There was a new book shop just opened in the city, one of those massive places with a Starbucks and a café on the upper floors. Since I had not read a book for some time, I could kill two birds with one stone ( I hate that saying) and go there to eat and read.
I hit the business section. After getting past the pile of Trump books, I found what I was looking for:
The 80-20 Principle, by Richard Koch.
Reading the back cover, it says that… 80 per cent of the output of an activity comes from 20 per cent of the inputs.
So how can this help you make more money on eBay?
Well, the applications of the 80-20 principle will depend on the approach towards eBay that you’re using. Let’s say that you are dealing in a ‘niche’ market, trading in antiques of a certain kind. I don’t know much about antiques, but let’s say you are buying and selling ancient Chinese antiques. Now, what you might find here is that you’ll have the same people buying these antiques repeatedly. In other words…
80 per cent of your business comes from 20 per cent of your customers.
The implications of this? Firstly, suiting your products to these 20 per cent. If they’re buying X, give them more of X.
Plus, make sure you keep these customers very happy indeed, because thats one way to make more money on eBay and where the biggest profits lie. So think more of what they want, more freebies just for them, constant communication just for them and so on.
Also, you might also find that 80 per cent of your great products come from 20 per cent of your supplier base.
Furthermore, you might find that 80 per cent of your hassle comes from 20 per cent of your products, and within that figure, 80 per cent of the hassle comes from 20 per cent of the hasslers! Or, generally, 80 per cent of hassles come from 20 per cent of your customers. Also, you might find that 80 per cent of your profit in a given year comes from a selection of items – maybe 20 per cent of your items produce the profits, the rest only mediocre.
But here’s the interesting thing.
You see, the intuitive thing to do – if you have products that are losing, and some that are winning – is to try and ‘work’ the losers so they come up to speed. Not so, according to the 80-20 principle. Because rather than bothering with these losers, we’d want to do more with those few that are winning.
Sounds strange, huh?
Because most people would try and work with the losers…they’d try to bring them up to speed. Well, the author of this book says that, instead, you should concentrate your efforts on what’s working best:
The 20 per cent that’s producing 80 per cent of the results.
That’s right. You DON’T concentrate on improving the 20 per cent… you simply work harder with the 20 per cent that is producing 80 per cent of the results!
That may sound a bit well, silly – and counter-intuitive. You’d think that if you had ten products, and eight were performing badly… well, most people’s natural reaction is to try and boost the results of the bottom eight. Uh-uh. Go the other way. Try and boost the results of your best two.
Or, in the case of suppliers, concentrate more on the best two. Or, if you’ve got a mailing list of buyers, concentrate on the top 20 per cent. How? As I’ve said, by treating them right… maybe rewarding them with free gifts and so on.
And what if you’re selling products wholesale? And what if you’re selling the same product over and over?
Then what? Do you concentrate on the losers and try and improve them? Uh-uh. Probably wrong. Try the winners… and try to boost the results of what’s already working.
I’ll give you a practical, real-world current example. I tried a listing for a product. It went pretty well. In fact, it went really well, better than I expected. Now, it just so happens that I was selling the same product over and over again – the wholesale approach. But what could I do to expand? The logical thing would be to get more products.
But no. Instead of doing that, I listed the same product AGAIN – right alongside the identical product!
That’s right. I simply listed the same product again, at virtually the same time (i.e. running them simultaneously) but with a different picture. And it sold nearly as well. It’s all about getting more out of the winning 80 per cent.
See, instead of diversifying, the implication of the 80/20 principle is actually one of anti-diversification. Because instead of going into new markets and the like, perhaps I should concentrate more on the current niche that’s working very well for me, and yes – working with the current one product that’s working so well. So after the current product is ‘hammered’, and I’ve listed it as many ways as I can (concentrating on what’s working), then I can try other products in that SAME market that’s already producing great results for me.
What we’re doing here is the opposite of diversifying our eBay business. It’s concentrating purely on what’s most effective at the current time, and working out ways to boost the current good results.
What’s your best performing listing right now? Try listing more of it. Try new categories, new approaches, different descriptions and pictures.
Who are your best customers now? Sell them more, and make sure they’re well looked after.
Where are your profits the biggest right now? Instead of trying to expand out in the logical way, try a different approach and concentrate on what’s currently most effective.
Most eBayers don’t think about these things! Very few do! If you stop to think about it for a moment, you might be surprised. If you analyse it, you’ll probably be even more surprised. You might find just ONE product is carrying your business, and it’s that product that deserves a great deal more attention.
So I’d urge you to think about the areas of your eBay business where the 80-20 principle might apply – and how to harness it so you make more money on eBay.
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