When volunteer benefit auction committees get donations, the reoccuring questions are about packaging, marketing and promoting.
If my client is only conducting a silent ideas for silent auction auction, I am never asked whether an item belongs in the silent auction or live auction – there’s no choice! But if the auction fundraiser includes both components, the “silent versus live” debate often arises.
In this article, I want to discuss how an auction item can be affected by its placement in a silent section versus the live auction.
One of my clients has a wonderful patron who looks like Santa Claus. He’s a friendly guy and looks remarkably like Santa. All around the world, people stop him to comment on his resemblance to St. Nick.
In 2008 the charity created a fun auction item package in which this patron agreed to dress as Santa and attend a holiday party. The item sold in the live auction almost $2000. It was so popular, we might have even sold it twice.
In 2009, the item was moved into the silent auction. There were two active bidders, and it sold for around $600.
Why the difference? Marketing. The successful runs of charity auctions tell us about good marketing techniques for silent auction items. At the same time, there is a different set of marketing techniques for live auction items that a charity auction committee should follow.
Let’s just take a look at the marketing opportunities available for a live auction item during an event. At most benefit auctions, the silent auction concludes before the live auction starts. So, live auction items can be viewed and featured during the silent auction. This leaves more time to educate bidders on the items and generate excitement.
A good benefit auctioneer – volunteer or professional – will use her time on stage to build even more excitement. Sometimes that starts with educating bidders on the items then moving on to help bidder see themselves using those items or enjoying those trips. This might be summarized as the difference between car sales happening in the classified section of a newspaper – if anyone still does that- and a great TV commercial featuring a car. It is hard to build the enthusiasm for silent auction items to the same level that comes with live auction items.
My recommendations for marketing silent auction items will be in a future post.
Even when all marketing principals followed, there will be a difference in sale price because of the method of sale and the marketing to support it. Putting an item in the live auction will always garner it more money than what it can bring in during a silent auction.