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3 simple marketing tips to boost the sale of trips at your charity auction

May 15, 2013
By Sherry Truhlar

Your committee is thrilled. You've got a FAB-U-LOUS trip for your charity auction – the kind everyone wants. It's a great destination for your crowd.

This could be the highest selling item in your charity auction ... if you don't screw up the marketing.

Auctions are complex ecosystems, with one auction element linking to countless others. Case in point, item acquisition is one (big) process. Operations – which includes marketing – is a different (big) process. To complicate matters, different volunteers on your committee probably oversee each one. Ugh!

Just because you've got a desirable trip from your acquisitions chair sell doesn't necessarily mean your marketing volunteer will do it justice. And on the flip side, sometimes you'll see rather unattractive trips sell for big money.

Knowing HOW to present that trip – i.e. marketing – makes the difference.

When I teach marketing to my clients, we look at it in terms of timing: before the auction, onsite at the event, and after the gala.

In this post, let's narrow the scope to three simple ways to market your trip onsite.

1. Visually attractive displays

Humans are stimulated by images. More than any other sense, we rely on sight. So if you've got a trip, you need photos to showcase it. Lots of photos.

Here are some ideas from recent auctions I've worked.
  • A 3-ring binder stuffed with full-page color photos showed a Northern Australian home and surrounding activities. It pushed the sale of this one-week vacation to a record $6000.
  • Area guide books and state maps (the kind collected at a visitors bureau or AAA) helped support the sale of a remote cabin in Maine to $2100.
  • At a school auction, a Kiawah, SC home sold at $8000 – twice its value – with help from a 36" posterboard in the silent auction. On it was plastered 8.5" X 11"color photos of the home and water views.
  • A traditional coffee table book filled with fabulous photos of France helped sell a remote villa in Burgundy. There were only three pages in that entire book showing photos of the countryside near the villa, but that was enough to inspire dreams of a French vacation! It sold for $4500.
2. Accurate descriptions

As part of your display, include a detailed description. Most committees remember to include basics like the number of bedrooms and baths, but ignore other important information, such as…
  • Getting there: Does the property owner recommend flying into a specific airport? Renting a car? Using a car transport service?
  • Extra fees: Any extra costs should be mentioned, whether it's for activities, food, or housekeeping.
  • Date restrictions: Properties available over holidays or spring breaks are especially desirable. Mention that.
  • Activities: Is a sought-after golf course nearby? What about kids attractions or "must experience" events?
3. Urgent announcements

Your auctioneer or emcee should promote the trip verbally onsite during the reception. Whether you plan on selling the excursion in the silent or live auction, announcements garner guests' attention, either getting them to bid on it right then or (in the case of a live auction) getting them to start thinking about bidding.

In short, don't shortchange your charity auction by procuring great items, and then failing to market them. Acquisitions are merely the first step in the process. Great marketing supports the sale.

Sherry Truhlar, CMP, BAS, CAI
Red Apple Auctions
Mobile: 703-577-7807 | Sherry@RedAppleAuctions.com | www.RedAppleAuctions.com


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