Happy New Year! While theoretically very little (except for dates and financial statements) change, we like to use the excuse of a new year to make other changes in our lives and work.
So, why not continue with our series on Silent Auction tips from the trenches with one more tip that can make your upcoming auction events even better!
In our last post, we discussed the importance of having accurate and detailed item descriptions. In this post, we want to focus on a critical (yet indirectly related) aspect of your auction event: Promotion!
Event promotion is simply the act of making people aware of and getting them to register for your event. While software can automate many aspects of this (from the invitations, to registration and checkin, to bidding and payments), unfortunately software cant make people come to the event. That is your job.
There are many factors which will drive attendance. In this blog post we will discuss a few key factors and offer some simple tips to help increase attendace. Lets start with some things you can control: date and location.
How to promote your event
DATE & LOCATION IMPACT ATTENDANCE
Some events are driven by the date (i.e. the Kentucky Derby) while others are driven by the location (what dates are available at a specific venue). Either way, you have some control on when and where your event will be. If you select a date that will be difficult for people to make (for example a holiday or a week night), expect attendance to decrease. If you choose a location which is difficult to get to, do not be surprised if this impacts attendance as well.
Instead, look for a date and time that is easier for most people to attend and choose a location that is central to where most people can reach it.
TICKET PRICES IMPACT ATTENDANCE
Another factor under your control is what you charge to attend. If you make your ticket costs too high, you will dissuade people from coming (or from spending more in your auction or raffle when they arrive). If you make your ticket prices too low, you may fill your venue with guests who just want to attend the party (not spend extra in your auction) or you may not generate enough revenue to cover costs.
It is an admirable goal to try and cover event costs with ticket revenue, leaving other revenue generators at your event (auction, raffle, etc.) to go straight towards profit. To make that possible, you will need to consider the following factors:
HIGH TICKET FEES WILL PRICE SOME PEOPLE OUT
While your invitees want to support your cause, they likely have a budget. Meet or exceed that budget with ticket fees and either expect them to RSVP "no" or show up and make no additional contributions. In either case, you won't make any profit on them.
We had a client once hosting a school auction who was disappointed in the ticket sales leading up to the event. When looking at their ticket options, our immediate thought was that the prices were too high. They had tickets at $75 per person for a school auction / event. While the venue and "open beer/wine" features were nice, this event was bound to cost a couple at least $200 before they walked in the door (for two people plus baby sitting). Our recommendation was to try and lower the fees as much as possible or offer a baby sitting option at a local church or gym.
Another idea is to offer an early bird incentive at a reduced price to drive early registrations. Regardless, make sure you have a good pulse on what your guests think of the ticket price.
LOW TICKET FEES COULD ATTRACT A "NON-SPENDING" CROWD
This can be a bit of a touchy subject, but our own fundraising experience has seen this play out time and time again. Most events have a fixed number of people who can physically attend. Your goal is to fill it with those who will spend the most at your event in your auction, raffle, paddle raise, etc.
However, if you make your ticket prices too low, you run the risk of attracting people who simply want to come to enjoy the party (food, drinks and entertainment) but won't spend or contribute anything extra during the event. If that is not a risk for your event, that is great. However, we have seen this before, even at our own events. Our recommendation is to review the contributions (spend) for each of your guests after the event and set ticket prices accordingly in future years.
AWARENESS IMPACTS ATTENDANCE
Another element you can control is awareness of your event. As we like to tell our sales team here at Handbid: prospects typically must be contacted 5 times before they will respond. Your invitees are no different. Sure they got the invite in their email box. It is sitting there. They have a mental note (which quickly fades) to talk with their spouse about it, check their calendar, and eventually register. Your job is to consistently remind them and put that "mental note" back in their head. At the risk of being annoying, you need to remind your invitees to register. Use incentives, use peer pressure, but don't complain that no one has registered if you have only reminded people 2-3 times.
WEATHER CAN AFFECT ATTENDANCE
Now that we have covered those elements, lets talk about one element that you simply cannot control (unless you have powers we don't know about). The weather.
Here in Denver, the weather is always a consideration. Not because its always snowing here - but because it is so unpredictable. As a result, you can't plan for it. You want to have a spring BBQ outdoors or hosting a golf tournament? It could rain (or even snow).
We have attended events in snowstorms, pouring down rain, ice, etc. Some people brave the weather and show up. Others stay home. One good thing we tell people is if you are using Handbid, at least people will be bidding in your auction regardless of where they are!
So what can you do about the weather? Nothing. But you can make sure you have contingencies (an indoor plan if the weather is bad, a back up date if you simply must be outdoors, etc.) Talk with your venue manager and see what they recommend for how to handle possible weather situations. Once those are figured out, forget about it. Worrying about it won't help.
SO GRAB THAT MEGAPHONE & SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS
Your event is going to be great. Tell people about it. Encourage them to come with fair (yet not too low) ticket prices, promote your event consistently (just short of the point of badgering) and plan for but forget about the weather.
If you take this advice, we are confident you can drive better attendance at your event!
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Great question! If you are a Handbid customer, we have great tips in our knowledge base on how to share your auction or specific auction items via Social Media, Text, eMail, etc. We recommend your visit the knowledge base to watch those videos and read those articles!
If you are not a Handbid customer, well... what are you waiting for? Reach out to us to get signed up and start that auction promotion today!