Just about every day this month, I’ve gotten a promotional email from dealers, card companies and other corporate entities explaining various inducements to visit them at the upcoming National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. Mile High Card Company is putting a 1952 Topps Mantle up for grabs to one consignor during the show. PSA is giving away a Michael Jordan rookie card and items autographed by Walter Payton and Ernie Banks. Card Memory Lane will let you hold Babe Ruth’s bat. Some are running huge live auctions during National week. Josh Evans at Leland’s says bring your items down to our booth for a free appraisal and we’ll give you a freshly brewed cup of coffee while you are waiting. I don’t know about you but after two or three days at the National, I’m almost running on fumes anyway and the extra caffeine is greatly appreciated.
The card companies will have promos based on what level of attendee you are. Some may get “X” while a Super VIP may get “Y”. And that is fine in my opinion as the collector who is willing pay the Super VIP fee should get something more than a collector who pays a one-day fee. I have to tell you, I’m a big fan of anything which is reminiscent of the 1953 Bowman Color set and therefore their special NSCC exclusive ‘cards that never were’ is certainly very appealing in my eyes. Panini, Leaf and Upper Deck will all have nice items to give away as well. For them, the show is a chance to meet collectors face-to-face and spread the word about their products and their brand.
Case breakers who will be set up and doing their thing live all week hope to gain some customers and the smart ones will be offering incentives to first time participants who may be learning about it for the first time or are deciding which breaker to go with.
It’s all about finding a way to drum up business both during the show and afterwards and the best way to do that is to have you drop by and chat face-to-face. It’s part of good promotion to have short-term gain to go with long-term benefits. All of this is one reason we always do something at our shows, whether they it’s the non-profit venture at Adat Chaverim or the profit venture at the Southfork Hotel. Whether it’s door prizes, free packs and boxes of cards at the door or low cost autograph guests, it’s all aimed at drawing as many customers as possible. We’ve mentioned in a recent column about when the first Joey Gallo official rookie cards enter the marketplace, we will redouble our efforts to expand the network of people we contact. In today’s world we can’t just open our doors and hope collectors show up.
I’m sure smart shops and dealers who are coming to the Chicago National are promoting their Kris Bryant items. Fanatics has already indicated it would have an entire section devoted to their newest autograph exclusive. Look for them to have plenty of this stuff.
Many shop owners can’t get away to the NSCC but that doesn’t mean they can’t have their own ‘National’ with special promotions next week. Alan Narz is famous in the hobby for how aggressively he promotes his Florida shop and while your style might be more laid back, you might want to send to your email list a note about a special sale or use social media to provide incentives for people to visit. Collectors who can’t get to Chicago will still be motivated to buy when they read about what’s going on there. Building that base of local customers is as important as anything you’ll do, by the way.
Now, I know many people and businesses only look at the cost of the items they are giving away or what they’re losing by marking items down instead of considering the benefit of growing their base over time. It’s a fine line between the value of the promotion and the benefit but when executed well—and creatively—it’s how you separate your business from the rest of the pack.
Having grown up listening to the radio stations in the largest city in the country, I know some of them became incredibly successful primarily because of their promotional efforts. I’m glad to see so many are doing the same for the National even if that does cause a sensory overload. And by the way, the Just Collect booth, which will be sort of my “home base” during the convention, usually has free candy so stop by for a chocolate fix and say hello.