eBay PowerSellers: America's New Celebrity
By Brad and Debra Schepp
The time has long passed since you'd be likely to find someone who'd never heard of eBay. Today eBay is nearly as recognizable a part of American culture as jazz music. Thanks to the rapid growth of the online auction world and the media's devotion to documenting all the odd, bizarre, and famous items that come up for sale, practically everyone knows about eBay. Those among us who buy or sell on the site are so common, that nearly everyone has a personal story to tell about an eBay experience.
Until recently, however, the eBay PowerSeller was an individual toiling away outside the media spotlight. Of course, PowerSellers knew about each other. They've formed powerful alliances over the years and created a vibrant business community. But, they've also lived a world apart from the average American. When we began researching our book, eBay PowerSeller Secrets about a year ago, we found the term required definition and explanation to almost all those outside of the PowerSeller community. What a difference a year makes!
PowerSellers are taking their spot in the world of American celebrity, and that spot is a bright one. Stories appear in print ranging from the small local newspaper to the business section of the Sunday New York Times. In October, the Times ran an article on the topic of eBay PowerSellers that featured Debnroo, also known as Deb and Andy Mowery. Happily, this was just the beginning of the successful couple's touch with fame and glory.
Deb and Andy sell home and garden items and pet supplies. What makes them most interesting is that their business evolved over time. They started selling postcards from Andy's father's antique business. Then, like so many other PowerSellers, they found that they liked earning money while incorporating freedom and choice in their lifestyles. They then researched and hustled and did whatever they had to do to build a thriving business.
As a result of the article in the New York Times, Sony Pictures TV offered to feature the couple on the television show, Life and Style, a daily series for women hosted by Jules Asner, Cynthia Garrett, Lynne Koplitz and Kimora Lee Simmons. The offer included a fabulous trip to New York and an experience as television celebrities that Andy and Deb will cherish for a lifetime.
In exchange for coming on the show and sharing with the world exactly what the life of an eBay PowerSeller is like, the couple received a trip to New York, complete with airfare, hotel accommodations, and limousine service. But, first a production crew came to the couple's home office to film them in action. There they got their first experience working with a producer and an audio crew, and even had the chance to do retakes. That's when they began to suspect that this wasn't going to be a two-bit media experience!
By the time the experience ended, Andy and Deb had enjoyed a real taste of what life can be like for the celebrity set. A limousine met them at LaGuardia Airport and delivered them to their hotel. The next day, they enjoyed a ride down 5th Avenue in a 40-foot limo, just thrilling at the thought of passersby wondering who was behind the darkened glass.
Exiting the limo in front of the studio, they enjoyed the stares of the crowd trying to figure out exactly who they were. Then it was on to their private dressing room and into makeup. They had about 90 minutes to rehearse before the filming began before a live audience. Although the show does include a script, Andy and Deb reported that this was followed only loosely, and they had plenty of time for free-flowing conversation. The spot debuted on April 11, 2005, to the delight of all who know and respect the Debnroo couple.
See a photo of Andy and Deb in New York at http://digbig.com/4debt.
Deb and Andy's experience may be the extreme, but PowerSellers are gaining recognition all the time. In the months we've been speaking at public forums and conducting interviews about our book, the term "PowerSeller" has increasingly been bandied about without need of definition. Our radio interview spots now often include a local guest PowerSeller who will share the interview with us to inject a first-hand point of view.
People no longer want to learn simply about buying and selling on eBay, they want to get a taste for the life people who are earning their livings by buying and selling on eBay live.
Within the last month, we were guests on one such radio show airing in the Midwest. Not only did the interviewer know about Professional eBay Sellers Alliance (PESA), he wanted to talk in great detail about the recent PESA conference in Atlanta. He wanted our opinion on how the PowerSellers were going to alter the eBay landscape and what we thought we should expect from them next. That suggests that not only does he have a level of familiarity with the PowerSellers, their issues and concerns, but that he also assumes his average listener does too.
Like we said, what a difference a year makes!
For PowerSellers or soon-to-be PowerSellers looking to make their businesses better known, we have a few tips. Make yourself known. Be active on eBay's bulletin boards and Groups, write for local publications, and make your About Me page interesting, with a dash of personality. We really believe the media is tired of the same old sources, and if you can come across as someone with something fresh to offer, they'll be eager to tell your story too.
About the author:
Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Million Dollar Ideas: Innovative Strategies to Make Your eBay Sales Soar, published by McGraw-Hill. The 2nd edition of eBay PowerSeller Secrets will be published November 27, and be available through retailers such as Amazon. Visit Brad and Deb's website at http://www.bradanddeb.com.
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