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Gratitude for the Unexpected Handwritten Thank-You

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It’s a rare occasion when I receive a handwritten letter or card in the mail. I’d estimate I get fewer than 10 each year, mostly from family members and close friends around holidays and birthdays. I particularly appreciate the ones from my grandparents, who still send me Halloween greeting cards with cartoonish lettering and ultra-cheesy punchlines that are clearly intended for children. The front of my last card read: “I have this haunting feeling that I’ve wished you Happy Halloween before.” The inside read: “Déjà Boo.” My grandmother then wrote a short note, signing her and my grandfather’s names to it. I kept the card because I’m a sucker for a good pun, and also because throwing away my grandmother’s delicate script would have felt like a criminal thing to do.

Jesse
Burkhart



Contributing writer for INSTORE.
I

t’s a rare occasion when I receive a handwritten letter or card in the mail. I’d estimate I get fewer than 10 each year, mostly from family members and close friends around holidays and birthdays. I particularly appreciate the ones from my grandparents, who still send me Halloween greeting cards with cartoonish lettering and ultra-cheesy punchlines that are clearly intended for children. The front of my last card read: “I have this haunting feeling that I’ve wished you Happy Halloween before.” The inside read: “Déjà Boo.” My grandmother then wrote a short note, signing her and my grandfather’s names to it. I kept the card because I’m a sucker for a good pun, and also because throwing away my grandmother’s delicate script would have felt like a criminal thing to do.

But every blue moon, I get a handwritten note that I wasn’t expecting because a holiday was around the corner. I don’t value one handwritten expression over another based on whether I was expecting it or not; the level of sincerity is the only thing that matters. But still, the unexpected ones produce a certain warming effect that the anticipated ones don’t.

I recently received an unexpected thank-you card from the small music studio at which I’ve been taking piano lessons for the past year. After I read the card, I plum forgot that it had been that long. (By my playing, you’d never have been able to tell.) But the music studio was keeping track, and so they sent me this card in recognition of my one-year anniversary.

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The message is pretty simple, as you can see. And though it was awfully kind of the studio to call what I had been making “music,” the words themselves weren’t what I appreciated most. I appreciated that the studio thought enough of my patronage to acknowledge it with what’s considered an unconventional expression of gratitude in the year 2016. I had received physical mail from the studio before; it was usually the latest newsletter it sends to students. That’s what I expected when I pulled the envelope from my mailbox. But opening it revealed a pleasant surprise – one that compelled me to keep it in the same pile as my grandparents’ cheesy Halloween greeting cards.

Sincere, handwritten expressions of gratitude are a lost art in today’s increasingly digital and impersonal world. That’s nothing you didn’t already know. I only shared this anecdote as a reminder of how a personal touch can go a long way toward building customer loyalty. The next time you’re looking for a way to set your business apart from a competitor, remember that the ink still has yet to fade from the oldest page in the customer-service playbook.

 

 

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Columns

The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Timewriter: A Comic Book and Watch Geek’s Dream

An industry journalist asks herself: ‘What if I were a superhero?’

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I LEFT THE MOVIE THEATER completely smitten. I’d just seen “Captain Marvel” with my family, and more importantly, with my kick-a** little girl who was about to turn 9. “Momma,” she said to me. “I feel like I want to be Captain Marvel when I grow up.” I smiled and responded with something along the lines of, “You are already doing so much of what Carol Danvers did when she was a little girl.” But what I didn’t share with her was that I felt the same. Naturally, I couldn’t tell a little kid that her adult mom dreamed of being a superhero. She thinks I’m a little loony as it is. Why would I solidify that idea by letting her in on my little secret? No, I wouldn’t share with her my hopes of someday having superpowers and fighting bad people, while looking flawless in a Spandex suit. I’d keep those thoughts for the times I wind up daydreaming when I’m supposed to be meeting a deadline.

That night I crawled into bed with visions of Nick Fury dancing in my head.

“What if I were a superhero?” I thought to myself.

“Well, technically, Barbara, you’d be a superheroine,” the feminist portion of my conscious replied.

“Oh, shut it,” writer me answered. “You’re missing the point, feminist me. I’m trying to figure out what kind of powers I’d have, and by what name I’d be called.”

I pondered a while as I started to drift and thought about my strong suits. I mean, I can write, I thought. And, I know about watches and time. Maybe my powers could combine those two things. Time. Or the ability to change it. Or even to change someone’s words. That’s when it came to me.

Timewriter

I’d be called Timewriter! That’s it! And I’d be Captain Marvel’s sidekick! Yes! Now if only I lived in the Marvel Universe …

(Insert funky music and squiggly vertical lines that look like I’m entering a dream sequence a-la a 1980s sitcom.)

(Also, potential spoilers below.)

Timewriter: “Okay, Captain Marvel, we need to figure out how to stop Thanos before the rest of us turn to dust.”

Captain Marvel: “I don’t … know … what … I’m sorry, who the heck are you, and why are you creeping up on me? Have you been stalking my Instagram?”

Timewriter: “I have, but that’s not the point. I’m Timewriter. I’m a new comic book character and I’m your new sidekick.”

Captain Marvel: (Smirking.) “I’m sorry, your name is Timewriter? Wow. That sounds so not beneficial to the cause. And I don’t need a sidekick. I have Goose.”

Timewriter: “I know. I saw pictures of the cat on your Instagram and on the website Adorablekittiesbelongingtosuperheros.com. Cute. But it can’t write.”

Captain Marvel: “So, you’re saying your superhero ability is … writing? Do I really have time for this? (Looks upward and around.) Which of you writers wrote this character into my universe? Is this because you’re not paid as much as I am?”

Timewriter: “It’s my dream, so leave your writers out of it. And, my power isn’t just writing, it’s words in general. I have the ability to change someone’s words as they’re saying them.”

Captain Marvel: “Prove it.”

Timewriter: “Okay, well, go ahead and say something.”

Captain Marvel: “And what would you like … for dinner? I’d love to make you dinner tonight to celebrate the fact that you’ll be my new sidekick.”

Timewriter: “See? And why thank you! I’ll have lamb, medium-rare, please. And a side of kale. Have to stay slim in this suit.”

Captain Marvel: “Whoa. That was weirdly impressive and also tremendously uncomfortable. OK, so what about the ‘time’ portion of your name? How does that work?”

Timewriter: “Well, I have the ability to time travel into the future, though unfortunately I can’t travel to the past.”

Captain Marvel: “That’s not exactly a new thing. I mean, Dr. Strange could do the same when he had the time stone. And I can alter time too, as long as I’m wearing my watch. Do you have your own watch?”

Timewriter: “Yeah, of course I do. I’m wearing this generic-looking round watch that was created using free clip art from a random webpage. That’s pretty much how all of me was created (for the sake of this article).”

Captain Marvel: “No, I said do you have your OWN watch? Meaning, a watch that was named after you because you’re pretty much the most powerful member of the Avengers and in the universe, in general. Like I do, see?” (Holds out wrist.)

Timewriter: “Whoa. That’s pretty cool. What kind of watch is that?”

Captain Marvel: “It’s a Citizen Eco-Drive, so it’s light-powered (like I am) as well as eco-friendly (I mean, I recycle, so, there’s that). It’s called the ‘Captain Marvel’ and it has my logo on it. This is the gold-tone one but it comes in three versions altogether, which are all really awesome, and I’m not just saying that because Citizen is the official timepiece partner of U.S.-based Disney parks, or even because Disney owns Marvel Entertainment. I’m saying it because I really love the watch. I mean … it’s a ‘me’ watch. Literally.”

Timewriter: “Yeah, I can see that. It’s definitely a ‘you’ watch. But you said you can alter time with it. How does that work?”

Captain Marvel: “Oh, well, I just pull out this little thingy here on the side …”

Timewriter: “It’s called a crown.”

Captain Marvel: “Yeah, I pull out this crown thing and I can change the pointy parts …”

Timewriter: “Those are called hands.”

Captain Marvel: “… and I can change the (does air quotes) ‘hands’ to either show an earlier time or a later time, see?”

Timewriter: “You do realize that doesn’t change actual time, right?”

Captain Marvel: “Well, no, not yet it doesn’t, but who knows what superpowers the writers are going to conjure up for me in “Avengers: Endgame.” I mean, that could be one of them.”

Timewriter: “OK, well, on that note, I think I hear my morning alarm going off, so maybe we’ll pick this story up in a future dream, m’kay?”

(Insert funky music and squiggly vertical lines that look like I’m exiting a dream sequence a-la a 1980s sitcom.)

(Hits snooze. Sits up in bed.)

Me: “Wow. I have GOT to stopping eating Thai food so close to bedtime. The spices are seriously messing with my head.”

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Columns

The Digital Doc: How Often to Post on Instagram, and Other Digital Marketing Questions for March

Smart Age Solutions answers reader questions about websites, social media and more.

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IN THE DIGITAL DOC, Smart Age Solutions answers jewelers’ questions about how to use digital marketing on the local level to bring in more customers and make more sales.

Do you have a question for the Digital Doc? Send it to digitaldoc@smartagesolutions.com.

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should
Jim Ackerman

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store

Q: I understand that a lot of online usage comes through people’s phones. How do I take advantage of this?

A: There are many components to a mobile marketing strategy. Let’s just focus on the basics. First, make sure you have a mobile-friendly website. Test it regularly and have friends outside the business take a tour as if they are customers so they can give you feedback on how user- friendly it is. The next step is to make sure you have a presence in the apps that consumers use the most — namely Google, Facebook and Instagram. You should be buying ads/sponsored posts in these channels. For some retailers in more competitive markets, you may have to spend more than others, knowing that more than 80 percent of shoppers have done some sort of research from a mobile phone.

Q: How often should I be posting on Instagram and do I need to spend money there?

A: There’s no “one post schedule fits all” here. However, the general rule is to have at least three to four posts per week. A lot of this can depend on the season and the products you carry. If you carry many fashion or timepiece brands, your posts are likely more relevant throughout the year and can be much more lifestyle-focused, so being consistent here is important. If you have the resources to create the posts often, definitely invest in boosting posts regularly. This will ensure your posts are getting seen and promote interaction from users.

Q: Should I keep products on my website that I don’t have in my store?

A: There are many opinions on this and we can talk forever about advantages/disadvantages to both. But to keep it simple, follow this rule — display all products that you have access to, whether they are in the store showroom or your vendor can get them to you within 48 hrs. Remember, as our industry has few transactions done online (less than 6 percent), your website should be there to drive leads, phones calls and foot traffic.

Pro tip: Your phone number should always be visible on your website no matter where the customer is. Make sure your website provider is using the ‘anchor’ feature so your customers never have to go on a scavenger hunt for a way to get in touch.

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Editor's Note

Our Editor-In-Chief Admits He Didn’t Know What WhatsApp Was … Do You?

Like other tech, it has the potential to make clients way happier with business owners.

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WHEN I SAW this issue’s “Do You or Don’t You” question, I was just as baffled as many of our readers.

The question, posed by our group managing editor, Chris Burslem, through our Brain Squad survey was this: “Do you use WhatsApp or another messaging service in your marketing or to otherwise communicate with customers?”

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should
Jim Ackerman

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store

I admit it: I wasn’t 100 percent sure what WhatsApp actually was.

So, I looked it up, and it’s a messaging app that sends text messages for free through an Internet connection. But its advantage is that you can create a business profile so users can see your address, website and contact info. It also allows businesses to save and reuse messages that you frequently send (e.g., “Your repair is ready!”), as well as sort your contacts by labels (e.g., “Frequent client,” “Engagement client only,” “Repair client only,” etc.).

In other words, I quickly learned that WhatsApp has some really cool features for small business owners.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of jewelry retailers are burned out on new tech. And yet, technology like WhatsApp, social media and review-management services like Podium can allow you to connect with clients in ways that they prefer and provide more efficient customer service.

If you’d be willing to walk uphill both ways through snow and sleet to serve your customers, are you also willing to delve into the latest technology to do the same?

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Geofence your competitor’s store. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
  • When working with a female engagement ring client, ask her to close her eyes and describe the perfect ring. (The Big Story, p. 39)
  • When dealing with a customer complaint, say “Tell me more” in order to put them at ease. (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • Ask job candidates, “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” (Tip Sheet, p. 47)
  • Bundle slow-moving product with a fast seller in order to clear it out. (David Brown, p. 52)
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