Navigating print & digital auction advertising choices

There's a strategy for every business goal

By Nancy Hull Rigdon

The common question seems simple: Print advertising versus digital advertising – what’s best?

It’s not that simple, say auction professionals with significant experience in the area. Instead, they say there’s a more productive question to ask: What are you trying accomplish in your auction business? When you have that answer, you can then evaluate all the options, from direct mail to billboards to paid social media content and online banner ads.

With your answer in mind, here are several pieces of applicable advice to help you select from the smorgasbord of advertising options spanning both print and digital.
We’ll start with some misconceptions. First up: the assumption that social media is only for younger audiences.

“While that might be true for Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, that’s not true for Facebook,” said Ryan George of auction marketing company Biplane Productions, Inc. “Research found more people 55 and older check Facebook than read a newspaper in the course of a week.

Another false assumption George hears is that rural communities aren’t on social media.

“I get better efficiency in rural markets because I don’t have to compete against Fortune 500 advertising there. I’ve advertised a farm equipment auction in rural Kansas, where 98 percent of the traffic was mobile. We still get strong results from some farm newspapers in the Midwest, too. I’ve just learned to not make assumptions and to trust the data,” George said.

Same goes for industrial equipment, he said. Some of his best results for Facebook advertising have been with machine shops, food service equipment and heavy trucks.

“We get strong bidders from direct mail on these campaigns, but both blue collar and middle management decision-makers are on social media,” he said.

George stressed that you can’t approach digital media and print media the same. He said he often sees auctioneers missing this key detail. As just one example, he sometimes sees professionals wanting to include a website address in a clickable online banner ad, defeating the purpose of the ad.

“We have to adapt our messaging to the expectations of the audience of each platform. With short attention spans, we need to include only what the prospect needs to know to take the next step,” he said. “That next step is not coming to an auction. It’s getting them to your website, where you can make the next, more detailed pitch — and capture their data.”

Don’t expect what works today to work tomorrow, George cautions.

“The uncomfortable truth is that successful advertisers will have to be constantly experimenting, measuring and adjusting the various media in our campaigns until retirement. If our marketing plans are the same a year from now as they are today, most likely we haven’t been doing our jobs,” he said.