Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adapt or Die, The Choice is Yours...

Adapt or die - that’s kind of an abrupt title for an article isn’t it?  Before I get into the meat of this, let me digress for a moment.
Like many of you, I have a deep love for this industry and the independent jeweler.  Perhaps many of you just like me have watched this industry for almost 30 years or longer.  Its been an incredible ride in my own career, that’s for sure. 
When I entered the jewelry biz as a goldsmith’s apprentice in downtown Statesville, NC, the landscape was quite different than it is today.  Some called this time the “good ole days” or the Reagan “Glory Years.”  Things were easier then, that’s for sure!
I remember in the ‘80s when I could place a full page ad in our local newspaper with several sale items such as a gold nugget watch or ring, some diamond solitaire specials and a few other things.  The ad would hit on Wednesday and by Saturday our telephone would have rang off the hook and we’d have sold out of most the items. Yes, back then it was just that easy!
Nowadays, jewelers don’t have it so good.  Many report that newspapers no longer produce results, or at least most don’t (in some unique markets it still works).  One of the comments I most often here is, “What do I do now?  Newspapers don’t work like they used to, discount sales no longer work, what should I try?”  Maybe you’ve felt the same way.
You’ve probably found that it does take quite a bit more technique to make things produce like they should. Simply put, “Jewelers Must Adapt To An Ever Changing Marketplace or Die.”
You see, I’m afraid if many of our friends don’t try to adapt and change, they simply will not be here much longer.
It really pains me to see those who could have a thriving independent jewelry store simply wither away.  Why is this happening?  I think its because being creatures of habit, we (independent jewelers) are afraid to embrace new ideas, new marketing, new lines and in doing so, many are sealing their destructive fate.
Years ago, I stopped by to visit a dear friend and mentor of mine who is now departed, Bob Deitz of Salisbury, NC.  While visiting Bob, I kiddingly asked him about a line of pocketbooks he was carrying in his jewelry store. His answer even way back then, showed what a wise man Bob really was. He said, “Bill, I’ve learned to be happy with whatever makes my cash register ring!”  And let me tell you, this man knew how to make his cash register ring!  I miss you Bob.
I say all of that to say this: “What are you doing today that is different?  What new lines and innovative lines are you carrying today that you didn’t yesterday?  Are you experimenting with direct mail and your own instore customer mailing list?  You do have one, don’t you?  Have you tried social media?  Many report great success. I’ve had great luck with it for sure!  Are you standing still or are you moving forward?”
In our store the key to success has been:
  1. Using direct mail in the form of postcards, letters and other unusual devices loaded with special offers (not necessarily sales) to stay in front of our better customers.  We always send birthday & anniversary cards with a gift certificate and they work!
  2. Radio to push special events and new lines to keep Top of Mind Awareness.
  3. Social Media - Facebook in particular has been very important in cultivating young engagement ring clients.
  4. E-mail - capturing and using clients’ e-mail to send them weekly/bi-weekly info that is important, but also entertaining.... never dull!
  5. Billboards - I can’t begin to say how having a billboard in the right location with the right message has helped grow our biz!
  6. Telemarketing - yes, we call our customers regularly with announcements of special events or something as simple as, “Hey Mrs. Jones, I’ve got something in I think you’d like!”
The important thing is don’t give up!  Keep experimenting with merchandise mix and marketing until you find the combination that works for you.  Please don’t give up...your business depends on it!