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Best of the Best: Going After the Guys

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[dropcap cap=C]hristopher William Jewelers in Weyers Cave, VA, is a destination store in what owner Christopher Simonetti calls a very, very small town. When Simonetti shifted his marketing from conventional (Yellow Pages) to viral (Facebook and Google) in 2008, he watched his bridal-jewelry sales take off, and it gave him a very, very big idea. — EILEEN MCCLELLAND [/dropcap]

[componentheading]The idea [/componentheading]

[h3]Build a Network for Grooms [/h3]

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Simonetti, 40, decided to go after the guys by starting a second business – a national, social-networking site, WhereToGetEngaged.com, in which jewelry retailers and wholesalers connect easily with grooms, who want to research diamonds online before even calling a store. The groom can initially shop in stealth mode. “This generation is not going to the phone book; they are going right online,” Simonetti says.

[componentheading]The execution [/componentheading]

[contentheading]The $95 Plan [/contentheading]

The groom can launch his own profile page on the site, where the bride can join him after the ring has been purchased and continue to plan the wedding on a couples page. Couples add their stories, proposal details, photos and videos to share with their wedding guests. Simonetti’s popular blog is also on the site, including the weekly dance watch – videos of wedding guests trying out often hilarious dance moves. Jewelry retailers and other consumer vendors, such as florists and restaurants, can participate for free, or can sign up for a premium membership for $95 a month, complete with video capability and search priority. Participating wholesalers can buy a package that includes a profile page, banner ads and referrals to stores that carry their brands. The whole idea is to use viral marketing to drive more engagement-ring shoppers into brick-and-mortar stores. The site has linked to more than 5,200 retailers throughout the U.S., and each state has its own domain.

[componentheading]The reward [/componentheading]

[contentheading]More Sales and a New Business [/contentheading]

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“We’re up 25 percent this year and it’s all bridal. Engagements are recession-proof,” Simonetti says. “And every jeweler in the country can tell you that they’ve rarely sold an engagement ring at a bridal show or through a bridal guide — because they aren’t for guys. We are going after the guy. A lot of manufacturers focus on bridal magazines, but no guy has ever walked into my store with a Martha Stewart Wedding Book.”

Having a strong online presence inspires customer confidence, Simonetti says. And having an established store to back that up seals the deal and blows away the dot-com competition. Simonetti says his store has a 90-percent close rate.  Meanwhile, wheretogetengaged. com is a completely separate business with a development staff of 10

[componentheading]Do It Yourself [/componentheading]

While not every jeweler is looking to launch an entirely new, second business, let Simonetti’s story inspire you to get creative when it comes to social networking and using the Internet.

Go after the guy:
[list class=bullet-4][li]Cater to grooms in your community by providing them with easy access to information about engagement-ring shopping on your website.  [/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li]Open up communication with customers. Ask brides and grooms to share their funny videos with you, and link to them on your website.   [/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li]Don’t wait for customers to walk through your door. At the very least, give them a call or send them an e-mail to talk up your expanded online presence.  l Start your own blog, if you’ve been putting it off, to share your customers’ wedding and engagement stories, and to offer grooms-to-be tips on getting engaged.  [/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li]Stress to your staff the importance of making connections through social media. Walk them through it,
if it’s still a foreign concept.  [/li][/list]
[list class=bullet-4][li] Consider trying out wheretogetengaged.com for free.[/li][/list]

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[h2]Lining Up Suppliers: [/h2]
Since the site launched in June 2009, Simonetti has contracted with 15 manufacturers, including: A. Jaffe, Alisa Unger Designs, Benchmark, David Levy, Gemoro, Hearts On Fire, Jabel, Jewels of Ocean, Kirk Kara, Mastoloni Pearls, Ritani, Saturn Jewels, Tacori, TARA Pearls and Verragio

[span class=note]This story is from the January 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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