If you want growth, you'll have to grind for it. We aren't moving the fastest, but we are moving. Learn with us.
We aren't a big fish.
It will take you about 10 seconds to find a sports card company with more Instagram followers than we have. When we go to big shows like The National, I would venture to say that the vast majority of other vendors have higher sales numbers than we do. We have a long way to go to get to big fish status.
We aren't a small fish.
Brothers In Cards started about 8 years ago. We have accrued over 20,000 followers across our different social medias platforms. Our subscription box brings in over $1,000,000 in sales each year. We have come a long way from dollar walls and single box breaks.
The truth is, we don't care about how big of a fish we are right now.
We want to grow as a company in every way possible. We care about where we can go by doing good business. Growth is just as much of a goal as success. We are proud of how far we have come, but nowhere near where we want to be. There is so much growth out there to pursue. We are hungry for it.
"Grow the brand"
What does that mean? Grow what?
My honest answer is that I want to grow in everything. I want the reach of my brand to go from thousands to millions. I want sales to go through the roof. I want all of the followers and subscribers. My Enneagram 3 personality wants to be the best at everything I do.
As great as it would be to actually be the best in any of those categories, my heart tells me those goals are shallow and unreachable. I would have to sacrifice too many great things to achieve them. My conscious and overall purpose won't allow me to do that. Followers and dollar signs do not motivate my core. So what does?
Which areas do I really want to grow?
What is the purpose of your brand?
Every company puts thought into their mission statement. They want to convey a message to their employees and customers while reminding themselves of their core. I have never seen a mission statement that suggests an amount of sales or public recognition. The purpose of Brothers In Cards is to celebrate the brotherhood of sports and the hobby by promoting positivity and guidance to the sports cards community. Our foundation is rooted in our faith in Jesus, who loves all and leads well. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says "whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. We choose to "do" a sports cards company, and we want to do it the way He would want us to do it. We believe that is a brand worth growing.
There are so many different aspects of a brand - sales, followers, merchandise, products, etc. I believe the term "quality over quantity" really applies here. We care less about the number of followers and more about the followers themselves. While we want to increase sales, we care more about the quality of our product than the amount we sell. Relationships and community are what we really want to grow. Instead of pursuing followers and customers, pursue relationships.
Your brand is made up of relationships -the people who also want to see your brand grow. Those relationships often spread your brand better than you could through a social media post or flash sale.
Some tangible tips:
The truth about growth is that it's a moving target. For a stretch of 3-4 years, we had Instagram figured out. Quality content posted at strategic time was reeling in followers which became customers. We had multiple talented YouTubers breaking our boxes on their channel - advertising was at an all-time high for us and we were not really paying anything for it.
Now, those successful YouTubers are breaking boxes of Flawless - no need for our subscription box designed to help those who want to rip high end packs without paying high end prices. Instagram has changed their algorithm so many times that despite having over 16,000 followers, our posts get less interaction than when we had 5,000 followers.
We certainly don't have all the answers nor do we know the perfect path to success, but here are some pieces of advice I would give to anyone that is trying to grow their brand.
In my opinion, you don't really have a brand if you do not have social media. The days of business cards and flyers are over. The main purpose for modern day business cards and flyers is to point to your social medias. My main advice for social media is to pick a platform you enjoy. Instagram is my favorite, but you can't really go wrong if you know how to work the app you choose efficiently. Seek out others who enjoy the hobby within the platform you enjoy.
The Instagram algorithm is now focused on newer features. Quality reels, stories, and live videos will do more for your account than posting at strategic times. Saves and Shares are more important than likes and comments, so consider that when making content. Also, be sure to share and save content of Instagram accounts that you support.
I highly recommend starting a YouTube channel if you have not already done so - especially if you love ripping packs. YouTube helps your customers get to know you (remember - relationships are key!). They will see you or hear your voice. They will see what you get excited about. If after a month you only have 10 subscribers, that is 10 people who care about what you are doing - way better than 0. The more quality content you can produce, the more people will care, watch, and subscribe. The fact that you can eventually monetize your YouTube channel is a big deal to me. Imagine being a 5th grader starting a YouTube channel that pays for your first car 5 years later. That is happening in today's hobby.
TikTok is the most trendy app right now without question. I am not great at it (we are working on it), but the upcoming generation of collectors will be spending more time on that app than the others. If you can start creating a base there now, there could be a lot relationships built with longterm followers down the road. You can also monetize your account on TikTok which can lead to more funds for your business. I have also heard that a successful TikTok account will have huge benefits on your YouTube channel and Instagram account.
I am a firm believer that ebay is a necessary evil in today's hobby. Bring up eBay in any sports cards circle and there will be grumblings about fees and sketchy buyers. eBay deserves those remarks. However, it is still a worldwide marketplace that can help you sell your cards efficiently. Learn more about how we use eBay to build our brand here.
There is no greater place to build your brand than your local card show. Whether you are going as a buyer or a seller, simply being there puts you in the mix of the hobby community - many of which will be glad to support your brand. Talk to as many people as you can. Build as many relationships as you can! Do you think you are ready to set up as a vendor? Click here to get some advice on setting up at your first card show.
I recommend NOT being eager to get a bunch of swag together right out of the gate. T-shirts and stickers are fun and exciting when they come in the box and you see your logo on them, but I highly suggest building the brand full of relationships before doing that. People like shirts and stickers, but people LOVE shirts and stickers of their favorite brands. Become a favorite brands before you stock up on merchandise. In the meantime, use those funds on investments for future hobby success.