Promotions: the Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent

There’s much more to a successful promotion than donating a piece of jewelry to a local charity. For a promotion to make an impact and have a chance to earn an adequate return on investment, it needs publicity value and should merit a radio, print, and direct-mail campaign. Involve your sales associates. They should talk up the event, make phone calls, write e-mails, and send personalized note cards with the particulars weeks in advance. The personal touch is critical in selling the affair and making sure your customers make time in their Day Planners and Outlook Calendars.

Use an ad campaign to create elbow room in your retail sector. A flight of radio commercials the week before the event is an excellent way to give a sense of importance, as well as excitement, to the promotion. Never underestimate thevalue of a live remote right from the store with the radio station’s van parked prominently outside. A few offers of free products or services—like steam cleaning engagement rings, checking the prongs on tennis bracelets, or giving a bottle of jewelry-cleaning solution (with your store name printed on the label)—provide ample enticement to drive foot traffic to the store during the promotion.

Send a postcard to the customers on your mailing list. If the event is big enough, rent some lists and send cards to prospective customers, too. If it involves a local charity—and it should—work with the organization to write a news release and have the charity send it to local media. Invite a TV news anchor to serve as guest host of the event and outfit the person with some of the jewelry you’re promoting. He or she should wear it on air during the week of the event.

Although only a small percentage of the people you reach with messages about the event will come to the store, you’ll make a positive impression that you’re an active, positive force in the community. The event will have legs for months to come in terms of consumers’ awareness and their “intent to purchase” indices. (Be sure to conduct research on store awareness and image pre- and post-event.)

Jewelers Harvey and Maddy Rovinsky, of Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have 10 stores, and promotions drive their business calendars all year. “I can’t afford to advertise just in the fourth quarter, because of all the other competitive noise,” says Harvey Rovinsky. “Promotions for our stores raise our profile and create a year-round dialogue with our customers. I do not wait for vendors to come to me with trunk shows. I have people on staff that do nothing but develop advertising and public relations activities for my store promotions.”

Maddy adds, “Hardly a month goes by that we are not doing several promotions, often moving the event from one store in Marlton, N.J., one day to another store in Bucks County, Pa., the next. This creates efficiency and excitement amongst our sales staff and provides a measure of effectiveness, be-cause we never stop testing these activities for their responsiveness. Our managers now compete to outdo each other with the same event. It reinforces our sense of teamwork and cooperation.”

A roster of promotions provides more reasons for your customers to come in, talk with you, and see the jewelry you’re excited about carrying. Events, when properly promoted and coordinated, will energize your staff and create a morepositive selling environment. Finally, when the all-important fourth-quarter holidays roll around, you’ll already beahead because of your earlier promotional efforts. If you build your holiday communications on a year’s worth of dialogue and interactivity, you won’t be just another voice crying for attention.