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Wedding of the Century

$100,000 wedding contest builds brand awareness at Ben Bridge Jewelers.



BEN BRIDGE’S WEDDING OF the Century sweepstakes with a prize of a $100,000 wedding began as a Facebook campaign for the company’s 100th anniversary in 2012. “Originally, it was just a way to highlight our history, to talk about 100 years in business,” says Mark Bridge, VP of marketing. “But what it ended up doing is increasing our awareness among millennial brides and grooms.”


Creating a Brand Preference

Bridge notes that most millennials don’t have jewelry preferences before they begin shopping for an engagement ring. “So, we asked ourselves ‘What do we need to do to get their awareness?’ To be associated with happy moments is a very nice thing. From an ad and branding standpoint, the idea is ‘Imagine that this is you. You could win a dream wedding.’ It’s been a way of saying, ‘We’re here, we have beautiful jewelry and we want to be part of the special moment in your life.’”


Pushing Into New Platforms

The big push in 2015, the contest’s fourth year, was to open it up to multiple social media platforms, most notably Instagram. Brick Kane of Jones Advertising interviewed a half dozen social media specialists and contracted with a company called Social Toaster to run the campaign. Advertising was primarily digital with banner ads; there was also instore POS advertising at more than 70 locations, and some broadcast and radio messages. Because Ben Bridge lowered the barrier to enter — requesting just basic information — participation in the contest doubled. Asking contestants to complete a series of challenges over a nine-week period also ensured a high engagement rate. For example, contestants were asked to have their photo taken outside a Ben Bridge store, and post it, in order to qualify for weekly prizes. Weekly prizes gave contestants the incentive to return repeatedly to engage with the platform. The winning couple, chosen at random, was awarded cash, a honeymoon and jewelry. One of the challenges facing the contest is the fast-changing digital landscape. In 2012, the contest didn’t even work on mobile platforms, and in 2015, 85 to 90 percent of applications were mobile.



Making the Brand Synonymous with Weddings

“We tend to look at it as an awareness piece, “ Kane says. The two-month campaign garnered more than 2.3 million impressions online, generating more than 56,000 social media shares and more than 80,000 visits to branded-site content. The 27,000 people who signed up are available for marketing and email campaigns.

Do It Yourself: For Best Results, Show Pretty Pictures

  • “Stories about ‘how this is made’ don’t seem to have the same degree of stickiness that personal stories and jewelry do,” Mark Bridge says.
  • Use social media to ease threshold resistance. “Whenever we build a new store, brand awareness makes it easier to come in,” Bridge says.
  • Why work with professionals? Brian Razzaque, CEO of Social Toaster, says pros can help ensure authentic engagement, and offer advice on legal complexities and the right way to structure a contest, along with managing the nuts and bolts of technology.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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