Is Stampa is failing Irish philately ?

Is Stampa is failing Irish philately ?

Having been actively involved in Irish philately since the 1960’s, I am of the opinion that we have been slowly going backwards since the 1970’s and rapidly going backwards since the 1990’s. One only has to look back to the 1950s and 1960’s to see what could be done on a financial shoestring, as can be seen from the back-issues of the EPA newsletter. Back then, collectors, philatelists and dealers all promoted Irish philately and made each stamp issue a major event. Every stamp issue produced a flood of philatelic research and articles. They did a great job at a time of economic depression and very limited budgets.

  • Publicity, if you go about it in the right way, is now FREE
  • Publishing is now also FREE (via the Internet)
    • The only cost is time and effort
    • There is no excuse for inaction nowadays

Something has to be done if we are to save our wonderful hobby. Apart from the EPA and the FAI, little is being done. In particular, Stampa (our national stamp exhibition) is no longer fit for purpose and its committee members spend more time and effort “defending doing nothing” than they do on developing and promoting the hobby of stamp collecting.

I absolutely refute their notions that “nothing can be done” and “we have too much competition from other hobbies”.

  • That is the talk of quitters … and if they feel like that, they should resign from the Stampa committee forthwith

Stampa’s website is not fit for purpose

The Stampa website is not fit for purpose, i.e. it fails to achieve any of the current digital marketing criteria for a modern website

The Stampa website is not fit for purpose, i.e. it fails to achieve any of the current digital marketing criteria for a modern website

  • The Stampa website, in my opinion,  is appalling – bereft of useful content, calls to action or advice.
    • There is no list of exhibits / exhibitors (information that has been known for several months)
    • There is no list or photo’s of last year’s winners (a year ago)
    • There is no list of prizes / awards, or competitions
    • There is no mention of school’s competitions (or entrants)
    • There is no list of dealers attending, or what they are selling
    • There is no list of literature or guides for potential collectors of Irish stamps
  • In summary, their website design is out of date, drab and uninspiring

In terms of SEO / SEM (Search Engine Marketing), it also fails, i.e. it cannot be found unless you already know it’s name – which kinda defeats the purpose of a Google search !

  • Stampa’s website does not appear on any of the ‘first 10’ Google SERP’s for the following
    • Stamps
    • Irish Stamps
    • Irish Stamp Collecting
    • Collectible Irish Stamps
    • Information Irish Stamps
    • Irish Stamps Online

In terms of Content Marketing (CM), the Stampa website has equally little to offer

  • out of date information
    • The “Exhibitions” page does not list competitions, or entrants, or prizes
      • It does not list past winners, by name or by exhibit type, or by competition
      • There are no images of past winners, or their exhibits
    • The “Souvenirs” page does not list of display 2015 souvenir items
      • It does not list them, display the actual numbers produced
      • It does not display the 2015 souvenirs, or display a pricelist
      • It does not display information on previous souvenirs (year, numbers issued)
    • The “Membership” page is inaccurate
      • Stampa 2015 does not take place in conjunction with the Over 50’s Show
      • The page states that “Your support will be very much appreciated and will ensure STAMPA’s continued success in promoting this marvellous hobby”
        • For the past 30 years, I (personally) have found this not to be true, since any advice or offer to help has been rejected and considerable hostility / contempt shown
        • I also refute any notion that Stampa are “promoting” the hobby
          • What have they done, apart from host one exhibition per year?
          • Where is the advertising?
          • Where is the promotion?
          • They talk the talk, but show little interest in learning how to walk
      • The “Contact” page displays a postal address and an email address
        • no actual people are named
        • no committee names, titles, roles are displayed
        • no social media accounts are named (vital for backlinks and SEO)
      • The “Links” page is embarrassingly sparse
        • No information is provided on how to obtain recent Irish stamp issues
          • An Post Philatelic Bureau
        • No information is provided on Irish stamp dealers
        • No information is provided on websites displaying Irish stamps

On a general note. the comments below relate to all pages

  • Images :
    • out of date images
    • not enough images
    • little information relating to the images
  • Content :
    • sparse content / little information
    • few calls to action
    • uninspiring, unimaginative, drab colours, boring
      • This is 2015
      • colour type is FREE
      • images are FREE
      • typefaces are numerous and FREE
      • too little, done at the last minute, old-fashioned

Anybody that knows anything about digital marketing will tell you

“there is little point in having a website, if you do not promote its content”

Stampa have produced nothing in the way of Social Media Marketing (SMM)

  • zero posts
  • zero images
  • zip !
  • Nothing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media platform
its not ust the young that engage on social media

People of all ages are now using the Internet and Social Media. The idea that stamp collectors do not use this technology is a myth

It is many years since Stampa has had a schools exhibit.

  • They have a prize for Schools exhibits … but no entrants.
  • Stampa has failed to attract any juvenile entries for many years
  • Stampa has failed juvenile Irish philately

The Facebook (paid) advertising database states that there are now less than 100 people in Ireland that collect stamps.

  • Not all Irish stamp collectors have a Facebook account
  • Not all Irish stamp collectors that have a Facebook account mention their hobby on Facebook
  • However, this is a worrying trend
  • Is Stampa about to completely fail Irish philately ???  

There is a group on Facebook that discusses Irish Philately

  • They are from all over the world
  • There are 129 members in this group
    • Very few of their members live in Ireland
    • An Post is not a member, so they are not marketing Irish Philately here
      • An Post is not part of “the conversation”
    • No one from Stampa is a member, so they are not promoting Irish Philately here
      • Stampa is not part of “the conversation” either
    • Two of Ireland’s leading stamp dealers are members

An Post fares little better.

An Post’s website (the philatelic section) is also out of date, short on content and is not generating new stamp collectors. I would argue that contacting existing Philatelic Bureau by ‘snail mail’ or email is not marketing – it is merely account management. The Philatelic Bureau could be so much bigger and more successful, if only An Post would get serious about philately.

  • An Post produced nothing in the way of social media marketing for this event
    • zero posts
    • zero images
    • zip !
    • Nothing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media platform
  • Stampa is, arguably, the most important event in the calendar of An Post’s Philatelic Bureau. It is their chance to meet, in person, people who do not subscribe to their product offering. These are people who might ‘open an account’ and become subscribers.
    • Yet, An Post did very little to promote Stampa 2015
    • They also did little to help those that were promoting Stampa 2015
An Post did little in the way of helping 'amplify' the efforts of those who were promoting Stampa 2015

An Post did little in the way of helping ‘amplify’ the efforts of those who were promoting Stampa 2015

This is an example of what can be done

This is how many people received my social media posts, replied to them and shared them in one day

This is how many people received my social media posts re #Stampa2015, replied to them and shared them in less than one day

  • 15 tweets (Twitter posts)
  • 28 replies
  • 57 re-tweets (shares)
  • 80,430 accounts reached (by me)
  • 208,112 people reached (via other people sharing my posts)

And, just in case anyone needs proof of how good this was in comparison to Irish corporates with big budgets for digital marketing, the diagram below (an independent third party that specialises in verifying social media marketing performance.

Tweet reach stats for the 4 leading Irish banks on 6th October 2015

Tweet reach stats for the 4 leading Irish banks on 6th October 2015

Something can be done !

I am of the firm opinion that something can be done to develop stamp collecting as a hobby amongst both adults and juveniles in Ireland.

  • It might not be rocket science, but digital marketing is a science.
  • There are proven methods for both reaching and engaging with an audience.

The audience does not have to be interested in the subject itself, but the peripheral subjects – such as Irish history, geography, art, culture, and modern socio-economic topics. Irish stamp design covers all of these but little is being done to create the linkages necessary to generate new stamp collectors. The digital media platforms to engage are there but Stampa (an An Post) are not maximising their marketing opportunities.

Social Media usage in Ireland, August 2015

Social Media usage in Ireland, August 2015. By not having any social media accounts, Stampa is missing out on a major digital marketing opportunity – both here in Ireland and overseas (where the majority of An Post’s Philatelic business comes from)

Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving activity and Stampa + An Post’s Philatelic Bureau need to keep up with modern trends – their existing efforts are simply not good enough and rely heavily on numismatic, notofilic and militaria dealers to finance the annual event.

Simply HAVING a website is no longer good enough - it is 3 evolutionary steps behind the current digital marketing paradigm. Stampa HAVE to modernise if stamp collecting in Ireland is to survive as a hobby

Simply HAVING a website is no longer good enough – it is 3 evolutionary steps behind the current digital marketing paradigm. Stampa HAVE to modernise if stamp collecting in Ireland is to survive as a hobby. Stampa 2016 is only 363 days away !!!

When the next Stampa AGM takes place, I suggest the following sub-committees + roles :-

  • A sub-committee for Digital Marketing
    • Stampa Search Engine Marketing (Website)
      • upgrade and modernize the existing Stampa website
      • list all Stampa 2015 competition winners
      • display (images) of their competitive entries
      • display photo’s of the winners with their trophies
    • Stampa Content Marketing
      • create a Stampa blog
      • create topics to be promoted (images and text)
      • generate content and share the content
    • Stampa Social Media Marketing
      • create a Stampa social media strategy + appropriate tactics
      • appoint a person for each social media platform
      • share Stampa branded content for dissemination on social media
    • Stampa Email Marketing
      • create a Stampa email database
      • promote the Stampa website and social media platforms
      • engage with existing Stampa email accounts

If Stampa is unable or unwilling to actively manage the above, I would be happy to recruit, induct, train and manage people who would be able and willing to fulfill the important roles listed above (and below)

  • A sub-committee for the Promotion of Philately
    • Irish stamp industry forum
      • liaise with the IPTA (Irish stamp dealers and auctioneers)
        • these people ate Stampa’s most important customers
        • their stall rents (and the coin dealers) fund the Stampa exhibition
        • the IPTA has paid for the purchase of many of the exhibition frames
      • seek their advice and guidance on PR strategy and tactics
    • adult stamp collecting
      • liaise with the Website, Social Media and Email Sub-Committees
      • liaise with existing stamp societies and advertise their activities
      • provide publicity for their competitions (winners + content)
      • provide publicity for their achievements (people + content)
    • juvenile stamp collecting
      • create new stamp clubs for juveniles
      • liaise with the Website, Social Media and Email Sub-Committees
      • advertise and promote their activities
      • provide publicity for their competitions (winners + content)
      • provide publicity for their achievements (people + content)
  • A sub-committee for the Promotion of Stampa 2016 as an Event
    • Event Marketing is a specialist activity and promotes the importance of the event
      • partnerships with transport, food & drinks and accommodation providers
      • in particular, a partnership with An Post and the many stamp (and coin) dealers that support the event
      • create a strategy and tactics compliant with their SEM, SMM and CM strategies / tactics
  • A sub-committee for the Development of Philatelic Primary Schoolteachers
    • Introduce stamp collecting as an educational tool
    • Enthuse and equip ‘trainee’ primary school teachers to establish philatelic study groups
      • Help them establish competitive, entertaining and educational school projects
      • Help them establish ‘inter-school’ competitions
      • Help them form county and provincial competitions
      • Help them re-introduce a ‘vibrant’ schools competition to Stampa

Stampa’s Exhibits are of a high standard

Its not all doom & gloom – the exhibits are of a high standard. The senior Irish philatelists put on a great display every year and the competition for medals is intense. However, the crucial element that is missing is the junior exhibits – it is many years since we have seen a schools exhibit.

  • This does not bode well for the future
  • It is vitally important that we re-introduce stamp collecting as a hobby for children in Ireland
  • Sadly, neither Stampa nor the stamp societies seem capable of achieving this in their present format
  • Who will take on this challenge?
    • An Post ?
    • The IPTA ?
    • Or, someone new with a completely different approach and ethos ?
Never, ever give up

Don’t EVER give up !

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2 thoughts on “Is Stampa is failing Irish philately ?

  1. I returned to stamp collecting 2 years ago and have encountered all the above mentioned problems. I get all my information from Declan Carroll CATHEDRAL STAMPS, I go into his shop am given a lovely cuppa and informative chat, and also from other facebook members who are not Irish or living here. I would like to see the Philately section have more staff, be more obvious, it is a hidden asset. I would love to see our schools have letter writing competitions with special letter writing day stamps, Japan have been doing it for years and their letter writing stamps would be very appealing to children. The Games Icons stamps from last year were a step in the right direction but not thought through because the only people who were aware of them were foreign stamp collectors who got onto me asking me to send them sets. Even my post mistress is unaware of the new stamps. An Post don’t even advertise the new issues in the local post offices. I really wish the philatelic stamps were available in at least 1 main post office per county. I am convinced that our commemorative stamps will be phased out when the 3 people currently employed in the GPO retire. They are convinced computers are going to take over completely and have given up

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Unfortunately, no one at Stampa and no one in An Post seems to care.
      I tried to get them to collaborate with me in the publicity for Stampa but they did very little.
      I sometimes wonder if anyone in An Post’s Marketing and PR Departments actually knows anything about stamp collecting.
      If not, I wonder how they got their jobs and what they think they should do to justify their salaries.

      A country’s stamp issues reflects their history and achievements.
      Irish stamp design is excellent and the subjects are relevant … but an Post is doing nothing to publicize this or encourage philately. At the very least, I’d expect their website to be mobile friendly … but its not.

      Maybe they view ‘digital’ marketing as ‘the enemy’ given that they are still pushing ‘snail mail’ for Irish businesses.
      Maybe if enough Irish stamp collectors contact them, they might react positively.

      Best regards
      James

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