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Welp. That didn't work.

Huge marketing fail - don't do what we did.

Times are tough.

You will be hard pressed to find a small business thriving among the problems our country is currently facing. But every good entrepreneur recognizes that this is not the first time business has been hard. We must adapt and find ways to keep things going. Finding a way to reach our customers while continuing to provide a quality service is still achievable - we just have to make it happen.

In March of 2021, we raised the prices of our subscription box. Believe me, we were very reluctant to do so, but there was simply no way around it with the current state of the hobby. We had many customers who were upset and never came back. We had many customers that simply could not afford to make the price jump. We received good feedback and bad feedback. A couple quotes that stuck out in my mind: "BIC will be out of business in 6 months" and "They are just going to have to raise their prices again next year".

I can't help but be competitive in everything I do, so those comments fueled me.

We obviously made it past the 6 month window, but to be completely honest, that fear of Brothers In Cards having an expiration date still scares me. As far as raising prices go, we are nowhere near having to do that again. The $255 price point gave us room to adjust to the hobby, creating a higher quality program than we ever had. In November, we added the Core Feature to each box. We felt like this was a simple move that didn't effect the price point but increased the quality of our boxes.

We still believe in our box.

The hobby prices have continued to trend up over the last year, yet our box has remained the same. As mentioned, the addition of the Core Feature was a significant boost to the program. We wanted to remind all previous customers about who we are and let them know we have been working to get even better. We decided on three marketing plans that would help us get back customers.

  1. New stickers for anyone willing to rep our brand

  2. Postcards to customers who have not ordered since before February 2022

  3. New inserts for our boxes, breaks, and eBay sales that we send out

The results of the sticker plan will take some time to develop. Our hope was that customers, friends, and collectors would enjoy these stickers so much that they would apply them to their lap tops, cases, etc. We have always strived for a community with our Brothers In Cards family. We feel it at shows and in our Facebook group. Repping a brand provides a consistent, positive relationship. You don't wear jerseys of players you don't like. You rep brands you support. We are thankful for all the support we have received since we started our program in 2017. We appreciate you showing off our new stickers. We would love to see what you have done with them - tag us on Instagram!

Another motivation for these stickers was the fact that I myself wanted a new sticker and I loved this design. Should I buy 500 stickers because I liked them? Probably not, but I am always down to share. I don't think I will ever view the stickers as a failure. I hope they can end up being a successful move someday.

The biggest failure in these marketing endeavors was the postcards...

I got this idea from getting the mail out of my mailbox. Whenever there is a Papa Johns or Kohls ad, I usually take a look. I love Papa Johns pizza and I know that most Kohls ads come with a coupon. I was hoping to hit both the people that loved collecting and simply forgot about us and seal the deal with a coupon for the hustlers.

(this coupon is actually still good, so if you are still reading, treat yourself!)

We sent this coupon out to 580 people - that is about the number of folks who ordered our box once we had the price increase (March 2021), but did not order in February or March of 2022. Our goal was to hit 10%. 58 orders, regardless of which level, would have been a significant boost in May, which is historically a slower month for the hobby. My optimistic mindset was almost upset that we decided on a goal that low. Oh, how disappointed I would be.

That QR code goes to a specific page on our website that can only be accessed by scanning our postcard. We decided to do this so that we could track how well they did. On that page, there was information about May's program as well as a blurb about our new addition of the Core Feature. The coupon code was also available on that page so that one could make a quick order using the discount.

10 days after sending the postcards out, we decided to take a peek at the results.

Out of 580 postcards that we sent out, we had only two orders...from only 5 visits...

Less than 1% of the people who received the postcard scanned the link.

Not only was this a huge disappointment, it was a huge loss. We put a lot of time into gathering data for what information we would include on the postcard (remember that survey we sent out a few months ago?). We designed the postcard and paid for them to be printed on quality material. Throw in postage for 580 postcards - it was a significant investment that yielded only two orders.

The new inserts seem to have some benefits.

In the past, we have tried putting a business card in each package we sent out (break cards, eBay orders, and Pack Plus boxes). We have never really seen success from simple business cards. Before the 2021 National, we made postcard-size informational cards. We had 3 types - one for Pack Plus, one for our $4.99 eBay auctions , and one for our breaks (we run our breaks on our Facebook group).

We included one of these in each package we sent out if they fit, but that was not always the case. I am not sure I would say we saw growth from these, but they were nice to have. When we ran out, we decided to make new ones that did fit in all packages, including our Pack Plus boxes.

We made two kinds (both double sided with QR codes on each side)

a. eBay auctions/Pack Plus Program (Blue on both sides)

b. eBay auctions/Box Breaks (Green on both sides)

I would say we have not seen a big uptick in eBay auction bidding or in our Pack Plus Program customer base, but I would say we have seen an increase in people requesting to join our Facebook Group.

I still believe these inserts are better than our basic business cards. Only time will tell if they are effective. We have only been using them for a couple months.

Have you had any significant marketing successes or failures? Please comment below! We would love to learn from you!

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