Sunday, September 19, 2010

PR - is it up to the marketplace or the seller?

AuctionBytes the powerhouse of news for online marketplaces and eCommerce sellers, recently posted Open Message to Alternative Marketplaces: Are You There?   addressing the importance of PR.  David Steiner, author, starts off by saying :
One of the most common emails and comments on our blogs that we receive is "Why don't you focus less on eBay and write more about alternative marketplaces?"
and, like, David's response the answer is simple:
EBay gets more ink on this site because they understand the power of public relations. aka PR .
What really gets me more that the fact that small marketplaces are failing in this department, is the fact of how many in eCommerce rely on the PR of the site on which they sell to drive customers to them.

Like I pointed out in How to drive traffic to your store , the days of list it and forget it are over, and it is up to you, not the marketplace, to drive your business.
Are some marketplaces falling down on the job of PR? Yes.  But, the question is why are you depending on their work to drive customers to you?

I did comment on AuctionBytes article:
Great article for sure and it can be applied to so many people and situations.

PR is the responsability of the individual, not the media.
It is up the the individual - in this case owners of marketplaces - to work their PR, to get the word to the media, and press releases is the easiest way to do that. There are a multitude of other ways owners can ramp up the volume around their marketplace using a good PR Campaign .
BUT - I MUST STRESS - NO ONE should rely on ANY marketplace's popularity to sell their products for them. The days of list it and forget it are gone. YOU must work your own PR to drive traffic and sales to YOU.
This is a business folks, and you have a shop on a virtual online mall. the last time I checked, the store in the brick and mortar mall here did their own PR and don't recall seeing the mall doing it for them.

Think about it.  If you list on a smaller venue, is it Bonanzle, eCraterAddoway etc responsiblilty to build your business or is it yours?

renagade offer PR primarily for musicians, but does offer the same high quality PR campaign for eCommerce sellers as well.


greenspot said...

What a rant! a good one, Susan.

However I disagree on a couple of points.

A B&M mall, usually will spend big bucks on promotion of the destination. This is the case with most enclosed larger mall locations, not with your smaller strip malls.

So, yes, I expect the marketplace to promote THEIR venue heavily.

The single stores, usually chains, also handle their own PR of course. It's a symbiotic relationship. However most large malls take a percentage of sales, or large flat monthly fees to sustain the PR and management.

This is the eBay model, isn't it?

If a single store owner invests too much money and time into PR for the mall... well that's just dumb isnt' it?

It's a fine balance advertising STORE, or STORE AT MALL. Most biz owners will tell you that. When the lease is up, the MALL remains, your PR equity just vanished.

So far as online venues, I believe it's up to them to do the PR, not me. The whole idea is that the NUMBERS allow them to do MORE PR than any single owner could.

Bonanzle, in my opinion, for example, has shirked it's duty as a venue thus far. It sure has grown nicely by the store owner and cheerleader pumping.

I run a biz. For me to spend time promoting a bonanzle store is silly. I make $$ by list and forget on eBay, that's why I have no problem giving them over 10% of sales. I'd much rather give Bonanzle 10% of sales than the 3% of no sales i've seen there in my own history.

So, YES it's your job to do the PR for your biz... so why bother with a venue that doesn't at all? Just invest heavily in your own site. Most biz owners will tell you that's the smarter move.

Unless, of course, it's just a hobby.


Renagade said...

I agree with many of the points you made, and when I speak of 'Mall' , living in small town USA here, the local malls do very little if any adveritizing at all. BUT the public does know its there.
Online can be a different ballgame, and in cases such as Bonanzle, many DON'T know it is there and that is what many are fustrated with. That said whoever, the booths are just a spot in cyberspace the small seller can have for no upfront costs to call home. Sure they can set up shop in a stand alone spot, but either way they must drive traffic to their store.
eBays traffic is good but for the most part fickle, even on that powerhouse I see many still need to promote their items as well.
With the eBay alternative sites, they all say the what sellers to thrive and make many sales, but the rely on the cheerleading of many sellers to promote the marketplace and many do "for the greater good".
Again, like you said, it is a business, and as soon as the marketplaces realize they bear the responsibilty to work the PR of the site, combined with the effort of sellers promoting their own business, we will see a clear cut alternative to eBay.

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greenspot said...

in response to : "but either way they must drive traffic to their store.".

that's my point. if it's either way... what's the point? put out 100% PR effort , and keep 100% effort on your own site, no?

insofar as ebay traffic, can't say about the fickle, the market is up/down daily for all biz. IN my case, i've not seen a decline, in fact, an upswing in the past few months. And here's the crux of the matter.

An ebay vistior is worh 50 google visitors. An ebay visitor knows why they are there, for the most part. Even on my own website I wouldn't count on google traffic for sales, THAT is fickle traffic. Yet that's what Bonanzle has counted on mostly and promoted to it's sellers, just how important it is to be "found" on google.

Geez, I spend all day watching logs zip by of thousands of hits off Google, but I still don't see a handful of sales daily. Conversion is a tough business.