“In our market, we own daily print advertising.”
Rex Solomon, president
THE PAPER CHASE: Our approach to print advertising changed in 2008 when we wanted to promote our gold buying. In December of that year, we placed an ad for gold buying and told the newspaper rep to call the next month. The response was favorable, and we’ve been advertising in the daily ever since. Our main independent competitor has stopped daily advertising—as have many retailers in our market.
IF YOU PRINT IT, THEY WILL COME: In addition to frequency and consistency, print advertising must have a sense of urgency and a call to action. For the last two years, we’ve run a single 1/4-page ad on our one-day, after-Christmas sale when all jewelry is 75 percent off. We’ve done $250,000 in sales both years. People understand when there is a real deal and will respond.
SUPER BOWL SCORE: This year we held a Super Bowl party. We put a 1/4-page ad in the local paper promoting our one-day, 70 percent off all jewelry sale. As luck would have it, Super Bowl Sunday landed on Feb. 7—the week before Valentine’s Day. We did $30,000 with 25 transactions that day. To put it in perspective, the Saturday before the party we had a $5,000 day.
A Houston Jewelry holiday ad
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: A light-colored font on a black background is more eye-catching. The logo is always in the same place, and page placement is almost always right-hand position above the fold. And I always have a catchy headline. Humor appeals to men who buy jewelry for their wives and girlfriends.
THE DIRECT (MAIL) APPROACH: At the end of November we hold a trunk show. Handwritten and hand-stamped invitations are sent out. If you make the message stealth and present it in a way that has a high perceived value, you’ll get a better response.
TV, ONLINE, AND BEYOND: About 70 percent of my promotional budget is dedicated to print. But we are paying attention to other media. We have some new TV ads that reinforce our message—they’ve even won some Telly Awards. That content is transferred to YouTube and Facebook, which helps people find Houston Jewelry on popular search engines and adds rich content to my social media websites.
“We want to be where people are paying attention.”
Donald Smith, co-owner, president, marketing director
E.M. Smith Jewelers
OUT OF PRINT: There are so many ways to get news these days with the Internet and cable news. Only traditional newspaper readers are reading the paper, and that’s not a big audience. Five to seven years ago we had three to four [print] ads a week. Now we only advertise in newspapers for special events. In recent years we pared that down mainly to Christmas, but last December I ran zero ads in the paper.
MAKING CONTACT: For the last two to three years we’ve been focusing on data mining. The more current and detailed the database, the better we can use tools such as Constant Contact with e-mails, video e-mails, and e-newsletters. Facebook has become huge for us, with nearly 6,000 fans. The key is keeping it light and fun. I’ve even taken on an animated-character persona: “Big Donny,” a big brown bear.
THE TECH EFFECT: The neat thing about this new technology is it puts small businesses on an even playing field. You don’t have to have a lot of money to make it work for you. But you always have to be looking for the latest technology, which isn’t easy. If you can keep up, there are many business growth opportunities to realize.
MILESTONE MOMENTS: One direct mail campaign we won’t give up is sending birthday and anniversary cards with $50 gift cards. Each month it costs me about $1,200 to $1,500 in printing and mailing costs, or roughly $1.50 each. On average, 200 to 250 cards are redeemed. Everyone wants to be in our database to receive the gift card.
FEWER ADS = MORE PROFITS: This year I’ve gone cold turkey on a lot of things, including print, TV, and radio. Normally we spend about 5 to 7 percent on advertising. At this point of the year, I’ve spent less than half the amount I normally spend by summer. From February to May this year, we’ve saved $100,000 and sales are up 10 percent compared with the same period last year.