" Lawson, author of "Kick-Ass Social Commerce for E-Preneurs" (www.colderice.com), told me that branding is largely a function of "staying in your lane" — focusing on a specific niche of merchandise rather than "selling stuff all over the place."
"The Home Run Guide," authored by eBay expert Janelle Elms (www.homerunguide.com), is an easy to use e-book (including a special download for Droids, iPhones, tablets and iPads) that will help you separate the junk from the profitable treasures at garage sales, estate sales, rummage sales and thrift stores.
Cindy Sorley (www.bubbacandance.com), the founder of CO$T, an 850-member eBay seller group, shared a great story: "On my flight home from Las Vegas I say next to the rapper Coolio. No clue who he was. I had never heard of him. By the end of the flight and after attending his concert he was wearing my cost shirt and will be selling on eBay! Why? Customer service on both levels. A Utah girl who had never heard of Coolio or listened to rap went to his concert because he was so nice and so real. I am now his eBay mentor to get him started selling."
Bryan Goodman and Jason Smith (www.thrifting-with-the-boys.com) are the hosts of a hot new reality TV series, "Thrift Hunters," on the Spike channel (www.spike.com/shows/thrift-hunters).
Kathy "ThatKat" Simpson has teamed up with sales tax compliance service TaxJar (www.taxjar.com), to provide a new service that will help Amazon third-party sellers (yes, this was an eBay event but a lot of sellers put up merchandise on multiple e-commerce platforms) register for sales tax in all 19 states in which Amazon sellers currently have "nexus" for tax purposes (for details, see www.thatkat.com.
E-commerce marketing strategist Lisa Suttora (www.visualcontentvelocitytips.com) spoke about several free software tools to help sellers organize their visual content, including:
—Evernote (www.evernote.com) — a tool for aggregating your visual content ideas;
—Skitch (www.evernote.com/skitch) — a annotation tool that helps you add arrows, comments and shapes to your visual content to announce sales and promotions; and
—Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) — a tool that schedules your visual content across social platforms.
Last but not least, here are some pointers from yours truly, who spoke about legal and tax issues at the Radio Party:
—if you download an e-book from the author's website and give the access code to all members of your eBay sellers group, you have infringed the author's copyright to the e-book and owe him or her royalties for each and every person who received the access code, whether or not they actually downloaded the e-book; and
—some big department stores are beginning to crack down on sellers engaging in retail arbitrage"(buying goods at retail and then reselling them on eBay or Amazon for more money) by creating "buying behavior profiles" on frequent shoppers. If you are buying so much at the store that you are clearly engaged in reselling activity, you will be called into the manager's office for a friendly chat, and may possibly be banned from the store.
Cliff Ennico ([email protected]) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com.