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An emotional attachment to some item may affect what someone thinks it’s worth but the real-world value of something is simply what a buyer is willing to pay.

This lesson is never more true than in the auction business.

At one of the largest auction house in the southwest, one of the most common examples that we’d come across, at least weekly, was china - not the country - but those fancy dishes that your grandmother locked away in a little glass china cabinet prison to keep anyone from actually using any of them - ever.

When grandma downsized or passed, those dishes were left to their heirs and the china subsequently found itself in the lobby of an auction house, in a box held by a guilt-ridden grandchild who didn’t want them or didn’t even really understand why they’ve been sitting around for 55 years.

The next step of the reluctant new china owner is to query the auction staff as to what these would sell for, as it needed it to be a great amount to soften their guilt for selling them an hour after the funeral. Sadly, they usually sold for only a couple hundred bucks… tops. When told of this estimate the conversation usually went like this…

China owner: “What! Maybe a hundred dollars! No way”

Auction guy: “Yep, we can only estimate but historically that’s the hammer price. Hundred bucks. People are left china every day and younger generations just don’t want them”

China owner: “Maybe normally, but my Nana brought these from Germany in the 1960s”

Auction guy: “Yep, we sold two sets pretty similar last week. ‘Bout a hundred bucks.”

China owner: “No, no this is different my Nana had to hide these in a barn and have her brother ship them one by one to her new home in Chicago, took over 15 years as he shipped when he could afford to”

Auction guy: “Uh-huh, we sold two sets pretty similar last week. ‘Bout a hundred bucks.”

China owner: “Are you sure? These have never been used. As a child, I wasn’t even allowed to look at or mention them without getting cussed out in German.”

The reason for the disconnect in price and actual value was because the seller was emotionally attached. In this scenario, the emotional attachment put an unrealistic price on china. However, imagine if you could tap into an emotional attachment to attain a marketing goal… say, get more followers on social?