Monday, October 26, 2009

A New Approach to Sports Cards Magazines

The answer I can't stand hearing at work or anywhere is "because we've always done it that way." Doing it that way yesterday may have worked yesterday, but that doesn't mean it can work that way now.

Today sports cards magazines follow a similar style that was used years ago. Sure their layout has improved and the software to create the magazines is better, but the formula is the same: 1) Feature story on collectible; 2) new product reviews/news; 3) pictures from real people opening packs; 4) Price guides - the biggest section. Throw in a few ads and some hot lists at the beginning and you have the basic formula for a sports card magazine.

Does this still reflect today's collector? Do the majority of collectors rush to eBay to grab what's on the hot list?

When I look around the intranet I find more blogs about specific teams like the Chicago White Sox and the Florida Marlins and about specific players like Andre Dawson and Adrian Peterson than I do about the prices for new products.

I'd like to see the magazines list some popular player card lists and team check lists. Albert Pujols and ARod are two of the most popular players, would more collectors like to see a list of their cards (and others) instead of a price guide for a random card set? Would this be more valuable than seeing which prospect is higher on the hot list?

How about some team check lists? It could start with this year's World Series teams? A check list of the NY Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies cards for popular sets would be great to see if you're a Yankees or Phillies phan.

Some issues could add historical info like a list of all the Mickey Mantle cards old and new or a team list of the 1929 World Series teams.

This isn't a slam against the magazines, but an idea to discuss. Is the format of your product reflecting the habits of your buyer?

EDIT: A year or so ago, Beckett Baseball had an article "Dozen Roses" (or something similar) that highlighted Pete Rose's top baseball cards. I thought that was awesome and exactly what I was looking for as a collector.

6 comments:

VOTC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Well said

thehamiltonian said...

Targeting the content is a good idea, but it is hard to decide where to target. Targeting a subscription magazine risks alienating those who aren't interested in your target, and a bunch of one-off magazines is tricky to get to the right hands as well.

Checklists for players, teams and sets are readily available (and printable) online, and I am not sure they transfer well to the printed world - they are more on-demand type materials.

paulsrandomstuff said...

I suspect that a large number of people who still buy sports card magazines are actually looking for that price guide. If you dump it, you risk losing them -- and I don't know that you can afford to alienate your remaining readers in the hopes of attracting new ones.

After all, the collectors who didn't care about the price guide already jumped ship and found that we can get faster information for free online.

stusigpi said...

A look at the Blowout forums will answer your questions. These guys pay release prices, try to flip the hot cards for a profit, lose their shirt and do it over again. They are always spouting book value, "mojo", sick and nasty. Most of their comments are regarding the "value' of the card, same at the Beckett forums.

These are the majority of the people out there.

James said...

EDIT to the article: A year or so ago, Beckett Baseball had an article "Dozen Roses" (or something similar) that highlighted Pete Rose's top baseball cards. I thought that was awesome and exactly what I was looking for as a collector.