Multiple barter exchanges?

Should you belong to multiple barter exchanges?  The advice I get has varied greatly depending on who I ask.

If I talk to a broker I have always been told that you should only belong to one exchange.  I’ve even been told that some exchanges will kick you out if they find out that you belong to more than one.  I have been given two reasons for this:  1)  It takes resources (membership fees and time) for you to make good use of an exchange so it is more efficient to belong to just one exchange.  2)  Brokers feel like it’s less likely that they will get their agreed commission if you belong to multiple exchanges.  The concern is that they will do the work of setting up a deal then you will not necessarily fund the deal through their exchange.   Although I like and trust my brokers, I have to admit that these arguements smack of self interest to me.

In speaking to experienced successful traders it appears to me that the majority of them belong to multiple barter exchanges in addition to trading directly.   When I’ve asked specifics for which exchanges they recommend to join I have been told the following:  1)  Join whatever exchange is most popular in your area (of interest or geography).  2)  With regard to national exchanges, join the “big three.”  The big three include IMS, ITEX and Dobarter (which is really a collection of independent exchanges).   The reasons that these 3 in particular were recommended to me are that IMS has one of the strongest currencies, ITEX is one of the most established exchanges and the Dobarter system has one of the largest member networks.

Personally I think there is great value in having as large a personal barter network as possible because it means that I have greater trading options.  I do belong to multiple exchanges as well as do a lot of direct trading.  Certainly there is a point of diminishing returns with this and (for example) I have not seen fit at this time for me to personally join all three of the networks I mentioned above.  That doesn’t mean I won’t at some time though.  I’ve also looked at a regional exchange in my area that is pretty tempting to join.  There are additional cash costs so it makes common sense to keep that in mind before you join 50 different exchanges.  I should also point out that I am indeed a barter fanatic and put more time into these things that most folks.  With that in mind I could see that many traders could get overwhelmed by multiple exchanges.

So…I’m hoping I may have opened up some what of a can of worms here.  Please feel free to post back your thoughts in the comments area.

Too broke for barter?

When you are in sales you always have to be ready for objections to the sale.  Most objections I’m ready for but occasionally I run into something truly baffling.  The concept that one can be “too broke to barter” is one of those ideas that eludes me.  My goal here is to map out exactly what the issues are when you run into someone who says this what you can do about it.

The objection
In case you haven’t run into this issue before, here’s how it usually goes:  Somewhere usually pretty early in the discussion with a potential trade partner the talks break down.  You are told that they simply can’t continue to trade anymore.  They have hard-cash expenses and they just afford to spend “real money” to earn trade credits that they can’t use to pay their bills.

What’s behind it
Usually there are two things going on behind the scenes when you hear this:

  1. Fear.  It’s a very motivating emotion.  People with a weak business are running scared and doing anything they can think of (rational or not) to stop the bleeding.
  2. On top of that there is often a basic lack of understanding about how barter works.  People who are not effective at spending trade credits wisely will never understand the real value of barter

What you can do about it
Honestly many times you can’t do much.  Scared people are pretty tough to reason with.  If they will listen with an open mind, try to address both the fear and the educational aspects of the issue.  With regard to fear, I simply tell them that I understand where they are coming from.  It’s tough for a lot of businesses now.  The good news is that barter can help them through this.  It’s a source of relief, not trouble.  I explain that I used barter to buy things that I would otherwise have to spend cash on, then I can take that saved cash and use it to pay rent, utility bills and other things that I can’t barter for.  During lean times it can be very tough to find new clients and keep staff busy, but barter makes it much easier to bring in those new clients.  My barter exchanges are my secret sales weapon.  I then spend those barter credits on essential services for my business.  Offer to help your barter partner find smart ways to spend the barter credits that you want to pay them with.  Assure them that you can work together to find how to spend them BEFORE you make your deal with them.

I will sometimes personalize the issue and tell them that times can be tough for me as well and how much barter has helped me.  In times when there wasn’t money for bonuses, I could still do nice things for my staff.  Same thing on a personal level.  At times when I couldn’t buy some things for my kids, I was still able to keep all three of my kids in karate lessons because of barter.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t think you can afford to barter any more, please feel free to give me a ring.  I’d love to see if I can brainstorm with you about how you can use barter to help your business through tough times.  Now more than ever it’s time to stick together and help one another out.

One more thought before I wrap this up.  If you are in debt, it is possible that barter can help you dig your way out.  Talk to your barter broker and see what ideas they have.  You can also offer to trade directly with folks that you owe money to.  Even if it’s only a partial payment, it generally means a lot to your creditors to see how motivated you are to make good on your debt.

Assuming you truly understand barter you can NEVER be too broke to barter.  You can only be too broke NOT to barter.

Online Barter Stores

Over the years I’ve run into a number of online stores that are willing to sell all of their products on barter.  Sometimes the online store is set up specifically for barter and sometimes it’s a cash store but you can contact them directly to barter for anything in the store.  The value of these stores is twofold:

  1. Of course online stores are easy to shop from for business or personal use.
  2. Online stores are a great way to show potential new barter partners that there are many good things to purchase with barter credits.

The only issue I have with this concept is that I’ve never found a good directory of online barter stores.  I’ve devoted one page on my blog to list these but I know I only have a tiny fraction of all the sites out there.  Please check it out here:  Online Barter Stores

More importantly I’m looking for many new stores to add.  Please contact me with the web address of any online barter store that I can ad.  The website does not have to indicate on it publicly that it barters, but I would request that all stores that I add accept barter on all products/services in their store.