Sotheby’s practices integrated marketing

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

In a recent Sotheby’s auction of POP art, Andy Warhol’s “Coca-Cola, Large Coca-Cola” was up for sale. In order to help drive interest, they hired waiters to serve tiny bottles of Coca-Cola to arriving collectors and guests. In the heat of the bidding there were eight collectors fighting over the painting. In the end, the winning bid was $35.3 million. The anticipated high estimate was $25 million. Not a bad return for spending several hundreds of extra dollars on additional staff and Coke products. What Sotheby’s had done is a great example of two things: spend money on marketing and integrating your tactics.

One of the most asked question I get from clients is how much to spend on marketing and what what’s the ROI on that spend. I look at it in two parts.
1. Defining sales – Many equate marketing with sales. That’s not entirely true. Marketing is reaching out to your customers, letting them know you exist, and why you are a great choice for their lifestyle. Sales actually begins when they come into your store, web site, or call your service representative. This is when you can answer specific questions and offer custom information. Sales happens after marketing. We often inform prospects that we can’t guarantee sales because we are not in control of your sales process or your sales team.

2. Invest to grow – Even though the web has lowered the cost of marketing and doing business, it still takes realistic investment in marketing to grow. The web has fostered the myth of “I can grow for free or cheap because of the internet.” At the beginning that was somewhat true. There wasn’t as much competition then. Now, the web is as flooded as TV shows are with commercials. Even the web realizes they need an economic formula to succeed. The “free economy” can only take you so far. It is a wonderful tool, but free is not a great strategy to stay in business. Investment in marketing must live in financial reality. It still takes money to win. Our political system is a perfect example of how marketing and sales results in a specific outcome. The vast majority of the time, the candidate who spends most and creates the best brand ends up winning the election.

Integrate your marketing. In the not so distant past, it used to be either market online or stay traditional. Now, you must do both and do both well. By neglecting one or the other, will weaken your overall effort. In the Sotheby’s example, they didn’t just rely on the Andy Warhol’s name or their brand. They wanted extraordinary results. There are many factors that go into marketing integration such as creative concept, relevance of tactics, and enough investment to give it a chance to succeed, but in the end, it is not depending on just one channel to help increase the expected results.

Marketing is part art and part science, so it is a fitting analogy that Sotheby’s is a wonderful example of this principle.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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