You’re listening to the AuctioneerTech Auction Podcast for the week of 8 September 2008.
AuctioneerTech – Technology, auctions and auctioneers – auction tech for the auction industry
Hello and welcome to the second episode of the AuctioneerTech Auction Podcast, a primer for advertising Internet only auctions. My name is Aaron Traffas.
I received a question a couple of weeks ago from a friend and fellow auctioneer who was looking at the possibility of conducting some Internet only auctions. He asked me about places where he might advertise such an event. I realized that many auctioneers who have no experience with Internet only auctions may not feel comfortable building an advertising campaign. Many times, the advertising strategy for an Internet only auction should be the same as a campaign for an auction with pre-auction Internet bidding or simply a live auction with no Internet participation.
The biggest misconception about Internet only auctions is that an item will sell to someone other than the person to whom it would have sold had you used a live auction. It very well may, but if you move completely from a local advertising campaign to a completely Internet-based advertising campaign, you’re bound to see a big drop in participation. Using the Internet to take bids doesn’t mean that the item will sell to Guam or to Kansas. The Internet is simply an easier way for customers to participate in the auction process than the act of driving and spending time at a live auction, time that customers many times no longer have.
If the assets you’re selling are of general use, then they’re more likely to sell to someone across the street than across the state because of the lower cost in transportation or shipping. If a car is worth $1000 and someone from another state has to spend $200 in time and fuel to come get it, he’ll only spend $800 at the auction. Someone across the street can bid the true $1000 because there’s not really any cost associated with item acquisition. Because it’s logical for the local buyers to spend more, it makes more sense to spend more effort reaching them. Unless you’re selling niche items, make sure you have your local and existing possible buyer base covered before you expand your reach to include farther away customers.
The key is to supplement your existing, local campaign with additional advertising. If your current customers find out about your auctions through paper – brochures and newspaper ads – then you shouldn’t quit using those mediums all together. While it may be an arguably good idea to migrate away from paper ads and postcards in general, doing so only because of an Internet auction will only mean that your existing customers won’t participate.
The first place to advertise your auction and the items in it is on your website. Whatever Internet bidding platform you select, be sure that the auction and all relative information is posted on your website first. This strategy ensures that you simply have to place lead-generation ads in newspapers and other old-media venues with a link to your website rather than an item-level listing which takes up more space and costs more money. In a future episode, we’ll look at the different kinds of Internet bidding providers and the difference between a branded solution that keeps the bidding catalog within your site and a portal solution where you direct the customers to another website that allows the bidding on your items.
Once the users come to your website, do your best to capture their information before pushing them off to your Internet bidding provider. Get their email address. The bigger your email list, the less important other means of advertising become and the less you’ll have to spend on traditional media.
Internet auction calendars are probably the best initial place to post your items. The new NAA auction calendar supports item-level listings, so when you’ve cataloged your auction for Internet bidding you can upload that inventory to the NAA calendar at the same time you upload it to your Internet bidding provider. Other calendars worth mentioning are the calendar for your state association, globalauctionguide.com, nationalauctionlist.com, and auctionzip.com. They don’t support item-level listings yet, but they will syndicate your content to other listings. There are many other auction calendars, some of which scrape content from the calendars I’ve already mentioned. If you know of an auction calendar worth mentioning, let me know in the comments for this episode.
Other possible places to post your listings are craigslist.com and Google AdWords. The latter costs money, but if what you have is fairly specialized it can return much more than you invest. Forums related to the product you’re selling can also be a good place for niche items. If you’re selling an antique tractor, for example, there are several websites with forum sections that specialize in antique tractors. It’s also worth mentioning that if you have specialty merchandise, contact an auctioneer who specializes in that type of asset. I don’t know of an NAA member who wouldn’t help another. The NAA forum, mentioned in episode one, is a great place to post general questions to the NAA membership regarding the marketing of specialty items.
The take-home message is that you should advertise every auction you have, regardless of bidding method, to customers with whom you have a preexisting relationship. They’re much more likely to pay attention to your ads and to purchase from you again. The next most important place to advertise is in venues where someone is looking for items in auctions – namely the Internet auction calendars and the auctions section of the newspapers in the area of the assets. After that, if you still need more, look at places where customers may be looking for items in general – like Adwords and craigslist.com – and try to convince them that an auction is a better place to buy.
That’s it for episode two. The next episode will be a tech roundup, covering many of the smaller stories – including current events and product reviews – from auctioneertech.com.
You’ve been listening to the Auction Podcast from AuctioneerTech. If you have suggestions, questions or comments, or are interested in being a guest, please let me know by going to http://www.auctioneertech.com/feedback and leaving a message. You can also post public comments about this or any other episode, as well as find show transcrip s, on the auction podcast page of auctioneertech.com.
Thank you for listening. Now go sell something.