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Silent Auction Tips from the Trenches - Part 5 - Names, Photos & Descriptions Matter

December 08, 2016 By Jeff Porter

In our last post, we left the world of "auction tactics" for some "non-tactical" advice on how to manage potential issues at your auction event. This week, we are going to switch back to more specific auction tips; specifically regarding item name, photo and descriptions.

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If there is one thing that indirectly inhibits bidding (or drives refund requests) more than anything else, it is a poorly written or an inaccurate item name and description.

When you are attracting bidders and bids, think of the item name being the teaser along with the photo and the description closing the deal. You need to get them to tap on an item and then if they have questions, read through the detail so you can attract their bid.

Lets illustrate this point with a story. We were at one event where bidding was slow. When we dove in to see what was going on we noticed that the auction manager had gotten too "creative" with some of the item names. For example, the item was named "Colorado Mountain Experience" and it was a photo of the beautiful Rocky Mountains we see everyday from our office window here at Handbid.

However, the description painted a much different picture of the item. Reading the description, we found that this item was a foursome to a popular mountain golf resort, Cordillera, along with a 2 night stay at the resort and a certificate for $100 for dinner at the lodge. There were other golf packages with bids, but it was obvious to us that this item was being missed by the "golfers" bidding in the auction.

To rectify this, we quickly changed the name to something more accurate: "Foursome and 2-Night Stay at Cordillera" and updated the photo to one showing the golf course. We followed that up with a broadcast message promoting the item. Within 5 minutes the item had 10 bids on it.

In another example (different event), there was an item that consisted of 6 bottles of wine. The item was even named "6 bottles of Red Wine" in Handbid. Ok..... Not great, but better than the previous example. However, the description was still a problem, as was the photo.

First, the description only said "6 bottles of Red Wine". No winery name, no varietal, no vintage. Second, the photo was not even of the wine bottles. Instead, the auction manager had chosen a stock photo of a glass of red wine.

With no bids, we needed to "fix" this item. First, we found the bottles of wine on display and snapped a photo of them. Next, we changed the item name to say:

"Russian River Pinot Lovers Basket of 6"

and put the something like this as the description:

This lot contains 6 bottles of Pinot Noir from the Russian River valley in California. Known for its amazing Pinots, this collection is sure to satisfy the Pinot lover in your life. They will enjoy:

  • Dehlinger 2013 Champ de Mars Pinot Noir
  • WesMar 2013 Salzgeber Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • Balletto 2014 Burnside Road Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir
  • Lynmar 2014 Old Vines Quail Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • J Vineyards & Winery 2015 Vin Gris Rosé of Pinot Noir
  • Mersenne 2013 Chenoweth Vineyard Pinot Noir

Value of the package: $300

In this description we added some details critical to a wine purchaser: vineyard, varietal, vintage (year) and the winery name. As soon as we added this detail and republished the item, bids started coming in!

Details are important, not just to collectors but also to any potential buyers. We field questions all of the time from bidders about auction items: when does it expire, is it signed, is it authentic, etc.

We have a ton of other examples, especially when it comes to Sports Memorabilia (which we will address in a separate series next).

To summarize: You (the auction manager) did all of this hard work to get the items, load them into your auction, attach photos and put out display sheets. Don't fall short by putting in a skimpy description, bad name or a lousy photo.

Need help with writing descriptions or reviewing your items? Please note that Handbid reviews auction setups for every Handbid customer to make sure they are complete. If you need more support writing descriptions, naming items or putting in better photos, we can do that too. Just reach out to us to get started.

Otherwise, please take another look at your descriptions and make them as specific as possible.

If you found this tip useful, please let us know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share with us your own example of a poorly described auction item!

You want to review this tip along with 6 more? Click below to download our Silent Auction Tips eBook today!

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