March 13, 2012 – In 2008 Krause Publications invented the People’s Choice Award, which is handed to the favorite coin of Internet voters during the Coin of the Year Award ceremony. Since then the Hungarian mint has won each of these awards. We did ask Teréz Horváth commercial director of the Hungarian Mint, how they succeeded in having so many loyal and firm fans.
Congratulations to you. And congratulations on your loyal and dedicated collectors who sacrifice their time in order to see Hungary win.
Is this dedication of Hungarian collectors encouraged in any form by the Hungarian mint?
Thank you for your congratulations. We use a very simple way to encourage our collectors by informing them, when a Hungarian coin has been nominated for the People’s choice award, and we also give full information about the voting possibility. As we use our e-newsletter as a source of information, we can also give a link to the pages where the voting is going on. A direct access to the proper site, I think this is the best way to help them. The Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary), which is the sole issuing authority in Hungary of legal tender coins, is also a partner, as they launch a press release when a Hungarian coin becomes a nomination. Sometimes other national press agencies take over this news, which makes possible to reach not only collectors, but anybody else.
When did you start to take care of collectors via the Internet?
We have our website since the end of the nineties. It was first a simple list of products with pictures. Since that time, we develop continuously our website. We completed the ordering possibility with online payment two years ago. We try to follow the technical features of the web, too. For instance, the introduction of a new searching engine and new product filters were our recent updates at our site. All relevant information can be followed on the frontpage of our site, so everyone can be up-to-date by clicking in. Around mid 2011, we signed up for Facebook and created our firm account. We are very proud that without any extra promoting action, there are more than 600 people, who like our activity.
Which kinds of services do you offer?
There is a direct access from our website to our webshop section, where all available products can be ordered and paid. As we have an offline coin shop within the territory of the Visitor Centre of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank, we can offer various opportunities from the personal take-over at the shop till deliveries by a courier service or by COD postal mail. We have engraving service for producing individual medals, and the inquiries, preferred texts or pictures can be sent through our site, as well.
An important help for our collectors is our pre-ordering system, which enables them to ensure their copies of each new issue in advance. Since four years, the pre-order form is available through the Internet for a couple of weeks before the next year.
Tell us about your experiences with your website: Do you get many new collectors from that medium or is it more important to keep in touch with your loyal collectors?
Both of them is very important to us: to gain new collectors and to retain the customers. As the average age of the collectors becomes higher and higher, and they are not frequent internet users, we count mainly on the X and Y generations when we offer services online. It is the best source of information today, I think its role in keeping in touch with all collectors, and especially with young people becomes more and more important.
What are the favorite services collectors use?
The online webshop is mainly used by new customers, who are looking for some gifts, as a birthday medal, or a baby set, or other similar products. Real collectors still prefer to see the new coins personally, to get information at site, so they visit our offline coin shop more often. Nevertheless, the pre-order of the coming issues has been proven to be the most favorite service, the average number of pre-orderers is over 2000 people per year, since its existence.
Did your Facebook presence promote your website?
The goal of our opening to social media was to gain new customers. Already 23% of the links showing to our website originate from Facebook, but since its half year existence we can’t see its direct impact yet.
How many collectors do you reach via the Internet?
We have already more than 21 thousand registered users. The number of our visitors was near to 137,770 people in 2011, which is 5% higher than a year earlier. Additionally, we have more than 15 thousand subscribers for our e-newsletter. Around 70% of the visitors are inland customers, and some 7% out of the remaining 30% come from Germany. The others are from all part of the world from New Zealand through the US to Brasilia or Japan.
What do you think is your strength in customer retention?
I think, our strength comes from being up-to-date with our information, offering pre-ordering possibility and intending to meet all customer-related requirements. Additionally, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank also contributes to the customer retention in offering public consultations on the new collector topics. This means, that the central bank publishes a pre-selected list of potential topics and themes of new issues for the following year on its website and everyone can comment, make a proposal to them during a certain period. The opinions and remarks from the customers’ side can be integrated into the next year issuing program.
Hungary has a little bit more than 10 million inhabitants. It’s incredible that a country with such a small population was able to win five times in a row the People’s Choice Award. How could all these voters be mobilized? Are there any special structures for collectors in Hungary like clubs, internet forums or coin shows?
Yes, we have in Hungary two large organizations for numismatic collectors. First, the Hungarian Numismatic Society, which is an institution with national scape and connects the scientific experts of numismatics with those who are interested for coins, medals, and other collectibles in this field. Their goal is to contribute to the saving of national values, to keep and enhance the numismatic achievements, and to be a forum for all related knowledge and participants. There is also a Collector Club, called Hungarian Numismatic Collectors Society, which helps to enrich private numismatic collections with the cooperation of approximately 4000 members and several thousand amateur supporters.
Could the devotion of your collectors be a question of mentality? Are the Hungarians especially proud of their nation and the victories their nation is winning?
Certainly, it could be. I think all nations are proud of their achievements and victories. May be Hungarian collectors are a little bit more active, than the other collectors. But not only in this field, as for instance, recently a “Building of the Year” title has also been awarded to a Hungarian-designed building for which online votes were collected. Or another example: there was an online competition for choosing new design elements for FORMULA 1 race clothing, and a Hungarian folk art motive won (also chosen by worldwide web voting).
Tell us a little bit about the numismatic market in Hungary: Where do Hungarian coin collectors buy their coins? Directly at the mint? At coin dealers? Are there meetings for collectors, where they can swap, sell or trade their duplicates?
New issues can be obtained directly from the mint, as our company has been authorized by the issuer not only to strike, but also to purchase them. We are active both in wholesale and retail trade, so several coin dealers are included into our selling chain. But we are involved only in the products of the Forint currency system, and we also produce other minted products, like medals without face value for special familial or social events. The Hungarian Numismatic Collectors Society also organizes, besides the weekly collector club meetings, a yearly national coin show, which is held year-by-year at a different place of the country, involving collectors and those who might be interested from the countryside, as well. And of course, there is a continuously growing private trading sector in numismatics, including individual coin dealers and agencies selling investment gold products.
Thank you for answering our questions and we will see, whether next year another mint is able to compete with you concerning mobilizing collectors for voting.
Teréz Horváth finished the College of International Management, and later the Marketing Faculty of the Budapest University of Economic Sciences. She met first time collector coins in 1994, when she joined the former WIMNB Coin Trading Co. In 1996, she was appointed general manager of the NBH Coin Trading Co. owned by the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary). The company merged with the Hungarian Mint in November 2001. Since that time she is the commercial director of the Mint.