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Best of The Best

Best of the Best: ‘Live Wedding’ Promotion

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Bristol & Bragg Diamond Jewelers took their wedding bands to the airwaves.

[h3]Bristol & Bragg Diamond Jewelers; Maryville, TN[/h3]
Best of the Best: 'Live Wedding' Promotion[dropcap cap=I]n an election year, couple Dana White and Michael Powers embraced the spirit of democracy by placing the plans for their wedding day in the hands of the voters — in this case, the viewers of WBIR’s Style show in Knoxville, TN, whose votes decided the major details of White’s and Powers’ April 30th nuptials, even the wedding bands.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]THE IDEA[/componentheading]

Broadcast by NBC, Style is a popular lifestyles program available in most major television markets. One annual event that keeps the mostly female audience tuning in is a live spring wedding. This year, in the months leading up to the live wedding, audience members selected a couple they wanted to help “tie the knot.” In exchange the couple had to give up creative control of their big day, and let Style viewers make all the choices — from choosing a wedding cake to finding the perfect wedding rings.

Bristol & Bragg Diamond Jewelers was the jewelry sponsor of the event. “We were chosen [in part] for our Love Story ads we run in the local papers,” says Charity Thompson of Bristol & Bragg. “That connection with promoting romance is what, I think, helped our store to be chosen.”

[componentheading]THE EXECUTION[/componentheading]

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Best of the Best: 'Live Wedding' PromotionThe couple’s live wedding was the second such event for the Style show. Bristol & Bragg participated in both live weddings. Despite having some cold feet about the expense of the promotion (more than $6,000 the first year, more than $8,000 this year), store owner Starr Bragg and Thompson, her daughter, decided to take the plunge.

This year’s event did not go entirely smoothly. The honeymoon was over for the jeweler when they had only two weeks to produce the couple’s rings. To complicate matters, White’s engagement ring (received before the “live wedding” promotion) was a designer ring from another jeweler. “The audience ended up selecting a platinum wedding band set with princess cut diamonds,” Thompson said. To provide the right look for White, “we had to find three wedding bands that were not only a close style match to the designer engagement ring but they had to fit just right against the engagement ring as well.”  

Powers’ three wedding band choices were an easier decision. Bristol & Bragg used the opportunity to promote the store’s exclusive line of Bien wedding bands by B&N Jewelry. Says Thompson: “Once viewers selected the 5mm knife-edge platinum band for Michael, the company worked quickly to do a custom job for us in two weeks.”

[componentheading]THE REWARDS[/componentheading]

Image-wise, the promotion was a big winner for Bristol & Bragg. But those benefits did come at a cost. In 2003 the live wedding sponsorship outlays totaled $6,250 ($5,000 to the TV station and the cost of the rings). This year the same program cost more than $8,000. “We were surprised the price increased from year to year and no extra perks came with jump in fees,” says Thompson. “If we’re going to do this again next year, we plan on discussing price issues earlier on in the negotiation process.”  

As an event sponsor, Starr Bragg was asked to make an appearance on Style. “This year, Starr was on for about 15 minutes towards the end of one show in early March,” Thompson said. “She talked mainly about the jewelry itself and specifically how we chose each piece.”  

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Other image-boosting perks included frequent mentions in WBIR’s promotions of the live wedding as well as a direct link from the WBIR website’s Style section, where the live wedding event is highlighted in detail, to Bristol & Bragg’s homepage.  

Thompson can’t link any sales directly to the event, but says: “A lot of our customers said they saw the show. Being associated with the love story of the couple appealed to the show’s demographics, and their demographics are the same as ours. Plus, it was a feel-good event for us. Michael and Dana have a great story to tell. It was an honor to be involved in their special day.”

[span class=note]This story is from the July 2004 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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Best of The Best

Borsheims Shareholders Weekend Demands All Hands on Deck

Hospitality crucial, no matter the size of your trunk show.

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PLANNING A TRUNK show this fall? What if your trunk show involved 100 vendors, as many as 35,000 customers and 25,000 catered meatballs?

Borsheims in Omaha, NE, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, meets that challenge annually with an all-hands-on-deck approach when it opens its doors each May to all of the company’s shareholders who want to come.

The jewelry store plays host to a cocktail party on Friday night and a shareholder shopping day on Sunday. Both events spill into the mall, which is closed to the public, and into the parking lot. “We really look at this from a hospitality approach,” says Adrienne Fay, director of marketing and business sales. “We want to thank the shareholders for their loyalty and patronage.”

This year there were 100 jewelry, watch and gift vendors, some of whom brought in products for their trunk shows that wouldn’t be seen anywhere else in the U.S., Fay says. “You’ve never seen jewelry cases as packed as they are during Berkshire weekend. We call it our Christmas in May. We do a transaction every 11 seconds during the weekend.”

STAFFING

For weeks leading up to the event, job descriptions blur as every employee plays a role from helping with catering to managing vendors. They hire additional staff for the weekend, ask corporate staff to work the sales floor and bring in runners and cashiers.

“The last thing we would want to have is someone standing around and no one able to help them,” says Jaci Stuifbergen, who guides Borsheims’ experiential marketing. “Everyone involved is a representative of Borsheims, from those setting up a large tent to those providing food and beverages. We want every caterer to represent Borsheims well and have the same customer-focused mindset that we do the whole time they are here.”

ENTERTAINMENT

Even though it’s a private event, shareholders are under no obligation to buy jewelry. So creating the right customer experience is vital in this, as in any, event situation. “Whether it’s a regular trunk show or during this event, the thing we want to provide is a really great experience,” Stuifbergen says. “We know they could buy this jewelry from other stores or on the Internet, but what we have to offer are customer service and knowledgeable staff. Complimentary alcohol never hurts!” she says.

It might be the only chance to convert shoppers. “It’s such a destination store that for a lot of people, this is the only time in the year, or maybe in a decade, that they come here,” Stuifbergen says. They set up two bars and two buffet lines in the parking lot under the biggest tent they can rent. Sunday’s party often features Bershire Hathaway CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett playing bridge or table tennis with Bill Gates, Microsoft founder. There’s also a live band and a magician. On Friday night, the caterer serves more than 25,000 meatballs.

BRAND IDENTITY

The shareholders, who are Warren Buffett groupies, want to buy anything that’s affiliated with him, from pearl strands with his signature on the clasp and diamonds with his signature laser-inscribed inside to affordable gift products stamped with his face or the company logo. Last year, they used a custom etching machine to inscribe personal messages inside the diamonds while customers waited.

DEBRIEFING

Almost immediately after the event, everyone in the company is asked for input and feedback, which is compiled into a seven or eight page document and carefully analyzed. Feedback has led to changes like improved security and gift bags for vendors as a token of appreciation.

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Best of The Best

This Retailer Combined Diamonds with Donuts for a Sweet Event

Social media played a big role in drawing 50 new customers.

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DIAMONDS AND DONUTS are each desirable in their own right, but put them together and the combination proves irresistible. At least it did in April for customers of Bernie Robbins Jewelers, whose purchases hit seven figures in four locations over two days.

Owner Harvey Rovinsky said he had noticed “donut roll” events in other types of retail-store promotions and thought donuts would be a great draw to add to the Bernie Robbins promotional repertoire, which has included a Yoga Fest, a Chic at the Shore series of summer events and trunk shows, a student design contest and a high-profile Super Bowl ticket giveaway, along with a recent emphasis on social media, digital advertising and geo-fencing.

“We always want to do something that is different, unique, that people will talk about,” Rovinsky says. “In my mind, donuts go with everything, and they certainly go with diamonds. Because of what the marketing team put together, there was a story to tell besides this jewelry store and their diamonds. It was a way to make a jewelry store visit more fun.”

As it happens, the shape of donuts is even suggestive of a ring.

Integral to promoting the event was a “donut wall” for customer selfies, created entirely by the staff, who invited customers to decorate the donuts with bridal toppers.

Says Peter Salerno, digital-marketing manager: “The idea came in the form of having a part of the store that is more photogenic, something new and fun. Our sales staff used their own Instagram accounts to reach out to customers, and we also advertised on traditional digital platforms. It was a cool space, a departure from a typical jewelry store. It had interaction and on-site activation.”

Customers were invited to decorate donuts with bridal-themed toppers, adding to the in-store experience, during Bernie Robbins’ Diamonds and Donuts event.

The store also borrowed wedding gowns for display that the staff accessorized with diamond jewelry.

“We had champagne, flowers, and it smelled like a bakery,” says Cristin Cipa, director of marketing.

The sales event represented true value for customers, who shopped at up to 50 percent off for mountings, engagement rings and wedding bands, and saved up to 40 percent on a large selection of GIA-graded loose diamonds. Instant credit and interest-free financing added to the appeal of instant gratification.

While salespeople set up appointments in advance to ensure their best clients would visit, the promotion also lured 50 new customers over two days.

“We had cooperation from all of our staff — marketing, selling, support staff,” Rovinsky says. “We checked all of the boxes when it came to marketing and we did an enormous amount of clienteling. Sightholders sent us hundreds of thousands of dollars in diamonds for two days at great prices. It was a win-win-win — a win for our clients, for our salespeople and for Bernie Robbins.” The entire staff was given a bonus as a result.

As for timing, April is diamond month, Rovinsky says. “Is it a popular time for engagements? Who knows? But we made it into one.”

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These Ocean City Jewelers Bury Treasure in the Sand

Promotional event benefits children’s charity.

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JUST IMAGINE HOW cool it would be to associate your business with the most popular activity in your community.

In Ocean City, MD, the beach, of course, is the focal point. And Park Place Jewelers’ Atlantic Avenue store commands its own share of attention in its prime spot on the boardwalk.

Along with diamonds, bridal and high-end branded jewelry, owners Todd and Jill Ferrante offer a wide variety of sea-life and nautical jewelry, particularly in their beach location — everything from sterling silver souvenirs to an exquisite, one-of-a-kind diamond mermaid piece. “We have to appeal to everyone,” Jill says, since everyone walks past on the boardwalk, even kids looking for souvenir charms.

They support myriad charities, from Coastal Hospice and the American Cancer Society to the Worchester County Society. And they have immersed themselves in the community by supporting local charities, hosting an annual Treasure Hunt at the Beach, and setting up pop-up shops during renowned fishing tournaments. The Treasure Hunt at the Beach has raised $25,000 over seven years for a children’s charity.

Here’s how it works. Participants donate $20 for the chance to dig in the sand for buried treasure, and everyone is let into the fenced-off area at the same time. Treasure ranges from loose gemstones and finished jewelry to the grand prize of diamond earrings. The treasure itself is not on the beach — little black treasure bags containing a tag describing the prize are buried about 4 to 6 inches under the sand. Odds are good; a maximum of 100 participants dig for 50 prizes, some of which are donated by their vendors or sold to them at a discount.

Treasure hunters can use only their hands to dig; no shovels or rakes. “We don’t want to make it too hard for them,” Jill says. “But they tell us in some cases it’s the hardest workout they’ve ever had, moving sand around for 15 minutes or half an hour!”

“Participants love it,” Todd says. “Once you find one prize, you take your prize up to the store, give the tag to the sales associates and they give you the prize.”

If all the prizes aren’t located within about 30 minutes, Todd launches into a trivia contest for the few remaining prizes.

This is the kind of contest that promotes itself. It’s listed as one of the weekend events on the city’s website. “A lot of people check that website when they’re coming into town,” Todd says. “We’re usually sold out before Saturday even gets here.” The hunt takes place once on Saturday and once on Sunday. Participants must register in person and make the donation in advance. It’s covered by the local newspaper and TV stations. People can watch the hunt from their balconies.

The event initially had to be approved by the mayor and city council.

After five years, though, it was considered established and only an annual permit renewal is required. Local sponsors sell refreshments along the boardwalk. “People have fun doing it and a one out of two chance of winning, all to benefit a charity that is close to everyone’s heart,” Todd says. “Being in business means giving back to the community.”

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