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How to Market Jewelry During the Pandemic

The Covid-19 era has left retailers wondering how to advertise their products without appearing rude or insensitive. Consultant Phillip Bosen shares his tips for finding the right balance.

Aug 5, 2020 5:00 AM   By Leah Meirovich
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RAPAPORT... Is it appropriate for jewelers to market during the pandemic?

Yes, now is when jewelers need business the most. I think it’s the perfect time to increase marketing and market share. There are many jewelers that aren’t going to make it.

Should they advertise in the same way, or should they change their approach?

They should focus on making it more personal. In my experience, as long as you tie it to an emotion and a sentimental reason to buy jewelry, whether that be an engagement, an anniversary, a birthday, or even not killing each other during quarantine, I feel any of that would be helpful and well-received, and definitely not perceived as tone-deaf.

It’s easy to tie emotion to a new bridal or engagement line, but how can you do that with your regular collections?

Well, you’ve got to find a way, even if it’s celebrating getting through the pandemic or something like that. Give yourself a reward — you were homeschooling, working from home, getting your PhD in Zoom, etc. You deserve something for that, and I think that’s not to be ignored.

You can also market yourself, which is always appropriate and effective. Those that have a gemological degree, or multiple generations in the business, I think this is the time to build on that and establish that you are someone people can trust and rely on.

What should jewelers not do when it comes to marketing? What would absolutely turn people off?

You absolutely can’t be tone-deaf. Hard sells and things like status selling are probably not a great idea. I think you can sell status things, but don’t sell them as status, such as keeping up with the Joneses or being better than the Joneses.

I think there are also times people may think something is okay to say, but it can be perceived the wrong way. In my opinion, it’s always best to run all marketing past someone else. I would recommend creating a client advisory board, but even if it’s just a bunch of friends, or you offer to buy a few people a cup of coffee to sit down for 15 minutes and discuss your marketing ideas, feedback from someone else can be essential in letting you know if something you plan is in poor taste or out of line, or not as funny as you thought it would be.

Is it better right now to market only to regular clients, or should you market to everyone?

I would say maybe market 70% to your existing clientele, and 30% to potential new clientele in a very targeted manner. You should really have an avatar of what your dream client looks like. Every jeweler has their own demographic, and you need to really home in on who that is and market exactly to those people. That’s often through grassroots marketing: You go where they are, where they’re going, or contribute to causes they care about.

Would you use the same marketing for your regular client base as you would for that 30%, or should you change it?

I think you would market it differently. I think you would thank your existing customers for their ongoing support and loyalty, and of course what you’re partly doing there is hoping they will continue to give it to you. But then I think to the new 30%, you are going to tell a story. Tell them who you are, what you do, and what your unique selling proposition is.

Should you change the types of products that you market during this time, maybe highlight less expensive items given people’s financial situation at the moment?

I think you have to be true to who you are, and that’s more about the quality of product you sell as opposed to the price point. But if you do sell some quality products in lower-range price points, and you can highlight those in a tasteful way, that might be okay.

Is any type of marketing better than another at this time? For instance, is digital better than print, or vice versa?

I love it when people talk on video, because it’s more emotional. I think a 15- to 60-second video spot could be really powerful. I think it could even be more important than print, because it’s much easier to connect with customers on an emotional level when they can hear your voice and see your face. It could be as simple as the jeweler just saying something like, “Just because there’s a pandemic, it doesn’t cancel love. We wish you the best, stay healthy and happy, and if you need us, we’re here.”

Changing the Message: Retailers Weigh InCraig Underwood
Owner, Underwoods Fine Jewelers, Fayetteville, Arkansas

“We’ve run some special ads, warmer and more emotionally driven. The TV ad we’ve done is just a little bit more romantic and not as much product-driven.... The time just doesn’t feel right to be trying to push a product.”

Ed Menk
Owner, E.L. Menk Jewelers, Brainerd, Minnesota

“There are two ways of doing things: One is, ‘Poor me, come in and support me because I’m hurting.’ The other is, ‘Hey, we’re open, we’re here to serve you.’ The first one is very disagreeable to me, because everybody is in that situation. I prefer just to say, ‘I’ve been here for 41 years, I’ve been available to you, and I will continue to be available to you.’”

Kelly Newton
Owner, Newton’s Jewelers, Fort Smith, Arkansas

“I called our marketing team just as soon as we realized exactly how serious this was, and I said, ‘We have to back off the selling aspect, I want to change the message.’ So now we’re showing pictures of pretty things, and sometimes it’s just an American flag with a ‘stay healthy’ message. It’s been very generic, more messages to people than about things.”

George Fritz
Owner, Mills Jewelers, Lockport, New York

“Instead of regular marketing, we’ve had a lot of giveaways. One was to nominate a health-care worker that you would consider a hero, and we chose a winner at random and awarded them a bracelet of hope. For Mother’s Day, we had a contest asking granddaughters to tell us why their grandmother was so special. We’ve also done cross-promotions with a local restaurant where we put Easter eggs with prizes such as gift certificates or jewelry in takeout orders from the restaurant, and we’ve posted videos of women coordinating their masks with jewelry.”

This article was first published in the August issue of Rapaport Magazine. 

Images: A work desk (top); Phillip Bosen (right). (Shutterstock, Phillip Bosen)
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Tags: COVID-19, Craig Underwood, E.L. Menk Jewelers, Ed Menk, George Fritz, Kelly Newton, Leah Meirovich, marketing, Mills Jewelers, Newton’s Jewelers, Phillip Bosen, Underwoods Fine Jewelers
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