Everyone knows what branding is, right? What if I told you that your brand goes much further than a logo or a slogan, or that your mismatched socks at a removal could be indirectly hurting your companies brand. It's true, I recently took a class at the NAA conference in Dallas on marketing and one topic that really hit home was the importance of branding. From the car you drive, to the shirt you wear at the removals or inspections, every decision you make when you are in front of customers directly relates to your company's branding.
I am not saying that you have to wear a suit or go out and buy a brand new truck to be taken seriously, but there are some simple ways that you can help your brand as an auctioneer.
- Be a Professional: Your'e being watched! From your inspections and removals, and most importantly your sales calls. Are you portraying the brand of your company in the right way? If not, you could be jeopardizing future business. Sellers put a lot of trust in an auctioneer, they trust that you know how to get them the best price for the assets that they have to sell. Making a seller comfortable by portraying professionalism from your appearance all the way down to your business card can go a long way.
- Customer Service: Does your seller feel that you are working for them and not just a commission? Spend time to explain the process, answer questions and make your sellers feel like you are working for them. Take their concerns (even if you don't agree) and suggest why you do the things you do. Some would disagree that customer service can impact your brand, I would argue that customer service might be the most important factor because it is all about public perception.
- DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE BUYERS! It would be impossible to have an auction without the buyers. It can be easy to get caught up in working for your sellers and discounting the importance of the buyers. Don't let a few bad experiences with some bad apples sour your view of the rest of the paying customers out there. We see buyers converting into sellers every single day, let your company brand speak with your customer service and good things will come.
- Proof Your Auctions: Would you think that sellers research your previous auctions before signing a contract with you? I would bet a lot of them do. It's important to realize that the quality of your pictures and descriptions not only directly impact the outcome of that auction, but can be used as a future sales tool as well. Like it or not, misspellings, grammatical errors and poor pictures are a reflection of your services and the brand of your company. Take pride in your auctions, don't cut corners and the result will be happy sellers and potential referrals in the future.
Every business decision you make will directly reflect your company's brand, even if you don't realize it. You would be surprised at how deep this brand discussion can go.
- Phone Recordings: Does your voicemail say "Jim's Phone" or "XYZ Auction Service?" Do you still have "She shook me all night long" as your ring back tone?
- Email: Do you have a custom email domain for your business or are you still using Gmail or Yahoo? The price of these can be as little as $10/month through Google Apps and other sources.
- Even your location and/or warehouse: It would be hard to do an auction for industrial equipment in a 500 square foot office. Conducting auctions in a warehouse in downtown Minneapolis is as much of a branding decision as a pole barn in Waseca.
I hope that this blog can start thinking about how your brand can directly affect your bottom line. I know that I have some work to do when it comes to branding K-BID corporate, what are some minor changes that you can make?
If you want to learn more about branding and all sorts of auction marketing ideas, check out Ryan George's blog from biplane productions. I have to give credit to Ryan and the rest of the instructors from the NAA ATS class for a lot of the ideas within this post.