Dissecting the United States Mint’s Handling of the New Presidential Dollars

by Mike Unser on December 26, 2007 · 3 comments

While the Mint should be held accountable for errors or mistakes in decision, how much criticism do they merit for the lack of progress in getting the new Presidential Dollars used in daily circulation?Second-guessing the United States Mint is exceptionally easy to do. They’re the "big guys" with an array of products and programs that make them a bullseye for attention. They’re also a government entity and it’s not exactly easy or prudent for them to respond to criticism, making arm-chair judgments against them more likely to go unchallenged.

An aggressive marketing campaign by the Mint along with early and embarrassing mint coin errors has provided public notice of the new Presidential $1 Coins. While the Mint should be held accountable for errors or mistakes in decisions, how much criticism do they merit for the lack of progress in getting the new Presidential Dollars used in daily circulation?

Despite the fact that the Mint has already reported nearly 760 million presidential coins minted without the Madison dollars, a significant portion of the public has never received the new coin in daily change. I live in one of the largest cities in the nation, San Antonio, and have yet to experience someone handing me one. Further, asking for and getting the coins at many banks has been a challenge in itself.

Is the Mint steering the ship forward correctly in marketing the new Presidential Dollars?

The U.S. Mint just released a myriad of new products containing Presidential Dollars and there’s talk in the blogging world regarding their approach. Is the Mint on the right path doing what they can to achieve success with the new dollars? What can help build the Presidential Dollar "brand"? How can the Mint get the coins out of vaults and into banks and stores so more of the public will not only collect them but actually see and use them?

For starters, by following and continuing the marketing strategies they’ve clearly undertaken:

  1. Brand the Presidential Dollars
  2. Wrap the dollar coins within established and successful programs
  3. Increase offerings through the presidential coin product line
  4. Don’t give up – keep the advertising dollars flowing and make adjustments by monitoring the results

Branding the Presidential Dollars

Creating awareness and identity for something new is essentially giving it a brand. The Mint has been quite good at branding the Presidential Dollars with targeted events, advertising campaigns and valuable website space for the public education of the Presidential $1 Coins.

Wrap the dollar coins within established and successful programs

The Mint accomplished another marketing objective by including Presidential Dollars into their annual proof and mint sets. Why is this important? As one example, these sets are often given as gifts to those who don’t actively collect for one reason or another – they may be too young, they haven’t yet been introduced to the Mint or collectible coins, etc.

During a Christmas season alone, many for the first time will get a glimpse of the new Presidential Dollars and they’ll get seen within their best light – the sets will usually get passed around so everyone can partake in their wondrous shine and detail. Throw in birthday and other gift occasions and the Mint buys free viral marketing for the new dollar coins simply because they’re within the annual mint and proof sets.

Increase offerings through the presidential coin product line

For the Presidential $1 Coins to succeed, they need to stand out as their own product or brand. Offering a product with varying options and price points can increase its awareness, product brand identity and selling success.

There’s a reason manufactures produce and grocery stores place on their valuable shelf space brands of cereal, peanut butter, coffee, etc., that have their own varying sizes, packages and price points. Everyone wants options and we’ll pay for them.

Check out the new Presidential Dollars products the Mint recently announced:


Presidential $1 Coin Uncirculated Set™

United States Mint Presidential $1 Coins – Individual Proof Coin

United States Mint Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set™ (Madison)

The United States Mint Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set

The Official United States Mint Coin Album – Presidential $1 Coins


While those less familiar with introducing a product or have never had to brand one will many times argue throwing more options out simply dilutes and confuses (and it certainly can when done incorrectly), it’s harder to achieve an objective of building a successful coin "brand" by not having specific products that include those coins – and only those coins – in a highlighted fashion.

Going back to the cereal example from the grocery store again, you can find small boxes of General Mill cereals – Golden Grahams, Frosted Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cheerios and Lucky Charms – all packaged together for a single sale price.

However, nearly everyone would cry out with dismay if they couldn’t buy their favorite box of cereal by itself. So you have to ask yourself… why do companies like General Mills offer small boxes of varying brands to be sold together in one package? The answer – to offer more options, and to promote their newer or lesser known brands to the public.

A "dedicated" Cheerios eater may have never tried a newer cereal, like Honey Nut Cheerios. Because it was in the package they bought, they’re likely to try it out and there’s a good chance they’ll like it. The next time they go shopping they may just buy both boxes of cereal. Or just as good, tell someone how good it is.

If you’ve made the connection, throwing the Presidential Dollars in the annual proof and mint sets gets a similar posistive and upward "bump". It helps build a distinct brand, just like discussed in the earlier gift example.

But at the same time and more important, you can’t solely rely on this type of packaging in most instances. If the Presidential $1 Coins are to be considered a product of their own, as the law for their creation dictates and a significant amount of monetary dollars is dedicated to, it makes complete sense to have an option to purchase them not just in bags, rolls and annual sets, but in unique offerings like collectible proof and mint singles.

Don’t give up – keep the advertising dollars flowing and make adjustments by monitoring the results

It’s rare for any product to kick into overdrive and achieve complete success overnight. An important thing the Mint should always remember – even when faced with criticism – is that it takes time. They must continually monitor their efforts and make any necessary adjustments that are always inline with the main goal – building and driving the success of the Presidential $1 Coin program.

The Mint is in a terrible bind in that the new dollar coins are competing against a foe they can’t win against – the dollar bill. However, a successful collectible program that can help broaden the dollar coin’s appeal can make the coin more viable going forward.

To date, they’re mostly hitting the necessary marketing marks. In this day and age, you can’t always stick to what worked 10 years ago. You have to come out with fresh approaches and take chances when the odds are stacked against you, like they are with the dollar coin vs. the dollar bill. The Mint is taking chances.

The Presidential Dollars will do fine with new collectors. They can also still achieve a respectable "2nd place" for use in circulation. That battle won’t be easy. The Mint still has an upward climb.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr. M December 26, 2007 at 8:07 pm

I spent coins from all 4 series during my Christmas shopping for 2007. I got a couple cashiers to stop and really look at the coins before dropping them in their till. It was great.

Presidential Dollars July 16, 2008 at 10:01 am

Each subsequent Presidential Dollar has had a lower mintage than the previous.

Phil Roberts January 16, 2009 at 12:48 am

Paulson has not only screwed up the $700 billion bailout and the take-sown of Lehman Brothers but has caved in the switch of edge lettering 3 years into the President Dollar series. I for one will never use any of the “new” coins where the “In God We Trust” is on the face rather than on the edge. Also Paulson should coin the 10 Presidents before George Washington. If the nations’ birthdate is July 4, 1776 than if would follow that the 1st 10 Presidents be included. If not than we should be celebrating March 1, 1781 when the Constitution was adopted. Then Washington would be our 1st President under the Constitution. George Washington was our first General of the Army under the first Government under the Articles of Confederation from 1774 to 1783 when the Revolutionary War ended. There were other Presidents while he was commanding the army.

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