For the Next One

“We Do It for the Next One.”

In my seminars and consulting sessions, I’ve regularly betrayed my graphic design industry by declaring that it’s more important to have consistent branding than creative advertising. And I’ve shot my personal livelihood in the foot by candidly admitting that in auction marketing, you’re better off paying for high-end photography than for premium page layout. So, you might think it’s ironic or incongruent that I also teach the various reasons that quality design matters in asset marketing.

Consistency and quality aren’t mutually exclusive, though. Granted, consistent quality does cost more; but its return on investment has a much higher potential than inconsistent creativity or consistent mediocrity do.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from one of the most successful auction marketers in the country, a vice president of an auction company that regularly posts sales above $100 million per year. We were talking about his company’s direct mail strategy, and he hit me with one of the most important pair of sentences I’ve heard during my 15-year career.

“Ryan, we don’t make the fancy brochure to sell this auction. We do it for the next one.”

He unpacked that a bit for me, and it has stuck with me ever since. The big idea was that an asset—with exposure to the right audience—will sell itself, but potential sellers are looking at this campaign and the campaigns of your competitors to determine how they want their asset and auction to be marketed.

In other words, your auction promotion can be your best company promotion.

This concept was substantiated by a conversation with an auctioneer from a much smaller auction company. He said that prospective sellers actually brought his old direct mail pieces to him and asked if their farm auction could be advertised like those shown in his past brochures.

See, if you have an amazing company video, but your ads are unreadable, sellers know your priorities are skewed. If you have die-cut metal business cards, but your property information packets look disheveled, that sends a message, too. And if you have a shiny, expensive pocket folder, but your brochures look like they were designed at a local copy center, sellers know that you take promoting yourself more seriously than promoting their assets.

Seller polling will tell you how they found you and why they chose you. Spend your company promotion dollars wherever those answers lead. I wouldn’t be surprised that in many cases, if not most cases, sellers will point to your auction marketing or auction event as their introduction to your brand and then their eventual trust in that brand. If that’s the case after you’ve interviewed your sellers, spend a significant portion of your annual company promotion budget infusing value-added elements to your auction campaigns. Even if that’s not the case, I’d still spend the money on quality auction promotion—because you don’t know what sellers you don’t have because of unfavorable impressions.

Before your next sales presentation, ask yourself if your auction advertising samples are on the same level as your company collateral. If not, know that other auctioneers—maybe even your competitors—can say, “Yes.” And they’re probably grateful that you have a disparity that shows sellers where your priorities are.

Taking It Personally

Consistent quality isn’t just a high goal for businesses and brands. For those of us who want a life of influence, we have a similar objective.

In church world, a person’s personal brand is often called their testimony. And most of us are taught to leverage that package of choices, personality, and resources to attract others to a relationship with Jesus.

The challenge is that this is expensive. Demonstrating hope and compassion often requires a difficult response in challenging situations. Exemplifying authenticity and mercy can cost you relationships or reputation. Obeying words in an old book can cost you credibility and even a career.

But that moment when someone says, “I saw Jesus in you, and I wanted that”? Wow! There are few things in life, if any, as rewarding as that.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

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