Innovative Retailer: J. David Jewelry

You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma jeweler Joel David Wiland

Joel David Wiland hates paper. (It probably goes back to the days when he emptied the trash at a jewelry store.) So now that Wiland runs his own retail operation, he’s vowed to turn J. David ­Jewelry into a completely paper-free company. But banishing pulp products from the premises is just a small part of this cyber-savvy Oklahoman’s M.O.: Video marketing—from his store-made family-testimonial spots to customers’ flipcam-shot contest entries—is where Wiland truly excels. His biggest consumer-produced hit? Last year’s “Diamond Fairy,” which not only earned the winning entrant a 1 ct. diamond but has also garnered some 21,000 YouTube views. For Wiland, it isn’t a video unless it’s viral.

How did you come up with the diamond-giveaway video contest idea?

Two years ago I was watching the Super Bowl. The ads didn’t seem new or original until I saw Bud Light and Doritos doing customer videos. It would be hard to do it at that level, but with a giveaway we could generate enough interest to get videos to go viral. Of the 16-to-26 demographic, 18-to-22 is the most difficult to reach. Though they’re not buying diamonds at that age, I wanted the videos to leave a mark on them for when they’re ready.

You’ve got another video contest coming up—what worked well with “The Diamond Fairy” and what didn’t?

The first contest was a direct hit to our target demographic. In addition to doing well in our own market, everyone on a college campus 115 miles from here knows [the winning entry] “The Diamond Fairy”—it had 8,000 to 10,000 unique views on YouTube before the contest deadline. That kind of retention, especially with this age demographic, is unbelievable. But we received only seven entries. People decided not to enter because they thought “The Diamond Fairy” would be too hard to beat. This year we’ll give people more time to produce videos and upload them closer to the deadline.  

What’s the secret to success on YouTube?

It’s not about product. It’s about emotion. The better you communicate emotion, the more effective your message. I’ve produced two successful videos that used little to no product. One was a video of my family with the message that our family is all about serving yours. Not one piece of product was in that video. In another, we appealed to every possible demographic, highlighting the most significant ­jewelry gift-giving occasions. The product was there but was barely visible—the message was much more powerful. Also, the video contests are more targeted at younger audiences. This helps with our SEO numbers on YouTube. Amateur videos like “Baby Got Rock” and “Ring in a Box” had great fun with comical spins on rap and R&B classics. 

You’re taking a page from the Best Buy playbook by using Twitter to promote your sales team with an “Ask the Experts” ­feature. How’s it coming?

We’re going to equip six sales team members with iPads. They’ll do Twitter keyword searches such as diamond or how to buy a diamond and offer to help people. Even if those tweets are out-of-market, eventually someone from our market will conduct similar searches and find us. It’s all about planting seeds. Plus, we want to use the iPad on the sales floor. When retailers worry about competing with Internet pure players, bring those websites into the sales presentation—but not with a clumsy and awkward laptop people are afraid of breaking. With an iPad, a sales associate can get the conversation going and then let [the consumer] take over the presentation. It’s very empowering for the customer.

Okay…so why do you hate paper?

Paper produces clutter, waste, and storage problems. And fire hazards. My goal is to go completely paperless in the next two to three years, even with receipts. I plan on sending receipts to customers via e-mail. I can produce more detailed receipts with a variety of information—not just on the most recent purchase but past and potential future ­jewelry purchases as well. And electronic receipts give me a good reason to ask for an e-mail address. So I get more addresses in my database.

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