Difference between revisions of "Marketplace/Power tips for sellers"

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{{KBtip|This page started out focusing on the web-based [[Marketplace]] but can be expanded to include inworld tips as shown in the '''[[Marketplace/Power tips for sellers#See also|"See also" section]]''', too!}}
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== About ==
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<font size="4">'''Do you want to maximize your sales and delight your customers?'''</font>
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You've come to the right place. This article will get you started with the '''essentials of Second Life commerce promotion''', with links to further resources as you continue to learn and do more. If it seems overwhelming, that's normal — you ''don't'' have to digest it in a single sitting: bookmark this page and refer to it as-needed.
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At the core of standing out amidst thousands of products on the SL Marketplace is '''creating a compelling listing'''. Why bother? A compelling listing increases the likelihood a browsing Resident will purchase your goods for both emotional and rational reasons — it appeals to their senses ''and'' helps them make an informed buying decision. A hands-on way to learn is to apply these techniques to your live listings gradually, then respond over time to what works for you.
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{{KBtip|It's okay to experiment as you find your target audience. One product may unexpectedly prove far more popular than others, so as you turn your time & energy towards it, informing existing customers to set expectations.}}
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== Promote yourself with Featured Items ==
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Each of your products can appear in the '''Marketplace Featured Items, which are shown in prominent places around the site'''. These listing enhancements make a product more visible and, if your image ad is attractive to a shopper, they can click through and buy it moments later. The many tips below are targeted at maximizing the effectiveness of your listing ''after'' a shopper's clicked your ad. As in, "You've got their attention — now how do you make the sale?"
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[[Marketplace/Listing_enhancements|Learn more about "Listing Enhancements" for Featured Items.]]
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== Use banner ads or other advertising approaches ==
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'''[http://advertise.secondlife.com/ You can advertise your store or merchandise]''' using banner ads that can target specific Marketplace niches or a broader audience. '''[[Advertising_in_Second_Life|Learn more about advertising in Second Life!]]'''
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{{KBcaution|The [[Advertising in Second Life|new advertising system]] is currently in Beta, and may or may not continue after the end of the Beta period!}}
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== Copywrite to excite! ==
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Quality copy — the title and description of your product listing — can make or break the decision for someone to buy (or try, if you offer a trial) your product. Complemented with photos, it's how they learn about your offerings early on. The following tips often work together for tremendous, so there's some overlap. For example, you can explain a product's benefits while triggering curiosity. And there are [[#See also|more resource links below]].
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=== Grab 'em with a catchy headline ===
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As shown by the front pages of newspapers everywhere, titles matter!
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* Since a title can be up to 120 characters, a title should at least include the specific name of your product.
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* If there's a particular adjective like a color variant or if you product comes in different versions like "Lite" and "Pro", make this clear, too.
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* If you have a personal or company brand and there's room, you can put that in, too.
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* Titles are searchable, so you may want to include keywords.
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* There's no need to type in ALL CAPS; that just looks fatiguing.
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* Some sellers use special characters like <code>***</code> <code>~*~</code> to decorate their listing. This can differentiate but isn't required and like ALL CAPS, may look off-putting in excess. It may also hurt your [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization search rankings], so if you want your listing to stand out, consider using a [[Marketplace/Selling|listing enhancement]].
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'''Examples:'''
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* Luxury Renaissance Villa - Low Prims
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* Handcrafted Bronze Anklet - Limited Edition!
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* SuperTek's Low-Lag Animation Overrider v2.0
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* Ravstyle "Lynnie" Hair - Rainbow Fatpack
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{{KBnote|Notice how even though you ''can'' use up to [[Marketplace/Edit Item Listing |120 characters for a title]], the above are a lot more apt. It's not necessary to artificially stretch your title — a snappy one can be easier to read.}}
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=== Arouse curiosity and emotion ===
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In other words, write earnestly and be approachable.
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* Second Life empowers you to set up a polished, pro-looking storefront. As a result it isn't obvious to many Residents that sellers are often individual or small businesses, so they're hesitant to ask questions that could lead to a sale. Make it clear your potential customers are dealing with a caring person, not a faceless corporate drone.
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* Also let individual quirks shine — they create focus and points of interest to discuss, as opposed to bland, generic commodities. Adding personality to your products elevates them above "piles of pixels".
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* Having a sense of humor isn't appropriate for all products, but if there's a unique, memorable fun aspect to a wild dress or wacky gadget you're selling, call it out. Especially if as far as you know, it's the only offering of its kind on the whole market.
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'''Examples:'''
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* Fed up with belts that cut into your avatar's waist? I have a solution for you...
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* Did you know although these shoes look top-notch, they were created by one slacker in a solar-powered trailer?
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* There's an interesting story behind these poseballs and it comes from my own love life...
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* If you've bought too many pants that looked great on the box but sucked when you wore them, I've suffered the same. That's why I've created these...
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* Sic this attack turtle on your friends and watch their reactions!
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* Your amusement guaranteed or your L$ back!
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=== Be specific ===
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Address details in depth without being verbose. Avoid easily-debunked superlatives and long words or fluffy claims you can't back up. Your reputation is on the line.
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* Make a clear list of features that are easy to understand at-a-glance.
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* Focus on positivity coupled with authenticity. It doesn't weaken your product to list known limitations or point to [http://jira.secondlife.com bugs] that inhibit your product's functionality. Rather, disclosure and transparency make you appear more honest.
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* Offer practical problems to solutions. Fulfill real needs that exist.
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'''Examples:'''
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* The SuperGadget is a mature product which continues to be updated after three years and has over 50,000 Residents regularly using it.
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* This versatile purse can be changed into over 100 color combinations with a couple clicks.
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* This hair fatpack means you'll get all of the colors shown in the photo. The headband isn't part of the package but an included styling notecard shows where you can buy this and other accessories.
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* Unlike the competition, the AutoHouse is refreshingly low-lag (see sim metrics photo for a comparison) and remembers your visitors, so they won't be spammed.
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* Tired of clunky invisiprim glitches? These boots use Viewer 2's alpha masks so your legs look sexy wherever you go.
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* These sculptie ground extenders have amazing texture detail which helps them blend into your existing terrain.
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=== Explain the benefits ===
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Who's your target market? Thinking "anyone" will buy is often too vague and not useful — look at lucrative niches and ask yourself questions like, "Why should someone buy?" and "How does a particular feature help them to have a more enjoyable Second Life?"
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'''Examples:'''
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* The easy resize HUD means you'll never have to waste time fiddling with the building tools!
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* Wrapped in gorgeously hand-painted patterns, this dress is sure to get you compliments at your next party!
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* This car has special scripts to assure you'll never be embarrassed by being thrown out at a region crossing!
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* The price is high but this mansion is worth every L$ — it's exclusively for the Second Life elite.
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* On a budget and tired of being ripped off for shoddy textures? This megapack helps you get started at a low cost!
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** Exclamation marks are optional but can be used for specific emphasis.
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=== Reduce FUD ===
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That's Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Be persuasive in convincing someone why they should buy and dispel their worries. By increasing buyer confidence by breaking down psychological barriers, you move them towards taking action — making a purchase!
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* '''Do you have an inworld location where customers can see your stuff "in person"? Be sure to include a {{xref|SLurl}}.''' Seeing a product as-is in 3D or being able to try a demo dispels ''all'' confusion that may arise from 2D photos.
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* '''Be absolutely clear about {{xref|permission}}s.''' While you can indicate overall permissions, there are often granular exceptions. For example, a car's scripts may not be modifiable, but the car object (the container) itself is. Again, be specific.
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* '''Do you have unbeatable customer service with proof to back that up? Can you live up to a peace-of-mind guarantee?''' Say so!
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* '''Have you received a ton of positive testimonials, or even a video review?''' Say so! Even if you're starting smaller, future testimonials can snowball as a result of early praise.
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* '''Is there a ''limited-time'' or a ''special edition'' to urge sales?''' Again, say so! But be honest — longer-term growth is better than turning a fast buck, and no one wants to feel like a fool buying something "premium" that's too widely available.
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* '''If you have a no-refund policy, make this absolutely clear from the start.''' This cuts down on hostility and miscommunication.
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* '''If you're open to doing custom work, make this clear too.''' (Conversely, many creators who are too busy to make customs list this in their inworld profile.)
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== Photographing your products ==
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Great photos are:
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* '''Shot from multiple angles.''' You can have up to eight pictures per product listing. This gives you a lot of opportunities to show off different angles and variations, so take advantage of multiple photos.
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** Most products will appear in three dimensions inworld, so this is even more important if you don't have an inworld location to show the object.
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** With buildings, show photos of how the build looks both outside and inside, and under different lighting conditions. With clothing, the back of a dress may be as important as the front — no one likes to unpleasantly be surprised that one side looks flattering but another is ugly.
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* '''Formatted for the maximum image size.''' Don't skimp on image dimensions — images are shown in preview slots but their full-size versions can be up to 700x525 pixels (aspect ratio of 4:3), so take full advantage of this. [[Marketplace/Edit Item Listing|See our full image specs]].
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* '''Crisp.''' Avoid JPG overcompression, which adds ugly blurring and artifacts.
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* '''Accurate.''' It's fine to create a beautiful composite with text and stylized graphics. But don't ''only'' include that, make sure some accurate raws are shown, too.
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** ''Don't'' photoshop/hide flaws in the actual product such as clothing seams. We know some imperfections, like the visible transition from mesh clothing to sculptie attachments, are inevitable. But airbrushing them out is ultimately deceitful to the customer and leads to disappointment — so don't do it!
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** It's appropriate to set your graphics settings to '''High''' or '''Ultra''', and to instruct your customer that your product will benefit from being viewed under such conditions too.
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** Also, jaggy edges can be avoided by enabling antialiasing, as shown in this video:
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**: {{KBvideo|Q6vuOubWik0|640|505|type=youtube}}
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* '''Well-lit.''' Unless for intended effect (like a glow lamp that looks best at night), choose a fairly neutral [[WindLight]] setting such as the default midday that represents colors accurately, as shown in this video:
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*: {{KBvideo|jyfV667bUSQ|640|505|type=youtube}}
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** With skins and similar products, it's fine to use a facelight to enhance ambient appearance, but if this isn't included in the product package, it should be noted. Your goal should be that a customer ''gets'' what they ''see''.
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== Walk in your customers' shoes ==
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'''Ever heard of "WIIFM?" It stands for "What's in it for me?"'''
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Chances are you're not just a seller, you're also a customer of other creators. Ask yourself:
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* '''Was it easy to understand their product listings?'''
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* '''What did you get out of what you bought?'''
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* '''Did they delight you when you asked for help?'''
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Consider these questions and others. Walking through your own "product purchase pipeline" from start to finish tends to expose flaws and hiccups.
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Remember, making a sale is just the beginning: hopefully a customer's trust in you will grow over the long-term and they'll continue to buy from you because they believe you  offer excellent value for the L$ — not just your products, but your personality and whole purchase experience.
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You should, at the very least:
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* '''State preferred method of customer support contact in your inworld profile.''' Some sellers are fine with instant messages. Others have IMs that get capped, so they prefer notecards, or use regular email. If you can state response expectations like "I endeavor to reply to all messages within 2 business days", even better.
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* '''State your refund policy.''' As mentioned above, so a customer is aware ''before'' they buy.
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* '''Link related item listings.''' If you you're selling a hat and jacket separately but they're shown in the same photo for overall effect, make it clear where someone can get both. The same is broadly true for items you sell that complement each other.
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== Don't forget the international market ==
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The SL Marketplace has built-in support for localized listings, including both text and photos. Sometimes unlikely products excel in world markets, too. Some Residents offer translation services so your listings and documentation can be translated — this is worth investigating as you expand.
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== Mature or Adult? ==
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The Marketplace maturity rating system has the same three categories as the inworld maturity rating system: '''General''', '''Moderate''', and '''Adult'''.
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Ensure if you sell goods of an '''Adult'''-rated or '''Moderate'''-rated nature, that they're clearly marked as such. This helps customers looking for such goods to find them, while hiding them from those who aren't interested. This is important for the many shoppers who expect a predictable experience — no one wants to feel awkwardly ashamed. This is doubly important now that there are teens on the main grid.
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For more information on what these ratings mean, see the '''[https://marketplace.secondlife.com/listing_guidelines#adult-guidelines Marketplace Fee and Listing Policies]'''.
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== See also ==
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Some smart and sharing Residents have contributed their tips to effective selling both inworld and on the web! See these, and feel free to add your own:
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=== Wiki help pages ===
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* '''[[Advertising in Second Life]]'''
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* '''[[Marketing Your Products In Second Life]]'''
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* '''[[Business Tools]]'''
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=== Posts and threads ===
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* 2011-02-11 - '''[http://mistletoeethaniel.wordpress.com/how-to-do-stuff/sl-business/ SL Business Tips from Mistletoe Ethaniel]''' - A wonderfully comprehensive selection of articles on doing business in SL and merchant tips from Mistletoe Ethaniel's blog.
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* 2010-11-02 - '''[http://blogs.secondlife.com/thread/44934 What's Your Best Marketing Technique?]''' - Another forum discussion contributed to by various Residents.
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* 2010-09-09 - '''[http://blogs.secondlife.com/thread/36637 Better store layouts?]''' - Forum discussion contributed to by various Residents.
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* 2010-08-30 - '''[http://braisesl.blogspot.com/2010/08/deliciously-delightful-shopping.html DeliciouSLy Delightful Shopping Experiences! (15 Tips for Merchants)]''' - Blog post by Suella Ember.
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* 2010-08-18 - '''[http://blogs.secondlife.com/thread/33817 Delightful shopping experiences that set an awesome example?]''' - [[Torley]] asked in this forum thread and knowing shoppers chimed in, including pictures and SLurls.
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* 2010-07-02 - '''[http://ariblackthorne.com/2010/07/best-practices-for-creator-support-in.html Best Practices for Creator Support in Second Life]''' - Blog post by Ari Blackthorne focusing on how customers can be the most effective in getting help from creators.
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* 2009-04-09 - '''[http://blogs.secondlife.com/community/community/tnt/blog/2009/04/09/business-5-things-every-second-life-shopkeeper-should-know 5 things every Second Life shopkeeper should know]''' - Older blog post by Torley, and although some mechanics have changed, the core principles are still applicable today.
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=== Beyond Second Life ===
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The Marketplace is far from being the first web-based marketplace, but you need to understand Second Life-specific details in order to successfully hawk your wares. If you're new to selling, it's very useful to look closely at listings for stuff ''you've'' bought and take careful note of what appealed to you. Use existing, more experienced content creators as inspiration — but don't plagiarize their copy.
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There are plenty of external sources of inspiration which can be used as a basis for further learning. What about the local markets you visit regularly? How do they present their goods? Or even newspapers and magazines, heck, tabloids — how do they grab your attention and get you to keep reading?
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Specific links to other seller's guides we've found inspirational in crafting the SL Marketplace:
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* '''[http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/selling-basics.html eBay's Selling basics]'''
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* '''[http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/the-etsy-seller-handbook-all-our-how-tos-about-selling-2383/ The Etsy Seller Handbook]'''
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* '''[http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161232 Selling on Amazon.com]'''
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Copywriting and SEO tips which generally apply to the Marketplace:
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* '''[http://blog.mivamerchant.com/519/12-seo-copywriting-tips-for-product-pages/ "12 SEO Copywriting Tips For Product Pages" from Miva Merchant]'''
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* '''[http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/2174-seo-tips-for-product-pages "SEO tips for product pages" from Econsultancy]'''
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Reference books:
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* '''''[http://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Business-Essentials/dp/006124189X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274810993&sr=8-4 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion]''''' - By Robert Cialdini, and a classic in the field.
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* '''''[http://www.amazon.com/Ogilvy-Advertising-David/dp/039472903X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274818869&sr=8-1 Ogilvy on Advertising]''''' - By David Ogilvy, one of the copywriting legends.
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Finally, special thanks to [http://www.linkedin.com/in/melindab Melinda Byerley (formerly Pink Linden)] for her '''[http://www.slideshare.net/melindabyerley/sl-pro-merchandising "Merchandising Best Practices for Increased Sales on Xstreet SL" presentation]''' which portions of this guide are directly descended from.
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[[Category:Marketing]]
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Latest revision as of 22:30, 5 March 2011

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