The Right Media

Not long ago, reputation and location were all that most jewelry-store owners needed to attract prospective customers. While these are still bedrocks for success, the jewelry world has become hypercompetitive with new Internet players and big box retailers entering the market. At the same time, the media landscape has become increasingly fragmented, with a proliferation of new channels such as satellite radio, podcasts, and online video available to entertain and inform consumers. As a result, it’s more critical than ever for independent retailers to take a hard look at their marketing approach and put in place a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure their brand is top of mind with consumers.

“A lot of jewelry retailers want to sit back and wait for the phone to ring or wait for somebody to walk through the door. But ours is a relationship industry,” says Chuck Lein, president of Stuller Inc. “Jewelers need to remind their customers that they’re there, what they have to offer, and how they offer a unique service. We also need to continually mine for new customers and to remind those we’ve dealt with in the past that we’re still there. Increased competition is going to happen in our industry just as it’s happening in other industries. It’s a matter of survival of the fittest. And those that survive will be those who are innovative and step up to the plate to try new things.”

One effective branding strategy is called “surround sound marketing,” which recognizes that consumers need to see or hear a consistent message multiple times before it sticks in their minds. Market research firm Marketing Evolution defines it this way: “Surround sound marketing is based on the premise that each medium, like each speaker in a surround sound stereo system, produces the greatest impact when it works in a coordinated fashion. With surround sound marketing, marketers can leverage media so that the effect of combined media is greater than what any one medium can produce.”

A successful surround sound strategy uses the optimal mix of media channels (TV, radio, Internet, outdoor, etc.), bringing them together in a coordinated way and maintaining consistent branding and messages throughout all the channels. According to Claudia Rose, the senior partner of industry planning for Diamond Promotion Service, “It’s really important for advertisers to reach consumers at all the important touch points. And every way they do that should all fit together.”

Jewelry retailers use a variety of marketing methods. According to TNS Media Intelligence, in 2006 most advertised in magazines and newspapers and used direct mail. A smaller but still sizable percentage maintained Web sites and placed ads in Yellow Pages, and a smaller number ran ads on television, radio, or billboards. But jewelers often use a shotgun approach, without consistent messages or strategic integration of the various advertising campaigns.

“I think a lot of the waste that we were experiencing in our marketing plan was a lack of focus,” says Brent Meade, owner of Gruno’s Diamonds, a 54-year-old, high-end jewelry store in Rockford, Ill. “We had a lot of different vendors coming in with ideas. The cable rep had one idea, the newspaper person had another, and we were using direct mail in a bunch of different ways. And we were so busy running our business that we weren’t able to take a step back, look at our opportunities objectively, and build an integrated strategy.”

Combining various advertising efforts provides powerful benefits. Throughout the day, people watch or listen to multiple forms of media. They might listen to the radio on the way to work, search the Internet during the day, and watch TV at night. In addition, people tend to respond differently. Some remember best through reading text, others through hearing sounds, still others through seeing images. Combining various types of media in your advertising helps ensure that your message will reach your target customer. Employing multiple media to deliver a consistent message helps imprint your brand in people’s minds and lead them to purchase from your store.

For independent jewelry retailers who don’t have a team of marketing experts at their disposal, developing a comprehensive advertising strategy can seem daunting. But armed with some basic knowledge, you can take a fresh look at your marketing plan and make smarter decisions for future campaigns. The following six tips will help you get started.

Conduct an analysis of your target customer. Ask questions like these: Who is the target buyer? Do most customers come from a radius of a couple of miles around the store or from many miles away? Which product lines are most popular? Where do they get their information from and when?

Assess previous ad campaigns. What types of advertising have been effective in the past? What types of advertising haven’t worked in the past? Why didn’t they work?

Review the media options in your area. Figure out the best way to reach potential customers at different points throughout the day. For example, if your target customer likely drives her car to work during morning rush hour, consider radio and billboard advertising. If she enjoys fashion and entertainment, consider TV advertising in the evening on networks like E! and Bravo. If she spends a lot of time online, consider Internet advertising or search engine marketing.

As a rule of thumb, consider employing at least three types of media. For example, you could use television, outdoor, and search marketing. Choose the ones that are most credible and influential with customers.

Define your objectives for each campaign. You also must establish a way to measure the results, for example, increased foot traffic or phone calls or higher revenues for the month.

Approach every campaign with a “test and learn” attitude. It always takes some trial and error to find the best media mix for each business, but you can get a head start by educating yourself. Many Web sites offer valuable tips and information, including www.spotrunner.com/jewelry. If you still don’t feel that you have the expertise to do it on your own, then call in the experts. You may consider hiring a full-time marketing manager, a part-time independent consultant, or an ad agency. Just be sure the experts you engage have the right experience in developing marketing campaigns for luxury retailers and a good grasp of the jewelry industry.