I recently parked downtown for an evening event. A little shocked to find my two-hour stay would cost $9, I fed a $20 bill into the automated parking machine and immediately heard the clickety-clank of several coins hitting the change return.
At home a few hours later, I pulled the jingling stash from my coat pocket and marveled at a handful of gold-colored dollar coins with…MILLARD FILLMORE on them (and one with John Tyler).
I discovered the U.S. Mint is in the midst of a presidential dollar coin series modeled after the 50 State Quarters. New Yorker Fillmore had just come out that week, thirteenth president so thirteenth in the series (http://bit.ly/c9OaHT).
Over the next couple of days I asked several people about the coins, only to find no one else had heard about them either. I learned more, too, such as the fact each year since the series’ start in 2007 the mint has been releasing substantially fewer quantities, arguably because the program hasn’t taken off quite like they planned.
I can understand the popularity of state quarters – enthusiastically hunting down quarters from where you were born or went to college, where you live, where you favorite sports team is from. And I can also understand there might be considerably less interest in a presidential dollar coin series, even setting aside the fact you probably don’t actually USE dollar coins as often as other coins.
Because – what personal connection do any of us have to a president? I suspect it’s not even close to the one we might have with a state. Yes, I know there are exceptions. I can imagine great interest in the likes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, even the historic precedent tied to current President Obama. But I can’t imagine people out there fighting for a Tyler or a Polk, apart from those intent on securing the entire series.
It’s about a personal connection, something that is so often critical in our own industry. Every day we can find examples of the personal connection consumers may have with a product or service we’re marketing: a hotel, a hospital, even a city. (Heck, I’d like to see coins with key U.S. cities on them – there’s an idea for the Mint!) And when we communicate with these consumers, we need to explore and reinforce that connection.
In the meantime, I have a bunch of Fillmores and I’m wondering if anyone has a George Washington, John Adams or Thomas Jefferson they’d like to trade…
(P.S. With each presidential dollar a “First Spouse” coin is also being released. These coins are larger, have a face value of $10, and are struck in 24-karat and contain a half-ounce of gold - Interesting the spouses have more value!) (Shaun Amanda Herrmann)