The Bell Curve Method
The goal of a successful auction is to create an atmosphere that will initiate a crowd into wanting to bid for items. There are good and bad ways to do this and the difference between the methods can be the difference between hundreds or thousands of dollars the auction draws in. One of the best ways to invoke people into purchasing more items is to set it up using the Bell Curve Method.
The purpose of the Bell Curve Method is simple; structure the event so that people want to spend more money. This is done by putting the items in a specific order that will temper the crowd into bidding for higher priced items. Think of it like a batter in baseball. You want him to warm up with practice swings to loosen up before he goes for a home run. That concept can be applied to using the Bell Curve Method.
Product Placement for Auction Success
The first step in the Bell Curve Method is figuring out all the items that will be sold and putting them in order monetarily from least to most expensive. At most auctions the auctioneer can help with this.
You’ll notice the least expensive items are the tangible ones – items that can be touched, held and brought home. Tangible items may include sculptures, artwork, TV’s, gift baskets, signed memorabilia, etc. It’s best to start your auction with these because people can easily put a price on them. It’s easier for someone to formulate a specific value behind a gift basket than for a more abstract item like a dinner and show at a resort.
Starting an auction with these tangible items will ease people into the bidding process and make them less apprehensive. Once this has begun the crowd will be more likely to continue bidding for the more expensive “premiere” items.
As you continue creating the catalog the values will increase and you’ll start to see “premiere” items. These are intangible items with much higher value and will draw in the bulk of the night’s fund raising.
Premiere items can include theater productions, sporting events/packages, meals prepared by a personal chef, resort stays, lunch or dinner with celebrities, etc. The value of these items is based on what each individual deems their worth. People are essentially bidding for experiences and will associate higher dollar amounts to them.
The catalog is now near the peak of the bell curve where big ticket items are placed. Before reaching the peak you’ll want to consider Incorporating a Special Pledge to draw in additional funds. This is the best time for a Special Pledge because higher value bids are being placed so it won’t be a stretch to ask for larger donations. People will be bidding for $300+ items so donating $100 won’t seem that high.
The last step is to place slightly lower cost items at the end so people are still afforded the opportunity to bid on expensive items. Remember there will be energy and enthusiasm created from people buying expensive item so it’ll be favorable to continue that momentum.
The Bell Curve is a great way to organize an auction so that people ultimately spend more money. Utilizing this is sure to increase the money your event draws so be sure to use this at your next auction to make it your most successful one yet!