EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 14 - May 20, 2000 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 9

Zen and the Art of Cross Promotion

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One of the great things about writing an online auction newsletter is that you become privy to all the little secrets of the Masters. Veterans continue perfecting the auction process until there is very little wasted movement, sort of like an online Tai Chi exercise. They know that every minute they save in packing, billing, or any other area can be used to put another item up for bid.

Here's one of those tips that gave me a moment of clarity.

I was recently at the home of one of my friends, who has the most amazing collection of antiques and memorabilia you could imagine. She is an eBay Power Seller.

As she was showing me one of her auctions on the computer, a vintage Coca-Cola button sign, I remarked that her photographs were excellent. She smiled and said, "Yeah, that auction is doing pretty well, but what's really hot is this other sign."

She proceeded to scroll down the page of the same auction and there was another picture of her Coke button, leaning against a wall next to several other signs of different companies. She pointed to one and continued, "I'm getting tons of email about this one, and it's not even up for bid yet."

That's when I had my epiphony.

If you are advertising your auctions, why not do what every company has done since the dawn of marketing - CROSS PROMOTE! It can be subtle, yet very effective!

Example: companies pay millions to appear as peripheral props in motion pictures. The audience sees Mel Gibson washing his hair with Prell Shampoo and might think, "Hmmm, Mel has pretty nice hair...maybe it's the Prell!"

Now apply it to online auctions. (The theory, not the shampoo.)

Suppose I'm a collector of Beanie Babies. I look at an auction for a Chocolate the Moose Beanie Baby and I see a Ty Sakura Baby sitting next to it in one of the photographs. If I have been searching high and low for Sakura Baby, I'm going to contact the seller and inquire about that Beanie Baby. It makes sense - if someone is looking at your Beanie Baby auction, chances are they collect Beanie Babies!

Don't go crazy with this and clutter all your images with shots of a garage full of goodies. Buyers want to see your item well documented, so take plenty of good close-ups. But, there's nothing wrong with tossing in one shot of your item sitting beside something that you plan to put up for auction later.

This is the type of thing that makes the Power Seller successful. They use every opportunity to keep their product in front of their intended audience.

That's why, when I saw my friend's auctions, it was one of those moments where the world suddenly made sense. She was the Zen-master teaching an eager student.

As I was leaving, I could swear she called me, "Grasshopper."

About the author:

David Steiner is President of Steiner Associates LLC, publisher of and the merchant directory. David, a former television producer, handles business development and advertising for EcommerceBytes. You can reach him at

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