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cadillacPrior to the Internet, people interested in buying something had to find it.

In fact, there was a lot less searching then, as before the Internet, many times people didn’t even know they wanted something because they didn’t know it existed — and didn’t know they wanted it.

Pre-Internet, people drove to stores and looked around, asked their neighbors where they got one, maybe looked at circulars or catalogs, but for the most part they had to search … and hopefully find.

Today, in 2014, I wonder if the property more-so finds them? For instance, not a day goes by that I don’t receive an email from eBay regarding saved searches. Google places ads on a variety of websites I visit, apparently based upon my prior searching and I receive other emails, text messages and even mailers about items I’m currently in the market for or have been searching for prior.

In other words, do buyers still find property or does property find them?

Sure, if I want to buy a 1986-1987 Cadillac Fleetwood, I can search Google, eBay, Craigslist, car dealers, etc. online. If I find one — great. But, if I don’t, it’s likely one will find me in the next few days.

Even when the property isn’t finding us, it’s certainly easy to find — almost like it finds us. I can go to AuctionZip.com and search for my 1986-1987 Fleetwood and find any which are scheduled for auction all across the country. But, I can setup a saved search so I get an email if one is listed in an auction advertisement.

Serious collectors of anything — certain guns, coins, cars, pottery … likely have setup saved searches on AuctionZip and eBay at minimum. Plus, Google is probably showing them them product listed elsewhere on the Internet.

Further, we shouldn’t forget about word-of-mouth. Growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we literally would go days if not weeks without talking to more than 1 – 2 – 3 people. Today with cell phones and texting, I can easily reach anyone almost any time of day; with Facebook and other similar Internet sites, I can reach 1,000’s of people with a click of my mouse.

And, while it’s 2014 — it’s only 2014. What’s on the horizon? It would seem companies are gathering immense amounts of data about their potential future customers and are right to find those buyers for what they have to offer, for which they have good reason to believe they want. Today, studies are being conducted and technologies being explored using “predictive social analytics” in search of the “right” customers.

It’s not expensive nor difficult to find these buyers. In the Internet age, the most expensive part of amassing a database of potential buyers and staying in touch with them is amassing the database; and such data gathering is fairly economical. Once the potential buyers are identified, a postcard can be mailed, an email can be sent, a Facebook post can be written — at virtually no cost.

As a result, if I have searched for a 1986-1987 Cadillac Fleetwood, or bid on a 1986-1987 Cadillac Fleetwood, or registered for an auction offering (2) 1986-1987 Cadillac Fleetwoods, or joined a Facebook group for collectors of 1986-1987 Cadillac Fleetwoods … when another one is for sale, that car will find me much more so than I will have to find it.

We run a weekly auction at our auction house in central-Ohio. Our inventory varies from antiques, cars, tools, jewelry, boxed lots, furniture … week to week. I’m standing with a buyer who attended last week’s auction and bought a few things. He asked me how we handle guns, as he didn’t see any “gun buyers” at last week’s auction.

Of course, we didn’t have any guns last week, so the likelihood of a bunch of people looking for guns showing up at last week’s auction was unlikely. I told this buyer, “The gun buyers don’t necessarily show up here every week looking for guns … when we have guns (which we often do,) the guns find them.”

When I first started in the auction business, I remember telling people that we would advertise their auction in the local newspaper, as “everyone” looks there on Sunday for auctions. Today, there aren’t many auctioneers charged with marketing an auction who don’t think about how they can find those buyers, rather than hoping those buyers find them.

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.