The Marketing Mix

It never ceases to amaze me that, for the most part, the marketing sophistication of the jewelry industry at the manufacturing level is at best primitive. From mid-February until the third week of May, JCK magazine’s phones ring off the hook with phone calls from desperate manufacturers trying to gain entrance to the JCK Las Vegas Show. They promise anything—never-ending advertising in the magazine, the best dinner in Las Vegas—if only JCK will help “get them into the show.”

The JCK Las Vegas Show has become an important part of the marketing mix for jewelers and manufacturers. Last year more than 22,000 people who buy product from over 7,000 companies came to Las Vegas to do business. This year we expect the numbers to be higher—not because trade show organizers always report increases over the prior year’s show, but because of the soft Christmas selling season and the lackluster first quarter of 2001.

The spring 2001 shows were all quiet. Retailers had plenty of merchandise carried over from Christmas, and now that inventories have been analyzed, many realize they have the wrong merchandise carried over as well. Planning for Christmas 2001 must begin in earnest now and be implemented in June. The wisdom of the adage “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” is especially true this year. Manufacturers need to know what retailers want for the fourth quarter, and they can’t wait until September to find out—there’s no time to react if their factories are swamped in September. A level production cycle is their target.

Manufacturers who can’t attend the show know their job is more difficult. Selling on the road is expensive, time consuming, and more dangerous. But it can be done. Unfortunately, so many in the manufacturing community approach the marketing of their products in only one dimension: trade shows. They confuse “marketing” with “selling.” The concept of the “Marketing Mix” refers to all of the marketing planning elements a business uses to get its product to the consumer. It is the efficient use of budgeted dollars relative to sales revenue—typically 3% to 5% of sales. When it’s time to allocate this money, you must prioritize your expenditures from most important to least important and distinguish the “must-do’s” from the “nice-to-do’s.” Here are a few things to keep in mind: Retailers and consumers buy product from firms they know and trust. Breaking through the clutter of competing advertising claims is a challenge, but identifying your target audience will help determine what media to use. Despite many representations to the contrary, both at JCK and elsewhere, this is not a consumer-brand business in the traditional sense. It is the retailer—not the manufacturer—who lays claim to brand identity at the local level.

Message consistency is crucial. From business cards to promotional literature and advertising, the firm’s unique selling proposition must be consistently maintained. Consistency in terms of frequency—getting the message across to the consumer—is also essential.

These are important issues for every business, both retailer and manufacturer. Many options are available: trade advertising, consumer advertising, Internet, catalogs, direct mail, trunk shows, newspaper, radio, trade shows. Too often, it’s simpler to put these questions aside and not think about them and just go to the Show.

But this year is different. And now is the time to think about how you market your products … and whether your firm is effectively using the Marketing Mix.

fdallahan@cahners.com