A conversation with Gemstone Digital’s Josh Hoffman
Los Angeles–based digital marketing consultant Josh Hoffman grew up in the jewelry business—his father, Joseph Hoffman, is a national sales rep for jewelry brands.
And it was Joseph who first floated the idea of his son applying his marketing know-how to the independent jewelry retail landscape—retail entreprenuers who need help with their digital presence and marketing.
After much discussion, the father and son launched Gemstone Digital, a consultancy for jewelry retailers that specializes in creating and implementing impactful digital strategies, this year. The firm currently consults with more than 150 jewelry businesses.
Josh says, “Literally, not a single one had a digital marketing strategy before we started working with them.”
We asked him to share his thoughts on what makes for a good digital strategy—and what building and maintaining one really entails.
JCK: What led you to believe there was a need for a consultancy like Gemstone?
Josh Hoffman: As you know, social media is ever-changing. To give any small business a strategy and expect them to keep up with new trends…they just can’t. We are the eyes and ears for them. We also send out a weekly email with news and guidance.
What did people think a digital strategy is?
They think that a website and maybe a blog and maybe SEO and maybe a Facebook or Instagram page is marketing and digital marketing. It’s that, ‘if you build it, they will come’ thing. And that’s just not the case.
What steps do you take with clients when you’re building a strategy?
We correct that ‘if you build it’ perception—and first we talk about what is marketing in general. The definition of marketing I adhere to is ‘the process of establishing relevence in people’s lives before they are ready, willing, and able to buy what you are selling.’
I call it the cycle of relevance, which basically means that there’s a process that has to take place in the average consumer’s mind. It goes from becoming aware of a business and its services to recognizing what they do to becoming interested and developing trust and a belief that that service or company is for them. Then it just comes down to timing. When they are ready, willing, and able, then you become the default. It’s top-of-mind marketing.
What is the easiest and most cost-effective way to do this? Without a doubt, it’s digital marketing. Most independent jewelers can’t afford newspaper ads or radio ads. Online is so much more affordable. Facebook, which has the biggest and most robust advertising platform in the history of advertsing, is important. Email is still important.
What most people don’t realize about social media is that it gives you access to people’s pockets every day. That’s the key thing here, you can literally play a role in people’s daily lives by being in their in-box.
How do you advise clients on what to post and advertise online?
Lots of people think posting a few pictures of product on social media is digital marketing, and it’s just not. No one cares. What people care about its what those products represent. A ring is symbolic of something bigger and better. And that is what content for jewelers should be—that bigger and better. Those are the themes that jewelers should be paying attention to and embedding in their content.
We always recommend jewelers really hone in on the theme of love. So if you’re in Los Angeles, promote what it means to be in love in Los Angeles. Talk about the best places to go on a date, the best restaurants to celebrate an anniversary. It gives people really interesting and relevant information in your area. And if you include other businesses in your posts, they are going to share that post, and you get seen by more people.
The strategy is one thing, but keeping up with content creation is ongoing—how do you advise clients to do that?
We don’t do any of the actual day-to-day management for two reasons: It would be too expensive for local jewelers, and we’re not local. I think you really need to be local. You need that person to be on the ground talking about local things. We actually offer a service where we go out and find, train, and hire a freelancer in the local area. We can usually find someone for around $700–$800 a month. This person will write all the content, manage all the social media accounts, and do the marketing.
And we’re always available as a resource and to update strategy. They can reach out to us for whatever they want. And they often do.
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