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Creating a Craze: Making Your Product into a "Collectible"

It's pretty obvious that "collectibles" are a hot trend these
days. From plush stuffed animals to Christmas ornaments, there is
a bevy of product lines whose customers have mysteriously
transformed into rampaging, fanatical collectors willing to do
anything to get the specific products they need. With the kind of
excitement (and profits!) that collectibles can generate, it's no
wonder that everyone is on the lookout for that next big
collectible product.

Unfortunately, there is no way of telling what the next hot trend
will be. For instance, no one could have guessed the immense
popularity of the Beanie Babies -- however, the Ty Corporation
did (and still does) a great job of encouraging the collectible
aspect of their product line. We can take some valuable lessons
from Ty, as well as other producers of collectibles, when we
think about marketing our own products.

There is, of course, no way of guaranteeing that your product
line will create a craze of rampant collecting. However, there
seems to be a few characteristics that the big collectible lines
have in common. From these, we might be able to give ourselves a
headstart when we start creating product lines and marketing
them:

* Personalize your products. Collectibles need some way for
collectors to distinguish one product from another. Many
collectible lines have individual, personalized names for each
product. Beanie babies, for example, don't just have stuffed
bears, tigers, and rabbits -- They have Valentina the bear,
Blizzard the white tiger, and Nibbley the rabbit.

By personalizing your products, you will make it easier for
collectors to discuss your products. It is also easier for them
to keep track of which of your products they have and which ones
they need to complete their collection,

* Have a good selection of products. In basic terms -- For a
product line to be collectible, there needs to be something there
to collect! If you only sell one item, you probably won't have
collectors knocking at your door. If, on the other hand, you have
so many different products that you can't count them all, it
might seem to people that there is no way they could ever get
them all, which would also discourage collecting.

It seems to me you need to walk a fine line here. You need to
have a large selection of products to collect, but limited enough
that the variety doesn't destroy the unique character of your
products.

* Limit the availability of your products. Ty substantially
increased the collectibility of their Beanie Babies when they
instituted their "retirement" policy. After a limited run,
certain products were retired, making them harder (and therefore,
more valuable) for collectors to get.

At first glance, this may seem like a bad idea for the
manufacturer. After all, if you aren't selling the particular
model / product any more, why does it matter that the value goes
up? Well, as Ty found out, the retirement system meant that
people were more willing and eager to buy newly released
products, with the understanding that they too would be "retired"
sometime in the future.

Hallmark uses a similar system with their collectible Christmas
ornaments. The individual ornaments are only produced for one
holiday season, making it vital for collectors to buy early
before the chance is gone.

* Don't assume that your products are collectible. This is kind
of counter-intuitive, but one of the surest ways to make sure
that your item is NOT going to be collected is to heavily
advertise it as a "collectible" or call it a "limited edition."
It seems that people want to discover collectibles on their own
rather than be told that they should collect something.
Therefore, it is probably best to just advertise the usual
aspects of your product, rather than stress its collectibility.

The important thing to remember about this whole process is that
the whims of the collector are hard to predict. You can't ensure
that your product will start a new craze to rival Pet Rocks
(remember those?), but you CAN strive to make your product line
compatible for collectors. That way, should the lightning strike,
you will be prepared to reap the rewards!


About the Author

Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley's
http://InternetWriters.com He provides copy-writing, marketing,
Internet promotion, and help for business speakers. Reach him at
ron@drnunley.com or 801-328-9006.

Ron Sathoff