Newspaper Ads That Work

If you’re like most jewelers, you find that coming up with a newspaper ad is about as much fun as having a root canal. You know you need an ad, but you’re uncertain about what to say in the copy and how to say it. You may also have experienced that gnawing feeling of not knowing whether your investment will pay off. Tracking sales and profits that may result from the ad seems impossible.

Fortunately, there are some straightforward answers to all these concerns. I’m going to share them with you here.

The problem with image ads. The main reason you don’t know whether or not an ad is paying off is that you’re running the wrong kind of ad. Here’s a typical one that might appear in a local newspaper:

This is known as an image ad. Its purpose is to “get your name out there,” to build awareness of your existence. The hope is that when a consumer is ready to buy jewelry, your store name will be lodged in her consciousness, and she’ll automatically come to you.

It works for Nike, Coke, and McDonald’s, so why shouldn’t it work for you too? Image advertising does work, but only when it’s repeated over and over—and not just in the newspaper, but also in nearly every conceivable mass medium: TV, radio, highway billboards, stadium scoreboards, point-of-purchase displays, you name it. Big companies also spend a lot on consumer and marketing research before launching image-building campaigns.

In other words, effective image advertising requires a huge budget. You also need lots of patience, because it takes time to build up an image. Jewelers running a one-time or even an occasionally repeated ad like the one shown at left—which is little more than a blown-up business card—don’t have to wonder whether it’s doing them much good. It’s not. It might motivate an occasional customer to come in, but any greater impact is highly unlikely.

Price-and-photo ads. Some jewelers realize this and use their ads to showcase a particular item of jewelry. Here’s an example:

This is a definite improvement. It’s bigger and much more likely to get noticed than the first ad. That’s the main hurdle. If your ad isn’t noticed, it doesn’t matter what you say in it. Furthermore, the jewelry photo will certainly help draw the eye.

But like most “price-and-photo” ads, this one has drawbacks. For starters, it’s got everything riding on the photo. Out of the thousands of possible jewelry pieces, you’ve picked one item you hope will be a big seller. People’s tastes vary, yet you’re hoping that this is the item that will pull customers in like moths to a porch light. Often the opposite happens. Somebody whose taste differs from yours will look at the piece and say, “They sure have ugly jewelry.”

The second problem with this ad is that, aside from the bracelet, there’s little to attract and hold attention. Like each newspaper and magazine article, every ad needs a headline. This ad doesn’t have one. The store name does not qualify as a headline. These do:

  • Seven Important Reasons to Visit ABC Jewelers

  • A Startling Fact About TV Shopping Channels

  • How to Acquire a Future Heirloom

Headlines are extremely important. They not only attract attention but also set the tone of the ad, tell the reader what’s in it for her, and help zero in on the type of consumer you want.

Moving down the ad, the next element is the tag line: Anytown’s Family Jewelers for 2 Generations. Now I’m sure that the Wilsons are very proud they’re a second-generation business, but why should anybody else care? People care only about what’s in it for them.

Jewelers often confuse a tag line with something much more powerful, what’s called a “unique selling proposition.” A unique selling proposition answers the question, “Why, out of all the options open to me, should I do business with you?” Most jewelers don’t have an answer, other than some vague cliché. Examples of effective unique selling propositions are: “The Tri-City’s Largest Selection of Colored Gemstones,” or “Your Repair Ready When Promised or It’s Free,” or “The Engagement Ring Specialists.”

Now consider the photo. The reproduction is poor. You can’t expect a reproduction of the quality you’re used to seeing in a jewelry magazine. The coarse halftone screens used on newsprint can’t do justice to your products. As a result, beautiful jewelry and sparkling gemstones look lifeless and dull. An ad layout that looks appealing on the art board usually disappoints you when you see it in the paper. All you can do is use the best-quality original photos possible and urge the graphics people to take proper care with your halftone production.

Now let’s examine the photo caption: 3 ct. t.w. Diamond Tennis Bracelet $799. A caption is important because it’s the first thing read after the reader scans the photo. This caption assumes consumers know what the initials “ct.” and “t.w.” mean. They don’t. Then the price is stated flatly, without any promotion. This caption misses an important selling opportunity. It would be much better to say, “Imagine the compliments you’ll get wearing this exquisite 3 carat (total weight) diamond tennis bracelet—an unbelievable value at only $799.”

At the bottom, the street address appears nice and big. But it’s unnecessary to run it so large. It would be better to use the space to refer to a helpful landmark (“Across from the First National Bank”) and add a phone number.

Putting it all together. But even with all these improvements, that will remain a mediocre ad. It needs a total make-over. Here’s a good example:

Now that’s a hard-working little ad. Actually, it’s too small for my taste. For most local media, you should be able to afford more space. In a busy paper, a tiny ad gets lost easily. Running at least a quarter-page raises your visibility a great deal.

Let’s examine this ad. The upper left-hand corner has the jeweler’s photo. I like that, because customers want to do business with people, not a faceless corporation. It gives readers the feeling they know you and turns your ad into a personal message. The “superhead” (I’ve taken all the fear…) is in your voice, and the headline (Why You’ll Love Jewelry Shopping at Wilson’s) engages readers and pulls them into the bullet points. The first three points highlight some of your significant competitive advantages and give people a reason to favor you with their business.

The last bullet makes a specific offer (in this case, it’s a free “Mystery Gift,” which could be a jar of jewelry cleaner, a small travel case, or something else appropriate to your store and marketplace). It also serves as a tracking device. Having people clip and bring the ad with them to redeem their gift allows you to determine if the ad is really pulling. If you’re running it in two or more papers at the same time, a little code or a wording change will enable you to compare the papers’ performance.

Finally, the identification section at the bottom is reasonably sized, small but readable. The small size doesn’t bother me. If you’ve done a good job with your headline, your unique-competitive-advantage points, and your offer, readers will get out a magnifying glass to find you. Running your logo and store name larger than shown only serves to feed your ego. Remember, nobody loves your logo as much as you. It’s the least important element of your ad.

There’s no one right way to create a powerful print advertisement. But while the rules aren’t cast in stone, following these guidelines will help you develop effective ads that pay for themselves many times over.

Victor Urbach is the founder and president of the Jeweler’s Marketing Resource Group in Mitchel Field, N.Y.

Advertising is Just the Beginning

Many jewelers believe “marketing” means little more than running an ad now and then. While advertising is an important part of the “marketing mix,” it’s a small component of a much larger sales-generating machine. The most successful jewelers I know have a “toolbox” of business-building strategies and use every one of them.

Ask 20 experts to define marketing and you’ll get 20 different responses. Here’s my definition: Marketing is everything you can do to get the cash register to ring. It starts with your “product.” I don’t mean just what’s in your showcases, but everything about your business: the appearance and physical aspects of your store, your location, your staff, your inventory, your service, and your policies. Every one of these elements will positively or negatively affect the marketing you do. No amount of brilliant marketing will make up for a lousy store presentation.

Assuming you’re offering fine product and running a tight ship, your biggest challenge is to get people in the door. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Develop a customer-referral program.

  • Hold promotional events at your store.

  • Do marketing joint ventures with other businesses.

  • Get “free” publicity through public relations campaigns.

  • Use direct mail.

  • Market on the Internet.

  • Start a frequent-buyer program.

  • Do database marketing.

  • Turn employees into “ambassadors” for your business.

  • Support charitable events.

  • Conduct seminars and give community talks.

While it’s unlikely that any one of these things by itself will take you where you want to go, each will contribute to your bottom line. Synergies will occur when you pursue a variety of them. Your key success factor will be developing a marketing mind-set and aggressively exploiting every promotional opportunity.

For more information, read my report, Marketing Secrets of a Multi-Million Dollar Jewelry Store. You can receive a free copy by calling the Jeweler’s Marketing Resource Group at (800) 837-8249. You can also request the report at or by writing “JCK Marketing Report” on your business card or letterhead and faxing it to (516) 621-0870.

“I’ve taken all the fear, worry, and confusion out of buying jewelry and turned it into a truly joyous experience.”

Why You’ll Love Jewelry Shopping at Wilson’s:

  • Original hand-crafted designs you won’t see everywhere else.

  • Full jewelry service and repair right in the store

  • You’ll be assisted by Jewelry Experts, not sales clerks.

  • Bring in this ad for a free “Mystery Gift.”

Wilson Jewelers, 123 Main Street (Under the Big Clock), Anytown, Tel: 555-0000 Open 7 Days a Week until 8 PM

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