Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Marketing Secrets for Silent Auctions and Raffles

It seems everyone has a fundraiser, auction or raffle that they'd like you to donate to. The Chamber too has two silent auctions coming up in the near future

Should you or shouldn't you consider donating something to these events?

I think you should really consider it. But you don't have to take my word for it.
ChamberSmallBusiness.com calls this “Masterful Marketing, when you donate a prize, giveaway or auction item you can generate some low cost exposure and publicity for your company."

But before you rush out to donate something--I urge you to do a little strategic analysis.

STEP ONE: Who's the target audience for this event?

Donating can be a good decision if the audience at the event is your target audience/customer base.

Donating can be a good decision if the audience is your strongest pool for referral partners and leads.

Donating does not make sense if the audience is completely unrelated to potential leads or customers.

STEP TWO: You've decided to donate something, now what will you give?
Think about that audience and identify the broadest common denominator.

You want the winner of your donation to be thrilled to have won. That means what they bid on or win in the raffle needs to be

something they can use immediately
something they would be proud to show off to others (all the more marketing mileage when they show off their winnings)
something that makes them connect with your business name and helps brand you as a thoughtful, customer oriented business
You get extra credit if you can donate something that cannot be purchased or obtained easily--if at all. (One of a kind items are hot commodities at auctions).

STEP THREE--Need some ideas?
If you're a season ticket holder for sporting or entertainment events, consider donating a set of tickets.
How about a week at your vacation condo, cottage or time share?
Maybe you have connections to get autographed sports memorabilia

Don't waste the opportunity to emphasize one of your services or value propositions. Is your company brand include: Great Customer Service; Easy communications and follow up; timely delivery of services . . . then create a donation that reinforces that message.

Tried and true items like a gift certificate for "dinner out" at a local restaurant can be coupled with a bottle of champagne and your gift card that says, "Congratulations! Celebrate your next memorable event with our compliments!" and be sure to add a tag line that matches your business.

Insurance companies: "Always here for you when you need us."
Financial planners: "We are pleased to help customers and clients have more to celebrate."
Mortgage specialists: "We can help you celebrate a new home or renovations."
Attorneys: "Good planning leads to more celebrations. We can help."
Or consider the ever popular spa or salon gift certificate.
"Relax. We're ready to help you lower your stress in other ways too--call us when you'd like more information."
"Our customers and clients agree, everyone can use a little pampering."

Or maybe you'd like to donate a gift certificate for your company's services.
A free hour of consulting, or a free evaluation . . . jazz up your donation by coupling it with a couple of your logo mugs, a pound of gourmet coffee and a sampler of chocolates.

Is somebody in your office a good baker? Add two dozen home baked cookies, an apple pie (with small American Flag!), or decadent brownies to your donation. While bidders want your company's services, the homebaked goodies provide instant gratification and urgency for them to BID ON YOUR CERTIFICATE IMMEDIATELY!

STEP FOUR--DO NOT FORGET that this is a marketing opportunity! Include your business cards, or a hand written note congratulating the "winner" of your item.

Donate your item early so the event hosts can coordinate custom signage that includes your logo

STEP FIVE--Be the "stickiest" business at the auction!
Marketers agree that it's important to create a brand, image or message that's sticky. (Meaning you stay in the audience's mind long after they've seen your advertisement.)
Auction donations and raffle prizes are a great opportunity to develop that sticky message.

What can you donate that will intrigue most of the audience? In a silent auction, your goal is to get them to bid! In fact--you want audience members to get in a bidding war for your donation.

Taking the extra time to design a dazzling basket display or creative presentation pays off big time when people talk about you AT the event and AFTER the event. Better yet--will people take pictures of your donation and post it on their Facebook pages?

Get them talking! With a little creativity, your auction item could be the buzz of the event.