Building an Identity for Your Store

Relationships are a key element in this industry. A successful store is built upon relationships with consumers, and these relationships are based on trust. Trust is a function of personal reputation, fair and truthful dealing, and good communication with present and potential customers.

Two jewelers near my home exemplify the kind of trust needed to succeed. Both stores have tapped into the concept that this business is truly different. They’ve developed local brand-building tools to help them differentiate their operations from those of other jewelers in the area.

Barry DiNola is the owner of Yardley Jewelers in Bucks County, Pa. For many years, he has sent a newsletter to his customers. It’s a simple, personal, chatty, informative four-page publication that’s fun to read. It provides useful information on a current issue in the trade, such as diamond quality, synthetic vs. natural gemstones, or enhancements.

Barry, who recently reopened his store after a devastating fire (see “The Long Road Back: Lessons from a Disaster” in our May issue), also uses the newsletter to promote anything new in the store. The last edition, for example, reported a special selling event featuring antique and period jewelry. An invitation was issued to encourage readers to see the classic pieces for themselves and consider them for an anniversary, birthday, or Mother’s Day present.

Barry’s personality and enthusiasm flow from the newsletter. It’s an effective, personal, low-cost link not only to existing customers but also to potential new ones. That’s because people who receive the letter pass it along or chat about it with friends, relatives, and neighbors. It generates the best kind of advertising a store can have—word-of-mouth.

The newsletter also differentiates Barry’s store from competing ones, particularly the mall stores. How many mall stores send out newsletters inviting you to meet the owner’s wife (in this case Mary Jane DiNola, the key salesperson at Yardley)?

The second retailer is David Craig Jewelers of Langhorne, Pa. Over the years, David and Deborah Rotenberg built David Craig Jewelers into a successful business the usual way—by working hard, carrying good lines of merchandise, and keeping popular items in stock. Lately they’ve added something new: a brand-building campaign. It takes the form of billboard advertising on an interstate highway in Bucks County. It’s not your expected billboard ad, either. Instead of co-marketing with a famous brand like Rolex, it features a huge photograph of David and Deborah. The unique—and irresistible—headline is, “Have We Met?” Of course, the store’s distinctive logo is also there.

The message here is focused on the people at the store—not the name and not the products sold. After all, everyone knows what jewelers sell, so why not tell them something else? Tell them a friendly couple await their visit. Has the message been successful? You bet. Sales are way up, and the Rotenbergs will be adding six or eight more billboards next year. And they’ll foot the entire bill. They’ll continue shunning co-op.

DeNola and the Rotenbergs can teach jewelers everywhere a valuable lesson. That lesson is to expand your use of advertising beyond the usual promotion of products. Use it also to build brand identity in your local market. It’s fun, it’s effective, and it just may be crucial to your survival in the years ahead.

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