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The Waffle House mentality

“Whoa, lookin’ back at my background/ Tryin’ to figure out how I ever got here.  Some things are still a mystery to me/ While others are much too clear”.  Migration, from the album A1A by Jimmy Buffett.

The Marketing Mindset should not be a mystery to you- you should be marketing yourself to potential clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!  Everyone knows the golden paper rule- Thou shalt have pocketfuls of business cards and ye shall pass them graciously!  Okay, so I made it up- but the point is that you should always be ready to market yourself, at any given opportunity.

There is a story of a man that would frequent a diner in his home town; you can use your imagination as to his occupation, it is not important to the story.  The point to the story is that the man would order the same breakfast and sit at the same spot every day.  The difference from day-to-day is that he would make a point to meet someone new each day- even if some days it would take him extra time waiting for someone to come in.  Most of us do not have the extra time that is required to use this type of marketing, but the underlying factor is that he was marketing himself to the usual clients AND the new ones.

So how do you use the skills at your disposal to work this same magic?  Let’s start with the aforementioned Marketing Mindset:  Jay Conrad Levinson, in his Guerilla Marketing series, says that you should think about marketing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using a variety of weapons in your arsenal.  The weapons in your arsenal are, of course, the old standbys of newspaper, postcards, brochures and the like.  Other more expensive weapons include TV, radio, billboards, etcetera- but let’s focus on a marketing marvel that each and every one of you has the capability to use- the Internet.

This is where the clarity begins to set in- you are always trying to stretch your advertising dollar as far as it can go.  You have already switched from brochures to postcards to reduce printing and mailing costs and are using your Internet site only to post upcoming auctions.  Why not make it your virtual business card?  The Golden Internet Rule goes like this- Thou shalt have a website and ye shall market to the masses from sunup to sundown!  Okay, there again, I made that up… but it has substance!

Use the Waffle House mentality:  Never Close

People always joke as to why the Waffle House has locks on its doors- your website should work the same way!  It should be open to first shifters, third shifters and those stay-at-home moms during the day… they are all potential clients and customers.  Granted, you cannot man the phones every minute of every hour, but hey- the web is like the Emergency Room… open all the time!

As you stretch your advertising dollar, make sure that each piece of mail, business card, TV ad or billboard has a link to your website.  You can only get a few pictures on a 4×6 postcard, but you can pack a bushel of pictures onto a webpage.  For around $600 a year, yes I said a year, you can advertise yourself and your auctions to the masses… and never close the office (so to speak).  Now, the numbers I gave you fluctuate frequently and they are a set of numbers I used in a Continuing Education seminar I taught a year or so ago- do some checking, get three prices and make the dollars you spend go farther!

An example of when the Marketing Mindset was put to use is an auction that our company conducted a year ago (of which the postcard won the Black and White advertising award at the National Auctioneers Association Conference and Show, I might add).  The seller cut the advertising budget in half due to some misinformation they received from a family member, so we had to resort to options that we had not thought of.  This is where the 4×6 black and white postcard came into play- we used two of the best pictures from the home, added some drawing card items to the listing and then directed everyone to our website.  On the website we added the other 250 or so pictures to show the largest majority of sellable items from the home.  This event moved me into the Marketing Mindset and is the basis that I use when writing some of the tighter advertising budgets in our business.

In addition to the website we sent several e-mail blasts and made phone calls to potential buyers of the items for sale at the auction.  We used an arsenal of weapons to hit the potential clients and customers from all sides as we drove home the point about the auction- these included the B&W postcard, website, email, phone calls and a few small (very small) ads in the local paper.  The turnout was better than we had anticipated and allowed our company to exceed the needs of our seller.

To conclude, the Waffle House mentality is a heads-up approach to reaching your current clients and those potentials out there that cannot reach you on the phone during your normal office hours.  Use the 24/7 approach to allow those new customers and the existing ones to find out the necessary information about you, your business and your specific auctions!

Good luck with your BIDness and I will see you at the auction!


Publication:  SCAA Bid Caller Newsletter- December edition

Author:  Darron Meares, MBA, CAI, MPPA, BAS


Darron Meares, GPPA is one of the newest NAA Board of Directors members.  He is also a Board member for the South Carolina Auctioneer Association, the Membership Committee Chairman for the Association and vice chairman of the NAA Technology Committee.  He has frequented the Waffle House many times… with the first shifters AND the third shifters!

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