When Stu Benson got the call to appear as the auctioneer on The Block, he was ready.
His first foray into television was a few years earlier, as an auctioneer on Channel Seven’s Under The Hammer.
It’s an experience he remembers mostly as a blur.
“It all happened and was over before I knew what was going on,” he laughs.
While Under The Hammer drew moderate ratings, The Block was, as Stu describes it, “an absolute bonafide hit”.
“That was something I prepared for, and I strategically made sure I was in the mix for,” he reveals.
“Lots of auctioneers want to get on The Block, and I spent a good couple of years trying to profile and position myself so that I could get selected.”
Stu was savvy in his approach.
He noted that the auctions had moved from Sydney to Melbourne, and that the show was only using in-house auctioneers from whatever agency was representing the sellers.
He also knew that Melbourne didn’t have too many independent auctioneers.
“So, I really ramped up my social media profile,” he explains.
“I ramped up my content posting, my video creation, and as fate would have it, one of the tradies who was on The Block, assigned to one of the couples, follows Benson Auctions on Facebook.”
The tradie suggested the couple should take a chance on a young auctioneer up in Sydney.
“He played them a couple of my videos and my phone rang about an hour later,” Stu recalls.
“I nearly fell off my chair, but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
Due to the lag time between filming and airing, Stu had to sit on his secret for months, which allowed him to get his ducks in a row, organising marketing and a pitch around his newfound fortune.
“My agents were able to say, in listing presentations, when they were going up against Agent X, who uses Auctioneer Z, ‘We actually have an auctioneer who is on The Block’,” he says.
“And whilst that doesn’t actually offer any credentials or validation, it’s certainly cool for the owners to be able to tell their friends they’ve got the auctioneer from The Block representing their auction in four weeks’ time.”
This exposure has benefited Benson Auctions and those who utilise their services.
“When the episode aired, and we had the success we had, it really did become a point of difference for my agent – using myself and Benson Auctions was becoming a tool of their trade.”
His on-camera skills came into play in a big way this year, as the pandemic changed the way his working week went.
“We turned into television presenters overnight,” Stu laughs.
“We were forced to get in front of our live streaming applications and broadcast our auctions.
“The media training and the to-camera work, and the work I’d done at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) leading into this pandemic, actually put me at a bit of an advantage in talking to a camera.”
Unlike many, he found it easy to maintain energy levels despite the lack of crowd.
“Being able to maintain my eye contact, my dialogue, and my hand gestures, and keeping going without any awkward or dramatic pauses; I think I was quite fortunate that I did have that preparation up my sleeve,” he says.
Look out for other agents in our agents x reality TV series and find out what they got out of it and how the experience changed them for better or worse.