Tag : solution

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174: How to Get National Advertising on a Local Budget

Have you ever been asked to market anything that had a national appeal, but the asset value didn’t allow a national advertising campaign? It happens to my clients on a regular basis. My advice for that situation has recently changed, as a burgeoning technology helps solves part of that problem.

Let me give you an example.

One of my high-volume clients just booked a deal to sell the furniture, fixtures, and equipment from a two-year-old frozen yogurt shop near Buffalo, NY. Having limited experience with this niche asset category, John called me for ideas on how to attract the most amount of bidders to assets that together were worth only about as much as a new pickup truck. (I had zero experience with this asset type; so, I actually had more questions for him than he had for me.)

Before John called me, he had reached out to our mailing list guy and found a list of thousands of frozen yogurt stores in the country. National List Research was able to split the list into chains and independent operators and even provide the name of an executive for many of them. The bad news: a mailing even just to the independent operators would break his budget.

After a couple phone calls, we hatched a plan.

First, John bought the full mailing list of just the independent frozen yogurt shops along with their phone numbers. At 13 cents per person, that was a small expenditure.

Next, John uploaded that direct mail list to Facebook to create ads to those independent operators. Facebook matched about two thirds of those prospects. John could reach that complete national list of matches for about $20 per ad. So, we planned for a series of ads with different photos and headlines.

Then, John created a lookalike audience of Facebook users who demographically looked exactly like those independent operators.

Using a free Facebook pixel, he also created a list of Facebook users who visited that auction’s page on his website. Then, he had Facebook build a lookalike audience of people who looked just like the people who came to that page on his site. All three of these additional audiences got Facebook ads served to them—again for a small outlay. (John creates these three audiences for almost every auction.)

This YoBerry shop was in a Buffalo suburb; but the Northeast doesn’t have anywhere near as many frozen yogurt shops as the South does. Texas, especially, is chock full of them. John’s budget didn’t allow him to mail to the whole national list, but he didn’t know where the biggest demand would be. So, I recommended he run the first round of Facebook ads and then use Facebook’s and Google Analytics’ geographic reporting tools to see the aggregate data for those who visited the auction’s page on his website. That would tell him which states to select from his list for direct mail reinforcement.

The plan worked. John ended up mailing the postcard I designed to 253 of the 3,000 or so purchased names, saving thousands of dollars in printing and postage. Hundreds of people visited the auction’s page. Grafe Auction found scores of registered bidders from multiple states.

So, here were our takeaways from this low-budget experiment:

• Skip newsprint, unless it’s an asset only with local value.

• Use Facebook to help you sort your direct mail list.

• Leverage lookalike audiences to find the people that list brokers don’t have in their database.

• Implement a Facebook pixel to re-market assets to the original prospects and/or to serve ads to people who look just like your early investigators.

• Follow the data, not your instincts or industry status quo.

This complete process may not work for you, if you don’t offer online bidding of some sort. The individual tools we leveraged, though, are tools we use every day for live and online auctions. In concert, they solve a problem auctioneers regularly face.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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163: Why Auctioneers Should Be Careful with Auction Hash Tags (Part 2)

Spring of 2015 was a crazy time for art auctions. In New York alone, auction houses sold $2.3 billion in art.1 There seemed to be a lot of high-profile pieces or collections in the news; and the all-time auction record for art was set, when $179.4 million was the high bid for a Picasso. Many within the auction industry justifiably bragged about the auction method with multiple Facebook posts sharing these jaw-dropping events and transactions.

Predictably, bid callers added the hashtag #OnlyAtAuction to their posts and comments. Like its newer and less-superlative brother, #AuctionsWork, the tag line held the hopes of auction marketers, trying to make hay on headlines. Even a strong, thriving industry hoped to gain more credibility and consideration from onlookers—a worthy goal, for sure.

Pollack Record PaintingFast forward a few months, however; and that record got absolutely demolished. In case you missed it, Ken Griffin, a Chicago-based hedge fund manager, bought two paintings for a combined total of $500 million.

You read that correctly: half a billion dollars. That’s billion—with a b.

Griffin paid $300 million for a Jackson Pollock painting. That’s almost six times the auction record for a Pollock piece, which was set in 2013 at $58.3 million. Along with the Pollock, he also paid $200 million for a Willem de Kooning painting—almost seven times the auction record for a de Kooning piece, also set in 2013. 2

In related news, the current auction record price for a car is $38.1 million, set in 2014 for a Ferrari GTO. That’s definitely impressive—almost as astonishing as another Ferrari GTO that sold privately for $52 million in 2013. The world record for a private residence sold via traditional brokerage is now $301 million. That, too, proves multiple times the auction record for its asset category.

While I was scouring the Internet for this data, I searched and found neither #OnlyWithDealers nor #OnlyThroughBrokerage on Twitter. Same goes for #BrokerageWorks.

Perhaps these successful, professional marketers realize that our culture understands the value of both dealers and brokers. And perhaps auctioneers should follow their lead. It would be in our industry’s best interest, if we did.

If we keep telling consumers that things happen #OnlyAtAuction; and then they happen just as successfully (if not, sometimes, more successfully) without auction, then our claims ring hollow. When sellers see that #AuctionsWork but that sometimes other kinds of transactions #WorkBetter, we invite added comparison. Auctions often win those comparisons, but we can’t pretend that sometimes they don’t.

When we sell clichés instead of solutions, we lose credibility. Lean on empty rhetoric too much, and the industry gets a stigma . . . like the ones we currently battle: that auctions are only for fire sales and distress situations, that auctions are a last resort.

Rather than beating the drum of auctions, we need to pound the message of marketing. No matter how the transaction is conducted, the marketing that brings the buyer to an auction or to a listing or to a dealer is pretty much the same. Savvy marketers know to determine the likely buyer and then build a campaign of the multiple media, public relations efforts, and/or interpersonal interactions that are most likely to attract those potential buyers. When we in the auction community consult with sellers, we need to show them the advantages and disadvantages of each sales method—and then offer to help them with the one that best solves their situation.

Most of my largest clients offer their sellers multiple options, whether that’s buyouts, consignments, brokerage, or one of several kinds of auction. This gives them credibility. That lets the seller know that the marketer is more concerned about the seller’s gain than the auctioneer’s affinity for bid calling.

What will promote our industry best is the cumulative effort of professional auctioneers marketing their sellers’ wares in the best way possible. We don’t need hashtags or slogans to do that. We need more candor and flexibility—and a lot less ego and insecurity. In the end, our results will earn us a platform for competitive viability.

Painting image linked to source.
Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

1. “New York’s Auction Houses Just Sold $2.3 Billion Worth of Art” by Valetta Zarya, fortune.com
2. “Billionaire Art Collector Ken Griffin Spends $500 Million on Two Paintings by Rain Embuscado, news.artnet.com

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