I’d like to welcome Sherry Truhlar back to to Step By Step Fundraising! Sherry’s written a number of great articles for us on the topic of fundraising auctions, and she has a great site at Red Apple Auctions that you should definitely check out.

She also has a FREE Auction Item Guide (listing the 100 best-selling items to sell in your benefit auction) here.

Thanks, Sherry, for sharing your time and knowledge with us! – Jim Berigan

A shoe store surprised me with a clever marketing message AFTER I got home.

You likely have a story about poor customer service. Many of us do.

But I’ve noticed some companies creatively finding ways to make their customers feel extra-special, even after purchasing a product. These ideas leave a positive, lasting impression.

Here’s one clever marketing technique you might adapt for use at your charity auction to ensure your gala keeps guests smiling, even after they’ve left.

By way of example, here are two stories from my old stomping grounds of corporate marketing.

Story #1

I bought a pair of shoes at a store called “Shoe Woo.” Once home, I pulled the shoebox out of the bag. A black message on the inside bottom of the white bag caught my eye: “You’ve been WOOed!”

I didn’t expect that at the bottom of the bag, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Story #2

While attending a sales-related conference, I heard a speaker share a similar experience. She had purchased a jacket from an outdoor apparel company.

The first time she wore the jacket, she put her hand inside the pocket and felt a small piece of paper. She assumed it was an inspection sticker. When she pulled it out to throw it away, she glanced at the paper and some words caught her eye:

“You are a goddess.”

Whoa, a goddess!? Her day was instantly brightened.

Key point #1: Ideas don’t need to add cost.

Shoe Woo has to print bags anyway. The outdoor apparel company has to package those coats for shipping anyway. Adding a message to the shopping bag or slipping a tag into a jacket pocket are minor tasks that leave major impressions.

Key point #2: The element of surprise.

Instead of giving guests your auction gift bag in a predictable way at the end of the night, what if the contents of that gift bag were delivered in a different way?

Gift bags are often handed to patrons as they leave the building. If guests must valet park, consider giving the valet the responsibility of leaving one gift bag in each car. What a nice surprise for your auction guests to find a gift in their car as they head home!

Although I’ve not seen this idea used at a benefit auction, I personally have been the recipient of the tactic.

A few years ago when I was still working in corporate marketing, I attended the opening of Fairmont’s Gold level in Washington, D.C. At the end of the night, the valet brought me my car.

As I was driving away, I noticed a lovely wine opener with a bow sitting in my cup holder.

I was excited to get home and take a closer look. The experience of the evening lingered with me beyond the hours of the party.

What other ideas do you have to ensure your charity auction lingers in each guest’s mind?

About the Author

Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar’s advice has been seen in print (e.g. Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, AUCTIONEER) and on television (e.g. E! Style, TLC) where she inspires and teaches volunteers how to hit new fundraising records in their auction galas. Enjoy her FREE Auction Item Guide (listing the 100 best-selling items to sell in your benefit auction) at http://www.RedAppleAuctions.com .

Previous articles published on SBSF:

Shrink those floral centerpieces at your benefit auction, by Sherry Truhlar

Benefit auction ideas: The “correct” way to thank donors by Sherry Truhlar

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Posted on 06 May 2011

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