Smart Marketing Moves

Storeowner John Michaels, Michaels Jewelers, Waterbury, Conn., recently ran a marketing promotion that spawned a lot of foot traffic and sold a lot of jewelry. He advertised that if it snowed more than three inches on Christmas Eve at the Tweed Airport in New Haven, he would refund purchase amounts to all shoppers within a specific three-day period before Thanksgiving.

As Christmas Eve neared and the likelihood of snow grew, so did publicity, though the set shopping period had expired. “We had some people call two or three days before Christmas saying they wanted to buy things because they’d read the weather report,” he says. “It was like playing the lottery in how disappointed you can be when you don’t win. It was a lot of fun.”

And just like the lottery, sometimes there are big winners: “I understand there was a car dealer who did the same thing, and he ended up giving people all the money back for the cars they bought.”

Though it didn’t snow on Christmas Eve, Michaels’s promotion hit the front page of three local papers: Just 12 hours after the deadline expired, four inches of snow covered the airport. “We would’ve given away $900,000,” he says.

Michaels advises jewelers interested in this type of promotion to schedule a three-day period for shopping, pick a category of weather—rain, snow, or even a particular temperature—for a specified metric to occur at a later date, and get a weather insurance policy to cover the event. “Search for an insurer who deals in ‘weather insurance’ if your broker or insurance carrier can’t help you,” he advises. The insurers help you set an appropriate metric and location for your area, such as Michaels’s three inches of snow at the nearby airport. Lastly (and obviously), promote the venture in your community.