Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Made to Stick: Funniest eBay Auction Ever

My brain feels like it's going to explode today, in a good way, if that is possible.

I have been hanging out with a whole bunch of different groups lately, from, to the Women's Media Center, to book clubs and women at work groups, to the two-day Breastfeeding and Feminism symposium this week at UNC. I've had a great time pulling these threads together and making connections in different ways.

We talked about how to get breastfeeding accepted in society, and how to attract positive media coverage, and I recommended that we all read the book Made to Stick to help us create pithy, simple, memorable stories.

Then today I was reading Sarah Zeldman's Solutions for Busy Moms blog and she pointed me to her pick for the "Funniest eBay Auction Description Ever!"

On this eBay auction, a busy Mom of 6 kids writes a long, involved, funny story as she sells off a LOT OF POKEMON CARDS THAT MY KIDS TRIED TO SNEAK BY ME. (Go ahead and read it and then please come back.) She not only got $142.51 for her troubles, she got 179,000 people to read about her auction!

The author, Dawn, is also a blogger who writes Because I Said So. Now it seems inevitable that she'll get a book deal as a result of her eBay posting.

Most writers would kill for this kind of attention, I suppose each of us has to wonder how much you can plan for this type of response, and how much is just lightning in a bottle. Dawn seemed genuinely surprised by the attention to her auction. She was amazed by 14,000 hits and a bid of $40.00 last time she posted a comment on eBay. The auction ended over a month ago so the fact that people are still blogging about it and reading the auction description tell you that this story has gone viral and taken on a life of its own. She's received over 10,000 emails in response. (Read Dawn's late August Because I Said So blog entries to find out how it all exploded.)

It turns out that Dawn's eBay piece does fit all of the Made to Stick criteria for memorable ideas. It is a simple, concrete, unexpected (her blog didn't explode, her eBay listing did!), concrete, credible, emotional story. For me her genuineness was part of the fun...not to mention the allure of an ordinary Mom getting revenge on the kids who pulled a fast one on her.

We haven't heard the last from Dawn. The media has gotten wind of all this, of course, and she may show up on ABC World News in the near future.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Authentic, real, spontaneous, delightful. All proof that strategy and formulations only work in hindsight! My first husband, the baseball lover, used to advise me in my business as a PR person to "throw more sh-t." Meaning, "Throw more sh-t and more will stick." Sure, we perfect our form, but after that, it's percentages, it's odds. Babe Ruth wasn't only the homerun king, he was the strike-out king too. And so we all keep swinging.

2:19 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Great points, Karen. Yes, as a writer you just have to keep putting yourself out there. I thought it was really interesting that Dawn's story, which was funny, wouldn't have caused such a stir on her blog but because it was in such an unexpected place, it was extra funny.

Sports metaphors don't usually catch my attention but "Babe Ruth as strikeout king" is memorable. We can get paralyzed by perfection to the point where we won't try something new.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same thought: it was funny because of where it was, not so much what it was. That sense of surprise is the essence of comedy, the whoopee cushion.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Jeanne said...

I'd like to hear more about the breastfeeding conference!

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Zeldman said...

If you liked'll love this...I think...

11:58 PM  

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