Contest Winner Announced

Tonight, we announce the winner of the pair of Panini autographs from our recent reviews of 2011-12 Panini Past & Present basketball and 2011-12 Panini Contenders hockey.

After a lower than average turn out for the contest, we have done some fancy randomization to come up with a winner. And the winner of the pair of autographs is…

Dan. Dan from DansOtherWorld has won the pair of Panini autographs. So a big congratulations to him and I’ll be contacting him shortly for his mailing address to receive these cards.

Thank you all for reading and entering the contest. Look for more contests soon after every batch of reviews we do.

Panini’s Customer Service Improving

With a recent transition from old customer service personnel and starting once again from the ground up, it looks like Panini is on the fast track to repairing one of their biggest issues, customer service.

One of the biggest complaints coming from collectors who collect Panini products has been reaching someone to deal with their redemptions, and then having someone actually follow through on handling it.

Well, this recent experience by yours truly is definitely one of my top experiences I’ve had dealing with a card company’s customer service department.

I was browsing on Twitter one night and I follow the Panini Customer Service Department on Twitter (@PaniniCSM). I saw that they had offered through Twitter to take some reference numbers for old redemptions. I jumped at the chance because I had a redemption that had been sitting in there since March 2011. The card was a 2010-11 Panini Crown Royale Scratching the Surface Rick Nash Autograph #/100.

I had tried contacting Panini in the past through their redemption part of the website with little luck, but did make sure I put in the request, “If this card is not manufactured, I am an Edmonton and Carolina fan if you take requests.”

So I sent off my reference number to the Panini CSM Twitter account and the next day I got a reply that replacements have been pulled and shipped. It was then updated on my account by the end of the day what the replacements were.

While the sale value may not be the same (I remember seeing the redemption selling for $20), I had these cards sent to me. And honestly, I don’t care about the sale value when it comes to something that isn’t valued extremely high. I like getting cards for my personal collection in return, which I did.

2011-12 Crown Royale Scratching the Surface Bill Ranford Auto (Bruins uniform but Edmonton rink, meh. I know I’m picky.)

2011-12 Crown Royale Scratching the Surface Ales Hemsky Auto (Hooray, my first Hemsky auto!)

2011-12 Crown Royale Heirs to the Throne Jeff Skinner Patch #/50 (Nice!)

Overall, it was definitely an improvement over the past issues at Panini. I didn’t even have to pick up my phone and it was done extremely quickly.

If you haven’t followed @PaniniCSM on Twitter, it’s time to do it. Voice your Customer Service concerns and questions you may have. I think it’s finally in capable hands.

Utilizing Social Media For Your Card Shop

This is part of an ongoing series of posts in which SportsCardBlog.net is working to help card shop owners “Save the Card Shops”. We’ve been working with collectors and utilizing the knowledge within the hobby to create more business and a better environment for sports card shop owners and collectors alike.

From what I understand, there are still many card shop owners out there who don’t utilize the internet in order to help their business and bring customers into their stores. In today’s marketplace, not having an internet presence for your store is practically destroying your business.

There are several simple and free ways to market your card shop online to your customers and future customers and that is through social media.

The biggest places to utilize social media are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However there are several other hobby oriented sites as well where you can find new customers and interact with customers as well.

We’ll start with the big three.

Facebook

Creating a Facebook page is simple and it’s something that collectors around the world use. Create a page using your shops name and make sure to include the address, phone number, as well as store hours.

Continuing to post information is vital, so posting when new products arrive is a great way to start. I also recommend if you have customers that bust product in store to take photos and show off those big hits that come from your shop. You can spend some time engaging with your customers as well. All of this takes up very little time and is a great place to promote your shop.

Make sure your customers know you have a Facebook page as well by printing out a simple sign with the Facebook logo saying “Find us on Facebook!”

Twitter

Twitter is a great place to get out information as well as speak directly with the companies representatives on a more personal level.

As with a Facebook page, create a Twitter username with your card shop names and make sure to fill in other information on how to find your shop in the “About Me” area. You can post about when your products are released and keep in contact with your customers and company representatives about their products that you sell.

You can also engage in discussion with other collectors and follow collectors to see what’s getting popular in the hobby or what products they are looking to open so you have it available in your shop.

I’ve seen companies even “retweet” card shop tweets about big pulls from their products. Collectors follow the companies as well so if a collector sees that a shop is close by and they may not know about it, that’s another possible new customer and at least a new “follower” of your tweets. You tweet that you got a new product in for a great price, your customers see it and they’ll want to pick it up.

Again, post at your shop that you have a Twitter account so your customers know to follow you.

YouTube

Every card shop should be opening product for customers. What a better way to open product on camera and posting it for the world to see?

Sharing your YouTube videos with customers and people from around the world is a good way to promote your site. People are always on YouTube wanting to see breaks and what kind of cards are being pulled. (You can even link to your videos on the above channels.)

I’ve seen people share their breaks of Panini products and Panini has featured their shop in their “best hits of the month” videos which are seen by thousands of collectors around the world.

Unlike the other mediums the visual appeal of YouTube is perfect for sports card collectors. Nothing like seeing a full box or case of product being opened.

Forums/Blogs

If you aren’t reading and interacting in collectors forums and blogs you are really missing out on information.

Do you know what “group breaks” are? This is a popular trend in the hobby I will go over in the future, but the only way you could have learned about them is through blogs and forum sites.

Do you know what the hottest products are that collectors are most excited about? Do you know what bloggers have found wrong in certain products that may have affected your customers? If you aren’t reading and participating, you aren’t in the know and it affects your sales by either not being knowledgeable or not being prepared.

Check out the links I have on the right sidebars for great blogs and communities around the web.

These are a number of ways to get your shop out there on the internet and interacting with your customers and future customers. It makes your shop more visible, keeps customers in the loop about products, and it shows that you actually care about your shop as you are knowledgeable and friendly with your customers.

As with all these posts, I invite collectors to share their thoughts about card shops using social media and some recommendations collectors may have to interact with card shops.

 

 

Great Sports Card Twitter Follows

A few weeks ago, I featured some of my favorite sports card blogs. Now I want to feature some of my favorite sports card related Twitter accounts that deserve a follow for their information, their personality, or whatever else I feel determines a good follow. I’ll list out my top 10 of my favorite sports card related Twitter follows and let you go see for yourself. To start, if you aren’t following me on Twitter, you can follow me here.

@stalegum – His take on sports cards is both interesting and sometimes vulgar. But it’s definitely worth the time to read.

@VOTC – The Voice of the Collector, opinionated but down to earth on his views of sports cards.

@RyanTatsuko – A professional baseball player who loves collecting baseball cards, how cool is that?

@dougology – Another member of the Cardboard Connection gang with @VOTC, I like his mix of humor and sports cards.

@chrisolds2009 – Beckett’s own. Editor of several Beckett’s price guides.

@LongFlyBall – A Canadian’s take on baseball cards and occasionally hockey.

@FieldLevelView – A solid Twitter commentary on sports cards.

@brentandbecca – A product case breaker with great insight on products.

@TomTheRipper – Why do I like his tweets? I don’t know. They are weird and sometimes about sports cards, but I like weird. He’s also the guy who does all the video production stuff for Panini.

@cardboardicons – Another blogger who is a great read on Twitter, like most of the above listed.

So those are 10 of my favorite Twitter follows. I follow 100+ people for one reason or another, so all of them are good follows to me, but these are some of my favorite.

And as a shout out to the actual companies, if you’re a collector you need to be following @PaniniAmerica @UpperDeckSports @toppscards @InTheGame @Leaf_Cards

Panini’s Social Signatures or “Twittergraphs” Create Stir

When Panini announced the Social Signatures autograph subset in 2011-12 Panini Elite hockey, it was kind of looked over on their blog. With Chris Olds’ piece on Beckett recently, collectors started to take notice.

A little more about the concept, Panini will be inserting an autographed subset that is the first of it’s kind…an autograph from the player along with an inscription of their Twitter handle will be signed on their card. Not only is that an interesting twist to the autograph genre of cards, it’s great self promotion for the hockey players included in that set. A ton of new followers means new fans to connect with.

With players being able to reach out to their fans with greater ease then ever before, this is a unique idea for collectors and players alike.

Personally, I love that Panini plans on this subset being very limited and I would love to see this brought to football, basketball, and baseball as well. As a Blazers fan, I follow a ton of very talkative Trailblazers on Twitter and I know they would enjoy inscribing their Twitter handles as they love talking with the fans. As I said in my preview of this product, it’s a little gimmicky, but it’s new and interesting so I like it.

Check out at least one confirmed player in 2011-12 Donruss Elite hockey, Paul Bissonnette, orĀ  @BizNasty2Point0