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A Guide to How to Sell Stuff

Abominog

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Marketing and advertising properly is the key to getting the most out of a sale.

Go on a dating website. See that they have a "show those only with photos." Wonder why? Because people want to SEE what they are getting into.

Pick up a product brochure. Any brochure. See- there are photos! Some have nothing to do with the product. Others are of the product. The former are designed to make you dream, and the latter fulfill you dreams.

The classic example is Omaha Steaks. They don't show a slab of frozen meat in a vacuum-wrapped bag, they show a steaming, rare premium steak with potatoes on a fine piece of china. They don't say "we ship you six steaks frozen in time in a foam container" they tell you how fabulous it will taste when it hits your face. People don't buy a slab of frozen meat, they buy the mental image of how much they are going to enjoy that baby all salted and grilled to perfection.

So here's some rules on advertising:

1. Be truthful. Have to start with that. Otherwise you PO people, and it gets around. If there is a flaw, describe it accurately. Don't over-do it, just state it. Don't get all melodramatic (e.g., "oh, there's a chunk out of the stock near the buttplate, oh what a shame otherwise it would be perfect and I would have used it, and...") No. "Chip on underside of buttplate" is fine.

2. Just the facts, ma'am: nobody cares if it came with a beat up stock or you're selling it to fund the divorce. It has a nice stock now, so talk about that. Don't discuss how you had to fix anything, if the friggin' thing works now, say it!

3. PHOTOS. That is really #1, but I place it after being truthful. But good photos are absolutely imperative. No phone camera garbage- good, clear photos. If numbers match, put them all together in one photo so prospective buyers can SEE the matching numbers parts all together. A picture is really worth 1000 words. Oh, and don't link to the photos, put them in the friggin' post- 90% of people won't follow the link.

4. Differentiation. Why should I buy your BGS build instead of a DSA or Century? Describe what makes your offer unique and special. "Original FN metric wood handguards" beats "see pics" all day long.

5. Sex appeal. Some things are sexier than others. Type I receivers, matching numbers, great finishes, rare parts/ stamps, nice bores, original or properly refinished wood, Type A lowers, built by known experts, etc. Some things get the blood flowing- concentrate on those.

6. Pricing. Believe it or not, underpriced stuff doesn't sell well. Potential buyers are subconsciously suspicious. Why is it underpriced? What's wrong with it? And there is the human factor: oh, that must be all it's worth. At one show I had a rare item (actually I had a boatload of them) and I put one up for $60. For a day, nobody bought! So I bumped the price to $85 - and it sold instantly on day two; in fact, I had people come screaming looking for another. The perception is that things are worth what you pay, and if you pay little, it's worth little. So price it where it belongs so people can respect themselves.

7. NO NEGATIVITY. That's not the same as "not truthful." Don't expound on faults, mention them. If it's too heavy for you, that's fine, but STFU. If you don't know about something, state it, but don't go overboard or conjecture (e.g., "I never shot it so it probably doesn't work" vs. "unfired by me.")

8. Don't offer conjecture. "Probably carried by Erwin Rommel" is garbage. And everybody knows it. "Exhibits paint typical of the African Campaign" is correct and the extent of the truth.

9. Research what you are selling. God knows how many "T48s" have been for sale over the last decade. I saw one T48 for sale fifteen years ago. You don't have a T48. If you're selling something that is not what you advertise, you run the risk of false advertising or being low-balled by somebody that knows what you have. So figure out what you have. This will also maximize your sale price.

BAD AD:

Pre-ban Brazilian FAL better than FN. Have to sell it to fund my bail because I was caught stealing from a liquor store. I don't actually have the rifle, my brother has it, but it was made by IMBEL before the ban. Trigger and stuff replaced by US-made parts so you're legal. Super sniper flash hider so you can't be seen. This thing is super cool. At the last match I shot 1/2" groups with it. More accurate than a real FN, which is actually made with cheap cast receiver. It was brand new unfired then I shot something like 20 rounds. If you want pictures email me, but I only check email on Sundays when there's no church service.

GOOD AD:

IAI FAL. 100% Brazilian IMBEL parts except US muzzle break. Assembled by IAI in Texas, which is a quality build. All parts S/N match. A true all-IMBEL FAL at 20% less than a SAR-48. Parkerized finish is 99%. Made from all licensed parts, this is not a cheap kit gun or home build, it was assembled from factory parts in USA. Less than 20 LC rounds fired, functioned flawlessly. Sights are straight with no correction on rear sight. All metric mags tested fit fine. Looks just like an FN 50.00 but with an FN-license forged reciever. Photos below.



Before you post, write your ad. First, take out the crap that doesn't matter to anyone other than you. Then look at the defects- can you describe them accurately with less? Then look at the highlights of your offer- can you do something more to emphasize them (without lying?) Can potential buyers see in the photos how awesome this thing is?

Yeah, some long-time sellers like Larry F/N can post a photo that looks like a tomato can and say it's an original T48 handguard. You can't. You need to describe your offer accurately, sexily, and with photographic proof. That's how you maximize your sale.
 
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Andy the Aussie

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May I suggest ...

10. Rifle recently handled by Andy the Aussie, yes.... the legend that is the man and the man that made the legend.

I will guarantee this will generate 100% more interest and be worth at least a 15% premium on the price.... ;) :D
 

palmettomoon

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On #6 -

I used to run a sales crew for an estate liquidator in Calif. I liquidated a home where an Erté "style" print hung on the wall at the cash register for two days with a price tag of $5.00. It generated a little interest and a few comments, but I couldn't sell it.

On Sunday afternoon (last day of the sale) I changed the price to $500.00 and it sold within 20 minutes. I actually had two customers fighting over it.
I told them it was only an unsigned print "in the style of", but they still fought over it. One settled the argument by offering $550.00.

Go figure.
 

Roadmarker

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On #6...
Isn't this a form of trolling? I noticed earlier this week you suggested to a seller to increase the price on a rifle. What business is it of yours what he sells the item for? I know you were trying to help the guy out, but when you had him raise the price you in turn hosed the buyer.....us. Please, the market will set the price without interference. I hope you can see my point without taking offense.
 

Abominog

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In reading a bunch of ads on Marketplace and GB, I want to add some thoughts involving buyer perceptions.

As already noted, crappy photos readily incite concern for condition. So do photos that somehow don't show relevent elements/parts. Of course, the buyer questions if this is intentional. That, in turn, either turns potential buyers off completely, or forces them to reserve (lower) bids in anticipation of the worst.

So post photos, good photos; show receiver markings, bore condition (damned if I can ever do this, but others somehow do), front/ flash hider, and stock from both sides. At the very least. The more photos you have, the better, not for you (unless you're trying to hide something.)

Don't post the following:

"Divorce sale" = I need money right now, and will sell cheap. And, six months from now I'll sell my really good stuff, so skip this and wait, because I'm going to sell my good stuff later and you can get it cheap.

"Need to pay taxes" see above.

"Wife/ daughter needs surgery" yes, we feel your pain. We've been there. But we also donate directly to the Children's Hospitals and Ronald McDonald House. See above.

"Thinning collection" = you've had enough (yep, I'm in that boat) and time to get rid of stuff. So let's just set tight and see what you have later- meanwhile, I'll skip this one.

"Selling for a friend" = scary. Who has it? Where is it? How do we know he's going to ship it? This induces risk, and risk has a value- probably 30% off market price. Now, tell the truth- but better, YOU get it if you're selling it, YOU work it out with your friend, and YOU ship it.

"Here's how it used to look" = WTF? Why can't you take new photos? Did you screw up the conversion? If you're too lazy to take new photos, you're too lazy to package correctly. Again, risk = devalued goods. Take new photos, and post it EXACLTLY as it will be received by the buyer.

"Doesn't include....shown in photo." Then it shouldn't be in the photo. I wonder, what else won't I receive?

"I know what this is worth and I don't need to sell it" = the reserve is rediculously high, don't even waste your time bidding on it.

Note also backgrounds. If the photo background demonstrates that you live in mom & dad's house and your room is strewn with clothes, or we can see that the stairs on your mobile home are about to fall apart, we know you could use the cash...so we can lowball you. I know it's worth $1200, but I also can see that $800 TODAY would appeal to you, so guess what I'm going to offer you.

....

Here's a recent beauty on GB: "This rifle was ugly when it was made and only got worse." The rifle sold for 30% below market value.

When in doubt STFU and describe it accurately. Post good photos. Then STFU. If somebody asks a question, answer it accurately. Then STFU. I'm not suggesting to hide something, but many sellers reveal something that buyers can use against them- just like lawyers.
 
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Abominog

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On #6...
Isn't this a form of trolling? I noticed earlier this week you suggested to a seller to increase the price on a rifle. What business is it of yours what he sells the item for? I know you were trying to help the guy out, but when you had him raise the price you in turn hosed the buyer.....us. Please, the market will set the price without interference. I hope you can see my point without taking offense.

Good question!

What exactly is "trolling"? I dunno.

On AR15.com asking a question (trolling?) ist verboten because it bumps a thred before its time. I believe this to be a disservice to buyers, that that's their rule.

On Ebay and GB, if a seller answers a question it's posted for all to see. I think this is a good idea.

On the thread in question: well, as I calculate it, to assemble the set he has would cost over $1500. I think he's under-priced. So I said so.

Now, I started the BIG TURD thread for frudulent and misrepresented sales. Sure as heck, that is trolling. But apparently on FAL Files if the sale is questioned or trolled outside of marketplace, it's OK. That's why I started the BIG TURD thread (idea stolen from the K98 forum) so as to warn potential buyers without "directly" trolling a sale thread. Well, whack my pee-pee.

Beyond that, I absolutely have tolled threads. Yes I have. When I've seen something that is totally fraudulent and intentionally misleading, I've posted right in that FAL Files Marketplace thread. I'm not talking about mistakes, or pricing errors, I'm talking about sales in which the seller clearly intended to mislead potential buyers. Yep, I've done it. And so far, nobody has whacked my pee-pee. If the moderators want to smack me or ban me they have every right to do so. Thus far, that has not happened.

And that's why I like FAL Files Marketplace. You can do as good or as poorly as you want in an ad. Sellers can be critiqued by question rather than statement ("are you sure that's a H&R T48?" as opposed to "You moron that's not a real T48") without repercussions. And, when, in the very rare instances I've been so inclined, I've not been admonished for immediately terminating potential buys of fraudulent items.

Back to the item you questioned, that $1530 item as I calculate, he had it posted for $1200 before bumping to $1800, so if you're so concerned go buy it. If you can get it at $1200 you WILL do well when it comes time to sell it. 6000 of those were made, 2500 came into USA through APEX and 1000 through other sources, Entreprise made only a couple hundred matching S/N recievers, and the early HG & original furniture is a serious bonus. A couple years from now I'm going to copy/paste this on April First, and people are going to cry.

Hey, I'm just trying to make sure everybody is happy.
 
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Roadmarker

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Thanks for the explanation. I'm sure if that rifle hasn't made it there yet it will go to GB. I do notice that many sellers will stop by the Marketplace and give us all an opportunity to buy before the item goes on to GB. Many times the item sells for considerably less than what it would fetch on the "open market". Kind of a take care of your buddy price.
I'm glad you try to keep everyone happy. Your knowledge and attitude reflect highly on the FAL files. No @$$ kissing intended.;)
 

Andy the Aussie

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Personally, I can't see anyone paying the prices asked here without at least seeing pictures, maybe just me but, maybe they have more money than me?
Steve
...... you are new here (that is not a criticism, please don't take it that way at all) but there is an underlying "knowledge base" that exists among a group in the marketplace here that in some cases negates the concern you have.

I put it to you this way, if one of those members say "I have X for sale it is in Y condition" there are two things which are a given....X is certainly X and will be properly described and identified and if the condition is stated as Y then it will be Y or better. It will also be packaged and shipped properly and if there is any impediment to it being sent out on time then the buyer will be told asap (ie - a snow storm prevented me accessing the PO, it will go tomorrow).

Oh and in that group "I will take it" means just that, not maybe, not something else came up I can't afford it now, not sorry I worked out my income would not allow this. Among this group I am also aware of large purchases being sent before payment has been made, just because "these people here know".

I understand this makes it tough when you just land here and do not know the lay of the land. I am just trying to clarify what you are seeing at times here.

Cheers

Andy
 

Abominog

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Andy is right about many of the members here, you get to know who is who.


Photos do sell, and at higher prices- usually. Photos also take time to capture, download, host, and post. Some people are short of time, I'm in that boat. So often I have to sell without a photo, hoping my reputation sells it.

I could get a higher selling price with photos, but then again I could get more on Ebay, and I'd rather have most of my stuff go to the guys (and gals) here with whom I correspond, conduct research, and in some cases have formed friendships. I argue that those who know me will buy without photos, and the guy who demands photos is going to lose on a good deal. Oh well.

When S.B. says "the prices asked here" I infer that to mean the prices are high. I take issue with that. Having been in this market for decades, the prices on FAL FILES are far lower than on Ebay or Gunbroker. In fact, in many cases, particularly with rifles, the prices are 20% to 40% below market value.

As Andy said, items worth a lot of money have crossed in the mail, or sometimes sent even before payment is sent. GP sent my rifle back THEN advised what I owed. Recently I knew one member was going to be out of pocket, so I sent his item before his payment even hit the post office. And, some like Rocster and Mainer (and I beg forgiveness, I know there are others) who simply sent me something I needed, asking no payment.

Go find a better, more trusting, more reputable marketplace anywhere, in any field. You won't. That doesn't mean there aren't bad apples here- there are- but by and large this is the best place to shop.
 

SAFN49

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Good question!

What exactly is "trolling"? I dunno.


Now, I started the BIG TURD thread for frudulent and misrepresented sales. Sure as heck, that is trolling. But apparently on FAL Files if the sale is questioned or trolled outside of marketplace, it's OK. That's why I started the BIG TURD thread (idea stolen from the K98 forum) so as to warn potential buyers without "directly" trolling a sale thread. Well, whack my pee-pee.

Beyond that, I absolutely have tolled threads. Yes I have. When I've seen something that is totally fraudulent and intentionally misleading, I've posted right in that FAL Files Marketplace thread. I'm not talking about mistakes, or pricing errors, I'm talking about sales in which the seller clearly intended to mislead potential buyers. Yep, I've done it. And so far, nobody has whacked my pee-pee. If the moderators want to smack me or ban me they have every right to do so. Thus far, that has not happened.

And that's why I like FAL Files Marketplace. You can do as good or as poorly as you want in an ad. Sellers can be critiqued by question rather than statement ("are you sure that's a H&R T48?" as opposed to "You moron that's not a real T48") without repercussions. And, when, in the very rare instances I've been so inclined, I've not been admonished for immediately terminating potential buys of fraudulent items.

Hey, I'm just trying to make sure everybody is happy.
Just sayin, there is a M1 carbine listed in the MP as "original" with at least 5 different manufacturers parts, IBM (who made 19 original parts in house) standard products, Underwood and others. The OP claimed it is original and not a rebuilt mix master. I did not call him out (troll him). It is way over priced for what it is in my opinion.

Should he be banned or just trolled until he corrects his post?
 
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