Promoting Auction Items on Event Night

This information and more comes from our webinar, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Auction Profits.

You’ve put a lot of effort into your auction:

You’ve procured a select offering of high-quality items, you’ve written stellar descriptions for these auction packages and you’ve pre-promoted your best items ahead of time.

Now It’s event night and your guests have arrived. How do you make sure they see everything so they can select their favorite auction items and bid on them?

Silent Auction

There are several ways to make the most of your silent auction. This is the time when your guests mingle and visit, so capitalize on that energy and make it easy for them to see all you have to offer.

Maximize Space

Spread out your silent auction displays. Give your guests plenty of room to read the descriptions, see what’s included, look at the physical items and understand exactly what’s in each package. Pay attention to traffic flow and make sure there’s plenty of space not just for looking at the items, but for moving between tables as well.

You can put the actual auction items on your silent auction tables, if they’re small enough, or you can display a printed description and photo of each one. Make sure to feature your auction packages and display them prominently—they have the most revenue potential.

Get Online

Online bidding eliminates the need for paper bid sheets. Guests can bid on their mobile devices or place a bid with one of your bid assistants (volunteers with iPads who circle around the room assisting guests). Find out more about Greater Giving’s online bidding solution.

Optimize Your Displays

Make sure your silent auction displays are consistent. Use great photos and write short, direct descriptions of the items. Don’t include anything in the photos or the displays that isn’t actually in the auction package; you don’t want to mislead your guests. Always include the item number in the description.

One organization used digital photo frames and preloaded photos of the package items that played during the silent auction. It was visually interesting and attracted guests to check out the packages.

Live Auction

While the live auction is indeed the main activity of the evening, and captures the most attention, you still want to keep promoting your live auction items at every opportunity. You never know who has seen the items and who hasn’t. Present the items in multiple ways and in different spaces.

Promote Items During the Cocktail Hour

Place a large video monitor in your silent auction space and set it to scroll through photos of your live auction items. Include photos that clearly show what each auction package is about so guests can imagine themselves in that experience – skiers on a mountain slicing through powder, golfers enjoying the green at a high-end resort, etc.

Promote Items During the Live Auction

In the live auction itself, your slides are your best way to promote your auction items. Use high quality photos that really show the experience. Videos are another great way to draw your guests’ attention. Create 15-20 second video clips that briefly explain the package. Then your auctioneer can jump right in and start selling the package. Video is a bit expensive to produce, but it gets people interested.

Promote Items in Your Print Catalog

The standard, tried-and-true way to promote auction packages is through your print catalog. Make sure to also include information about your organization and the impact it has, as well as information about auction rules, etc. With a print catalog in hand, guests can take notes on the items they’re interested in and write down what they plan to bid on the item.

Make sure to design the catalog so it can be read easily in different lighting. Include descriptions of your live auction items and high-quality color photos. Don’t include your silent auction items—that’s too much information to manage, both for you and for your guests. Focus your catalog on your live auction items instead.

Making the Most of the Evening

With rich visuals, plenty of space and strategically designed displays, you can get your guests’ attention and build momentum for a successful fundraiser.

What is your experience with highlighting auction items during the event itself? If you have any ideas or tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

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