Buyers come to Trade Me for one of two reasons: either in search of great deals or looking for unique items they can’t find anywhere else.
You can build a business on Trade Me by offering products at low prices — if you know where you can buy them cheaply enough. Conversely, if you’re a veteran collector of popular but hard-to-find items, you might be able to carve out a niche buying and selling the things you love (if you can bear to let them go).
But if you really want to succeed as a Trade Me seller, your best opportunity lies in offering unique, personalised items with a high perceived value, so that you’re effectively providing both uniqueness and a great deal.
Those unique personalised items can either be something you’ve created yourself or else could be otherwise ordinary products to which you’ve added personal value in some way. With the Trade Me online marketplace groaning with nearly a million and a half listings every day, you simply must have products that stand out — products that attract interested watchers and eager bidders and sell more profitably than the merely average offerings of your competitors.
One early trader who understood the importance of uniqueness was Arsenalboy, the seller of ‘the butt of the last cigarette officially and legally smoked inside Malt Restaurant and Bar in Auckland, 11.59 pm on December 9, 2004 before the smoke-free legislation came into force seconds later.’
First he gathered up the butt, risking life and lungs in the process. Then he created a certificate attesting to the genuineness of the artifact, and then framed and displayed the aforementioned items in a unique and pleasing manner.
Anyone could have done it. Arsenalboy did. The auction attracted what was at the time a precedent-shattering 139,627 pageviews and sold for an incredible, nicotine-stained $7,475.
There are scads of more recent examples (the Scary Washing Machine comes to mind), but hopefully you’ll see the point without us having to belabour it.
SO WHERE DO YOU START?
Adding significant personal value to your products can be achieved in many ways. Here are some of the most successful:
- Adding personalised extras to make ordinary items unique
- Finding unutilised niches for products
- Packaging multiple items into a single, more attractive package
- Offering your own unique knowledge in addition to the product
- Customising the Trade Me descriptions and product listings in a manner that reflects your own personality and style
If you’re struggling to think up ways to personalise your offerings, get some help. Grab some of your more creative friends and get them to brainstorm with you.
A QUICK GUIDE TO BRAINSTORMING
Where possible, get as diverse a range of participants as possible. You’ll end up with a broad range of experience and expertise and a more creative outcome.
- Choose a scribe to write it down, preferably on a whiteboard/flipchart
- Clearly spell out the nature of the problem to be solved (customising your Trade Me offerings), and specify any key criteria
- Keep everyone focused on the problem
- No criticism or evaluation of ideas during the session as this stifles creativity and discourages individuals from speaking up
- Try to get everyone to contribute and develop their ideas, including the quiet ones
- Have fun; be radical, impractical, foolish, free-flowing
- Don’t get stuck on any single train of thought
- Encourage participants to build on other people’s ideas
THE OBJECTIVE: TO MAKE YOU THE ONLY PERSON SELLING WHAT YOU SELL
That probably sounds optimistic at best, impossible at worst. But once you personalise your offerings — or at least personalise the way you present them — you will indeed be able to turn yourself into the only destination able to offer the brand called You.