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Try New Marketing Approach
March 11, 2010

Sales of the Disabled American Veteran commemorative silver dollars have been ongoing since their debut Feb. 25.

The Boy Scouts commemorative dollar goes on sale March 23.

This close sequencing makes me think again about the best way to market commemorative coins.

Dyed-in-the-wool collectors will buy what they will buy no matter the timing. But what proportion of potential buyers meets this description?

Judging by the declining maximum mintages, the obvious answer is there are fewer of them.

In the 1970s Ike dollar mintages of a million tickled collector fancy.

In the 1980s, the 500,000 ceiling for an expensive $5 Statue of Liberty gold coin excited collector interest and that figure became a standard silver dollar mintage in the 1990s as interest in gold coins declined.

We are now at 350,000 maximum mintage for the two silver dollar programs.

Then there is the “Gee Whiz” factor when collectors decide a mintage number is too low. They eagerly buy. These usually involve programs such as the First Spouse gold coins where Congress did not set a specific target, but the Mint marketers did.

If the DAV dollar is not sold out by the time the Boy Scout dollars go on sale, it dramatically reduces the chance of a sellout for the first coin. The fence-sitters will conclude that nothing exciting is going on with the DAV dollar and simply stay on that proverbial fence.

Would it have been better to wait an extra month for the Boy Scouts to go on sale?

I think so, but then the recipients of the surcharge income for the Boy Scouts program would think they are being cheated of an extra 30 days of marketing time.

These dollar coins need to be treated like movie promotions at McDonald’s. Take them one at a time and conclude one before the next one is started. That would likely lead to higher overall sales for the two programs combined than the present method of one program stepping on the other.

Will it happen? Probably not. Congress would have to become more attuned to marketing the programs that it authorizes than is presently the case.

For the politicians maximum sales duration has somehow become the yardstick measuring success.

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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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