Why don’t our guests bid higher, Kathy?
This is a top question that I’m frequently asked. It’s often followed by: “We intentionally matched our great items to our guests, but bidding is sluggish and items don’t sell high enough. What’do you advise?”
Hint: Put Your Pre-Auction Item Promotion on Steroids!
Unless you intensely market your auction items BEFORE your benefit auction, you may be leaving thousands of dollars in the room. Why? In the not so distant past, nonprofit and school auctions could always count on their guests bidding on everything and anything with out much pre-auction promotion.
Bidding behaviors of charity auction goers changed. Your auction guests are far more strategic and discriminating about bidding at fundraising auctions that ever before. Why? First, purchasing patterns for the demographics of “baby boomers”and “millennials”have evolved and savvy donors are showing a preference to donate directly to the mission at the inspiring Fund-a-Need Appeal rather than fighting through crowds in the silent auction or bidding on lackluster live items.
More than ever, nonprofits, charity and school auction committees must intensely market auction items BEFORE their auction event to vastly increase their fundraiser auctions bottom line.
Read on to Leverage these 6 hot trends to marketing your items.
1. All fundraising is personal. Talk up your auction items personally. Research your top bidders for the last 3-5 years. Make a list of who bought what at your auction. For example: who bid on trips, and dinners and sporting experiences? Deputize your auction leadership to actively talk with your top past bidders and promote your new hot items in the categories they adore. And by all means –feature your items at your Auction Committee meetings, Board and staff meetings!
2. Prepare Your Auction Attendees To Bid High! Create excitement about your amazing auction items –right now. Generate buzz immediately when you procure that terrific Tuscany trip or fantastic five-course dinner for 12 at the hottest new restaurant. Remember, it takes time for your auction guests to contact their friends, check and hold date for trips and to get their friends fired up to bid high on those group items. Make it easy to bid. Create the expectation that your guests are ready to wave those bid cards for your fabulous auction items.
3. Mail your auction catalogs two weeks ahead. Place post-it notes on the outside of the catalog: “Here’s your personal copy. Mark the items you want. Bring it with you to the auction.” This gives them plenty of time to see in advance what they want…and what they could buy with others and for others also! Also remember to make pre-auction personal phone calls to key bidders and donors; this kind of follow up is critical to pre-promote auction item
4. Talk it up. Advance promotion on items is paramount and gets excitement and the bidding to price to climb! Just recently, a BBQ experience for 40 people by a top ‘pit-master’sold for $22,000! Before guests came to the auction, they were talking about it. One bidder was even heard before the event as saying, “I am so going to get that BBQ!” Why? The board, honorees and volunteers talked it up and got everyone excited long before the event. That $22,000 BBQ experience sold twice! Make your next auction sizzle – talk up your items!
5. Leverage all social media outlets. The last thing I want to talk about is make sure you use all the avenues with your social media, your Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, and Facebook. Ask your auction leadership, sponsors, donors and volunteer to promote auction items in their social media. The average person has about 200+ people in their own personal circle of influence and ask them to support you by reaching out with their influence through social media and other areas. Remember –combining all of these techniques and enlisting the creativity of your auction committee in marketing your event will ensure your benefit auction success.
6. Highlight auction items in your invitation. Personalize your your invitations –Board and Auction Committee members can handwrite a personal note about a premium auction item that will appeal to that particular guest –and follow up with a personal call.