How to decide what to name your blog – part two


Last week, we began the process of how to name your blog. As you may recall, there were three questions to answer that are designed to help point you in the direction of choosing your blog’s name.

These three questions were:

What do plan for your blog to be about?
Who do you want your target audience to be?
What type of voice is your blog going to have?

Now that you have thought about it and have better idea of what the purpose of your blog is, we can move toward actually deciding how to choose a name. Interestingly, just as there are three questions, there are also three ways to approach choosing a name.

First, you can use descriptive words. These words should hint or tell what your blog is about. As an example, if you are named Frank and sell fishing lures you might call it, “Frank’s Fish Talk.” You could then either discuss different types of lures (linking to the ones you sell in your store), or talk about fishing, which is a way to establish yourself as an expert.

The second approach to naming your blog is to actually create a brand name. As a seller, this means that you would want to name your blog the same name as your store. With a brand name, you could then either discuss the items you sell or your actual online business.

The third approach is to simply call it by your own full name. This helps to build you as a brand and makes your business more warm and personal.

Still undecided? Here, are some additional tips to help narrow it down.

1.Keep the name simple, easy to remember and easy to spell
2.Make the blog name appropriate to the blog’s topic
3.Make it convey what your blog is about to ensure that it is different from the competitions -this not only helps you stand out, but keeps you from getting into trouble for copying someone else’s brand name
4.Consider a play on words
5.Use humor or an alliteration to find a name

Finally, remember to think long term before naming your blog. While creating a blog name that is all about the items you sell is great if all you ever plan to do is sell that particular item, if you think that at some point you may want to branch out and sell or talk about something else, then you may want to consider other options that will let your blog posts grow and change the same way your online business does.

EBay Tinkers with UK Feedback Feature


EBay is apparently back to its old tricks of “if it’s not broke, we need to make it that way.” This week, sellers in the UK noticed that the online marketplace giant had decided to remove the feedback feature “Feedback left for others.”

Although eBay buyers still apparently have the ability to see feedback from sellers, sellers can no longer see what type of comments the buyers are leaving for sellers. Sellers have noted that this can be a problem because without this feature, sellers have no way of knowing exactly what kind of buyer they are dealing with. As an example, a seller has no way of knowing that a buyer constantly likes to state that the items they purchase never arrive or that the items always seem to arrive damaged.

While this may not seem like it would be very important, to many sellers it actually is. Since eBay only allows sellers to leave positive feedback, sellers have had to rely on other ways of determining what type of buyer they are dealing with. Analyzing a buyer’s comments on the feedback they leave can help to identify problems that might arise when they are dealing with that buyer.

As in the earlier example, if a buyer likes to say that the items they buy are constantly not arriving, the seller then knows that they should require a signature confirmation from the buyer to prove the item made it safely into their hands, or that the seller should insure even lower priced items, if the buyer likes to constantly state that items are arriving damaged.

According to an eBay discussion board, when one seller made an inquiry as to why the feedback feature had been removed, eBay dismissed the concerns stating that it was to protect the buyers by keeping their purchase information private.

Perhaps what is the most upsetting about this change, however, is not the fact that eBay has chosen to do this, but that they made the change without notice, once again helping the buyer while ignoring the needs of the seller. Despite the fact that the change is currently only affecting UK sellers, some sellers suspect that the United States will soon be next. If so, what will this change mean to you? Leave a comment below and let us know your opinion.

Sourcing Merchandise for Sale on eBay By Cliff Ennico

Slowly but surely, eBay is making a big comeback.

I am privileged to be giving a talk at next week’s eBay Open conference in Las Vegas ( on some of the legal and tax issues involved in sourcing the merchandise that you want to sell on eBay.

Here are some highlights from my talk:

You must source your merchandise legally.  A thief cannot pass good title to property of any kind.  Seriously, dude, don’t even THINK about doing any of the following:

  • stealing merchandise (until garbage is actually picked up by a trash hauler, it is still considered somebody’s property – resist the temptation to “dumpster dive” or “Blue Bin binge” on trash pickup day);
  • robbing somebody’s grave, even if it is a centuries-old burial ground you discovered while installing your backyard swimming pool;
  • shoplifting, even if it was during a riot or power blackout and, well, everybody was doing it;
  • selling stuff eBay says you can’t sell on the site (an alphabetical list of prohibited items can be found at;
  • buying merchandise from dubious sources that you just know, or have strong reason to believe, is counterfeit or violates somebody’s trademark (in the immortal words of rock singer MeatLoaf®, “there’s ain’t no Coup deVille hiding at the bottom of a Crackerjack box”).

“Drop shipping” and consignment sales.  When you “drop ship” somebody else’s goods, you sell their stuff online, collect the money, take your cut, and remit whatever’s left over to the owner, who ships the order.  Make sure you include sales taxes in each state where the owner has a physical place of business, and make sure the owner warns you when it’s running low on inventory.

Consignment sales are the same as drop shipping except that the owner is usually an individual and not a company.  The same sales tax rules apply to consignment sales as apply to drop shipping.  Also, make sure either you take possession of the merchandise, or get the seller to agree not to sell or give the merchandise to anyone else until your eBay listing ends.

The tricks to “retail arbitrage”.  When you buy something and pay the full retail price, then resell that something on eBay for an even higher price, that’s called “retail arbitrage.”  You will have to pay sales tax when you buy the merchandise, and deduct it as part of your “cost of goods sold” when the item sells on eBay.  Also, if you resell the item to someone who lives in the same state you do, you will have to collect your state’s sales tax (yes, there is sometimes double sales tax in “retail arbitrage” transactions).

“Retail arbitrage” is all about maxing out your margins.  Don’t buy gift pens for $1 apiece and resell them for $2.  Look for the “clearance” merchandise that’s discounted 60% or more, then offer a 20% discount off the list price on eBay.  Don’t worry: the buyers will be there.  If it’s trademarked merchandise (think Coach® handbags or just about any brand of perfume), buy only from authorized sources and include a photo of the receipt in your eBay listing so you can demonstrate “provenance” in case somebody accuses you of selling bogus stuff.

Becoming somebody’s “exclusive online distributor”.  This is the best way to “lock in” a continuing source of supply for high-demand merchandise.  Approach a local manufacturer of really cool stuff and offer to be their “exclusive online distributor”.  Many companies don’t have the time or patience to build an online sales channel and will welcome the opportunity to work with you.  Make sure the agreement lasts for at least three years, and that the manufacturer agrees not to sell their stuff online with anyone but you during that time.

Selling “private label” merchandise.  When you buy generic merchandise overseas (usually from China or elsewhere in Asia), slap your trademark on it and resell it on eBay, that is called “private labeling.”  It can be a great way to build a brand if you truly are adding value to the merchandise in some way, but it can get you into a lot of legal trouble.

When you “private label,” you assume all legal liabilities of the manufacturer.  If the product is defective or harmful, that will become your problem.  You will need “products liability” insurance.  Make sure the merchandise is not counterfeit, and that the manufacturer isn’t selling the identical merchandise to other eBay sellers who may then (believe it or not) sue you for infringing their “private label” brand.

The secret to success when selling on eBay, or on any other online retail venue, is to find merchandise that is always in demand, with little competition, in quantities big enough that you can easily restock your inventory whenever necessary, at a low enough price that you can realize a decent profit on resale, in a “niche” that’s big enough to give you a living and help you build a recognizable “brand identity”.

Cliff Ennico ( is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’.  This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state.  To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at  COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

How to decide what to name your blog – part one

If you sell online, you know the importance of having an online presence. You Tweet, post on Facebook, use SnapChat, and Instagram. You may think that if you’re doing all that, you don’t need a blog…but…not so fast.

Although using these faster types of social media have kind of pushed having a blog to the back burner, it should still be an important part of your marketing strategy. While Tweeting with the 140 characters is good for directing buyers to your items, blogging (if it is done right) helps you build your brand.

The problem for many people is that they don’t know what to name their blog. Even worse, they do know what to name their blog and have the absolute perfect name, but then they discover that someone came up with the exact same name a long, long time ago (and usually the blog is inactive, which just makes it worse) and now they are drawing a total blank.

Before you dive into the world of blogging and the first step of naming your blog, take a moment and decide what you actually want your blog to represent. Is it going to be primarily for posting the items you are selling? If so, you are probably fine making an extension of your online store name. If you are building your brand or want to go outside the box a bit, however, you may need to think it through a little more and come up with something else to call it.

So…how do you find a good name?

Well, here’s your homework for this week:

Ask yourself these questions:

What do plan for your blog to be about? Decide if you will blog about your items, selling in general, or maybe talking more about your niche. Maybe you don’t primarily want it to be about your online store, but want to build your personal brand instead.

Who do you want your target audience to be? You could decide that you want it to attract buyers or perhaps you want to indirectly draw people in by blogging about your niche, such as vintage clothing, toys, or records.

What type of voice is your blog going to have? Serious, funny, business-like? You will want the name of your blog to reflect the type of blog you want to have.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will have a better idea of what direction your blog name should go in. We’ll cover the process of actually how to choose a blog name next week!

Taking advantage of seasonal lows


Every market has a pattern of a seasonal high and low. The holiday season typically begins around Thanksgiving and runs to Christmas (and even a bit beyond). The wedding season also has a fairly clear pattern, which generally starts around January and is heaviest from July to August. Even back to school has a pattern, with early sales starting mid-July and becoming heaviest about the first and second week of August.

When you open your store, it is important for you to understand what kind of business you can expect throughout different times of the year. This is not only important for getting your inventory right, but if your sales rely heavily on a seasonal pattern, you have to figure out what to do during the rest of the year.

Getting creative

Just because your inventory has a seasonal high and low season, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t find creative ways to boost those off-season sales. As an example, if the main item that you sell is ugly Christmas sweaters, you might think that the holiday season is the only time people will want to buy them. What many ugly Christmas sweater sellers have learned though is that there is also another opportunity to sell them during mid-June and/or July.

You see, some people have yearly “Christmas in July” parties, so even though the thermometer outside may say 95 or 100 degrees, inside it’s nice and cool in the air conditioning and people are enjoying Leon Day (Noel spelled backwards), which is on June 25th .This date marks exactly six months until Christmas rolls around again! Even Christmas decorations will briefly sell around this date, so if you primarily sell Christmas items, there is a small seasonal peak there in which with the right promotion, you might actually do quite well.

Thinking outside the (country) box

Although most brick and mortar stores usually won’t have sweaters and jackets for sale in June or shorts and flip flops for sale in November, some online sellers have discovered that they still do some booming business since international buyers, such as those in Australia are in the middle of their winter season while those in the United States are in the sweltering heat. When the seasons reverse again, they are even able to sell bathing suits to buyers who are “down under” while snow is falling outside the window. Jasmine, an eBay seller who typically buys clearance summer items around the time that school starts back states that one surprising item for her was suntan lotion for children, which she says she sells year round.

Do you take advantage of some of these off-season peaks in your store? Leave a comment below.

Summertime sales blues and what to do about it

Summertime and the living is easy. Unless you sell online that is. In that case, summer is hard and the only thing that is hot right now is probably the weather. Sales have slowed down or even almost stopped.

If you’re like most sellers, this probably means that your unlisted items are piling up and your current inventory is just sitting there gathering dust. This may mean that it’s time to take a step back and take another approach to your listing strategy. Instead of bringing in new items to list, it might be time to start moving all that old and unlisted inventory out instead.

First, let’s take a look at all that old inventory that you just keep holding in your store and listing as “Good til cancelled” (GTC). Now is the time to get that stuff out of here, so you can start getting in fresh merchandise that will sell. Don’t forget holidays are just around the corner, so you should be currently gearing your inventory toward that.

In some cases, this may mean that you need to take a look at your old inventory, take a deep breath and let it all go — some of it for maybe even less than what you originally gave for it. Before doing that, however, let’s take a look at some creative ways that might allow you to save some of your sales and even put a little extra money in your pocket.

First, re-evaluate everything. Take a good hard look at each item that you already have listed. Is there a way to improve the title? Have you left out any relevant keywords that might help sell the item? What about the photos, is it time to redo them?

If you find that there really isn’t anything else to do that you haven’t already done, then it may be time to start thinking outside the box. Is there a way to take some of the items and group them together to sell as a bundled lot? As an example, if you have some knitting supplies, perhaps you could sell them as one unit or a bundled lot instead of individually. Not only will this get more items out the door, but in many cases bundled items go for more money than they do when you sell the items individually. Buyers are often willing to pay more because they are getting more.

Second, take a look at your unlisted inventory. Are there items that might sell better during the summer than they will later on in the year? If so, go ahead and get them listed. As the old saying goes “It can’t sell, if it’s not listed.” It’s also not a bad time to get holiday inventory gathered together. You will soon want to start listing it, so why not go ahead and get a head start?

How are your sales this summer? Leave a comment below.

5 Steps to Conquer July Sales Tax

taxjarlogoAuthor Mark Faggiano is Founder and CEO of TaxJar

July is what we here at TaxJar call a “sales tax perfect storm.” Nearly every online seller will have a sales tax filing due date this month.

If you’re new to sales tax, or if it has been awhile, check out these 5 simple tips for conquering July sales tax filing:

Know Your Due Dates

Since sales tax is governed at the state level, the actual day of the month you pay can vary. In the majority of states, sales tax is due on the 20th day of the month after the taxable period. But some states want to hear from you on the 15th, or the last day of the month. This date can also change due to holidays. Check your July 2016 sales tax due dates here.

Make Sure You Collected the Right Amount

When filing, the state expects you to remit how much sales tax you “should have” collected, even if, for some reason, you were unable to collect the correct amount. (For example, eBay’s sales tax system only allows you to collect sales tax at one rate per state, which means that you often have to charge either too much or too little sales tax to buyers.) If you find yourself in a situation like this when filing your sales tax return, double check that you are filing what you should have collected. If you’d rather not pore over your individual sales by hand, TaxJar has a simple “estimated sales tax due” report that will help you with this!

 File “Zero” Returns

If you are registered for a sales tax permit in a state, be sure to file a sales tax return even if you didn’t collect any sales tax over the taxable period. States want to hear from you on every due date. They consider this a “check in.” If you don’t file a sales tax return, you could end up with consequences from a $50 fine to the cancellation of your sales tax permit. Nobody wants to pay a $50 fine when you didn’t have any sales tax to remit in the first place!

Don’t Discount Sales Tax Discounts

About half the states also realize that asking you to collect, report and file sales tax places an administrative burden on sellers. For this reason, they allow you to keep a very small percentage of sales tax you collected. This amount is usually 1-3% of the total, but can add up over time. Don’t leave money on the table!

Automate Future Filings

If you find yourself spending valuable hours on sales tax filing that you could be using to work on more profitable business activities, then you can automate your sales tax filing.  TaxJar AutoFile will file your sales tax returns for you in almost every state for just $19.95 per state per filing. Not sure automating sales tax filing is right for you? Check out 6 Reasons to AutoFile Your Sales Tax Returns.

Have questions or comments about sales tax? Join the conversation at the Sales Tax for eCommerce Sellers Facebook Group!

 TaxJar is a service that makes sales tax reporting and filing simple for over 5,000 online sellers.  Try a 30-day-free trial of TaxJar today and eliminate sales tax compliance headaches from your life!

Pokemon Go Plus Pre-Orders Fetching High Prices on EBay


Unless you’ve been off hiding in a cave somewhere over the last week or so, you’ve probably heard that Pokemon Go fever has gripped the nation. The mobile game, which is played through an App, allows people to hunt for an assortment of creature-like monsters in their neighborhood while using the cameras on their phones to give the game a more virtual-like experience.

Now, some savvy eBay sellers are cashing in on the craze by listing a product known as the “Pokemon Go Plus” on eBay. Interestingly, pre-orders for the Pokemon Go Plus were actually available back in June, but at the time, many people were unsure whether or not the mobile game was going to be a success. Since literally million of players have decided to participate, however, these pre-orders are now being offered for sale on eBay.

For the uninitiated, the Pokemon Go Plus is a Bluetooth accessory worn on the wrist like a watch that allows players to participate in the game without actually having to use their smartphones. Since playing the game can quickly drain down the battery life of a smartphone, it really is a pretty nifty gadget to have.

Before you list your pre-order (if you were lucky enough to have got in on the initial deal, since most retailers have already sold out), keep in mind, however, that the Pokemon Go Plus is not scheduled to be released until the end of Jul. This means that you may have to contend with some overly anxious buyers wanting updates on their purchase once your Buy It Now or auction is over. If you are interested in making a little money though, there could be a great reward for your troubles. The device, which has the initial price of $35 has been fetching pre-order sale prices of over $100 with reports that some sellers were actually even asking as much as $475.

Are you selling your pre-order or are you forsaking profits and anxiously awaiting for your Pokemon Go Plus to arrive? Leave a comment below.

That Kat Radio Show Episode 52 Inventory Lab with Kim McCaffery

This week on That Kat Radio, Kim McCaffery joined us to talk about Inventory Lab.

Segment One:
First Kim introduced herself to the audience. She said that around the same time, she was thinking about wrapping her career in the nonprofit sector, she became aware of an opportunity to join the Inventory Lab team. Without a second thought she sent her resume and didn’t really know what to expect. She just knew that she loves everything about Inventory Lab and wanted to join their team. Thankfully they thought she would be a good fit and hired her last fall.
Kat and Kim discussed about Kim’s career in the nonprofit public sector. She was focused on violence preventions. Her role was a sexual assault prevention court meter, so she gets all the public speaking and outreach work.

Kat and Kim talked about Kim’s own Amazon business and how she got started. She has a passion for prevention of violence and also empowerment. She was really fascinated with the concept of building an at home business and the empowerment of that would bring. Kim said that she and her husband started selling on eBay way back in 2004. Her husband was a restaurant manager, so they move around very often but they love auctions and yard sales, so it made total sense to use the eBay platform to generate additional income. When she got her eBay business to where she wanted it to be, she focused on getting more information about selling on Amazon.

Kim explained that she and her husband love the thrill of the hunt. They love being in the community, love going to yard sales and meeting new people, looking for that super fun find. They get such a thrill out of those and that’s their idea of a good time.

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Segment Two:
Kat and Kim explained about how Inventory Lab got started and what it does to Amazon sellers. Ryan Stephens Founder and CEO of Inventory Lab was a full time Amazon and eBay seller, but he was able to identify that the existing system was inefficient. He also was able to identify that there could be a better way, so that’s how Inventory Lab was born. Today Inventory Lab is ever evolving company. It offers comprehensive tools, focused on increasing the efficiency of the workflow of the average Amazon seller. The entire product life cycle is supported by Inventory Lab. So resourcing and researching, inventory, listing, printing labels, inventory management, accounting and most importantly is the ability to assess and analyze the profitability, all these are going to be there and available in Inventory Lab.

Kat and Kim talked about the growth of Inventory Lab. 2016 has been a huge year for Inventory Lab so far. They’re excited and anxious to see what the rest of the year is going to bring. Ryan and Elizabeth Harding their Operations Manager, surefooted decision makers of the company, chose to ensure quality for existing customers over investing in strategies to increase their number of subscribers. They really wanted customers to have a quality experience all around. They started implementing a plan. Abigail Piner the Customer Happiness Manager, she and Kim joined the team around the same time, they jumped in as Customer Champions that provide support to customers.

Kat and Kim explained about all the updates and changes for handling support request with Inventory Lab. The Customer Champions, they’re focused exactly on providing support to customers. They just implemented their new Self Help Portal, in addition to their User Guide and Troubleshooting Guide. Their User Guide has been greatly enhanced, it’s a step by step guide, detailed breakdowns on topics that are usually very confusing. They’ve added a lot of tools that support Inventory Lab folks to reduce learning curve for new Inventory Lab subscribers.

Kat and Kim discussed more about the portal and how someone can access it. Subscribers can go and they can find self help guide. They can open a ticket if they can’t find the information that they need and they’ll be able to stay connected and monitor the progress. Inventory Lab implemented a lot of new tools to give information to customers, because they want everybody to be able to utilize their entire Inventory Lab account and get everything out of the subscription that they can.

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Segment Three:
Kat and Kim talked about the webinars that Kim do. Kim said that they’re doing webinars once or twice a week. They are taking people for a guided tour of Inventory Lab. Kim’s favorite part is the question and answer portion, where they would be able to answer questions from a live demonstration using Inventory Lab account. People can sign up for the webinar to find out the information that they need and Inventory Lab is constantly posting them on their facebook group when they’re available. They’ve also added a video tutorial library that’s available in the support portal.

Kat and Kim spoke about the features of Inventory Lab has that they find customers don’t realize how to use in their business. Kim said that people usually under utilize the reports, the ability to analyze whether or not their profitable. She added that she talks a lot about the power of knowing factually where people stand in their business. By knowing how profitable you are, supplies or categories working for you or which one isn’t, this information changes everything. Being tentative due to lack of information won’t grow businesses but confidence backed by data will. People have to know where they stand in their businesses, is it healthy, is it robust? What direction they need to go or where do they really need to put their revenue? These are the informations that people need and people don’t give respect to that knowledge and understand the power that it gives them. In the webinar Kim always talk about this and want people to know that this information is available to them and should start using this tool more.

Kat asked Kim about Inventory Lab integration of accounting functions, bookkeeping and filing income tax. Kim explained that Inventory Lab is a great tool, it’s not really intended to reconcile 1099 form, it exist to provide quick report and give you that data that you need. Inventory Lab folks like to use their profit margin report and their inventory evaluation report around tax time because they are great tools for that time of the year but they encourage people to rely on their CPA. Inventory Lab can help provide the data that people need to file their taxes.

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Segment Four:
Kat and Kim talked about the help Inventory Lab can provide with collecting Sales Tax. If Amazon is collecting Sales Tax on your behalf, Inventory Lab has the ability to import that data and even has a Sales Tax report available. Amazon is collecting Sales Tax based on the settings that you set in, Inventory Lab is capturing that data about the Sales Tax that Amazon has collected and then the report will show you how much tax was collected and in what state. Inventory Lab does not have a limit.

Kat and Kim discussed about another feature of Inventory Lab that people do not use to it’s full capacity. Kim said that the Lists feature in Inventory Lab is basically listing of inventory. Some people come to Inventory Lab thinking that it’s only for accounting and they don’t bother listing their inventory with the Inventory Lab app. It’s available and it’s really a great and efficient tool to use. People are able to list any item that is already existing in the Amazon Product Catalog, they can just simply plug in all the information that they need and add it to their inventory. They can also plug in their suppliers, date purchased, set their list price and they’ll be able to print their labels as they list.

Kat and Kim explained about Scoutify and what it does for Inventory Lab users. Scoutify is a powerful mobile tool, it can be installed on multiple mobile devices. If someone has more than one mobile device, they can download Scoutify on their other mobile devices without additional cost. Kat added that Inventory Lab subscription covers Scoutify Apps.

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InventoryLab website:
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Finding your Customers’ Motivation By Cliff Ennico

cliffSometimes great business advice comes from the most unlikely source.

Now that summer’s here it’s time to think about beach reading.  I’m not a big fiction reader, but one novelist I always keep track of is Dave Eggers.  If you haven’t read any Dave Eggers, you need to – his books are extremely poignant observations of current world events and, while I disagree sometimes with his political positions, his stories will give you deeper insight into “what’s happening now” than most newspapers or TV news programs.  Past novels have dealt with the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina (“Zeitoun”), and the way digital technology, especially social media, is changing the way we look at other people and the world (“The Circle”).

When I heard that Hollywood was making a movie based on one of Eggers’ earlier novels, “A Hologram for the King,” I realized I hadn’t read that one so I went out and bought a copy.  The story, an offbeat and very funny commentary on the decline of American manufacturing and America’s resulting decline in influence on the world stage, centers on Alan Clay, an over-the-hill fifty-something salesperson (to be played in the movie by Tom Hanks – perfect choice) working as an independent contractor for a technology company that is looking to sell a state-of-the-art holographic telecommunications system to the Saudi Arabian government.

Clay’s interactions with Saudi government officials and other locals, foreign (mostly Chinese) competitors, other expatriates, his uncaring boss and unmotivated Millennial employees combine to form a perfect portrayal of an aging Baby Boomer’s mounting frustrations and sense of helplessness in a world growing more strange and alien by the day (a number of reviewers have compared Alan Clay to Willie Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”).

At some future time I may write about what “A Hologram for the King” can teach entrepreneurs and business owners.  But one passage in the novel deserves a column of its own.

Reminiscing about his start in sales as a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesperson in the 1970s, he recalled some advice he received from a mentor about what motivates people to buy things.  Specifically, about the four reasons people buy consumer goods.

The first is Money.  “Appeal to their thrift,” Clay is told.  “Fuller products will save them money by preserving their investments – their wood furniture, their fine china, their linoleum floors.”

The second is Romance.  “Here you sell the dream,” Clay’s mentor says.  “you put the Fuller products in among their aspirations.  Right there next to the vacations and yachts.”

The third is Self-Preservation:  “If they’re afraid to let you in, if they talk to you through the window or something, you go with this way.  These products will keep you healthy, safe from germs, diseases . . . “

Finally, there is Recognition.  “She wants to buy what everyone else is buying.  You pick the four or five names of the most respected neighbors, you tell her those folks already bought the products.”

It’s an interesting way to look at sales strategies, and I’m dying to know where Eggers picked this up.  It actually dovetails quite nicely with what I’ve been teaching for many years about customer motivation.

In my view, based on more than 35 years of working with entrepreneurs and small businesses, it all boils down to “fears” and “passions”.  People buy things either because they are excited or turned on by them (passions) – they “spark joy”, in the words of decluttering expert Marie Kondo — or because the things help them sleep better at nights (by reducing their fears).  To view my free 90-minute video on this approach (which I call “How to Sell Anything to Anybody”), go to and search either for “Cliff Ennico” or “how to sell”.

Eggers’ four sales motivators can, I think, easily be broken down into “fear” and “passion” responses.  Self-Preservation is clearly a “fear” sell, while Money ties in to a consumer’s fear of running out of money or the shame and embarrassment (known as “buyer’s remorse”) you eventually feel when spending needlessly or foolishly.

“Romance” is clearly a passion sell, based on the consumer’s love of beautiful things and a luxurious lifestyle (or perhaps the desire to outshine the neighbors, in this case quite literally).

“Recognition” is a bit of a hybrid.  Some people want to “keep up with the Joneses” because they want to be perceived as their equals or superiors – that’s a passion.  Others are afraid to stand out from the crowd by being perceived as “different”.

A good salesperson is able to tell – usually at a glance, or with a few well chosen words – whether a person is motivated by fear or passion in that particular moment of time.  That is the lesson Alan Clay learned as a young man.  To find out if that lesson still applies in our digitized, globalizing economy, read “A Hologram for the King.”

Cliff Ennico ( is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’.  This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state.  To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at  COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.