Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Who are my customers? Who will buy my product?”  It is often very surprising that otherwise savvy eBay sellers we are, we have no idea who will buy from us, or just assumed that ‘everyone’ will.

Assumptions like this can lead to wrong decisions, wrong pricing, wrong marketing strategy – and ultimately, business failure.

The most successful eBay sellers understand that only a limited number of people will buy their product or service. The task then becomes determining, as closely as possible, exactly who those people are, and ‘targeting’ the marketing and earns those expected dollars.

You, too, can build a better, stronger sale on eBay, by identifying and serving a particular customer group – your target market.

One of the first things you need to do is to refine your product or service so that you are NOT trying to be ‘all things to all people.’ Become a specialist!

For example, when I started selling on eBay, I sell Chinese traditional health products, jade jewelry and some pearl necklaces.  I add some Amulets to my collection. All my products are orient in origin and some mystiques of the east.  As I became successful selling on eBay, one of my source introduced me to a garment seller.  I checked its products; most are T-shirts and skirts for teen age fashion.

So I decided to split my store, by getting one more eBay id and set up a new store.  I ran two stores, one for oriental crafts and other for fashion.  Of course it increases more work and more attention but the performance of each store did not affect the other.  Later my original store gave me a ‘niche’ and could capitalize on and expand my market, the fashion store failed.

Next, you need to understand that people purchase products or services for three basic reasons:

  • To satisfy basic needs.
  • To solve problems.
  • To make themselves feel good.

You’ll need to determine which of those categories your product or service is the solution to, and be prepared to market it accordingly.

Your product or service may fit more than one category, too – Chinese jade pendants are purchased by people following spiritual empowerment and also by people who are wearing for health.  In our line for health, apart form Chinese Jade, Amber, Amethyst and Hematite healing beads are added.  In my line for spiritual empowerment, the Buddhist and Hindu Amulets are later listed with success

The next step in creating an effective marketing strategy is to zero in on your target market. Zero in on your target market by using Market Segmentation.

First of all, is your product international or national in scope? Or is it more likely that you will sell it primarily in a certain segment of population?

Next, you need to segment the market as much as possible using ‘psychographics’ as your guide:

  • Lifestyle: conservative, exciting, trendy, economical
  • Social class: lower, middle, upper
  • Opinion: easily led or opinionated
  • Attitudes and beliefs: environmentalist, security conscious, health conscious, spiritual.

By now you should have a picture emerging of who you think your ‘ideal’ customer is … or who you want it to be. Depending on the nature of your business, you might even be able to write a description of your customer. “My target customer is a middle-class Americans and interest in Eastern Spirituality and health techniques”

Based on the above findings, I realized that by selling Eastern health and spiritual products could attract a small portion of the total American population. Because, the Americans with Asian root are a minority in USA.  This finding leads me to find a product which is more widely target to Americans with the western cultural influence.

Thus I started to promote cigarette cases bearing Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Luis Royo Arts, Betty Boop, Vespa Motorcycles etc.  My store sales surge after I could list items that attract the interest of Americans with western cultural influence.  In addition to the Americans, my store also attracts some Australians and people from Europe.

Do the research! Lots of times prospective customers don’t know about your store, or can’t tell the difference between your store and others. It is your job, once you know who your best customers are, to ‘target’ the group that you’ve identified – even if you have competition.

In addition, you may decide, using the example above that you’d also like to extend your target market to include women from 50 – 60 years of age. If you go back to the basic reasons why people purchase goods or services, and can find ways to target your efforts to that age group, you may be successful in capturing a bigger share of the market!

On the other hand, what if you ‘specialized’ your product or service and then researched your target market, only to discover that there are probably less than 75 people who will buy from you in the whole year?

Then you need to go ‘back to the drawing board’ of planning your business and perhaps determining a wider target market – but at least you are armed with all the information you need to start again, or go in a different direction.

Let’s face it – there’s a market, and a target market, for everything.