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Fri Sept 17 2010 12:11:00

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

By: David Steiner

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One of the most common emails and comments on our blogs that we receive is "Why don't you focus less on eBay and write more about alternative marketplaces?"

So here it is, kids, because frankly, we're getting tired of answering this question. EBay gets more ink on this site because they understand the power of public relations. EBay is a PR-generating machine. Where many other marketplaces fall flat on their face is in getting their message out to users. They seem to depend on sellers carrying their message around the Internet. Earth to alternative sites: PR is YOUR responsibility. You can't expect your users to do all your work for you.

We realize that smaller companies may not have the budget or infrastructure that more established marketplaces have. That's why we've created areas on the site where these alternative sites can get their messages to online merchants. And they're FREE.

Over 11 years, AuctionBytes has aggregated more traffic, subscribers, content than any other independent ecommerce publisher. By far, folks, no other publication, site or blog comes close. We exceed five million page views monthly. Over half a million unique visitors come to our site per month. We have 40,000+ readers to our newsletters. And we love writing about alternative marketplaces.

If your marketplace of choice doesn't get publicity here, ask them why. We offer a FREE press release service that's picked up by multiple news services and resource charts where sites can submit their listings free; site representatives can participate in our blogs and forums. Did I mention free?

All they have to do is meet a few, minimal requirements (public domain registration, contact page on their site, be in existence for a reasonable amount of time) and they're in! But even though Ina regularly sends out emails to alternative sites to squeeze news out of them, most of the time, all we get back is radio silence. Really? Is your time so tied up that you can't spend 2 hours per week finding something interesting about your site, and writing up a press release about it?  There's an audience STARVING for your news!

AuctionBytes has the traffic, the eyeballs, the targeted market to get these alternative sites noticed by sellers, venture capitalists, Wall Street analysts, and decision-makers in this industry. Sellers, if you think your marketplace of choice is not getting equal time in AuctionBytes, I can assure you, we're not the obstacle. Maybe it's time that you kick these marketplaces in the reality basket. Send them a link to this blog post and see if they're serious about being in the game.




Comments (66) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: asif

Fri Sep 17 12:33:46 2010

This is chronic with smaller auction sites. The owner will typically go into their forums or other site forums and try to scrounge up sellers to market for them. Wagglepop was a great example of this - and where are they now?

This is why most of these small sites won't be around in two years.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Hyraxia
Web Site

Fri Sep 17 12:37:07 2010

Hi,

I have a marketplace on my site www.hyraxia.com, it's limited to collectible books and limited to fifty listings per user. Just a small place to try and shift the odd book here and there. No desire to become another ABE.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Lesseee...

Fri Sep 17 12:58:31 2010

I've been selling online since 1997 and I don't see any of these sites, other than Amazon, competing with eBay.

If you want a good laugh, go to http://www.kenzy.com/auctions.htm#defunctsites and check out all of the sites who tried - and failed - to compete. The problem is that any hack with $200 auction software suddenly thinks that they're a viable alternative. How many people showed up at that Bonanzle conference? 30? 40?  I've had more people in my living room.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Mark

Fri Sep 17 13:27:19 2010

Did someone say Wagglepop?

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: summer in the city

Fri Sep 17 13:41:45 2010


This is why the alternative marketplaces have spent the last year or so exhorting their users to twitter, blog, and facebook their butts off for ten hours a day: so the venues won't have to spend advertising money!

It's time to acknowledge that this strategy ain't working. The alternative marketplaces are going to have to part with some ad money or go extinct. Their sellers can't do it all.


Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: They need get together

Fri Sep 17 14:51:07 2010

Good article David. The top serious alternatives should stop competing with each other and combine their sites to compete with eBay. If some have made bigger investments than others, that consideration can be worked out. The fragmented alternatives help no one.Not the seller buyers nor wanna be auction sites.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Digby
Web Site

Fri Sep 17 15:14:08 2010

Great article David.
Yes there are too many small wannabe ebays out there.
As for advertising I see Boocoo are planning on spending $74 million over the next year on color newspaper ads aimed at buyers!
It will be interesting to see if that helps them get going.

I will pass your link on to my favorite site.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Lars

Fri Sep 17 16:10:15 2010

Sounds like a friendly prod from David and its something that I have thought about in the past too. Marketing gives you a return on investment if done thoughtfully but I have yet to see much marketing out of any of the newer start-ups.  

Word of mouth can take you a long ways, but think about the sellers that don't get that message and are never lured to your site. Grab them now with your marketing plan and you have more sellers giving word of mouth later.

Marketing isn't any one thing. It's a big pie with slices. You need to have many slices in order to lure new customers. In my business, I don't use the pie analogy but I use the thirsty entrepreneur analogy with a cash pipe running right through my office. I need to poke as many holes in this pipe as I can to quench my thirst or I am dead.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Ahwooga This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Sep 17 18:52:07 2010

Tried, but were shut down because of less than a year old. Press releases on this site and posts in the forums drove some traffic to the site. Thanks.

We did find out early that we needed a professional PR services. We have also seen right at a zillion sites not make it off the ground.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Ebay No More This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 17 18:56:41 2010

Thank goodness that you wrote that article David. At the current rate that Ebay is crashing what will you talk about when they are gone? It's not if but when now.

Let's hope that soon these other sites will get it together because they could certainly use the publicity. I don't know why they don't push for more of their share of your site. I would love another article about Ecrater and where Dimitri is taking it in the future. It's really stalled out and I would like to see future plans announced.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Where are the AUCTIONS

Fri Sep 17 20:40:41 2010

Everyone who bashes these wanna be sites are considered a plant or troll. Guess what folks? The alternatives... THEY ALL SUCK. Where are the Auctions for quality merchandise? Does anyone here sell anything of value and demand? Go take a look at the auctions for Lionel Trains or used Rolex watches on eBay. Those sellers are doing better than ever in spite of the "new eBay." Go take a look! I bet those fella's are not happy with all the new rediculous rules but they are crying all the way to the bank. While your at it take a look at collectables or even vintage electronics. Many categories are doing fabulous again inspite of all the new roadblocks and restrictions. And instead of coming back with some wisea*** comment look for yourself how well the quality secondary market items are doing. If you selling JUNK that is not in demand, the days of catching a fish without a worm are over.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Digby
Web Site

Fri Sep 17 23:07:02 2010

@ebay no more

What makes you say that ebay is crashing ? Their listings have gone up to 120 million. My definition of crashing is when they have gone down to say 80 million, or 40 million.

And what do you mean by ecrater has stalled, I notice that their listings go up steadily every day. Other sites have wild swings.

(not that I have sold anything on ecrater)


Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: summer in the city

Fri Sep 17 23:12:11 2010


Maybe the alternative marketplaces are afraid to draw the vengeance of PayPal.

Perhaps hints have been dropped that they should stay away from Auctionbytes. Who knows?

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Ahwooga This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Sep 17 23:15:03 2010

ebay is going to be around forever. Some people are just frustrated that their will never be the old ebay. I also believe their is room for niche sites that offer channels.

@where - When I read your post, it reminded me of a famous quote by Ben Franklin.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 18 00:04:55 2010

Good article David - I hope some of them read it.  All of them seem to depend on sellers buying from other sellers and promoting the site all on their own.  Some expect sellers to get their buyers to the site.  None of this happens much - if we could do this, we would.  The result is we put stock on these sites and the stock stagnates.  Free sites like Bonanzle...some gush about it but the only time I go there these days is to remove an item that I sold elsewhere.  Same with eCrater, same with eBid.  I can go on and on.  I have some luck on Overstock but they outright hide auctions from the public...so it seems since they are never ever mentioned in their ads.  Etsy - same thing - items simply stagnate there.  So what if its only 20 cents for 4 months.  Its not what sellers really need - they need action and traffic and many are willing to pay for it!

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 18 00:10:22 2010

@Where are the AUCTIONS
I sell my own paintings.  Used to do really well on Ebay. Now, if I get 3 to 5 views per 7 days I'm lucky!!!  That is not the old Ebay.  My fellow artists aren't even listing on there anymore - this is happening across the category.  Maybe Ebay is only good for selling refurbed iPods these days but they do nothing at all for some of the other categories.  Right now, Overstock and my own site outsells Ebay for my stuff!

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sat Sep 18 05:39:24 2010

@ Where are the AUCTIONS,

Did you mention used Rolex sellers? That would be “beckertime” and his conspiring dealer mates I presume. I suggest you have another look at his sales. Most of them are self purchases. The full “beckertime” story at:

http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2
2986

eBay/PayPal/Donahoe:
Dead Men Walking.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Rich

Sat Sep 18 10:05:47 2010

It's not about venues, it's about selling what people want or need in a poor economy. My Junkque on eBay will not become a diamond on eCrater. Instead of moldering on eBay for 25-cents, it molders on eCrater for free. It won't sell, but at least it won't cost as much to not sell.

"Great stuff" is a pie with smaller and smaller pieces available. That does not bode well as the economy deteriorates.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: On Lies and Secrets This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 18 11:24:06 2010

Great post! Thanks for clarifying the issue and for offering advice and concrete suggestions to the smaller venues.  And thanks to Ina and David for their continuous support of small businesses.  So much taxpayer money and media attention goes into keeping large U.S. corporations profitable, yet so little attention is given to the concerns of small and medium sized businesses in the U.S. that it is shameful!  So, thanks for what you are doing with Auctionbytes.

To return to the topic of the post, I suspect that many of the small venues rely heavily on having their customers do their marketing partly because it is cheaper and easier for them and partly because of ebay lore and the fact that ebay was built up by word of mouth.  The internet was a different place back when word of mouth contributed to ebay's rise.  The new realities of internet commerce require new tactics.

I suspect that the smaller venues who will thrive will focus on niche areas rather than being a big, all-purpose site like ebay used to be.  I suspect that there is some corporate intrigue going on in the background to prevent a large, all-purpose site from actually gaining traction, but smaller, more targeted sites seem to be able to thrive if they are managed well.

Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 18 11:57:14 2010

" suspect that many of the small venues rely heavily on having their customers do their marketing partly because it is cheaper and easier for them and partly because of ebay lore and the fact that ebay was built up by word of mouth."

That may be true in part but back when Ebay started out their commercials ran daily on the radio and later on TV.  As they caught on they advertised even more....something they no longer do.

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