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Great Marketing; Read Offer Thoroughly
February 19, 2009

I don't like e-mail spam, but even with the best filters, some still gets through. If it is numismatic spam, there is a greater chance of it making it to my inbox.

Perhaps I shouldn't call any e-mail advertising a numismatic product spam, because after all, this is part of a business that gives me a regular paycheck and keeps me in food and clothing.

This morning I happened to read an interesting offer. It is clever marketing.

What is being sold is a standard one-ounce American Eagle silver bullion coin that is slabbed and grades MS-69. The hook, however, is it is paired with a Proof-69 2009 silver American Eagle.

The catch? Well, the proof version hasn't been issued yet and a target date for release hasn't even been revealed.

The e-mail covers that by saying "pre-order."

However, that word will likely be overlooked by many. I will soon be inundated by e-mails demanding to know how a private firm gets preferential treat by the Mint.

The short answer is it doesn't. It stands in line like every other business buyer.

But it is first to advertise and that will have a distinct advantage among collectors who hanker after the coin but don't understand what "pre-order" means.

The best part for the private firm is the price. It is asking $99. That's a premium price of about twice cost. The bullion coin retails around $20 and the proof when it is issued will be priced around $32. Consider the cost of slabbing roughly matching the discount from retail at which the firm buys the coins and there you are.

Good marketing it is.

It also tells me that the proofs must be about to become available because I don't believe any business would want its customers to wait too long.

Now I await my first collector e-mail.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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