In an effort to build broader awareness among small-business owners both outside and within their user community, eBay is holding "The Big Savings for Small Businesses Contest." From August 25 through September 30, small-business owners are encouraged to register at www.ebaybusiness.com and answer the question, "If I won $25,000, what would I buy on eBay to help my small business and what impact would it have on my company?"

In 2002, purchases made for a business accounted for more than $1 billion dollars in gross merchandise sales on eBay, a trend that didn't go undetected by the uber online marketplace. "When most people think about eBay, they think about buying personal items," says Jay Fiore, lead marketer for this contest. "Our promotion is really about helping small-business people understand that eBay is a great place to go to find terrific savings on a huge selection of brand name laptops, desktops, cell phones, networking gear, even industrial equipment."

eBay has more than 500,000 new listings of business items on the site every week, falling into three broad categories:

  1. A range of industrial equipment and supplies for a number of vertical industries like restaurant, construction, metalworking equipment and test and measurement gear
  2. Computers and networking and office equipment. eBay estimates about half of all the computers and networking gear bought on eBay are bought by small businesses
  3. Companies buying wholesale lots to resell.

"With all this business buying going on on eBay, this year we started taking steps to promote eBay as a business buying destination," adds Fiore.

Entries must be 250 words or less. One grand prize winner will receive $25,000, and five first prize winners will receive $5,000 to purchase computers and other business equipment on eBay. Prize money will be awarded via a PayPal account. Winners will be notified through e-mail and/or mail by November 1. The winners will be chosed by eBay's promotions agency Marden-Kane as well as a small panel of experts according to the following criteria:

  1. How buying business equipment and supplies on the eBay site positively impacts your business (40%)
  2. Passion for eBay (30%)
  3. Clarity of expression (30%)

"There are so many stories about small-business people who've benefited so much because eBay has enabled them to start their business, grow their business, hire more people and so on," Fiore shares. "That's part of the reason we came up with this idea for the promotion--to find a way to help businesses even more." Although the promotion is aimed at building awareness among small-business owners outside and inside the eBay community, Fiore maintains, "It's also about demonstrating in a real tangible way, our commitment to helping small businesses succeed as well."