Saturday, April 19, 2014

HOW TO REINVENT THE WHEEL IN YOUR STORE

Do you ever wonder about ways you can improve your business?  You sit and think about it, but you’re just not sure what to do?  As I write this article, the New Year has recently started and I find myself being reflective about things, but looking forward as well.  Many things we tried in our jewelry store worked well last year, but some of the marketing, strategies and events were clunkers just like any other business has.
The title of this article is “How to reinvent the wheel in your store,” but perhaps it should have been “How not to reinvent the wheel.”  What do I mean by that statement?  Simple - I’m a big fan of the “Modeling Process” or in other words, copying the successful systems, attitudes and behaviors of those I wish to emulate or be more like. Just like you, I have my heroes in the jewelry biz and in the retail world at large.
One of the things I find helpful to stimulate new ideas is visiting other successful jewelry stores to see what they’re doing and to see if I can implement some of the ideas I learn in my own store.  No one, and I repeat no one, has all the answers and we should all keep learning our trade each and every day.  If we don’t do this, it’s my opinion that our business could cease to exist as our competitors locally and not so local, aka the Internet, Blue Nile, etc., move forward with innovative ideas.
Perhaps the best marketing advice I can give to any jeweler seeking to improve their store’s operation is to get out and visit other jewelry stores.  On one recent visit to a store near our vacation condo I saw how this jeweler had integrated a very successful “Estate Jewelry” operation in their store that obviously set their store apart from others in their region.  This made me question myself - why I had never seriously put in a estate jewelry case in our store.  I also noticed this jeweler marketed to his client mailing list with postcards and special offers to those clients who love this type of jewelry.  Duh!!!  Why haven’t I been doing this???
With thanks to David Geller for inspiring me to do this many years ago, I modeled one of his behaviors in that I started sending “Thank You” notes to every customer who made a purchase or had a repair done in my store. With each of these thank you notes also came a gift certificate in whatever amount I deemed appropriate that the client could use on their next purchase.  These days this is quite easy due to the advent of POS systems such as Edge, Winjewel and many others making it simply a “click of the button.”
One of the things I’ve been paying particular attention to lately in other jewelry stores, as well as other retailers, is the use of text marketing where you have a customer send a text message to your service and a special offer, gift certificate or message pops up on their smartphone.  I’m experimenting with this as I write this and think there is some merit to it that we jewelers should incorporate ourselves.
As we continually become a more smartphone dominant society instead of desktop computer or laptop, it also seems very important to make sure our store’s websites are optimized for viewing on a smartphone.  Over the holiday season, it absolutely amazed me how many younger clients came in my store with a picture of a ring from some website that they wanted to purchase in my store.  I was very glad of this, but also kind of ashamed that I hadn’t optimized my own website sooner!  Note to self... hey self, get off your butt and get your website optimized for viewing on the small screen!!!
One more thing - if you’ve not had the opportunity, go visit a Chico’s ladies store.  My wife goes there often. Ok, maybe too often, but watch these folks in action. They are simply some of the best at clienteling I’ve ever seen!  A few days after a purchase, my wife gets a card saying “Thanks” along with a special offer to come in again.  Did I mention they also know her preferences and call her anytime something has come in that she might like?  They also call her anytime there is a special event and give her a FREE gift just for coming in. Plus, they never forget a birthday and send a gift certificate for that as well.  How often do you do this for your clients?  Another note to self... start clienteling like Chico’s does and watch the bank account grow!
Most successful retailers belong to several organizations and often get great ideas, brainstorming sessions and many more benefits simply by being a part of them. I currently belong to four groups, two of which are jewelry specific and two made up of all types of retailers. It never ceases to amaze me the knowledge that is shared and how much I come away with. I suggest you find a group that you enjoy being a part of. Go out and try some until you find the right one.  Like me, you may have to try several. Let some go, but by all means find one you can learn and grow with!!
These are just a few ideas I’ve been thinking about and hey, I really didn’t have to reinvent the wheel either. I just borrowed ideas from others and found a way to apply them in my store.  Can you do the same? I’ll bet you can and probably even better than me! Drop me a line sometime at goldman86@bellsouth.net and let me know what you come with. Maybe we can brainstorm something together! 
Good luck until next time...
Dr. Bill

Friday, February 14, 2014

PERSERVERANCE - THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Twenty years ago my wife and I opened our jewelry store in downtown Hudson, NC.  Like many of you, we got started on a “wing and a prayer.”  I had been running a store in nearby Lenoir, which was a chain operation and had only moved to the area two years prior.  My wife was a hairdresser and like many young couples, we had the dream of owning a business.
Thanks to the customer following I had built up, a little start up money and my wife’s commitment to do whatever, we got our jewelry store going.  Needless to say, things weren’t easy, but from day 1, the good Lord smiled on us and we developed a good trade of our own.
A few weeks into the whole thing, we were ready for our grand opening and that’s when it happened.... we heard one of our local competitors was going to try and knock our grand opening in the head with a huge media blast. Essentially, they were going to make our meager effort look like it got lost.
Fortunately, we have lots of friends in local media and I was tipped off about the whole thing. So I waited and let “the other guy” blow his wad - and he did!  Right after this, we had our grand opening, which thankfully was successful.  What am I getting at by telling you this story?
No matter what, never give up!  Yes, its easy to get frustrated by your competitors, your lack of funds (at times) and all of the many other things that we jewelry store owners face, but let me say this, “PERSEVERE!”
One of the reasons I see so many jewelers being unsuccessful is that they give up on something way too easily; for example, new lines, new marketing, employees or themselves.  Stand tough no matter what you face and meet it head on - you’ll come out stronger on the other side!
Now twenty years into this whole thing, we find ourselves with one of the busiest and largest volume stores in our area.  We often get comments from others like, “How is it that you have this much traffic in such a small mountain town?”  “How do you do well over a million dollars a year in the environment you are in with the economy being what it is?”
All I can tell you is - “PERSEVERANCE!”  We stand tough when others give up and we take on jobs that often other jewelers refuse to do.  Investing in a laser welder, CAD/CAM technology, learning to market our store in different ways has made us successful.  We only have an average size store in a very, very small town that still surprises many readers when they stop by. But as I often say, “This is a jewelry store on STEROIDS!!”
One last word on competitors. I’m a huge fan of the late great football coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers.  Good ‘ole Vince would make his players study the moves of his competition until they could almost predict the exact plays they would run and when they would run them.  He also made his players practice the moves and countermoves until it became second nature.
You see, I’m a firm believer that you should study what the large jewelry chains are doing as well as your local competition - shop them, learn their habits, know what they carry!  Then you can develop a plan that differentiates you from your competition.  By all means, make your store stand out in the crowd.
Maybe you are like we were twenty years ago and sometimes feel overwhelmed by people and circumstances. Don’t get caught up in worrying about what others are doing either. Let your competitors worry about what you’re going to do!  Let me encourage you to be like “The Little Engine That Could” and “PERSEVERE.” It’s what those at the front of the pack do!
'TIL Next Time,
Bill Warren

Monday, January 13, 2014

How To Bring In The Bucks When The Bucks Are Hiding!

Here is a short video shot by my friend Jim Ackerman of the Marketing Wizards Alliance a year or so ago. In this video, Jim & I talk about how we've been able to consistently bring in the bucks in my jewelry store using "Out of the Box" as well as "Tried & True" marketing principles.  If these ideas worked for me and allowed me to win a marketing contest and a FREE trip to Park City, Utah...they will work for you!

Watch the video and learn at:

http://marketingwizardsalliance.com/magic-wand-marketing-contest-winner-bill-warren-shares-valuable-philosopy-with-marketing-speaker-jim-ackerman/

Let me know your thoughts...happy learning!

Sincerely,

Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)
www.warrenmarketing.blogspot.com
828-729-1020


P.S. - if you'll follow the ideas I've outlined in this video...marketing success could happen to you!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adapt or Die, The Choice is Yours...

Adapt or die - that’s kind of an abrupt title for an article isn’t it?  Before I get into the meat of this, let me digress for a moment.
Like many of you, I have a deep love for this industry and the independent jeweler.  Perhaps many of you just like me have watched this industry for almost 30 years or longer.  Its been an incredible ride in my own career, that’s for sure. 
When I entered the jewelry biz as a goldsmith’s apprentice in downtown Statesville, NC, the landscape was quite different than it is today.  Some called this time the “good ole days” or the Reagan “Glory Years.”  Things were easier then, that’s for sure!
I remember in the ‘80s when I could place a full page ad in our local newspaper with several sale items such as a gold nugget watch or ring, some diamond solitaire specials and a few other things.  The ad would hit on Wednesday and by Saturday our telephone would have rang off the hook and we’d have sold out of most the items. Yes, back then it was just that easy!
Nowadays, jewelers don’t have it so good.  Many report that newspapers no longer produce results, or at least most don’t (in some unique markets it still works).  One of the comments I most often here is, “What do I do now?  Newspapers don’t work like they used to, discount sales no longer work, what should I try?”  Maybe you’ve felt the same way.
You’ve probably found that it does take quite a bit more technique to make things produce like they should. Simply put, “Jewelers Must Adapt To An Ever Changing Marketplace or Die.”
You see, I’m afraid if many of our friends don’t try to adapt and change, they simply will not be here much longer.
It really pains me to see those who could have a thriving independent jewelry store simply wither away.  Why is this happening?  I think its because being creatures of habit, we (independent jewelers) are afraid to embrace new ideas, new marketing, new lines and in doing so, many are sealing their destructive fate.
Years ago, I stopped by to visit a dear friend and mentor of mine who is now departed, Bob Deitz of Salisbury, NC.  While visiting Bob, I kiddingly asked him about a line of pocketbooks he was carrying in his jewelry store. His answer even way back then, showed what a wise man Bob really was. He said, “Bill, I’ve learned to be happy with whatever makes my cash register ring!”  And let me tell you, this man knew how to make his cash register ring!  I miss you Bob.
I say all of that to say this: “What are you doing today that is different?  What new lines and innovative lines are you carrying today that you didn’t yesterday?  Are you experimenting with direct mail and your own instore customer mailing list?  You do have one, don’t you?  Have you tried social media?  Many report great success. I’ve had great luck with it for sure!  Are you standing still or are you moving forward?”
In our store the key to success has been:
  1. Using direct mail in the form of postcards, letters and other unusual devices loaded with special offers (not necessarily sales) to stay in front of our better customers.  We always send birthday & anniversary cards with a gift certificate and they work!
  2. Radio to push special events and new lines to keep Top of Mind Awareness.
  3. Social Media - Facebook in particular has been very important in cultivating young engagement ring clients.
  4. E-mail - capturing and using clients’ e-mail to send them weekly/bi-weekly info that is important, but also entertaining.... never dull!
  5. Billboards - I can’t begin to say how having a billboard in the right location with the right message has helped grow our biz!
  6. Telemarketing - yes, we call our customers regularly with announcements of special events or something as simple as, “Hey Mrs. Jones, I’ve got something in I think you’d like!”
The important thing is don’t give up!  Keep experimenting with merchandise mix and marketing until you find the combination that works for you.  Please don’t give up...your business depends on it!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Let's Have A Party Instead of a Sale



Let’s turn the party music up, break out the food and drink and have some fun shall we?  That is what many of your customers are waiting for you to do!  It seems like so many retailers simply have one boring sale event after another to the point that big store sales are no longer effective.

The big question I often get from other jewelers is…”What works to get customers in the door?” Simple…instead of throwing another “Sale”, how about throwing a party? Ok, I’m not referring to a beer bash (I can see some of you snickering now), but by having an event/party that has nothing to do with price!

What??? I’ve lost my mind you’re thinking…ok,ok, hold on a minute!  This past weekend, we invited some of our best clients into our store to preview some new jewelry lines.  That in and of itself didn’t stand out but the other things we did caused this to be a “Talked About Event!”  

Our clients enjoyed music from a local keyboardist who was playing light jazz music.  They also got to enjoy great finger foods and drink while they looked around at several new items/lines that we’d brought in.  While doing so, we asked their opinions on the new lines, what they’d like to see and what jewelry they already enjoy.  The atmosphere was kept light and no pressure.

Did we do business?  You bet we did! Sales were quite brisk and our clients loved having “First Pick” of the new jewelry lines.  Even more importantly, we planted seeds for the future and our clients left many items on their “Wish Lists.”

Perhaps the thing I’d like to get across is this…independent jewelers need to be thinking about what makes their store’s fun!  You see most store’s either don’t do “Sales” or the “Sales” they have are the same type every other retail jeweler is doing.  

Yes, fun in your marketing is what cuts thru all the clutter.  Fun is what makes you stand out in crowd.  Fun is what gets your store talked about in the local community.  Having fun in your store is what makes for a healthier, longer career and happy employees.  The bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  That’s pretty good medicine for each of us if I do say so myself.

By the way, I’ll be giving a seminar at the SJTA Atlanta Jewelry Show on Saturday, August 3rd at 1:45pm.  The title of the seminar is “How To Find Riches In The Niches Of Your Jewelry Store’s Mailing List”.  I’d love to meet each of you as we learn about how to do better direct mail marketing…see you there!

Monday, April 8, 2013

How To Recognize A New Client & Get Them Back In Again!


Question: How many times have you visited a business for your first time, made a purchase and in a week or so, received a welcome letter or packet from that business? 
Answer: Probably not too often!
Perhaps one of the things we do in our store that I value as a customer relationship builder most is sending that new client something to recognize their first visit and purchase at my establishment.  I’m not referring to the “Thank You Note” which my customer also gets, but something sent separately.
Many jewelers have the means through their POS systems to send thank you cards, birthday & anniversary announcements, special sale event notifications, etc., but how often are they recognizing and mailing to these new clients to get them into their “Marketing Funnel?”  Certainly most of us have a marketing funnel - or at least I hope so.  What I mean by this is that you should be sending your customers special offers, notices of events & other things at least six or more times per year.  Friends, if you’re not doing at least this much, I’m afraid you’re being left behind in the race!
Angie, my lovely wife, loves to shop at a clothing store called “Chico’s,” and from the get go I noticed something different about this company.  When she made her first purchase, she got a welcome letter along with a special offer from the management at Chico’s.  Did she use it?  You bet she did - and many other offers that they’ve sent her since that time. Geez honey, could you slow down on my pocketbook just a bit?   Chico’s even leaves her messages on our answering machines saying something like, “Hi Angie, we just wanted to thank you for being a new client.  Because you’ve made your first purchase at Chico’s, you now qualify for a special offer of xxxxx.”
If a large clothing company like Chico’s can take the time to do something like this for their new clients, don’t you think you and I can do it in our jewelry stores?   This testifies to the power of marketing to your new clients.
You’ll be amazed at the results you’ll get when you start developing marketing & offers to this new group of clients. I know I was!!  Some jewelers have asked how I go about doing this, so here is my formula:
  • Every Monday morning using my Edge POS system, I pull a report showing names and addresses and phone numbers of every new client who purchased from us the week before.
  • Each of these new clients will be sent a special offer that I devise whether that be a gift certificate, simple letter telling them about our services and lines offered or a combination of each.
  • Personally, I put an expiration date on each a month out so that the customer has time to use it and not feel overly rushed back in.
Please take the time to track the return of these customers to your store as well so you’ll know how effective your marketing has been.  Let me also say this, you can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like with this.  I’ve seen jewelers use simple gift certificates they’ve printed from their own computer using Microsoft Word or Publisher and I’ve seen fancy colored brochures and guess what… I’ve seen both be very effective at getting the customer in for a repeat sale!
If you’d like to see what I’m currently using to drive new customers back in my store, I’d be willing to share it with you.  Simply drop me an e-mail requesting my new customer brochure at: goldman86@bellsouth.net  and I’ll e-mail a PDF file for you to see and get some ideas for starting your very own “New Customer Welcome Pack”. Trust me… this works and you’ll reap huge dividends from it! 
Now, my prescription for you is, don’t let this idea sit around for long. Do it today because your store’s profit line will thank you tomorrow!

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Modeling" for Success


Thinking back to your childhood, you probably remember those special people who occupied “Hero Status” in your mind.  My personal favorites were usually Marvel Comics’ characters such as Spiderman and Iron Man. Undoubtedly, you had yours.  As you got older, you found those certain people that you looked up to as Role Models. Perhaps you patterned your dress, speech, habits and ethics after these people.  This in its simplest form is what is known as “Modeling.”
How can Modeling help someone in the jewelry industry?  Modeling comes from the neurolinguistic field which borrows somewhat from hypnosis.  It says that if you can pattern after your hero as a young person, then you can Model the habits of people, companies or industries now. 
Maybe you’re a bit like me - a people watcher at heart.  You see, I often study the habits of successful jewelers and the companies they operate.  Yes, success most definitely leaves clues and it’s up to you and me to find and Model it!
I would suggest that as sales people we look to the example set by other sales people and follow it.  In my career, Ralph Timmerman of Camelot Bridal has been a great Model of success for me and is one “Sharp Cat” I often try to emulate in my sales approach.
As companies go, you and I probably started our own retail jewelry stores because we wanted the degree of freedom afforded one who owns their own company, plus all of the other perks that go along with it.  That being said, I think it’s time each of us independents take a look at the marketing operations and methods of such jewelry chains as Kay’s & Zales. Don’t have a cow!!!  I’m not suggesting you lose your Independent Jeweler identity and start copying what the majors are doing, but at least take a look at them and see if there is something you could learn and Model.
Yes, the major jewelry chains drive demand and styles in our industry, and in a way, I’m very thankful to them for it.  How many of you have piggybacked items in your own inventory that the major players have made popular? How many of you have made lots of money because of the trends formed and pushed by these major players? 
Amazingly, for all their faults, the major chains have a great many things we could learn from and Model.  They got to be major chains for a reason didn’t they?  Here’s a list of suggestions for you to consider, Model and implement in your jewelry store:
  • Go to one or many of the major chain’s websites and sign up for their weekly/daily e-mails.  Watch how they market to you. They’re pretty sharp, and I’m sure you’ll find more than one idea you can use in your e-mail marketing!  (You do e-mail your customers, right?)
  • Visit a successful independent jeweler in a different area and see if they’ll let you look over their shoulder a bit. Model the good ideas you find.
  • Join a mastermind group to find new and fresh ideas to Model.  I’m currently a member of five groups, three of which are jewelry specific and the other two include retailers of all types.  Often I’ve discovered the best ideas in groups such as these, and best of all, these groups are dedicated to the success of their members.
  • Lastly, visit one of the chain stores to see how they price point their jewelry and how their counter displays look.  You might also want to take a look at store layout. The big boys spend lots of money studying this and it wouldn’t hurt to Model this for ever increasing benefit in your store.
So there you have it!  Think about the things written above and let them sink in.  Then pay a visit either online or in person to a few places and see what ideas you can Model in your store today!
"til next time,
Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)