Lance Wiggs blogged yesterday on Air New Zealand auctioning themselves to the lowest bidder. I added my own thoughts in the comments, but I thought I'd take a moment to explain why I think Trade Me is wrong to assume they will continue to be the default venue of choice forever and ever amen.
Trade Me works for most people because it has the greatest number of buyers and sellers. If you want to sell something (e.g. a heater) you want to sell it in the marketplace with the greatest number of people looking to buy a second hand heater (Trade Me). If you're looking to buy a second hand heater, you want to shop in the marketplace with the greatest number of second hand heaters for sale (Trade Me). It's a "winner takes all" cycle that's difficult to break and it has allowed companies like Trade Me and eBay to remain dominant for over a decade despite their relative lack of innovation compared to would-be competitors.
But the thing about auctions, is that you only need two people to want it badly enough to achieve a fair market price (add a Buy Now, and you only need one). In the case of Air New Zealand auctioning international airfares for $1 reserve, there will be no shortage of people willing to suffer the pain of taking 30 seconds to sign up to a new site in order to place a bid. With Facebook Connect - you can now sign up to site with a single click. It's worth it, and Air NZ wouldn't be choosing alternative venues year after year if it wasn't working for them.
We all know about deposits in a monetary sense, but deposits can be just about anything: a small favour for a friend, consistently arriving early to work, doing little things to show your partner you care, remembering your friend's birthday, answering a call for help from a colleague, always replying to email in a timely manner, checking in with family and friends who live outside your weekly routine, paying your bills on time, going out of your way to do small favours for customers, being punctual to appointments and so on and so forth.
The thing about small deposits is they add up to something big and you get to cash them in. Life is a lot easier for people who consistently make small deposits, and equally difficult for those who don't. Favours are more willingly given to friends who help friends. Employers are more flexible with time off for errands or illness when employees are punctual or have been generous with their own time. Colleagues are more likely to have your back in a tight situation if you've previously helped them in kind. Friends and partners can forgive tardiness or forgetfulness if you've been consistently thoughtful and made time in the past. Customers forgive screw ups if you have previously demonstrated attention to detail and good service.
Cut yourself some slack. Make small deposits.