Slow and Steady Wins the Marketing Race

Speed dating it’s not. Take time to woo customers and sales will follow.

To many jewelers, marketing is all about generating the sale. And that’s understandable: Without sales, there is no business. But many retailers are guilty of seeking a sale before they’ve built a strong relationship with customers.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When you last bought something, did you buy from a business you knew, or from one you didn’t? If it was the latter, you likely went through a series of subconscious checkpoints to evaluate the business prior to purchase.

Of course, that depends on the value of what you’re buying; a stick of gum or a tank of gas doesn’t require a lot of soul-searching. But bigger items do. The time spent evaluating the decision is directly related to the cost and significance of the decision being made.

Is the item genuine? Is it priced competitively? Can the seller be trusted? Most buyers hesitate over fear of making the wrong choice; this is as much a reflection of the seller as of the item.

Because jewelry is often a larger-ticket item, the time a customer spends evaluating the store is probably as high as in any other field. Yet most stores tend to focus marketing efforts on attracting more customers rather than strengthening their existing relationships.

At a typical store, most ­marketing is focused on product pushes: ­catalogs, advertisements—anything that gets items in front of customers. But smart retailers know if the customer is evaluating the offer and the store, there are two barriers to the sale. If the store relationship is already firmly established, the only issue becomes the product.

Think of it as a first date. Would you go in for a kiss after five minutes? Of course not—you’d probably get slapped! Instead, you spend time building trust and understanding over two or three (or more) dates to reach a point where the kiss comes naturally for both parties. The longer the relationship builds, the more the trust develops, and greater permissions are sought and granted.

Social media has done more to push ­jewelers to connect with clients than traditional media. But the one area that makes relationship-­building easy is too often neglected: email marketing.

Stores that focus on email lists usually aim for quantity. Yet quality is even more important. You’d do better to have a list of 500 active buyers than 5,000 who don’t buy at all. With modern email programs, it’s simple to ease new customers into the system with a series of automated welcoming messages.

One of the most valuable features your ­website can have is an email capture form, with an incentive to join. The average site converts only 1 to 2 percent of its visitors, but if you can capture 5 to 10 percent of email addresses, you have a chance to get in front of those people again and build their trust in your store.

The ideal email marketing program initially focuses on giving to customers rather than taking (their money). A $20 sign-up voucher is a good start; if you can follow this with free information, advice, and other no-cost offers such as a free ring cleaning, you’ll go a long way toward establishing a relationship.

Most people won’t unsubscribe from an email list that offers free or low-cost benefits. With automated programs such as AWeber and MailChimp, it’s easy to make sure customers have a positive initial experience that requires no effort from you once emails are set up. Once this relationship is established over three to five emails, it’s a lot easier to make product offers. Then you can gain customers’ permission to gather information about their preferences, so you can target your marketing even more efficiently. Always cultivate your relationships for the long term—the payoff will be well worth it.

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