Card Companies: Please Keep Things Fresh

Keeping it fresh.

That should be the motto of card companies nowadays. There are many ways the card companies are keeping it fresh. New innovations in card technology. New types of memorabilia. All are great and should continue. The only issue with these is that they come out in the same products every year. So I propose a solution.

Rotating products.

Besides the flagship product, the sell-well mid-end product and the ultra high end product, there needs to be more change in all the filler products. Every year we have Panini Limited, we have Upper Deck SPx, we have Topps Opening Day. Why can’t there be new, creative products put out to mix in with those others that are put out year after year…and then just rotate them. Put out SPx every other year, put out Limited every other year, you get what I’m saying. Replace those spots in a calendar with a new product and see what works. You can build more hype, you have more opportunity to innovate, and it creates an atmosphere that is less stale.

It’s just an idea. I hate to see product go the way of the Madden football games or just become more repetitive in nature. It seems like companies don’t want to retire certain products when they have long outstayed their welcome. This would be a good way to change that.

What Are Your Collecting Resolutions?

2012 is here and with it a brand new year of collecting. The baseball card collecting season is about to heat up with products from Panini and Topps with new cards of your favorite players and prospects coming out. The NBA basketball season has started with new products coming from Panini, and we are heading towards the meat and potatoes of hockey season. Not to mention, the best part of the football collecting season is also right on our doorstep. It’s a great time to be a collector.

With that, what are your collecting resolutions or goals for this year? Maybe you want to try and super collect a player, complete a set, or bust as much wax as humanly possible?

My collecting resolution is just to continue what I have been doing and try not to deviate too far from it. I want to pick up some much needed autographs from players that I collect and do not have autographed cards from yet. Josh Freeman, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adrian Gonzalez, and a bunch of Trailblazers are still on my target list. I also may try and complete a set of something this year. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a set project to work on so maybe I will try it out with Topps Series I baseball? We’ll see what happens there.

I also have a few blog resolutions. I’d like to get the other card companies on board with what I’m doing here. Open more boxes for review and give away more of the contents would be great. I’d also like to maybe expand into a monthly podcast or something along those lines. Would you be interested in hearing me talk about sports cards and recapping some posts from the site every month? I could read emails, give away prizes, bring up some comments you guys post…maybe make it 30 to 60 minutes? If I have the interest maybe that would be great.

What about you? Tell me your resolutions in the hobby.

State of the Blog: Year of 2011

My fellow sports card enthusiasts,

April 23, 2011 is the day I started this blog. This past 8 months has been a great ride. We have one sponsor aboard with Panini who is providing us product to review. We have had a giant promotion with Panini as well giving out a ton of cool prizes. We are currently in talks with Upper Deck and I will be shooting off more emails soon to others. We have also previewed pretty much every product available since we’ve started, we’ve talked about several different on-going topics in the hobby, and we’ve still updated every day since day 1.

With all that work we have amassed a large readership that seems to just grow larger and larger each month. We broke the 10,000 views in a month two months ago and it just keeps growing each month by the thousands.

When I started the blog I wanted to be a place that talked about products and reviewed products. I wanted to be able to give out cards from products as well, because besides me, what’s better than giving new products away so other collectors can check them out? I wanted to be kind of a one stop shop for all that information.

I was told that I probably shouldn’t attempt that when I first had the idea almost 2 years ago now and that it would probably be a waste of time, especially if I wanted to make money off advertising and all that. Well, I haven’t made much money but that’s not the goal right now. What I have made has gone right back into the site to pay for hosting.

But now we have been around 8 months and we are heading into 2012. I predict 2012 will be a big year, not only for myself in my personal life, but for the blog I enjoy spending time on as well.

I thank you all for reading what I write and spending time here. I hope you’ve learned something or maybe I’ve helped you decide whether a product was right for you or not.

With that, what would you like to see added or improved upon? What don’t you like? Where would you like to see this blog go?

I want input and what better way to get this site further then to ask those who read it. If you don’t want to post it here, you can always email me.

So again, thank you and I look forward to 2012. I hope you’ll all be here reading and having fun with me.

Sincerely,

Sports Card Blog

Customer Service is the New Marketing

This post is slightly away from the norm when it comes to sports cards, but I will round it all together in the end. Customer service is the new marketing. This is not a new concept, but a concept in that which has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. In the past, you didn’t have sites like Yelp or Google Reviews or social media like Facebook and Twitter.

With social media getting bigger and wider with more people having the ability to post their experiences to a worldwide audience, a bad customer service review can cost you money. And in the other direction, a good review can make you some additional dollars.

I know most of us have made a decision based upon an online review of a company or a product. Hell, you probably visit this site for an honest review from my perspective on any of the products that I have reviewed, or even previewed. You take a look at my opinions, click some links, view some images, and look at all the details and price. I know I do my best to keep you guys happy. I hold promotions, contests, and try and engage you all in discussion. Luckily, I do this for a hobby and not a full-time job.

But when it comes to actual companies that rely on your hard earned dollar, customer service is more king then ever. Let’s take a look at the card companies and everyone’s favorite customer service department, the redemptions department.

We all know that redemptions are a pain. We all know that calling or emailing someone in that company’s customer service department in order to get our redemptions filled is a pain. But what is it that collectors really don’t like…is it the redemptions or the customer service in order to get our redemptions, or a replacement, in a timely manner?

Has your experience created an environment in which you don’t want to collect a company’s products or are apprehensive about buying a company’s products? How would you improve the customer service aspect of card companies? I’m interested in knowing so if you want to share, please post a comment!

What Infuriates You as a Collector?

As with every Friday night for the past couple of months, I have made sure that I turned on Cardboard Connection Radio and tuned into their discussions about trading cards. In fact, I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about hearing the story of Mario from Wax Heaven and my thoughts on kind of a dark side the hobby may bring people into.

 

But tonight was interesting as it had Brian Gray of Leaf and Lance Fischer of Onyx Authentics chatting about their small companies. Brian Gray is the owner of Leaf trading cards and puts out several products featuring prospects and some top names in sports like Ichiro Suzuki and Mohammed Ali. Lance Fischer owns Onyx Authentics which sells authentic autographed memorabilia as well as game worn items from prospects and top players like Jon Lester and David Price.

 

They got into a chat about why they feel the hobby is going downhill and things that really infuriate collectors out there. They talked about redemptions, sub-par customer service, and brought up the “game used” issue that may not exactly have been game used. (In case you missed it, there was a recent operation in which sold jerseys that appeared to be game used to card companies that was taken down by the FBI.)

 

So what infuriates you as a collector? For me, there are a couple of things I’m not a fan of. I don’t get infuriated over many things, cards is not one of them. I’m a pretty calm person and just take things as they are but there are things I think need improvement.

 

  • Redemptions. To put it simply, if a player does not sign by a certain amount of time then they don’t get paid and you have someone else sign and get that done quickly. Money talks in this world and if athletes realize they don’t get paid if they can’t meet a simple deadline of writing their signature 1000 times then maybe they will get things done. I find it hard to believe that it takes that long to acquire signatures from athletes. Stop coddling them like they have been done their entire lives. Or do us collectors a favor and stop using athletes that take forever to honor their commitment. I like seeing products like some Upper Deck hockey products where there are no redemptions. Guess what? We don’t have to worry about expirations on redemptions that they don’t have. That means more sales for shops as people won’t be hesitant to buy older product. Cutting down redemptions will aid in your “save the hobby shop” campaigns.
  • Sticker Autographs. If you can send someone a bunch of stickers to sign, you can send them a bunch of cards to sign. I know this risks damage to cards, which is why you have them sign a few extras just in case something is damaged during transit. Or even better, have them come to your office or have a few acquisition people around the country with the task of sitting down and getting cards signed. You’ll have in person authentication and instant payment to the athlete when they are complete. I’m not sure exactly how this works now, but a regional acquisition person would be great as they could set a time through a player’s agent and either show up at their house for signings or at their stadium/arena of work. It may cost a bit more, but better looking cards and less worries about redemptions would improve the hobby and allow more trust in your brand which would mean more sales. For that idea, you can hire me for the Northwest/West Coast region. Just sayin’.
  • Memorabilia. We haven’t heard quite yet which companies bought the forged memorabilia but something needs to be done to assure the authentication of such items. Work with the player’s associations of each sport and get them from the association, the player’s agent, or the player themselves. You would think there would be markup if bought from a third party anyway, get it directly from the source. If you’re going for a retired/deceased player, make sure you can verify where each jersey came from through the timeline. You guarantee your items are authentic? It’s time to prove it.
  • Customer service. For one, there would be less of a strain on customer service if some of these ideas are taken into consideration. But customer service people should at least know something about sports and cards if they are the ones taking calls about product questions and replacing redemptions. Speaking of redemptions, a response within a reasonable time frame whether it’s by phone or email needs to be implemented as well as coming through on promises of replacements in a reasonable period of time. How does it take 6-8 weeks to replace a card? Is the redemption department completely unorganized? Why isn’t there a system in place that shows an item needs to be replaced and a section of inventory which is used for replacements? Find equal value, pack, and ship. I understand it can’t be that easy, but why can’t it?

I don’t know. Maybe my ideas are outlandish and somehow can not happen under the current landscape of the ways each company is set up. But there needs to be improvement in these areas from pretty much every large company out there. The smaller companies do a great job, but they have a smaller collector base and less products to begin with.

So tell me what infuriates you and how you think it can be fixed. I know all the complaints out there, but I would like to hear some ideas on how you would fix things.