Tag : buyer

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2 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use “Auction” in Your Headlines

Every year, the percentage of retail transactions that occur online versus in a brick-and-mortar rises.

If you’ve ever purchased anything online, you know that most of those transactions started with a search engine. So, if we’re selling assets—especially if we’re selling them online—it makes since to discover how people are searching for what they want to buy.

Google gives this information away for free. Anyone can type in any term and see its use over time.

This interactive graph from Google Trends shows the proportional use of five search terms related to online purchases.

If you’ve been in the auction business for any length of time, this might hurt your ego. Worse, it might give you pangs of regret for how you’ve advertised your assets for the past decade.

At the most recent iteration of the Auction Technology Specialist course, one of my fellow instructors asked a room full of auction professionals what they would type into Google to buy a Ford F-150. Not a single one of the 28 industry insiders suggested the word “auction.” He wasn’t picking on them. I don’t type “auction” into a search bar, either, unless I’m researching something for a talk or blog post.

So, if a room full of auction people don’t search for auctions, why would we expect the buying public—many of whom don’t have experience with the auction process or positive associations for the word “auction”—to look for auctions? Sure, there’s a small community of folks who frequent auctions and regularly participate in them; but that quantity pales in comparison to just the people who’ve visited a Walmart this week.

If we want to claim that auction brings true market value, then we need to bring the full market to our sellers’ assets. To bring the full market, we’re going to need to adapt to two truths:

  • People don’t search for auctions. They search for assets.
  • People don’t buy auctions. They buy assets.

Our advertising headlines and subject lines and supporting text needs to focus on the assets being sold. While the marketing vehicle of an auction does connote important information the buyer needs to know, that buyer doesn’t care about those realities until they want what’s being sold. If we have only a few seconds to capture attention and then call to action, it would make sense to focus on what’s important to the buyer. Our fiduciary responsibility to our seller is to sell their assets, not our events.

My guess—and I don’t think it’s possible to acquire more than anecdotal data on this—is that more people search for just the asset in question with none of the words in the Google Trends graph shown above. Buyers might use descriptive terms, product categories, concrete attributes, or brand names; but they’re starting with the asset in some way.

I work with auctioneers who have removed the word “auction” from everything in their advertising except their URL and terms. That might be too extreme for you. (It’s not for me.)  It’s not hiding reality or being ashamed of auctions. It’s not deceit. It’s adaption.  

We can advertise auctions. Or we can sell assets.

Knowing is Half the Battle

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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89: The Ebay Rule for Advertising Estates

Pederson Estate

It might sound macabre, but one of the least volatile segments of the auction industry seems to estate liquidations.  I can’t imagine how awkward it must be for auctioneers to advertise and sell estate liquidation services, as family emotions and situations are bigger than the inanimate balance sheets that drive many of other auction segments.

So, I understand when an auctioneer tries to honor their sellers and/or their loved ones by headlining their advertising with “The Estate of John & Jane Doe.”

I get the request for such on a regular basis by well-meaning auctioneers, and I usually push back against the request.  It’s not that I don’t want to honor lives with well-earned legacies.  It’s not that I don’t understand that my design fees and the cost of the media I’m designing are paid by the sweat of their lifetimes.

It’s just that I’m paid to design the most effective media possible.

Krause CatalogSee, we only get a few seconds to land our marketing message; and that means we have to put information in the order of importance to the buyer—not the seller.  Unless who owned the property is more important than what the property is, the seller’s name shouldn’t be the headline.  If we give consumers information they don’t care about at the outset, we’re wasting their time and squandering precious chances that they’ll keep reading.

I call it “the Ebay rule for advertising estates.”  It works like this: if you were to list what you’re selling on Ebay [or Google or Amazon, etc.], what would be your headline?

If you’re selling a car from Jay Leno’s garage, you leverage his fame in the headline.  If you’re selling the typewriter that Edward R. Murrow used to write his news briefs, you lead with his name.  If you’re selling the garage tools for a beloved, local high school English teacher, you headline the line of matching DeWalt equipment.

“Well, this isn’t an auction the whole country would care about,” or “This guy was well known in his community,” you might retort.  If that’s the case, the local community probably already knows about their passing.  If not, a retrospective press release might be a gracious gesture and even an effective marketing tool to increase interest in your ensuing auction.

Yes: a previous owner’s reputation can influence the price items bring.  And this important moment in their legacy deserves to be recognized—just not headlined in the advertising.  My clients often include pictures of their sellers, regularly with kind words about their contribution to the community and the care of their belongings.  You should consider doing the same, when space and budget allow.

Fellows PostcardOne exception to “the Ebay rule for advertising estates” that I’ve learned to appreciate is the person with niche notoriety—typically a well-known collector.  I’ve worked for an auctioneer marketing a multi-million-dollar automotive collection [not an estate] from the founder of car and collecting magazines.  I’ve recently helped two auction companies jointly auction literally almost an entire town, owned by a family known for almost a century for the unique inventory of their multiple specialty warehouses.  (The auction companies even brought in historians to have displays on site at the three-day auction to answer questions and relay the rich history not eh auction block.)  I’ve assisted an auctioneer selling a mass of very specific estate items from a philanthropist known for his collection of hunting and fishing items.  At all of these auctions, people showed up in droves to purchase something that had higher value because of the reputation of the seller.

If your audience would investigate a collection because of who owned it, by all means use the seller’s popularity to their advantage.  But if the seller isn’t the selling point, stick to the facts important to the buyers in your advertising headlines.

Taking It Personally

I play basketball at the YMCA for 60 to 90 minutes just about every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—and have for the past three years.  I love it, even though I’m frustratingly not as good as my height should allow.  I still haven’t learned the pick and roll; I struggle to know when to help on defense and when to stick with my defensive assignment.  Embarrassingly, my layup percentage is probably in the same ballpark as Shaq’s free-throw efficiency.

Jesus couldn’t trust me with athletic talent.  I would’ve been a punk.

That’s why I have a great respect for Christian athletes who have received more than their fair share of dexterity, strength, and speed—and handled it with grace, humility, and candor.  I particularly applaud the star athletes of the I Am Second campaign.  They are actually leveraging their sports accomplishments for the One who made them possible.

I aspire to follow in Colt McCoy’s example with the modicum of talent I have with my words and my business.  I would love to leverage my accomplishment for the kingdom.  This section of my AdverRyting posts is just a small step in that direction.

What could you be doing to leverage your strengths for the One who gave them to you?

Stock image of menu image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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