R.F. Moeller Jeweler Discovers YouTube

As jewelers increasingly turn to inexpensive Internet marketing, social networking Web sites like My Space, Facebook, and Twitter are becoming part of the promotional mix. YouTube, an Internet video site that allows people to watch video clips that have been uploaded by others, is also proving valuable.

Last year, Mark and Bob Moeller, of R.F. Moeller Jeweler, put all marketing online. Mark, the owner of three stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, cut his $700,000 marketing and promotions budget in half by eliminating print and radio ads.

“We’re primarily a bridal jeweler,” says Mark. “When we ask bridal customers if they’ve been researching products on the Internet before coming in the store, about 90 percent say yes, and I think that’s a conservative number.”

The move to online marketing and promotions started a few years ago when the Moellers recognized the merits of networking Web sites such as Plaxo and LinkedIn. But the Moellers soon discovered that Facebook, My Space, and Twitter had more viral marketing potential with rich content such as YouTube-quality videos that can be uploaded to work and personal accounts.

This year the Moellers will dedicate 25 percent of their promotional work to these Web sites, primarily YouTube. (Each of their YouTube videos cost around $1,000 to produce.) They plan to double that in 2010.

The YouTube initiative began late last year when Mark produced and up-loaded a Christmas video. Loosely based on It’s a Wonderful Life, the clip received over 8,000 unique views. Encouraged, Mark invested in a new digital camera and sound equipment before producing the first two of 12 bridal-related videos scheduled for monthly release throughout 2009.

“The Skeptical Customer” and “The Five Stages of a Wedding Engagement” were far more successful in terms of viral marketing potential than the Christmas video. In keeping with their policy of using unusual and unexpected humorous situations or double entendre to educate and entertain, “The Skeptical Customer” video featured local radio personality Tom Mischke playing an Elvis-like advisor to a male bridal customer. To date this video has received over 1,500 unique views on YouTube. Mark upped the content ante with his wedding engagement video. Playing on the five stages of grief, Mischke portrays a man going through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance of his engagement. Near the end of the video, viewers are stunned to learn that the man’s idea of the perfect bride-to-be is a scantily clad dominatrix with a riding crop.

The tagline “When you’re whipped, you’re whipped,” with the store’s logo at the bottom of the frame, closes the YouTube video, which drew more than 9,000 unique views on YouTube in less than three weeks.

“If it’s not a little over-the-top, people won’t want to watch it,” says Mark. “You have to be provocative, but don’t be smutty or tasteless … and it needs to be funny. Humor is something that has to have legs, a video people will want to watch over and over and pass on to their friends.”

With more than 65,000 videos uploaded to YouTube each day, the Moellers needed to give theirs a viral marketing boost. Their monthly e-newsletter, which goes out to 10,000-plus customers, includes links to the videos.

The Moellers are also exploring video links with e-mail tagging and possibly linking to their social networking Web sites from the company’s main corporate Web site. For now, YouTube links are sent by e-mail or as WMV file attachments to members of their offline professional networking groups and are uploaded to provide rich content to Mark and Bob’s online social networking Web sites.

The Moellers admit that they’ve only tested the virtual waters. But an early mark of success came in March with a Ladies Night Event promoted entirely by electronic methods. “Roughly 250 women showed up for the event,” says Bob. “Of that we directly attributed two to Twitter and 16 to Facebook.”