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Norm has been an auctioneer for 29 years. He conducts mostly onsite auctions, and occasionally rents a building at the fairgrounds for consignment auctions.

He has also been the auctioneer for a nearby twice-monthly livestock market for 17 years.

For nearly all this time, Norm has opened all his auctions with an opening announcement. So much so he does it from memory.

We picked Norm for our story here, as Norm uses an important proven-theory for his openings — the “sandwich theory.”

The “sandwich theory” is used in all types of marketing, put particularly television ads concerning pharmacuticals.

Take a minute (1:01) to watch this Cymbalta commercial:

Note here that the “announcements” go from good news — to bad news — to good news. The bad news is sandwiched between good news items — while they try to detract your attention during the bad news …

An auctioneer’s opening announcements generally contain good and bad news. A good strategy is to include all this news, but sandwich the bad between the good news items.

For instance:

  1. If everyone would gather around — welcome to our auction. I’m Norm Williams and I’ll be your auctioneer today. What a great auction we have for you.
  2. I want to introduce our staff today: Bill will be your clerk, Amy your cashier and Randy will be working the ring.
  3. Hopefully everyone has registered for a bid number. If not, after these announcements, see Amy for a number.
  4. Our terms include the following:
    1. Your buying everything “as-is.” Once I say, “Sold!” you own it, so carefully inspect items before you bid.
    2. Watch your purchases. Once you buy it, it’s yours, so keep track of all your property.
    3. We will be charging a 10% buyer’s premium on all purchases.
    4. You must pay for your purchases today. We accept cash, checks, credit and debit cards. Be sure to settle-up before you leave.
  5. We do accept absentee bids and allow our staff to bid today.
  6. Our order of sale; we’ll start with these 6 tables of very nice jewelry, guns and coins. Then, we’ll continue with furniture over in this area. At 2:00 p.m. we will sell the car and 2 trucks and then the remainder of the farm equipment.
  7. You don’t have to get all your items out of here today. You can come back tomorrow between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. for pickup.
  8. Thank you all again for attending; let’s get this wonderful auction underway.

The point of this sandwich-approach is people tend to remember the fist thing(s) they hear, and the last thing(s) they hear, largely forgetting or dismissing the middle-ground.

And auctioneers want you to remember the good news (Welcome, staff, great auction … order of sale, you don’t have to remove today, wonderful auction) and not necessarily be mindful of the middle-ground during the auction.

Sure, the bad news is important (you’re buying as-is, you have to watch your items, 10% buyer’s premium, you must pay today …) but that’s not the information auctioneers want bidders thinking about during the auction, but necessarily later.

In fact, it might be just as material for an auctioneer to mind the order of the opening announcements as the content of the opening announcements.

There are also some other important issues about auctioneer’s opening announcements (or remarks). We wrote about those issues here:

It’s advisable for auctioneers to include all the material issues in their opening announcements, just as it is to arrange those issues in the most advantageous order.

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. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.