It was fascinating to discover that the latest Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded for work on auction theory. Not so concerned with chattels auctions as those for broadcast and phone bandwidth licensing, the theorists who scooped the prize needed to solve problems that arose for organisations setting out to bid hundreds of millions of pounds in what is ultimately an uncertain market.
I won’t bore you with the nuts and bolts of this; suffice to say that uncertainty tends to blunt the appetite in this sort of setting, which can mean that all interested parties lose out, so the challenge is to come up with a new type of auction that gets round this.
Ultimately, though, whatever you are selling, auctions depend on supply, demand, expert knowledge of what is being sold and a deep understanding of human nature. You don’t need a Nobel Prize to work that out, but you do need a great deal of experience to be effective as an auctioneer.
As someone who has been on the rostrum for more years than I care to remember, my first objective is to secure as good a price as I can for the consignor, but it is also important to ensure that the buyer gets what they pay for.
The best way to create demand, as a marketing guru once told me, is to show a group of people something wonderful and then tell them they can’t have it.