The Good, the Bad and the Ugly side of being a “creative seller”

Whenever I talk about eBay I’m coming from a “seller” perspective.  I’m not a typical seller either. I’m a “creative marketer”.

Several years ago I gave a “Creative eBay Selling” presentation at a marketing seminar. The table shown here served to summarize the entire message nicely.

If you are willing to work at it there is still plenty of opportunity on eBay, but, the big question today is…

Are the days of “Quadrant IV” coming to a close?

My conclusion:  Maybe…and maybe not.

For now I’ve lost a bit of my excitement about “Quadrant IV” thinking, but for the creative and daring among us there are still millions of daily shoppers on eBay and the “cat and mouse” game with eBay is still “on”.

Keep in mind, for my own business, as well as those that I coach there are several things that I’m even more excited about.  (see this blog post for an “opportunity map” of the creative ideas I like best.)

…but I owe it to my foundational eBay based fans and readers to keep you up to speed on eBay!

If you haven’t heard yet eBay is making changes in the fall of 2011 that will effect several creative strategies that many of my readers are using (or have used).

To stay up to date on the creative use of eBay (and now Amazon as well) as a marketing tool, keep an eye on this blog post where I’ve asked all of my readers to help me stay up to date on the latest developments on both sites in regards to using these two popular shopping sites as a tool for finding leads, growing an email list and EXPANDING your influence over your targeted market.

  • Jamie Smith

    So many ways around these new restrictions.  Get yourself an 800 number from and post that in your listings.  Video?  Audio?  all in your listings.  Have a big glaring sign in your listings saying “See our ME page for further info!’  Or other teasers.  And of course if you ship a physical product drop in a business card with your website and some kind of offer or if you don’t want to spend on business cards put it right in the footer of your invoices you might be printing from endicia, paypal, shipworks, shiprush etc. etc.

    • Jim Cockrum

       Very creative…and I agree…”Quadrant IV” is alive and well for the creative among us.

  • Jamie Smith

    So many ways around these new restrictions!  Get yourself an 800 number from and stick that in your listings or use video, audio?  Stick a big giant sign in your listings saying “See our ME page for more details!”  If you are shipping a physical product stick in a business card with an enticing offer and your website details in each shipment.  Don’t want to shell out for business cards?  Then put the same offer and link in the footer of your invoices that you hopefully are printing from your shipping solution ie. paypal-multiship, endicia, shipworks, shiprush, stoneedge etc. etc.

    • Angeltjw

      Jamie, Vistaprint offers business cards free, you have to pay a reasonable shipping fee.  They also have a lot of other marketing tools.

  • Jason Miles & Cinnamon Miles

    Totally agree with your quadrants. And we’ve found that if you’re in the hand-made/artist/crafter niches, then Ebay isn’t just good for leads… if done right, occasional auctions can establish your brand identity and pricing power, which is the most important thing an artist/crafter can do. Are you a premium provider, really? An auction will prove it to you and your customers/fans. Then you take that reputation/position and carry it into your Etsy or personal website. In essence, a high final bid price is a unique type of social proof that you really can’t get any where else as easily as on EBay. So use it for that, but run everything else through Etsy, or better, your own website. That’s what has worked for us.

    Jason & Cinnamon Miles
    Liberty Jane Clothing

  • Jake

    IS there a time of day that Ebay sellers are more successful in selling their stuff than other times?
    Is there a DAY of the week when more items are sold as compared to other days and is there a type of items which selling during this day and time (previous question too)?

    • Bob

      Jake you can find answers to most of your questions using Terapeak, but that is another resource you will have to subscribe to.

  • Adie Cooke

    Hi Jim,

    I have been on an off of ebay since 2003 – I used to run an ecommerce store and we turned 40k per month but margins were low. We have been banned for not answering some emails which I think is crazy!

    I find ebay hard to maintain I have had so many accounts closed due to turning over too much too soon. I have lost all interest now really, they just make too much money and there support is by far the most abismal of all large corps!! (dont even get me started in PayPal)

  • Andy

    I purchased your book several years ago. How do I get the latest version?

    • Jim Cockrum

      You’ll get an email notification as soon as the new version comes out. Also – if you visit the “resource page” link inside of the copy you currently have you’ll find what you need.

  • Jordan Malik

    Hi Jim-

    I think there is plenty of selling opportunity left in eBay (Quadrant I
    and III) , although it probably is – and won’t be — as lucrative for most folks like it was. I actually enjoy the fact that sellers are quitting eBay because it makes it easier for a persistent seller to shine and stand out above the rest.

    The creativity (Quad 4) potential will always be there because of the traffic eBay generates, but you really have to think out of the box. For instance, I stumbled across an opportunity for a vintage RV (recreational vehicle) when I posted my father-in-law’s RV on eBay. He didn’t sell it, but the # of views (931 views in 1 week) and some homework ‘offline’ tells me there is a cult following of sorts for this particular RV.

    So the next time I post his RV on eBay, I’ll be directing the viewers to another product – which I will be making – basically a 30 minute video of the RV (i.e. ‘features and how it works’). I suspect it will be an ‘evergreen’ product for a few years that I can keep producing for a few bucks and selling for $20 to $30 each, for a few years (<—-by the way, I learned all that from YOU).

    -J.B. Malik
    Founder, &

  • Doug Renz

    I like it when these changes happens on eBay and in the marketplace online.

    It forces me (and others hopefully) to think very creatively how to market your product and/or service online.  The ideas J.B. and Jamie shared below are awesome ideas and I think are the tip of the iceberg.   I’ve started to implement some of these ideas recently.

    There are so many creative ideas we could comment below on how to grow an audience of faithful customers and treat them with care.  I think we all need a blog/website/email list to grow, and not depend on eBay.  

    For a really crazy thought… plan on what you would for do for your business if eBay was gone tomorrow?


  • Fire733

    When a business (eBay) can arbitrarily shut you down without giving a reason per their policy then it is not a good place to do business.  I sold test strips for a couple years on eBay ($8000 to $1000 per month). I had very little returns, negative feedback, or complaints and when they asked me to submit where I was getting my stock from like the Gestapo, I did so. THEY SHUT ME DOWN AND STILL REFUSE TO TELL ME WHY!  By the way, I had a license to sell in CA.  They also shut my wife’s account down because she had occasionally sold a test strip but had the same address as my business associated with the account.   To this day, there are many selling test strips on eBay and I cannot think of one reason why I should not be able to do so also.  eBay has a complex just like Google, they think they can treat there customers (the sellers) like crap and get away with.    MOVE AWAY FROM THE GESTAPO you will get burned.  

    • Jim Cockrum

      I hear you Fire733. It’s a shame that such large impersonal organizations hold so much sway over us now, BUT there is always a way around any closed door online. Stay creative! I know of many successful “Test Strip” sellers that aren’t reliant AT ALL on eBay (including my own sales). If you haven’t taken the PEC course yet you should do so – many great ideas in there!

      • Fire733

        I still sell test strips don’t get me wrong.  And make a great supplemental income with it.  I just find it sad that eBay and Paypal, for that matter, conduct their business this way.  When you consider I made them somewhere around $100,000 between the 2 companies in the last couple of years you would think they would respectfully reveal what the reason for shutting my business down was.   I realize $100,000 is not much in the overall scheme for eBay but if you multiply that by a few thousand other sellers that comes out to a pretty good sum.  Thanks Jim.

  • Walter

    I wish all sellers would quit eBay. One day there’s nothing but crickets for sale on every page. That would be funny.

    • Jim Cockrum

      I’m not leaving any time soon…as long as it’s profitable (and it is) I’ll be there.

  • Jim

    Hello. Jim, you mentioned nit is time for sellers to use “good til cancelled” listings. Every time we do that, the start date for the spiders will NOT change, whereby using the 30 day choice, allows a new start date for the items to change per 30 days, thus giving the spiders “new” information. Using the GTC option for the first 30 days is fine, however, when the 2nd month comes up in the GTC option, the spider sees it as “old” info & will bypass picking up the item for positive Google placement. This is especially true when you get 3-4 months down the road from when you initially launched the item. Spiders see it ( them ) as “old” information & will not pick it up. So why do the GTC? Thanks.

    • Jim Cockrum

      Here’s why I say that: Gtc listings will no longer be allowed to include email addresses or external website references soon, but if you launch them before the cutoff date you have until an undetermined date in 2012 to make that shift.

      • Jim

        Thank you for such a quick response. It makes sense at this point.  :)

  • Jim

    Hi Jim. I have another question for you. I don’t see how folks get “leads” from eBay. eBay says you cannot to that. So how do you use them as leads? I have long wanted to use autoresponders for eBay, but cannot get around the rules of eBay. Maybe I can’t see the forest for the trees.  :) I feel it is important to have a list, but for eBay??? Thanks.

    Jim Halloran

  • Inspent

    I’ve been selling recreational land real estate on eBay since about 2004. In those days I reached platinum power seller in only a few months. At that time I was selling just recreational land for cash … and the market was on fire. Then later I switched to holding financing and was still doing great. Then when the entire real estate market went into the cellar about 3 years ago, the sales on eBay dropped drastically. However, I still list at least one property every week … and it is kind of like fishing … every once and a while I have a successful hit … because I have at least one “hook” in the water all the time. If you don’t fish … you don’t catch..  About that time I added small amish built Log Cabins that I designed and that helped somewhat, but, the heady days  are over. I use a rather unusual and lengthy auction description style and it still gets me about a thousand his in every 10 days ( I used to get 3 or 4 thousand … but, oh well. Take a look at one of my listing… I would welcome your comments, and suggetions. Recent Aution #’s 110716257461 and 110716668922 and a current # 110726899438. I also have no idea what quatrant I’m in … perhaps you could tell me.  Jack

    • Jim Cockrum

      Great concept…looks to me like you are still getting a nice flow of traffic to your listings! Some suggestions: You are using too many font sizes and colors. Go with Black on white unless you have the occasional bold word or phrase. Use same font type and size the entire time except for headline. Remove the stuff about defending your reputation at the bottom. That will only put a question in the minds of bidders and will force them to start doing research on you.

      Finally – since you ARE allowed to put an email address in your real estate listings I HIGHLY suggest you maintain a mailing list of prospects for your properties. I’m sure you could drive up bids and traffic if you sent out a mailing to all opt-in subscribers each time you post a new listing! Use an aweber address in your listing and invite anyone that emails you to get on your mailing list!

  • Joe

    Interesting breakdown, thanks for sharing