Auction marketing — push or pull?

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mothflameAuction marketing when I started in the auction business in 1979 mostly involved newspaper advertising.

This advertising was sometimes augmented with mailings (postcards, letters and catalogs) along with signs and putting up fliers around the general area.

In a sense, in 1979, we as well as all other auctioneers had to try to find the bidders.

Here in 2015 (and since maybe 2003 or so,) many auctioneers only post their auctions on AuctionZip and/or later GlobalAuctionGuide, and largely potential bidders look at those calendars to find auctions.

It seems in 1979 it was about “push” marketing where the auctioneer endeavored to find that bidder. It seems in 2015 it is much more about “pull” marketing where the bidder endeavors to find the auction.

What has further helped auctioneers with pull marketing is eBay. In 1995 an eBay user sold a broken laser pointer for $14.83 and not too long after, there hasn’t been a 5-year-old who hasn’t known what an auction is.

Yes, even today there is still push marketing. Auctioneers send mailers, emails, catalogs, brochures, as well as utilize social media and other outlets. Yet, I wonder …

I suspect sometimes by the time the brochure arrives, the receiving party already knows about the auction. Compared to say — 35 years ago — many more people know what an auction is, have been to an auction, sold something at auction … and search for auctions.

As Peter Gehres has said, for any one property it only takes two bidders — but those two have to find the auction; the auctioneer never really knows from where those two might be coming.

Certainly pull marketing is less expensive where a widespread push marketing campaign can be expensive. Does a bunch of push marketing pay for itself? In 1979 it likely did but today, I suspect less-so.

A $50,000 push marketing budget paid by a seller to sell at auction a $10,000,000 real property at auction? How much of that $50,000 benefits the seller — and how much benefits the auctioneer with brand awareness and future business?

To be fair, nearly all auction marketing for over 2,000 years has drawn potential bidders as well as benefit the auctioneer. And even today’s pull marketing benefits both, but I would suggest in a more equitable balance.

In the auction-rich eastern one-third of the United States, pull marketing likely works better than the western one-third (and even the middle one-third) of the United States, where there are far fewer auctions.

We analyzed the number of auctions in the United States in 2010 here https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/where-are-the-auctions/ and these numbers remain largely the same today.

If in 1979 (including before and maybe 25 years thereafter) auctions had 40 watt bulbs over them, auctions since the Internet, auction calendars and social media have had 10,000 watt high intensity bulbs hanging just overhead.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.

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