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Positioning for More than Survival - The Plan, Part 1

April 29, 2015

Positioning for More than Survival - An eBay Seller's Fight

One of my favorite thinkers is Roy Williams, “The Wizard of Ads”. Every Monday, Williams formulates a newsletter called the Monday Morning Memo, designed to enlighten and encourage its readers. In a recent memo (read the full piece here) the following comment was made:

There’s a big difference between the way things ought to be and the way things really are. If you moan about how things ought to be, you’re a whiner. And the only
people who like whiners are other whiners. But if you work to make things better, you’re an activist. If you fling yourself headlong into making things better, you’re a revolutionary.

Up to this point, my blog posts have set out a long line of hurdles that sellers are expected to jump over if they would like to be successful in the online marketplace. Today,  we would like to begin laying out a plan so that we (and others like us) can conquer those hurdles. 

In an earlier Monday Morning Memo (found here) Williams shared some quotes from a book review by Eric Baker of Time. The book being discussed was The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses by Amar Bhide. In his analysis, Baker shared a startling statistic drawn from the book’s pages: “93 percent of all successful companies had to abandon their original business plan -- because the original plan proved not to be viable.” Baker went on to say, “In other words, successful companies don’t succeed because they have the right strategy at the beginning; but rather, because they have money left over after the original strategy fails, so that they can pivot and try another approach.” In another review, Mary Whaley summarizes the book by saying that successful businesses “survive and prosper because of an ongoing ability to adapt to opportunities and problems, are subjected to many detours, and stumble along the way.” Williams went on to say, “Successful companies have an ability to improvise.  Unsuccessful companies blindly ‘stick to the plan’.  The intended plan is deliberate.  The improvised plan is emergent.” 

With all of that being said, I do not believe that we have failed in what we originally set out to accomplish as a company. Within our first year of business, we became a self-supporting organization with growth financed purely by sales. We have assembled a strong and committed team of employees. We have more than doubled our inventory (more than once). Our price-per-transaction has doubled within that past year and a half. In the midst of a hostile environment, we have managed to maintain our status as a Top Rated Seller. We have begun to build a loyal following. Much has been accomplished, but our growth potential is limited if we stick to our current path. In light of recent developments (all of which have been outlined within our blog, starting here) it may very well be a path to destruction. 

So where do we go from here? Here at RoofTop Antiques, we designed a plan of attack. Today, we reveal stage one:

Upgrade our presence on eBayEven in the midst of difficult times, eBay is still a viable marketplace. It is currently our primary source of revenue, so we must make the most of it. Many of the things we have already done within eBay in the past have been successful. As Top Rated Sellers, we are amidst the best of the best. We have established a glittering reputation with our buyers and, to some level, have gained the respect and support of eBay when it comes to individual transactions. Above and beyond this, there are many things that we can do to (without directly spending any money) to upgrade our presence on eBay.

  1. Bring our brand to the front lines - This will be outlined in more detail later. Suffice it to say, the look of every page within our eBay store needs to be consistent with our presence elsewhere on the internet, as well as in print. From our logo, to colors and font, visitors need to recognize us at a glance. Our look must be professional and clean, gaining a buyer’s confidence at first click.
  2. Profile upgrade - Our eBay profile page is the introductory handshake within the eBay community. It must be upgraded and refined, giving it a more personal feel.
  3. Develop and publish “eBay Guides” - eBay Guides allow us to share our knowledge and opinions on almost any subject. Guides attract attention of those seeking to learn. They create interest in us as sellers, what we have to say and the product that inspired those words. They breathe life into our inventory, making it more than just “stuff”.
  4. Create eBay Collections - Collections are a way to gather and share things that we like, want or recommend within the eBay Marketplace. Collections are a lot like the pinboards on Pinterest, except they contain only eBay items. You can start a collection to showcase your items for buyers, or use them to organize and share your favorite finds. By forming and maintaining collections with just an hour of time each week we can generate interest in our product, which would potentially lead to sales. Here are a couple of examples of our previously established collections: Mid-Century Modern and Leather
  5. Embed video into product listings - One of the top website characteristics that boosts Google search results is embedded video. The more we can feature this in our top listings, the better our SEO (Search Engine Optimization). These videos may show how an item works, moves or simply highlight some of its features. Here is an example of video within one of our listings.
  6. Embed ArqSpin into product listings -
  7. is an example of ArqSpin within one of our listings.
  8. Be aware of happenings within the eBay Community - The community within the eBay Marketplace is like the local coffee shop; it is where eBay sellers gather to share stories and concerns, as well as tips and solutions. Staying in-tune with the community will help us to be more informed and relevant sellers.
  9. Follow eBay news and politics - When we first began this series of blog posts, we took on the monstrous task of information gathering. When we started digging, we felt like we were years behind. We uncovered a lot of information that was important to us as sellers. There were piles of articles explaining and/or analyzing eBay politics and news which we were previously unaware of. It became apparent that we needed to make a concentrated effort to stay abreast of these types of developments. 

For the time being, our presence on eBay is important. It is where we established our brand. It pays the day-to-day bills and keeps the machine moving. Because of this, we must maximize the tools available to us to generate as much activity as possible within our store on the eBay Marketplace. We need to attract more eBay users and make them our store visitors. We need to prompt more of our store visitors to be buyers.


See the rest of our eBay series here:

Part I - Why are My eBay Sales Down? 
Part II - eBay Takes a Hit

Part III - Google Takes Aim 
Part IV - eBay Alternatives? 
Part V - Fixing the Defects in eBay's Defect System 
Part VI - Breaking Up is Hard to Do: eBay's Split from PayPal 
Part VII - Is eBay's Cassini Really the "Best Match"? 
Part VIII - Is eBay's Cassini Stuck in Orbit? 
The Plan, Part I - Positioning for More than Survival 
The Plan, Part II - Expanding Our Reach Beyond eBay
Making Connections


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