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CHAPTER 6: Reach the Widest Possible Audience
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From October 6 of 2002 until February 1 of 2005 (with my kitty, no less!) I went to nine Mariah Carey concerts from coast to coast, Tony explains. I attended the Grammys in L.A., visited the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the Motown Museum in Detroit, and more. As you might expect, the connections I made during those travels proved invaluable for my business.
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I Thought Using My Business to Raise Money Was a Good Idea
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Even before Tony Cicalese experienced the death of a close friend named Joey Scima due to AIDS, he decided to create a business on eBay that built in a charitable donation as part of each sale. That turned out to be a large number of sales: He has become a PowerSeller and, at this writing, had a feedback rating that was approaching the 10,000 mark. Over the past several years, he has raised about $7,500 for organizations that fight AIDS. Today, in memory of that friend, he continues to donate 10 percent of the profits he realizes on each sale toward several AIDS-related projects. His commitment to charity attracts more attention for his sales and helps boost his business, too. I ve always been one to place importance on charity, says Tony. I remember sponsoring a child when I was still a child. But on a personal level, my giving was haphazard and fluctuated based on my own paychecks at a given time. I felt a duty, partly based on my spirituality, to be more consistent. When conceptualizing my eBay business, I thought it was a great opportunity to just build in the donation factor. I was at the time a recently out gay man. I had come to know too many people with HIV and AIDS, and didn t feel that my volunteer work in that area was enough. So I thought using my business to raise money was a good idea. Tony does his charitable donations on his own, after sales are made. He posts a letter from an AIDS-related charity, Tuesday s Angels, which is one of the groups that benefit from his sales. As an eBay seller, you can also donate a percentage of any sale through the Sell Your Item form (see Figure 6-7). You can also choose a charity through eBay s charitable arm, MissionFish, which offers a system called Giving Works for donating to nonprofit causes. Donating to charity not only corresponds to Tony s personal concerns, but it s helped enhance customer relations, he says. As a side benefit, many of my clientele appreciate and relate to the specific charity I have chosen. It has sparked conversations, friendships, and customer loyalty.
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FIGURE 6-7 Tony makes donations after the sale, but you can earmark a percentage of an item s proceeds to charity through this part of the Sell Your Item form.
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A book I wrote with Jill Finlayson, Fundraising with eBay, takes a detailed look at the ins and outs of using eBay to raise funds for your own nonprofit institution, or donate part of your eBay sales revenue to charity. It s also published by McGraw-Hill/ Osborne.
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How can a seller who is working on his own compete with big-volume operations One way in which Tony Cicalese competes is through his own knowledge of music. Another is that he sells himself: He plays up his identity and his interests, and he talks about himself on the About the Seller page of his eBay Store. He even has a photo of himself, as shown in the preceding section. He isn t afraid to be open about his activities and his lifestyle, and to
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CHAPTER 6: Reach the Widest Possible Audience
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poke fun at himself as well. Here s what he says on his About the Seller page. First, he identifies his audience and appeals to their emotions:
Hello, fellow music lovers!! If music really affects you - changes your mood, gives you a rush, makes you dance, cry, or remember a great time welcome home! Some songs are great friends of mine.
Tony worked in traditional retail management for 12 years. He knows that in order to make sales, it s often important to establish a personal connection with a customer: to make a sale or to make a customer want to return to make a second or third sale. Accordingly, he speaks about himself in a friendly way so potential customers can get to know him:
Is Tony a mental case Actually I prefer the term extreme music enthusiast. I have been traveling the country with my kitty since September of 2002 in search of great old music that you just can't find anymore. I also supplement my listings with some more recent things when I can get it at a good price. I especially love to find old dance/pop/freestyle/ R&B remix singles - what I consider to be "my music."
Anyone who feels the same about dance music is sure to want to investigate the site and at least seriously consider making a purchase after reading this.
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