By Ray Schulte
Schulte Sports Marketing & Public Relations
One of the major factors contributing to the sales growth of sports and entertainment vintage memorabilia this past decade has been the emergence of online auction companies.
Many companies have capitalized on the Internet's ability to provide relevant, timely information and easy access with bidding platforms. During the pre-Internet era, creating one's own auction platform was expensive, but today, companies can rent start-up online auction platforms, which is one of the reasons many online memorabilia auction companies are emerging.
Recently, I was in Chicago attending the Chicago Sun-Times show, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan Friedman, the founder and owner of AuctionReport.com, to discuss his company's impact on the growth of the business of sports and entertainment vintage memorabilia.
Ray Schulte: You launched AuctionReport.com in 2005, a company that has become the premier resource for online auction companies and collectors. What motivated you to start this company?
Ryan Friedman: I was one of the first individuals in the collectibles industry to design and launch a real-time Internet/phone auction platform/business, in 1996, and for the next nine years bought and sold through my own online auctions. I recognized there was a void and need to provide auction companies an opportunity to promote relevant auction-related news online to novice and experienced collectors. So, in 2005, I launched AuctionReport.com.
RS: The vintage-memorabilia business seems to have evolved with online auction platforms, growing at a rapid pace. Did you see that as an opportunity to launch AuctionReport.com?
RF: Absolutely, most of the industry news sources were all still based in print form in 2005, and by the time you read the information, it was most likely out of date. I realized the Internet would be a better way to get more information out to collectors quicker and more effectively than print.
RS: It appears the difficult economy hasn't negatively affected the high-end memorabilia industry. What are your thoughts?
RF: Because of the online growth, online mainstream news sources and the Internet in general, more people are able to get exposed to sports memorabilia and realize that high-end memorabilia is not just a collectible, but now can be an investment opportunity.
RS: AuctionReport.com services both the online auction companies and the consumer. Give us a little background on how you maximize their online experiences.
RF: Our consumer experience online provides the most current, up-to-date information, 24/7. We maximize consumers' options to receive this information, either by visiting our Web site, by using social-media outlets or by receiving our newsletter. For the auction companies, we cover and promote all aspects of the collectible auction business.
RS: SchulteAuctions.com gets asked continually about authentication, appraisal value, the selling process, etc. Can the novice collector benefit from the content you provide?
RF: Yes, we feel it is very important to communicate to sophisticated, novice and non-collectors as well. We understand consumers, especially novice collectors, have many questions concerning auction-related topics. They can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and of course visit our Web site at AuctionReport.com.
RS: What are your ongoing efforts to market AuctionReport.com?
RF: We rely on posting as much information/news on our Web site and distributing information supported by our daily newsletter that has over 13,000 qualified users. We utilize all of the social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., as well as attending collectible conventions throughout the year. But one of the best marketing efforts is still word of mouth.
RS: How do you structure the auction-company relationships, and is it free for the consumer to visit?
RF: All auction companies represented on Auction Report pay a yearly fee to be included on our Web site. Each auction company receives the same promotional package, which includes widespread exposure and an opportunity to promote their respective auction platforms and brand their company.
For collectors, everything is free. They can visit the Web site and read all the news, 24/7, absolutely free. We have a daily newsletter that goes out to over 13,000 collectors that is also free (simply sign up your e-mail address).
Issue 180: December 2012