Finding Profits At Estate Sales Part III: The Office

November 8th, 2019 Comments off

Parts one and two of this multi-part series focused on the kitchen and garage.  Next stop?  The office!  You can pretend you’re a pirate looking for buried treasure as you enter the office of almost any estate sale.

Chairs

The first item you should look for is chairs.  Chairs made by companies like Herman Miller and Stressless are incredibly popular.  Herman Miller makes highly adjustable office chairs that are pricey when purchased new.  Stressless makes recliners that sell for thousands at retail.  (Look for the Stressless logo on the round adjuster knob.)  You can purchase these comfort chairs for $50-$100 at estate sales and sell them for $500-$600 online. 

Note: Since chairs are large and heavy, list them as local pickup only.  People who are interested in these brands will often drive long distances to pick them up.   

Pens

Next, be on the lookout for expensive ballpoint and fountain pens.  Brands such as Cross, Parker, and Montblanc are always in demand.

Vintage Stereo Equipment

Many Americans love listening to music as they work.  Vintage stereo equipment is a common sight in the office area of the typical estate sale.  Recently, a friend purchased a Sansui 9090DB AM/FM receiver for $30.  Since it was valuable, he had it refurbished at the local stereo shop.  He sold it for $950 to a dealer who drove 400 miles to pick it up!  (Ironically, the dealer didn’t care if it was refurbished because he has his employees inspect and improve the items he finds before selling them to his customers in Asia.)

Paperweights

In addition, keep your eyes peeled for signed paperweights.  It is not uncommon to find high-end paperweights in the office area of an estate sale.  Orient and Flume, for example, is a Northern California company that makes pieces that are highly collectible.

Office Supplies

The office is also a great place to stock up on supplies!  Running a business can get expensive, and estate sales are fantastic places to purchase paper, envelopes, labels, and tape for almost nothing.

Stamps

Finally, be on the lookout for stamp collections.  A few years ago, we bought a box full of random stamps for $5.  The stamps weren’t collectibles, but they were worth about $250 at the post office.  We didn’t have to buy stamps for a long time!

So the next time you’re out and about looking for buried treasure at an estate sale, check out the office, mate!  You won’t regret it! 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Big Ways to Improve Your Google Shopping Campaigns

September 26th, 2019 Comments off

Have you ever noticed those little picture ads near the top of a Google search page? Those are Google Shopping ads. They’re unique in what they can do – and great for increasing online sales. So, let’s run down a few ways to make the absolute most of a Google Shopping campaign.

Optimizing Your Google Shopping Data Feed

To begin your Google Shopping campaign, you’ll need to upload a data feed in CSV or XML format. Your data feed document should have all the info that appears on your ads: Price, Taxes, Title, Description, Product URL and Image URL. Depending on what kind of product you have, there may be optional fields you can add. For example, you can add color and size for apparel items.

Which additional details need to be added? Make sure your feed is optimized with all the relevant details. Imagine if someone asked if you wanted to buy a “Sweater”? The first thing you’d ask is… what kind? Then if you liked the description of the sweater, you’d want to know if they have it in your size.

The important thing to remember here is that unless the product info is part of your data feed, it won’t make it to your ad. Give your prospects everything they need to buy.

The Right Titles and Descriptions for Your Shopping Ads

Now, let’s look at a few ways to juice up your ad. Make sure to include relevant keywords in the title and description, which will help your product get matched to a query. It’s not enough to just list the model number, which will only attract people looking for that exact model. You’ll be losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Let’s play a little good product title/bad product title to get it right:

  • Bad product title – “Black Shoes”
  • Good product title – “Black High Heel Pumps – Size 8 – Women’s Shoes”

See how much more targeted the second option is? A good title has specific keywords like “high heels” and “pumps” to perfectly match anyone looking for a pair of shoes like that.

Next, be sure your description also has keywords, plus the selling points that would make someone want to buy. The description is where you can put your best selling points. Think of it this way… the title is the “what,” and the description is the “why.” Once someone clicks through, give them your best sales pitch to convince them to buy.

Successful Bidding Strategies for Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping works the same way as an auction. When a user types in a search like “floral throw pillows,” Google checks all of the prices bidders (retailers) are willing to pay. The highest bidders will win the opportunity to be shown to the consumer looking for “floral throw pillows.” That’s how the system works, now we’re going to give you some tips to make the system work for you.

Don’t Set the Same Bid Across Your Campaign

One of the biggest mistakes is to blanket the same bid across an entire campaign. Determine the bid by looking at the value and profit margin of each product.

Start with Best-Sellers

You’ll have enough variables to deal with when beginning a Google Shopping campaign. Start with your best products, where you have a strong competitive advantage. Some products with low profit margins may never make sense to include in your feed.

Use Custom Labels to Create Bid Groups

Custom labels can be applied to your data feed to create price groupings. Try putting higher converting products together, and giving them all higher bids. Put lower bids on the group of products that don’t convert as well.

Optimizing your campaign is a continual process, but following these tips will give you a big head start.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Using Two-Step Verification to Keep Your eBay Account Secure

June 28th, 2019 Comments off

A few months ago, I woke up to thousands of dollars of eBay sales.  I couldn’t believe how many iPhones I’d sold!  Unfortunately, I don’t sell iPhones.  Last weekend, the same thing happened to one of my former eBay students.  When she logged onto the site, she noticed that someone had used her account to list five PlayStation gaming consoles and a number of Samsung Galaxy Notes.  She changed her password over and over again, but that wasn’t enough to stop the attack.  Panic time!

 

The problem?  Our eBay accounts were hacked!  In both cases, eBay was alerted immediately, and customer service reps took care of the problem quickly.  Rumor has it that hackers prefer preying on seasoned eBay sellers who have accounts in good standing.  My former student has been buying on eBay for years and is now a successful seller.  And it was pretty obvious why I’d been hacked. I have a feedback score of almost 20,000, I’ve been on eBay since 2005, and I’d recently changed my password to one I’d used for years on numerous other accounts.  But that password change gave hackers the change to move in.  Bad move, Miriam.

 

Blocking hackers from your eBay account – installing two-step verification

Needless to say, I changed my eBay password again and followed the advice of a friend who supports his entire family selling estate sale items on eBay.  My friend cannot afford to have anything happen to his account, so his eBay account is set up for two-step verification.

What is two-step verification?
Basically, in order to log onto eBay, a person has to go through a two-step process.  The first step is inputting your eBay password.    Then, eBay will send you  a security code via text which must be entered as well.  If any of the two steps is not inputted correctly, the person will be blocked from logging in to eBay.

I set up two-step verification on both my eBay and PayPal accounts, and I haven’t had a problem since.

 

How to set up two-step verification in eBay

  1. Click on the “My eBay” link in the upper right-hand corner of the home page
  2. Go to the “Account” tab
  3. Click on the “Personal Information” or “Business Information” link on the left-hand side of the page
  4. Scroll down until you see the “Security Information” section
  5. Under this heading you will see “Two-Step Verification”
  6. Click on the link to the right of this section
  7. Follow eBay’s instructions on screen to complete the process.

 

How to set up two-step verification on PayPal
If you’d like to set up this feature on PayPal and you have a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the summary page, click on “Profile”
  3. Choose “Profile and Settings”
  4. On the left-hand side of the page, click on “My Settings”
  5. Then scroll down and find the “Security Key” section
  6. Click on the link to the right of this section
  7. Click on “Register a New Mobile Device Number”
  8. Follow PayPal’s instructions on screen to confirm the process.

 

If you do not have a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the summary page
  3. Click the “Security” tab on the left-hand side of the page
  4. Go to the “Security Key” section
  5. Click on the link to the right of this section and follow PayPal’s instructions on screen

 

Setting up two-step verification may take a few minutes, but it’s well worth the security it provides.  This extra level of protection will give you peace of mind and will save you time in the future.

 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

New Year, New You: Creating the Ideal About Us Page

December 27th, 2018 Comments off

When it comes to your online e-commerce business presence, creating your “About Us” page requires careful consideration and attention to detail. When customers visit your website they often want to learn more about your company such as who is behind it, how long has the company been in business, and what is the company’s mission statement. The following will help guide you to the creation of an optimum “About Us” page using this handy checklist.

Use a Modern and Fun Tone

The ‘About Us’ page doesn’t have to be dull and straight to the point. Get creative and have fun with this page by using a modern and fun tone that is inviting to your visitors. One example could be with the use of a conversational tone that makes the customer feel invited and valued. Be upbeat and enthusiastic in your writing and this will come across as a company that is both modern and fun!

Showcase Your Company Interest and Culture

Giving your readers specific detailed information about who you are, where your company got its start, and the essence behind you and your products/services helps customers better understand where your passion lies and why they should be giving their business to you. Does your company give a proceed of sales to charity? Be sure to include this because customers enjoy shopping for a good cause!

Give Attention to Perception

In continuing with the idea of giving your customers an inside look at who you are and what your company’s mission is, don’t forget to give attention to customer perception. You want to be sure that your tone and message doesn’t come off as vain. While showcasing all your company’s achievements seems relevant on this page, consider how to feature them without giving the impression that you are bragging in any way. Instead, the perception you want to give to your customers should be one that is friendly, caring, and attentive to their needs. One way this could be done effectively is by adding a few of your customer’s personal reviews of your products so that customers can see for themselves why they should shop with you.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Handling Fake Competitor Reviews with Class

November 28th, 2018 Comments off

No business is perfect. At some point, an employee will make a mistake or a customer won’t be satisfied and you’ll end up with an unflattering review. But if you reach out and fix the problem, you may be able to turn that bad review around.

Unfortunately, not all negative reviews are legitimate. In fact, some criticism could be entirely fabricated by your competitors with the intention of tarnishing your hard-earned reputation. The worst part is that research suggests small businesses could lose 22% of their revenue from just one bad online article. Continue reading to learn how to identify and address fake reviews before they ruin your reputation.

Spotting Fake Reviews

It may seem impossible to root out false reviews, but with a few simple tricks you’ll become a pro at catching the counterfeits.

Start by keeping thorough records of every online review mentioning your business. You may want to reference the good ones with customers, and you’ll definitely need to address the bad ones to maintain a clean reputation.

Create a spreadsheet and add columns for each of the following: website address, review, review type, review date, and notes. Next, you’ll want to categorize each review type as positive, neutral or negative. Then, fill in the notes column with any details, including incidents on record or whether you’ve reached out to the individual or website. Finally, open and read each critique and look for these signs of fake reviews:

  • Vagueness — If someone has never been to your store or done business with your company their review may lack detail. Legitimate complaints usually include a name or description rather than generic statements like: “rude and dishonest salespeople.”
  • Me, Me, Me — Deceptive reviewers often default to using more first-person pronouns like “I” and “me”. This is because our brains tend to draw from what we know (ourselves) when fabricating stories.
  • More Doing, Less Seeing — When asked to describe real events, people remember the things they saw and touched. Conversely, when we lie, we usually describe actions because they’re easier to make up.

Reporting Fake Reviews

Once you’ve identified fake reviews it’s time to take action. Unfortunately, many review sites won’t remove complaints unless you can definitively prove that they’re fictitious. But if you gather plenty of evidence to support your claims then they may be willing to help. Try locating sales records and email exchanges, and compare the location of the reviewer to your business address.

While ripoffreport.com won’t remove complaints, reputable sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook are willing to look at dishonest content. Each site has specific guidelines for removing reviews, though, so you should become familiar with individual policies before submitting a grievance.

Responding to Fake Reviews

While removing false reviews should always be your goal, sometimes this just isn’t possible. In these situations, you should submit a rebuttal or response to clarify the situation with readers. However, you’ll need to word your reply carefully so you don’t cause more damage to your reputation. Here are some tips to respond to fake reviews with class:

 

  • Be Patient — Before responding to a fake review, wait to see if it subsides in your search results. Sometimes reviews fall to page 2 or 3 in Google where they won’t be seen. However, responding to them could signal to Google that the content is relevant to your brand, pushing them higher up in the search results.
  • Cast Doubt — Calmly explain that you have no record of an incident that matches the reviewer’s name or situation. State that you take customer service very seriously, and offer to resolve the issue over the phone or via email. Readers may doubt the authenticity of the complaint, and you’ll demonstrate your willingness to fix issues.
  • Talk to the Readers — The author of the fake review will probably never read your response. Therefore, respond in a way that you want potential readers of the complaint to see your company. Using facts and bullet points can also help to build your case.

 

Fake reviews are frustrating and costly, but you don’t have to live with them. Fighting back with class and a strategic plan could be enough to fix your reputation. If you’re still unsuccessful and have the budget, you can turn to more traditional methods like digital marketing and PR to eradicate the negative content. But these techniques often require a substantial long-term investment.

Here’s a quick recap of that strategy again: Record all online reviews about your business. Learn to sniff out fake reviews. Remove what you can, and always respond with the reader in mind. Following this advice will put you on the path to developing a shining reputation for your small business.

 

Jonas Sickler is an expert in crisis communications and online reputation management. His advice has been featured in over 60 publications, including Forbes, Washington Post, CNBC, The Street, U.S. News and Business News Daily. Follow along on Twitter.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.