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Use Online Auctions to Promote Your Business!

Posted on July 18, 2001

by Ron Sathoff

When they first appeared on the scene, online auctions were used mainly by people looking to get rid of old heirlooms or collectors in niche markets (stuffed collectibles, etc.). Now, it seems like everyone is participating in online auctions. People are also beginning to realize that auctions can be a great way to promote a business and test products.

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I have to admit it -- I'm an eBay junkie. I'm probably on their site at least 4 or 5 times a week, looking for items to add to my various collections, and the more I visit, the more I'm seeing businesses using online auctions in creative ways.

For instance, there are many people who have started to make their living solely through online auctions. However, if you don't want to become one of these "full-timers", you can still use online auctions to help you with your business. Here are a couple of thoughts on ways to do that:

- Use auctions to gauge new products. If you are considering adding a new product to your business, auctions are a great way to see what kind of demand there might be for it. Do an experiment -- put one of the products up for auction and see how many people bid on it (you might even be able to track how many people look at the auction without making a bid). If you have good response from the auction, it can be a good indication that you should add the product to your inventory.

- Use auctions to determine prices. One question that I get a lot from clients is, "How much should I charge for so-and-so?". If you have this kind of question, auctions can be a great way to gauge prices. Put your item on auction and see how much people are willing to bid on it. Don't just look at the high bid -- remember that there are some "insane bidders" out there -- rather, look at the maximum bids from all bidders to get an idea of what customers are willing to pay for your product.

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- Link your auction to your business. Now, before I go any further, I have to warn you to read your auction service's policies CAREFULLY -- many services will not allow you to put a direct link to your web site in your auction description.

Even if you can't put a link directly in your auction, you might still be able to promote your business. For instance, many services will have an "about me" page where you can put a link to your business. Also, there is nothing keeping you from linking the sites in the other direction -- putting a link to your auctions on your web site, for instance.

One of the things that has always impressed me about the so- called "net gurus" is their ability to be creative in their advertising and promotion efforts. Online auctions seem to be a great candidate for that type of creativity.

Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley's He provides copy-writing, marketing, Internet promotion, and help for business speakers. Reach him at or 801-328-9006.

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