Elk NetworkLive Auction Strategies: How to Work the Key Item Prize

Volunteer News | August 20, 2012

Live Auction Strategies: How to Work the Key Item Prize

By Dave Brucken, Regional Director, Illinois & Indiana

Looking for a great technique to get the crowd fired up at your next Big Game Banquet? Try the Key Item Prize!

1.  Select five desirable items of modest cost from the live auction, such as RMEF logo wear, a child’s toy or hotel package. Add “Key Item!” to the tent card that identifies each item. Each item should carry some interest on its own, so they will be inclined to want it even if they don’t win the key item prize.

2.  Choose your Key Item Prize. Guns work best, but you can substitute something you know your crowd will go for, such as a fishing trip or a gun safe. Make a sign identifying the prize. For example::

Key Item Prize
Ruger Redhawk .44 Mag
Winning bidders of the five key items on the live auction will receive a key,
one of which will open the lock and win this beautiful pistol.
FMV  $780

3. During the social hour, have your emcee tell the crowd how it works. Have the first live auction item be a key item. Carry it through the crowd, and also have someone hold it up at the podium so bidders will know the item comes with a key.

4. After a key item is won, have the winner come forward and pull a key out of the box, so the rest of the crowd sees him or her getting a treasured key.

5. Spread the five key items throughout the live auction, and remind the crowd there is no rule against having more than one key. Be sure to make your last auction item the last key item. The first four winners will want a second key to increase their odds. They’ll go crazy for that last key.

6. As soon as the last item is won, have all key winners approach the stage and try their key. 

The advantages? Very little time or labor required, something new to get the crowd fired up about, and it can easily net $1,000 or more. The disadvantages? None that I am aware of. This isn’t new territory; it’s worked for years. Give it a shot!