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This is a cartoon I saw courtesy of John Schultz via a Facebook post. Yes, this is a newspaper cartoon placed in the Spring Valley Tribune — suggesting for marketing (or maybe not?) — that we “get what we pay for.”

I say maybe, because possibly this newspaper is making fun of itself? They can’t be serious about this? Okay, maybe they are serious. Maybe they really believe newspaper advertising (while generally costing more and generally reaching less people) is more effective than Facebook advertising?

Here in 2017, is newspaper advertising for auctioneers always ill-advised? Certainly not. There are many markets in the United States where newspapers still drive bidders, buyers, and sellers. Yet, in many other markets, newspaper advertising is essentially worthless. That’s where we as auctioneers have to be careful.

Just because one auctioneer tells you that there is no sense advertising in a newspaper anymore doesn’t mean that in your market you shouldn’t; further, just because one auctioneer tells you that you should use newspapers to advertise your auctions doesn’t mean in your market that you should.

The more I travel all across the United States, talking with auctioneers in different markets, the more I realize what marketing techniques work for one auctioneer in one area may not be the best strategy for another auctioneer in another area — and nor is it auction/auctioneer-specific; what’s being sold also matters.

An auctioneer gauging the prudence of local marketing on the basis of nationwide or worldwide Facebook vs. newspaper statistics is certainly misguided. For the “forget your local newspaper” advocates, it may be interesting to know that newspapers are not totally dead, and nor is Facebook the only answer.

In a July 7, 2016 Pew Research a report titled “The Modern News Consumer” compares the percentage of adults in the United States who often get news from various platforms. Pew went on to say …

By this metric, television remains the dominant medium by a significant margin, at 57 percent. A distant second is “online,” at 38 percent. This combines the 18 percent who get news often from social media with an overlapping 28 percent who get it often from “news websites/apps.” Third on the list is radio at 25 percent, followed by print newspapers at 20 percent.

Of course, this is news, but if 57 percent of adults in the United States often get their news from television, is it conceivable that this same 57 percent might see a television advertisement? Based on this, should auctioneers be advertising on television rather than Facebook?

Well, “not so fast, my friend” as Lee Corso might say … it’s important to note that Facebook allows for what we consider targeted marketing. In other words, auctioneers can design an advertisement and direct that to the news feeds of particular people. Television, radio, newspapers, etc. don’t work that way.

However, for any Facebook targeted advertisement, are we sure we aren’t missing a bunch of people who aren’t on Facebook — using Facebook — in our market? What is our market? Do we need bidders from thousands of miles away to sell … real property, livestock, cars, other commodities? Further, many auctioneers are telling of reporting great results from direct mail and signage.

According to Pew Research, overall newspaper readership for 45-54 year-olds has dropped from 63% in 1999 to about 25% today. That’s not 0% but rather 25% nationwide. And more importantly, that figure varies by marketplace, where it might be as high as 70% in some markets, and less than 5% in other markets.

If you’re an auctioneer evaluating your auction marketing strategies for the coming years, Facebook is certainly a worthy consideration. Yet, where are your most likely bidders/buyers? Your most likely future sellers? How are they best reached? Once you decide that, you can make decisions where you will more likely “get what you pay for …”

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, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.