Hiring An Auction Company

Estimating your assets value:

Typically, one of the first questions a business owner will ask me is, “how much will the assets bring at an auction”. After taking the time to review the assets, the auctioneer should give the client a conservative estimate of the sale based upon his experience and the current market trends. It is important that the company give realistic expectations so the seller can make informed decisions based on their best interest.

Compensation and Expenses:

Is the company you are considering working for you or against you? The agreement you decide may determine this.

A business owner should carefully consider how the auction company is compensated. The most common commission structures include: straight commission, outright purchase of assets, guaranteed base with a split above to both auctioneer and seller, guaranteed base with anything above going to auctioneer or a flat fee structure.

In a straight commission structure, the company is paid an agreed upon percentage of the total sale.

In an outright purchase agreement, the auctioneer simply becomes your end buyer. The company purchases your assets and relocates them. While this can be an option in some unique situations, keep in mind that they will want to purchase your assets at a very reduced price to make a profit at a later date.

In a minimum base guarantee, the auction company guarantees the seller that the auction will generate a minimum amount of sales. Anything above that amount either goes to the auction company or split with the seller. While a seller might feel more comfortable doing an auction knowing that he is guaranteed a minimum amount for his sale, keep in mind that it is the best interest of the auction company to secure a minimum base price as low as possible in order reduce their financial liability to the seller and secure higher compensation for the sale.

In a flat fee structure, the auctioneer agrees to show up for the sale and call the auction. There is no incentive for the auctioneer to get the best prices for your assets. The auction company is compensated regardless of the outcome of your sale.

What is the best option for business owners? In my experience, an agreed upon straight commission structure. This puts the responsibility on the auction company to offer the best outcome for everyone involved. There is an incentive for the auction company to work hard for both parties, set up and run a professional sale, get the highest bid and sell every item on the inventory. Successful auctions translate to a higher bottom line for both the seller and the auction company.

Auction Expenses:

In most auction agreements the expenses to conduct an auction are passed to the seller. If the auction company pays for the expenses, it is simply absorbed in higher commission rates.

All expenses should be agreed upon in advance in a written contract. Typical expenses will include the costs of advertising, labor, legal fees, travel, equipment rentals, security, postage and printing. A reputable auction company will be able to estimate all expenses based upon their experience in previous auctions. An agreement should be actual costs charged as expenses, not an estimated amount.

Advertising is typically the highest cost in conducting an auction. The auction company needs to set up an advertising campaign that will promote the sale to its best advantage and not overspend to simply advertise the auction company.

Once the auction is complete, the auction company should provide a complete breakdown of all expenses to the seller, including copies of receipts within the auction summary report.

Buyer’s Premium:

What is a buyer’s premium? If you attend auctions regularly, you are very familiar with this term. The auction company charges a fee to the buyer when they buy an item at auction.

The buyer’s premium has been around since the 1980′s and is standard auction practice. It was first used by auction houses to help offset costs of running brick and mortar permanent auction facilities. Since then, it has spread to all aspects of the auction industry. It is prominent in online auctions and allows auction companies to cover added expenses incurred from online sales.

It is the responsibility of the auction company to provide clear disclosure of the buyer’s premium to both the buyers and the sellers. Those not familiar with auctions are often taken back by the buyer’s premium. They looked upon it as an under handed way for the auction company to make more money. Reputable auction companies will provide full disclosure within the auction contract, advertisement and bidder registration.

Typically, an auction company will charge online buyers a higher buyer’s premium percentage than those attending an auction in person. Extra fees are incurred with online bidding and are charged accordingly to online buyers. This provides the seller a level playing field for both online buyers and those attending the auction in person. Without the buyer’s premium, there is no way to do this.

Pre-Sales:

We’ve all been there. We’re looking forward to attending an auction only to find that some items were sold prior to the auction date.

As an auctioneer with over thirty-six years of experience, I can honestly state that pre-sales will hurt an auction. When a company decides to liquidate their assets, it is easy to sell off high-end pieces of equipment through online sources, equipment vendors or to other businesses. The seller receives instant cash and avoids paying a commission to an auction company.

Auctioneer’s find themselves appearing to acting in a self-serving capacity when potential clients say they are planning to sell off parts of their inventory prior to an auction. It’s hard not to consider the auctioneer’s commission when they warn you not to pre-sell anything. Yes, the auctioneer wants to earn a commission on those sales but it is more important that the auctioneer protect the sale from potential negative backlash that comes from pre-selling. The buying public knows when an auction has been “cherry picked” prior to the sale and it reflects in their bidding. It becomes a sale of “leftovers” and that impacts prices.

A buyer who purchases prior to the auction usually does not attend the sale. They already bought equipment at a good price with no competition. If they do attend the auction, they tend to let others know of their great pre-sale purchases which again, impacts prices and the overall excitement of the sale.

It is important to understand that auctions work best with a complete inventory. You want competition on your higher end equipment. The easy to sell items make it possible to gain respectable prices for hard to sell items.

When a business owner decides to liquidate their equipment assets, there is only one opportunity to do it right. Hiring a reputable auction company will assist you with a professional, orderly and timely liquidation.

How Important Is the Fundraising Auctioneer to the Success of Your Event?

I want you to think about the term “Fundraising Auction”.

A “Fundraising Auction” is an event where items of value are gathered, and then sold in a competitive bidding situation, either in a Silent Auction format, or in a Live Auction format by a Live Auctioneer. And since typically the best items are saved for the Live Auction, arguably it is the Live Auction that should generate a significant portion of the proceeds in any Fundraising Auction.

So why do so many non-profit groups consider the Fundraising Auctioneer to be the least valuable component in a Fundraising Auction?

The Hosting Facility gets paid.
The Printer gets paid.
The Caterer gets paid.
The Liquor Store gets paid.
The DJ gets paid.
The Florist gets paid.
But the Auctioneer … the individual who is expected to raise the lion’s share of the event’s proceeds… is expected to work for Free. And is usually under-appreciated for the professional services he/she provides.

I’m not trying to underscore the value of the invitations & programs, food, booze, music, and decorations. All are important in their own way. But each of these are “Expenses”. It is the Auctioneer who is going to bring “Revenue”… and thus, the “Profits”… into any event. Which is the ultimate objective of any Fundraising Auction.

Here is a real-life example of how under-appreciated the Auctioneer can be. In two comparable events we worked last year, during the dinner portion of the event one non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) at a table with the DJ, the Interns, the Volunteer Staff, and other event “Help”. The 2nd non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) directly next to the CEO of their organization, where we chatted about how important the pending revenue would be to their organization. Which group do you think valued the services of the Fundraising Auctioneer more?

Don’t ever under-estimate the value that a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can bring to your event. The Auctioneer adds value as a pre-event consultant. And the Auctioneer can change an event from a moderate to a huge success.

A Case Study Once I was scheduled to call an Auction for a major local non-profit group. They represented a very good cause and they had a strong and dedicated following. Their event was sold out, quality Live & Silent Auction items had been solicited, and the Special Pledge Appeal had been choreographed and was ready to go. The facility was first class, the appropriate caterer was booked, and the food was ready to cook.

But quite unexpectedly, some unseasonably inclement weather forced the event’s cancellation. Despite all of the committee’s hard work, cancelling the event was the proper decision considering the circumstances.

So the Event Committee scrambled to re-schedule the event for the following weekend.

They confirmed with the Hosting Facility.
They confirmed with the Caterer.
They confirmed with the Liquor Store.
They confirmed with the DJ.
They confirmed with the Florist.
Since they already had the Mailing List of those scheduled to attend, no new invitations had to be printed as all were contacted by email or telephone. So with everything in place, the group went ahead and re-scheduled the event for the following weekend.

But guess who they failed to confirm? You got it… the Professional Auctioneer. They thought so little of the Auctioneer’s contribution that they “assumed” that the Auctioneer would be available and at their beck and call.

But the Auctioneer already had another Fundraising Auction booked for that date with another non-profit group. It was only hour away from the re-scheduled event, and things could have been easily worked out. All Group #1 had to do was start their event one hour earlier, or one hour later, than the Group #2, and the Auctioneer could have helped both groups on the same day.

But because Group #1 failed to anticipate a possible Auctioneer conflict, because they failed to confirm with the Auctioneer before re-scheduling their event, their preferred Auctioneer had to bow out and they had to scramble to locate substitute “Volunteer” Auctioneer only days before their event.

And it cost them.

Learning Points

The Live Auction is usually where the profits are made at any Fundraising Auction.
A Professional Fundraising Auctioneer can be vital to the success of any Fundraising Auction.
The better Fundraising Auctioneers usually get booked quickly.
You need to recognize the important contributions that a good Auctioneer can make to your event.
Michael Ivankovich is a Bucks County Fundraising Auctioneer based in Doylestown PA, and serves the Great Philadelphia PA area. He has been a professionally licensed and bonded Auctioneer in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, has been named Pennsylvania’s Auctioneer of the Year, and has considerable experience in conducting Fundraising Auctions. Michael loves helping groups raise needed funds for good causes and one of his specialties is the “Special Pledge Appeal” or “Fund-A-Cause Appeal” which usually enables clients to double their revenue in a single evening.

5 Tips To Avoid Losing Money On Content Marketing

I know one business owner who hired a content marketing agency because he wanted to build his business.

The agency said it would bring in over a dozen inbound leads per month.

After four months of preparation and two months of releasing content, he ended up sacking the agency because it had not brought in a single lead.

Of course, he’d already spent several thousand pounds with them by then.

So how do you avoid this happening to you?

Tip #1: Understand what content marketing is

At its simplest, content marketing is a way of proving you are an authority in your field.

It makes you more credible: people are more likely to choose you before others.

This means giving people advice so that when they decide they need a product like yours, they’ll think of you first and get in touch.

For example, you might sell an IT system that helps companies comply with health and safety legislation.

If so, it makes sense to offer advice on how the latest legislation is likely to affect them, the trends in the industry, and so on.

In the old days, this was simple. You struck up a relationship with someone in your relevant trade press – or the local press – and wrote articles for them.

That’s still an option. But now you can also get your information out via a blog, downloadable reports on your website or an email subscriber list.

And that’s not even mentioning the various social media.

Then there’s the question of how often you need to create content.

This leads to some important questions:

Do you know your market well enough to write about it convincingly? If not, you need to hire someone to do it for you and they will not come cheap. Come to think of it, if you don’t know your market, you won’t survive long anyhow. And come to think of it again, many peoples’ idea of what their market is turns out to be spectacularly incorrect.

Do you have a clear idea of how best to reach your market? Yes you can write a blog, but if your customers prefer to read the trade press then blogging won’t help you. And if nobody reads your blog – often the case – you’re wasting time anyhow.

Do you know how often you need to put information out? Once a quarter? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day? There is no fixed rule. You need a feel for what will interest your customers – otherwise you can end up wasting a lot of time and money putting out useless content. And you need to be constantly thinking what will interest them. Every time you think of something, communicate.
Tip #2: Don’t believe the hype

Unfortunately, content marketing – indeed virtually all marketing today – is based on fallacies.

The biggest fallacy: that customers are fundamentally different today to how they used to be.

Well, after 54 years in marketing I can tell you that’s rubbish.

Customers today are no different to how they were when I started in this industry in the 1950s. All that’s changed is that there are far more media you can use to reach them.

Statistics are bandied about ‘proving’ that people now have fearfully short attention spans, when actually they always did. With advertising in a newspaper (for example) you only had split seconds to grab someone’s attention before they flipped the page.

If you don’t understand people, and realise that people have not fundamentally changed, you will lose money with your marketing. It’s that simple.

But from the idea that people now have the attention spans of goldfish, many agencies will point to studies showing that people don’t like to have their day disrupted by advertising. They find it annoying.

Let me assure you that people have always found bad advertising annoying. This also hasn’t changed.

Marketing people love easy answers. They yearn for a world where one particular approach – the one they specialise in – will solve all problems. And they are good at proving it to you.

If you don’t apply a little logic you can end up losing a lot of money.

An agency may show you that more money is now being spent on marketing to attract inbound leads rather than outbound leads.

They tout this as proof that inbound marketing is more successful.

However, what they won’t do is show you the revenues generated by inbound versus outbound; only how much is being spent.

As you’ll have worked out already, that’s like saying a Mercedes ad campaign is more effective than a Volkswagen one because Mercedes spent five times as much.

There is precious little proof that inbound marketing is more successful at generating leads or sales. And that should be all you care about.

Tip #3: Find out what works – and copy it

There is no doubt that content marketing does work if used correctly. Here are some examples.

Serial entrepreneur Neil Patel runs three blogs. Each one has over 100,000 regular readers and they are the number one source of customers for his various businesses.
Almost all of consulting coach Ian Brodie’s new customers now come to him as inbound leads.
US information publisher Agora runs a number of daily email newsletters to generate new business.
What do these three have in common?

Each uses the same technique as the cornerstone of their content marketing.

When you visit one of Neil Patel’s blogs, for example, you get a pop up offering you a free report in return for your email address.

If you choose to delete the pop up, you get taken to a page with another sign up box asking you to subscribe to his emails. Only once you get past that do you get to read the blog.

Similarly, at the top of Ian Brodie’s homepage is a sign up box offering you a free report in return for your email address.

And as I’ve already indicated, Agora’s content marketing model is based entirely on getting you to sign up for one or more of its email newsletters. It offers at least half a dozen different ones, depending on your interests.

Examples are all around you when you look for them – even from so-called social media experts.

Mari Smith is a renowned Facebook ‘guru’, yet when you go to her homepage what’s the first thing you see? An email sign up box.

It’s the same for Pinterest ‘guru’ Melanie Duncan. Go to her homepage and the first thing she asks you to do is not to find her on Pinterest – it’s to sign up for her regular email updates.

In fact, you have to negotiate three pop up boxes asking you to subscribe before you can get to the homepage itself.

Why do they all do this?

Because getting people to subscribe to your regular updates is a tried and tested method of increasing sales. Subscribers have opted in to receive your news and advice, so they are more likely to read the content.

And of course, for every few emails offering advice, they slip in one selling something. Or they get you to return to their website or go a landing page that tries to sell you something.

Pop up boxes are surely just as annoying as any other form of disruptive marketing.

I’ll bet that if you asked the visitors to these websites whether they found it annoying, they would say yes. And yet they work.

Tip #4: “Don’t forget the marketing in content marketing”

If you look up the Content Marketing Institute, it tells you that content marketing is “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. Instead of pitching your products and services, you are delivering information that makes your buyers more intelligent.”

The italics are mine. Just think about what they’re saying here for a minute.

That you should be sending out information without actually asking people to buy? Does that really make sense?

From spending millions of my own money – and God alone knows how much of my clients’ – I can tell you it doesn’t.

Trying to sell without selling is just plain stupid.

People are not thinking when they get your stuff. Even if they are intelligent – which many aren’t in the first place.

The entire premise of this kind of content marketing is that people don’t like being sold to. In research they say they prefer articles and white papers and that stuff.

What they think they prefer and what they do have nothing to do with each other.

What works and what people like are two different things.

What they need and what they think they want are two different things.

The quote that forms the heading for this section comes from Neil Patel, who points out that producing content is not enough if you don’t promote it.

Bill Bonner, the founder of Agora, recently explained that, though it may not seem like it, a daily email in which you don’t sell anything is really just part of a bigger strategy to bring home a sale.

As Agora copywriter Glenn Fisher says, “People who like modern terms call this content marketing, but it’s not.

“Content marketing is just a buzz phrase to describe something that’s always existed: it’s just plain old long copy.”

The guys at Agora should know. While there are several estimates around of how much the company makes each year, the most conservative figure is $90 million.

If you try to sell without selling, then guess what?

You won’t sell anything.

Tip #5: Know what your customers need

I can’t stress this enough.

Most of the content marketing I see that fails does so because those producing the content do not know enough about the market they are writing for.

As a result, they get it wrong in two major ways:

They write content that’s too shallow, of the teaching-granny-to-suck-eggs variety. Telling your customers what they already know is not the way to look authoritative.
They write content that doesn’t speak to their customers’ or prospects’ concerns.
You must know what your customers are thinking and worrying about – and write about them. This means you need to do your research. Don’t just read reports on the state of the market, or articles in the trade press.

Speak to your customers directly – or at least some of them. And do so with an open mind. Otherwise your content will never move them to want to act.

If you’ve decided you want to launch your own content out into the market, here’s what you need to do.

Research any agency you consider taking on. You wouldn’t hire someone without checking their references, so do the same if with an agency. Talk to their clients about results – and also what it’s like working with them.

Think about hiring a specialist. Many companies hire trade journalists or copywriters with a specialist niche to write their content, whether in house or freelance. Just bear in mind that real specialists do not come cheap.

If you try to get them cheap, they won’t stay long enough to have an impact. Resist the lure of false economy.

Know your market – and make sure anyone writing for you does too. If you don’t, your content will fall flat. So take the time to research this first. Only if you know the market can you test whether any agency or copywriter knows enough to write good content.

Know what you want to achieve. Many companies jump into content marketing just because everyone else is. Resist this urge. You can do well without content marketing and focus on outbound marketing instead.