Friday, September 24, 2010

The NASCAR Trading Card Monopoly

We have a monopoly on the NASCAR trading card market. We have no competition. There isn’t another company making better NASCAR trading cards. If someone wants NASCAR trading cards, they have to buy our products. So we can just put the company on cruise control and churn out run-of-the-mill products, right? Wouldn’t that make our lives simpler?!

Earlier in the year amidst all of the discussions about the pros and cons of exclusive agreements with leagues and trading card companies, several people echoed the concern that if a company doesn’t have competition, they have no incentive to be creative and come up with new ways to excite collectors. As a Product Manager for a company that essentially has a monopoly on the NASCAR trading card market, this statement struck a chord with me, and I constantly find myself thinking about all of the reasons why that statement is wrong…and here are a few of them.

Competitiveness – I hate losing. I have to win the race off the line when the red light turns green even though the car next to me has no idea we’re racing. The term “self-motivated” is seen on résumés a lot, and to me it means “paranoid”…paranoid that somewhere out there someone is doing my job better than I am. That paranoia drives me, and as a result I want my products to be perfect, and I want you to love them. I want each release to win some sort of “Best Product in the History of Trading Cards” award, though that has yet to happen. This competitive drive is shared among many others in the office, and it keeps us on our toes and motivates us to constantly improve our business.

Customer Focus - Over the past two years, we have spent a lot of time talking to customers on the phone, through email, in focus groups, and in hobby shops. We have asked you to give us feedback on what we’re doing right and what we need to improve on. Many of you have praised our company for our customer service, and it is this customer-centric approach to our business that helps us produce products that you enjoy collecting. By focusing on what the consumer wants, rather than what another company is doing helps ensure our customers stay happy.

The Press Pass Family – Nestled a few miles north of the Queen City, Press Pass occupies roughly half of one floor of a six-story office building. There are 18 of us: Kevin, Kevin, Terri, Terri, Kristen, Kirsten, Allison, Trevor, Debbie, Lisa, Tonya, Eric, Robert, Aaron, Nick, Tom, DJ, and Jesse. None of us owns a Mercedes. We all just have one home, and $2.50 Healthy Choice meals are the preferred lunch fare. We are a family of simple, honest, hard-working, happy-go-lucky people, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Much like within a family, there is a bond between us that ties us all together. In fact, I see these people more than I see my own family. The members of this family are my incentive and motivation to produce good quality products. We all rely on each other to do our jobs and there is a sense of duty and accountability to make this company better than it was the year before. When the economy took a downturn a few years ago, I started thinking about my role in the company and how it affects everyone else. If I make a bad product, you don’t buy it. If you don’t buy it, people in my “family”, including me, may lose their job. That pressure motivates me to work harder and smarter.

Press Pass’ focus was never to become the exclusive manufacturer of NASCAR trading cards. We didn’t shell out millions of dollars to push other guys out of the sport. We didn’t undercut everyone’s prices to make them go away. We just built a business that people could rely on. We listen to our customers, and we make products that deliver value, excitement, and authenticity. Our products are our “kids”, and we love them all. However, rest assured that next year’s “kids” will be way better.

Jesse Leadbetter


Huntley Doug said...

I think this year without a doubt, you proved why you have and continue to keep this license. For a few years I was worried, things seemed stagnant, but your company as a whole has had a tremendous 2010 and I as a collector and writer, truly look forward to all of your releases.

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT READ, and I think your products show that everything you typed is true. It is evident in your product that you do listen to the collector. I hope one day you can all drive the mercedes.