Once you’ve decided to auction off your assets online you want to make sure that you get the highest value possible for your property. That’s the point of an auction after all! Making sure that you have a plan for your auction ahead of time and are marketing it in the right way will help bring in more buyers when auction day arrives – driving up the price of your items!
Online auctions offer a unique advantage for buyers, letting them bid from the convenience of their own home, at work, or on the go using mobile bidding. Additionally, they can be from anywhere in the country instead of limited to people living in the surrounding area of the online auction site. The flexibility this provides increases the number of bidders and visibility of those able to participate in the auction but creates new challenges of how to accommodate for the loss of the face to face interaction.
Planning for the Auction
Determine what you are selling
The first step of any auction is to figure out exactly what items you want to sell. Maybe you have a set of antique tools or are liquidating assets from a company or restaurant. It’s important right off the bat to have a set list of what items you are planning to sell so that you can keep your auction lot organized and make sure that you don’t forget to list one of your items. Keeping that list handy will prevent some major headaches down the line.
Asses item value
You must have a starting price for each of your items for buyers to start bidding at. You will want to accurately judge the value of your property and evaluate how much a buyer would potentially pay for it. A good place to start would be to research the prices of your items online, search through past auctions on similar items to see what the highest bid was, or bring in a professional appraiser if appropriate for your circumstance. It is important to disregard any sentimental value when assigning starting prices. The fact that your antique sewing machine belonged to your great grandmother will not matter to your bidders and shouldn’t increase the starting price for any reason.
Since buyers won’t be able to see your items in person, it is important to give them as much information as you can so that they can confidently make a bid. Having good photos can make or break your auction. Make sure to photograph your items in an appropriate space with good lighting. Keep other items out of the photo unless you are selling them in a bundle to avoid confusion on the buyer’s end. Photograph all of your items with the same background or in the same area if possible to create a clear aesthetic for your lot. Depending on the value of the items you are selling it may be a good idea to have a professional photographer take your photos to make sure potential bidders can truly tell the value of your goods.
Just like your images, your description tells people a lot about your items. Make sure to accurately describe your items and to give a lot of information about the condition and past use. Conduct keyword research to see what people are searching for when looking for your items. Adding these keywords into your description will make it easier for people to find your items, driving more traffic to your auction and raising the final selling price.
Marketing the Auction
If you are a company looking to advertise your auction use what you already have going for you! Feature your auction on your website, send out email announcements to your client base, and get the word out to your professional community that may want your items for their own use. Do anything that you can to let people know about your auction.
Social media campaigns
Take advantage of all that your social media platforms have to offer! Promote your upcoming auction a few weeks ahead of time so that your followers have a chance to check out your products and create a buzz. Showing potential bidders your items in advance gives them the time to prepare for auction day and decide what they want to bid on. Create graphics to use alongside the amazing photos you’ve taken to pull people in. You could even create an ‘invitation’ graphic that may give your auction a more personal touch. Include a link for people to register for your auction so they don’t have to search for it. Encourage others to share and like your posts so that as many eyes can see it as possible. Who knows, maybe the great aunt of your accountant is an avid coin collector!
Connect with others
There is a Facebook group or fan club for everything! If you can find a page dedicated to the items you are selling feel free to join and post about your auction. You will be targeting the exact audience of people who are likely to bid on your items and the members will probably be thrilled to learn about your auction and their chance to add to their Beanie Baby collection. Plus, these super fans are sure to drive your asking price up. *Make sure to comply with any rules these pages may have about advertising or selling products.
Additionally, you can find pages that are dedicated to showing upcoming auctions and sales going on and promote your online auction there as well. While it might not be as specific of an audience as a collector site or fan page might be, you are sure to find other people interested in your items.
Just because your auction is online and can have bidders from anywhere in the country doesn’t mean that you should forget about connecting with the people in your area! See if your city or county has a social media group or page on a website promoting events in the area and ask to be featured there. Any way to get your information out to people will help increase the volume of potential bidders.
Provide an incentive
Incentives are everything! People will act when an incentive is offered to them. Advertise that you will give a gift card to the first five bidders on an item, provide a coupon for people who register to bid, or set a low starting price for one or two items to get traffic for the rest of your items. Of course, these incentives might not be possible for you depending on your budget and the value of your goods. Think about what is in your capacity to incentivize people to bid!
If you plan on conducting more auctions or are simply curious as to which of your marketing posts was the most successful, consider having a survey during your auction registration process. This would look something like asking bidders how the found out about the auction (such as through Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth etc.). This will let you know where you want to focus your marketing efforts on for your next auction. Of course, if your next auction is with a different category of items or promoted to a different group of people you will want to start fresh and not stick to only one or two marketing platforms.
And there you have it! We hope that these tips will help as you get ready to hold your online auction. Best of luck!
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