Tag : investors

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215: 3 Lists Every Auctioneer Wants But Nobody Can Buy

With the rise of big data, entrepreneurs have grown to assume that just about any kind of data is available to purchase. In many cases, that valuable demographic and purchase history is more robust than most of us would ever need. The problem is that it exists in proprietary databases. Those black boxes at best are available for blindfolded lease and at worst compete against us.

Even before Facebook’s ubiquity and Amazon’s dominance, though, auctioneers asked me for the same prospect lists they still assume I can procure. When I tell you that these lists get requested often, I mean every month—sometimes weekly. I still encounter surprise and maybe even disappointment when I can’t deliver them. To save us both from an awkward conversation later, I’ll just explain them here for you.

Real Estate Investors

As of July 19, 2019, we haven’t been able use Facebook’s real estate investor interests to target real estate ads. (I assume that’s to comply with HUD anti-discrimination regulations.) Even before that, we couldn’t target actual investors—only people whose Facebook habits showed an interest in investing. As of right now, we can’t purchase a list of individual people who invest in real estate. We can target companies whose standard industrial classification (SIC) falls under real estate development, management, or brokerage. We can ask for highest-known executives in those firms and phone numbers and legal/opt-in emails where available. In certain databases, we can pull people who own homes but don’t live in them. A list broker can sort that by net worth and/or annual household income. It’s a long shot, but that’s currently our best option.

Land (or Any Asset Category) Buyers

There isn’t a commercial source for those records. Landowners, yes. Land buyers, no. Independent auction companies should have a list of past bidders and buyers from auctions—hopefully sortable by asset category. Those lists should be queryable in order to pull only past buyers and/or bidders. Until you have critical mass, you can use that list only for direct mail. Once you do get several hundred buyers and/or bidders, you can use Facebook’s lookalike audience tool to find similar prospects. Until then, one option would be to partner with a joint venture company who does have a list large enough for lookalike audience potential. If you drive the Facebook traffic to your website, you can then start using your Facebook pixel data to create a prospect base. Using information sign-up forms and bidder registrations on those joint-venture auctions, those who do respond can become seeds to start or accelerate your own list. 

People Who Want [fill in the blank]

This is the one that makes me audibly laugh, when I open the email. Men have joked my entire life that they never know what the women in their life want. If that’s true, that takes out 50% of the people whose wants we can capture and query. Even if it’s not true, we would need a Minority Report-style system to mine this desire data. Do we really want companies to know our private thoughts? We can hit this goal obliquely through a list of past bidders or buyers on similar items, assuming their need or want wasn’t satiated since that last auction. We can purchase lists of some interests and purchase history, and we can target non-real estate ads to even more interests on Facebook directly. But the best we can do is get adjacent to wants and let artificial intelligence engines do their magic. There’s no list for people who want a mower or a Coca Cola sign or 20 acres.

That said, not having these lists and even not being able to acquire these lists doesn’t mean our advertising has to be ineffective or inefficient. It just means we need to do more homework, more experimenting, more tracking, more data analysis. Yes, that’s more work. Yes, that’s a completely different skill set than a silky auction chant or a well-executed sales pitch. Yes, it’s not the way your dad did it.

Over the next two decades, conglomerates and aggregate sites are going to put hundreds of bid callers and even auction marketers out of business. They’re going to pay people to do this data curation work. Instead of trying to buy data, they’re going to mine their own. Those of us who follow their example will most likely be the ones in 2035 who are still advertising auctions at all. 

Because I don’t manage websites, host online bidding, or run auction software for my clients, I will be dependent on auction professionals like you to procure, store, and query this data. Thankfully, most current auction software and platforms make this doable, if not easy. That gives me hope, and I’m glad to be in your good hands.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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132: 4 Common Mistakes of In-house Mailing Lists

Years ago now, an auctioneer told me that I was too expensive for him to consider as a graphic design vendor for his auction brochures. He told me this after bragging that his direct mail list held 70,000 recipients. His marketing budgets didn’t have any money left for me, because he was spending tens of thousands on dollars on postage alone per auction.

I asked him how many people came to his auctions. His answer came in around 500 to 700 registered bidders on average. “You’re mailing to too many people,” I told him.

I don’t remember this auctioneer’s name or company off the top of my head, but I’ve bumped into multiple auction companies that tout their decades-old prospect list or the quantity of people on their in-house list. It’s an odd boast, since those lists are filled with budget-sucking ghosts. The age of a list isn’t inherently bad, but it can contribute to the following four issues most auctioneers face with their in-house database.

Not Connected to Auction Participation

How many of the people on your mailing list regularly attend your auctions? How many of them have registered to bid in the past eighteen months? How many of them have purchased something in the last year? If you can’t answer these questions, there’s a good chance that you’re mailing unwanted advertising to satiated buyers. They may have been bidders or even buyers in the past, but that doesn’t mean they are now.

Most auction clerking software allows you to query purchase information so that you can compare it with (or export it to) a mailing list. Some even allow you to query for spend levels to weed out the tire kickers. For real estate auctions that often don’t run through such software, it’s relatively easy to keep a spreadsheet of registered bidders and buyers.

The hottest list you should have in your database are back-up bidders, because they didn’t get what they came to buy.

Not Segmented for Asset

Unless you’re operating on a robust database system that can be queried via various criteria, you will need to maintain multiple mailing lists. If you have one list for all asset categories, a large portion of your list is wasting you and your sellers valuable budget space. Even within general categories like real estate, equipment, estates, and agriculture, you need to have multiple subcategories—unless you operate only in one subcategory. The more segmented your list, the more efficient it will be.

If you’ve got an old list that you’d like to segment, you can mail a postage-paid piece to your old list and ask for recipients to mark what categories of auctions interest them (and whether they prefer direct mail or email). That can get expensive, and it’s reliant on the recipient basically asking for more mail. It’s much more reliable to research auction bidder registrations from auctions of known assets and categorize your records accordingly. That’s also a good way to see if they’re active bidders, anyway.

Too Dependent on Investors

One way auctioneers defend the age of their list is by categorizing the names on it as investors. These are the dealers, flippers, developers, or portfolio builders who know that auctions bring them revenue potential. Investors bring a beneficial floor to the bidding—the wholesale price. They get the “SOLD!” rider on many, many auction signs. In most cases, though, we’re trying to get our sellers retail prices. For those, we need end users; and end users are a moving target.

It’s a lot easier to find end users in other media, particularly social media and search advertising. That said, you can also buy inexpensive mailing lists of like-kind owners sorted by demographic criteria or trade categories to supplement your investor database. Many of those lists allow indefinite usage; and comparing your bidder lists to those purchased lists will help you pluck both investors and end-users to be grafted into your in-house lists.

Not Updated with USPS CASS Certification Reports

Most, if not all, mail houses now use the Coding Accuracy Support System to presort your mailing list. This kicks out undeliverable addresses before you have to pay postage for them, and it garners significant first class postage discounts. It also updates addresses according to the USPS’ most recent database of addresses, especially helpful when prospects move. That software can generate reports to tell you which addresses failed and why. My preferred print shop gives these reports to my clients at no additional charge, so that they can update their records.

Direct mail often has high response rates as a percentage, but that doesn’t make it cheap. Don’t waste advertising dollars on vanity advertising, when you could use it on efficient marketing.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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