At AssetWorks, we understand that federal and state surplus property management work is demanding. Your team is often spread too thin, and it may feel like you get little recognition for your enormous efforts.
But we’ve also seen the benefits of successful surplus property programs firsthand. They provide organizations in need with access to inexpensive property they might not be able to afford otherwise. It also gives usable property a second life, and diverts waste from landfills.
According to the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP), the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program saves American taxpayers over $100 million annually.
Whether you’re a surplus property manager or member of warehouse staff, you know that there are certain surplus items that are hard to sell or donate. The reasons behind this problem vary: potential purchasers or donees might not be sure how the item could be used, or maybe it’s just a matter of getting them into the warehouse to have an in-person look and touch.
Whatever the reason, these surplus items end up collecting dust in your warehouse. Here are 3 marketing tips to help you get valuable surplus items out of your warehouse, and into the hands of a person or organization in need.
GET OUT THERE
While it may give you the warm-and-fuzzies to hear someone refer to your surplus warehouse as a “best kept secret”, it could also indicate a lack of brand awareness. The cure? Publicity.
Before you can start spreading the word about all of the exciting items and happenings in your surplus warehouse, you’ll need to let the public know who (and where) you are.
You may be able to get free publicity through a number of local resources, including:
Before you start calling your local news outlets, come up with a unique plan that will pique their interest.
For example, if you’re able, you might take the above example from Texas a step further. If your warehouse has an excess of TSA-confiscated items, consider starting a campaign to reunite travelers with their long-lost items. Putting a fun spin on the situation will likely boost interest from local news outlets, and help your warehouse clear out surplus items.
LOCAL EVENTS: If you’re looking for another idea to help spread awareness, consider setting up a booth at a local community festival or market. Being seen out and about in your community will build authority around your surplus warehouse, and could result in an increase in local news coverage.
Don’t be afraid to get out there! Garnering a little bit of local news publicity will increase awareness around your surplus warehouse, leading to more traffic at your door.
Alternatively, you might be looking for a way to “get out there” without ever leaving your desk or warehouse. Thanks to social media, this is free and easy to do.
With endless social media platforms available – like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – it can be easy to get carried away, but we suggest you start with one.
Choosing a Social Media Platform
Which social media platform is right for your surplus warehouse?
Time is precious and manpower is limited, so it’s important to be strategic about where you spend your time. As much as you may love the idea of Pinterest (hey, we get it), it’s important to first think about your target audience. Who are they? How old are they? Which social media platforms are they most likely to use regularly?
The answer to these questions may vary slightly from state to state, but we suggest starting with Facebook, which has significantly more users than any other social network available.
As of 2018, Facebook has 2.07 billion monthly active users.
That’s more than a third of the entire world population!
How to Leverage Social Media
So you’ve created a Facebook profile for your surplus warehouse – now what? At first, it may seem tricky, but the possibilities are endless!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Use your Facebook cover photo to promote upcoming sales and events.
Use your ‘About’ section to let visitors know more about your surplus warehouse, including information on program eligibility.
Create short, educational posts to debunk any common myths you’ve encountered about your program, or to answer frequently asked questions.
Use Facebook posts to attract eligible donees and purchasers by posting photos or videos of available items in your warehouse. This is also a great opportunity to show visitors the quality of items, which could help you get them out the door faster.
Encourage donees to post images and videos on their own Facebook pages, showing acquired items while they’re in use. Later, you can repost them to let your own Facebook community know which local organizations you’re engaged with, and what types of property are available.
Don’t just wait for other organizations to find your Facebook account – make an effort to find others, too! Start liking, following, and engaging with donees and local community organizations that your surplus property program has helped in the past.
Consider posting available items using the Facebook Marketplace. It may require some extra effort to achieve proper approvals, but can help you to get surplus items out the door faster!
QUICK TIP: To quantify the impact of your social media efforts, we suggest tracking your progress over time – and there are plenty of free social media monitoring tools that can help.
HAVE FUN WITH SALES
Whether you host live auction sales, or online auctions using platforms like GSA Auctions and GovDeals, there is a lot you can do to keep it fun and fresh.
Develop a Campaign
Are there any commonalities among excess surplus items in your warehouse? If so, consider developing a campaign around that specific category of items.
For example, you may find that your warehouse has been collecting a lot of educational items, or other things that can be used in a classroom. If planned far enough in advance, this is a great opportunity to host a Back to School sale for eligible donees or purchasers in the education sector.
QUICK TIP: If you’re not sure exactly what surplus items you have an excess of, it might be a good time to do an audit of your warehouse inventory.
Perhaps instead of educational items, your warehouse is unintentionally housing the World’s Largest Collection of TSA-Confiscated Pocket Knives. In this case, run a promotion where every donation over a specific dollar amount also includes a complimentary pocket knife.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you’re going to end up with a surplus of surplus. But with a little bit of effort, energy, and some brand awareness, you can have those items out of your warehouse faster than you can say “National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property”!
What’s your warehouse doing to promote the sale of state surplus property? AssetWorks wants to know! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Promoting State Surplus Property” for a chance to be featured on the blog (how about that for free publicity?).