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How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

Taking a day or two to cool off is the first step.

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THERE’S A LOT TO be said for taking the initiative to run a business; do the best job you can do, keep employees happy, keep clients happy, perform good work, be honest, all while trying to turn a profit. Inevitably, no matter how kind, humble, honest, and hard-working you are, someone is going to spoil the soup. Everyone has an opinion, everyone is an expert, and now the clients who don’t get their way or aren’t completely satisfied have a plethora of ways to tell the world and troll your business.

It stinks. For all the expletives I have muttered to myself when a less-than-shining online review happens, I will keep it relatively “clean” for this article by saying it stinks like a fresh turd on a hot sidewalk in the middle of a muggy summer. It ruins your day by upsetting your stomach and putting you in a downright foul mood.

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That feeling is not the one you should be harnessing when you write your reply. Like it or not, anyone under the age of 50 looks at reviews when seeking new businesses to work with. More particularly, they scan past the shining reviews to find the dirty laundry to see how badly things can go wrong when they do. Like a bad wreck on the highway — show me the carnage!

When it comes to reviews, I am not of the “roll over and take it apologetically” crew, nor am I of the “give ‘em hell” team. Let a negative review simmer for a day or two while you come down from the adrenaline of seeing red (“How dare they?!?!”) and don’t post a reply until you’ve had extra eyes on what you are saying. Ask an employee, friend, or colleague to look at your reply from the outside.

Remember that a review comes from that person’s point of view. There are many sides to a story. In extreme situations of riots, attacks, and politics, different media outlets will show different perspectives (often skewed). Bad reviews may seem skewed, but for the individual, it is their truth. They felt compelled to say something because the situation made them feel something.

Never post a canned response on a bad review. Readers see generic responses as an uninvolved robot behind the scenes just placating the reviewer. It feels like a cover-up.

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Never post a defensive rant! Factual key points are all you need to speak your piece. It’s better if you apologize and accept that you and your team aren’t perfect; we’re all human.

Finally, accept that some people are trolls and you cannot make them happy. It’s OK in those circumstances to call them out. I have publicly responded to an unreasonable review (backed up with facts), noting that the request for a free repair on an item we didn’t sell was irrational, and telling the world the reviewer is not welcome to return to my studio. That particular response has brought in several new clients who got a good laugh and subsequently left positive reviews when they met our team. They love that we are as real in-person as we are online.

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The Instagram Jewelry Community Unifies to Aid In Australia’s Relief Efforts

They’re creating auctions and other events to raise funds.

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WHEN ANTIQUE AND vintage jewelry dealers, jewelry collectors and bloggers on Instagram wanted to help with the devastating Australian bushfires, they began to raise awareness and to create auctions and other events to raise funds. They’re supporting a variety of charities helping the communities and the wildlife affected by the tragic ongoing fires that continue to burn. At first, the auctions were scattered throughout the generous jewelry community on Instagram. But that all changed when Sydney-based Nikki Marshall, whose handle with her sister Michaela is @life.is.short.diamonds, created the hashtag #💎bushfireappeal to unite the relief efforts. Both Nikki and Michaela are jewelry enthusiasts and also journalists – Nikki for a website and Michaela for TV.

Nikki explains how the hashtag came about: “I went into the newsroom in Sydney on Saturday, Jan. 4, during my holiday because we knew it was going to be a terrible day. And it was. I’d had the idea of a fundraising auction for the Red Cross emergency appeal a few days earlier but that night, after 12 hours of being immersed in the horrific stories, I was determined to put something on Instagram for auction immediately. I was staying at my boyfriend’s house so the only thing I had with me was the opal necklace I’d just had made for myself and although I loved it, I was determined to do something immediately.” She continues, “I also know the jewelry community well enough to be certain ours wouldn’t be the only account trying to raise money and I began to think of a hashtag that would create more solidarity and build momentum. I wanted it to be universal and immediately obvious what it meant. “Jewellery/jewelry” was out, because of the differences in how we spell it, and ‘gems’ felt wrong. The diamond emoji seemed like it would be unifying so I went with that.”

And it has brought out the solidarity in this community. There are now 179 posts under the hashtag with auctions from different parts of Australia, the U.S. and the UK antique, and vintage dealers and shops and a few modern jewelry beginning to join in as well.

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@life.is.short.diamonds auctioned off two pieces, the first of which was Nikki’s 23-carat natural crystal pipe Australian opal necklace, with all proceeds going to @redcrossau disaster relief and recovery fund. The bid closed at $579, with another bidder who lost out donating another $300 for this heart-rendering cause.

Another Australian antique dealer from Sydney, @karendeakin.antiques, auctioned an antique Australia brooch, which Karen reported was made in approximately 1900, “in the fervor of patriotism when Australia first became a nation.” Karen said she would match the highest bid, which came in at $1,500, and then Antique dealer Michele Rowan @rowanandrowan from the UK generously added $500. At this point, $3,500 has gone to @wwf_australia to help wildlife hurt in the fires and to rebuild and protect their habitats. Karen talks about the disasters still to come but says, “I am trying to take heart from the fact that so many people around the world are sending help and fighting the good fight.”

Los Angeles-based Tova Wintner Fagan, a designer of precious and fashion jewelry with the handle @tovamalibu, organized a group of auctions from around the U.S. as well as Costa Rica and Vancouver under the hashtag #wecareaus and then the unifying hashtag #💎bushfireappeal. Tova explains, “I reached out to a bunch of women who I have met on IG and who I have supported and who have supported me in the past. I knew we could raise more as a group. Even after we posted a deadline, there were more people reaching out who wanted to donate. The IG jewelry community is an amazing one.” Some of the IGers who donated within this group with proceeds going to @redcrossau included @oremonger, @mauragreen, @georgie_the_magpie, @jessicakagancushman, @sempre_oro_ryn, @julie.mcafee, @lovely.little.rings, @audreysparrowjewelry, @charm.nerd, @thechubbygem, @poppyshop93105 and @manicgrape.

Atlanta-based jewelry designer Samantha Jackson of Heavenly Vices — who is actively involved in the rescue of animals here in the U.S. — put three recast love tokens with diamonds bales from her collection up for auction: the appropriate “Lend A Hand,” “Love” and “Love One Another.” In total she raised $1,700, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to @wireswildliferescue to help wildlife impacted by the bushfires.

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Paula from @prcnyc, a curator of a jewelry concierge service in New York City, auctioned off a modern enamel compass to raise money for the Australian relief fund.

Los Angeles’ @plattboutiquejewelry auctioned off a 2.21-carat natural blue sapphire (no heat or clarity enhancement, with an AGL Gem Report that reveals the gem is from Australia, making it an apropos stone to auction. The $3,000 proceeds of the sale went to aid relief efforts in Australia.

Others in the jewelry community auctioned everything from gemstones to antique rings to modern necklaces. San Francisco’s @thefabnab auctioned quite a few antique and vintage pieces with 100 percent of the proceeds going to @redcrossau.

Tracey of @gems4eva, who has storefronts on Moda Operandi and a website, thejewellerytradingco.com.au, also raised money from different auctions that were split between three charities. Jane Magon the designer whose handle is @janemagoncollections and who resides in Brisbane, said, “I am doing as much at home as possible to raise money and consciousness about the tragedy and sadness due to the bushfires with my friends throughout the world. My husband and I hold a dear appreciation for wildlife. This long necklace, crafted from fine beads and gems started at $300. I will be donating 50% of the proceeds of the auction of this necklace to the Animals Australia Fund. They are Australia’s leading animal protection organization.” This auction will continue until Friday, Jan. 24 — if you haven’t bid on this one yet, you might want to before it ends.

Other dealers, jewelry shops and designers who auctioned off jewelry include @shopauroro, @savannah_glen_estate_jewelry, @madamebrocante and @sarahnehama.

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Bloggers Becky Stone from @diamondsinthelibrary and Danielle Miele from @gemgossip did their part in spreading the word through their Instagram stories as did other collectors and jewelry enthusiasts.

Karen from @karendeakin.antiques posted a quote from @wwf_australia that reads, “We have proved we can achieve amazing things when we come together.”

And the jewelry community on Instagram is proving that. If you want to take part in the auctions and continue raising relief funds, use the hashtag #💎bushfireappeal to continue the momentum.

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How Were Your Holidays? 20 Jewelers Describe Theirs

These retailers, all members of INSTORE’s Brain Squad, share their thoughts on the 2019 holiday selling season.

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A FEW DAYS AGO, we sent out our January Brain Squad survey, and we had many holiday-related responses in our “Letters to the Editor” section — so many, in fact, that we thought we would break them out and share them with you in this dedicated article. Most seemed to have had a successful 4th quarter, but some were mystified that their results were disappointing, and even those who were successful often mentioned working harder for the extra sales.

  • Our holiday selling season was amazing. My mom, fiancé and daughter all worked to helped us through the season… That part was challenging at times. No explanation needed, LOL. — Elizabeth Saba, Presley Co. Fine Jewelers, San Diego, CA
  • After a slow October and November, the December numbers made up the year. Happy overall. Best wishes to ALL the staff at the INSTORE!! — Mark Rozanski, Goldart, Ottawa, ON
  • We went through 2 seasons of orange barrels in front of our store. A year project took 20 months to complete. We maintained a positive attitude throughout and were rewarded with our best holiday and year-to-date sales ever. — Karen Fitzpatrick, Harris Jewelers, Rio Rancho, NM
  • We played catch up this Christmas and clawed our way to a decent number. I thought after last year it would be easier, but that wasn’t the case. — Rick Nichols, Nassau Jewelry, Fernandina Beach, FL
  • Three more area jewelers closed at the end of the year, making me ever so grateful to still have a vibrant successful business in these times of change. I am excited about the year to come, and feel even more committed to my business and my community. — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • Holiday sales? Best ever, even at only 15% of our annual. The surprise? The week between Christmas and New Years is always busy, but this year we had everyone on the floor and still couldn’t help them all! — Debbie Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, CA
  • We had a nice holiday season. We had some folks actually being proactive and buying gifts several months early and then we had the very late rush. It’s getting harder and harder to pinpoint the timing of holiday sales though. And as far as jewelry goes, we sold some really nice color stone pieces this season, which is nice and refreshing for a change. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX
  • Doubled our November goal, but didn’t even reach close to our December goal. It just about evens out financially in the end, so no complaints. I guess we just got our hopes up for a huge December, and were disappointed in the outcome. — Jill Hornik, Jae’s Jewelers, Coral Gables, FL
  • Our business felt different this year. We never felt overwhelmed like years past. When everything was over, our sales were up and profits were up. I think this meant the customers that came in were serious and purchased. I will take that over fighting for everything that comes in. I am interested to know if anybody else had the same experience. — Julie Brashier, Julie’s Jewels & Gifts, Greenville, SC
  • In all honesty, our “holiday season” could have been better, but it sure could have been so much worse. We have our health and we’ll be here for years to come. What I have come to learn about change is that it’s coming at such a rapid pace. Buckle up! Michael Cook, Walter J. Cook Jeweler, Paoli, PA
  • We had a solid December, and an excellent November — selling season was very short this year. 2020 has started well! — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • Selling season was very good. Less customers, more dollars. Look forward to a new year! — Laurie Cusher, Hyde Park Jeweler, Hyde Park, NY
  • Taking the December issue to the beach to catch up. Somewhat difficult season. Had to work much harder and market more and more events. Business came at the very end. — James Gattas, James Gattas Jewelers, Memphis, TN
  • This was our best holiday selling season yet — so good, in fact, that this husband-and-wife team did not have a spare moment to read the December story on families who work together! Definitely looking forward to catching up on our required reading! — Zechariah Chambers, Chambers Jewelers, Ford City, PA
  • Our holiday season was better than expected. We were coming off the biggest sale in the history of our store (hence being down from 2018) but were very happy with how we ended the year. With all of the change (new owners, new location and showroom, many changes in staff), we were bracing for a lull, but the community has validated all of our HARD decisions! — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT
  • We had a good season. Many new first time clients, thanks to Google and Facebook. — Sandra Giordanoriper, Sunset Hill Jewelers and Fine Arts Gallery, West Chester, PA
  • If the rest of the year had been better, we would have been happy to only miss last Dec. by $10K … but it wasn’t. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • It was our first holiday season in our new store/new location. We noticed a different clientele. SOHO really took off for us this holiday season. We love this line! Gemstone jewelry was also hot for us. Silver jewelry was down. Need to prep better for the change in clientele. — Christine Osborne, Christopher’s Fine Jewelry and Rare Coins, Des Moines, IA
  • Selling season was OK. Late shoppers seem to be the theme anymore. Year was down as was December. Very tough farm/ag economy around here right now due to flooding and poor crop yields and commodity prices right now. My buying was down/in control, so that certainly helped. I was actually quite surprised how strong the last 5 days were to save the month of December. Expectations for this year are really no different unless farming prices and conditions change dramatically. Plan to host / run more “events” in the store to create traffic and new customers coming in. — Tom R. Nelson, Nelson Jewelry, Spencer, IA
  • Christmas this year was very strange. Maybe because Thanksgiving was so late. People didn’t seem to be in holiday mode. The three days leading up to Christmas made the entire month. Now that Christmas is over, people are out buying for themselves. Tons of self-purchases now. There are no absolutes for retail anymore. It is changing too quickly. — Susan Kauffman, Black Dog Jewelers, Lewisburg, PA
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How You Might Be Able to Sell Jewelry Through Podcasts in 2020

People who listen to them give them their attention in a way that they don’t to other mediums.

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A JEWELER WHO TAKES digital marketing seriously has probably run Facebook ads. They’ve probably run search ads on Google and possibly Bing. They may have tried display ads or dipped their toes into geofencing or YouTube ads. And when it comes to audio, they may have even tried running ads on Pandora or Spotify. But the one medium that they probably haven’t tried is Podcasts. And it could become accessible in a whole new way in 2020.

Why Businesses Run Ads On Podcasts

Podcasts are an amazing medium. People who listen to them give them their attention in a way that they don’t to other mediums. The average YouTube video was under 12 minutes in length in 2018. But the average podcast episode is about 37 minutes long. People who listen are buckling up for a ride.

They listen to podcasts while driving, doing dishes, jogging, biking and folding laundry. But they’re not multitasking in the same way that people do while looking at their phone while the TV’s playing. Instead, these activities take up a lot of time, but not a lot of mental energy. So they’re able to fully pay attention to what they listen to.

For this reason, some big successful companies have really invested in ads on podcasts and reaped big rewards.

Why You’ve Probably Never Run Ads On A Podcast

If you’re a local jeweler, you probably haven’t run ads on a podcast because it’s hard to coordinate, tough to measure, limited in options, not built for your size, and not local. Until now.

Traditional podcast ads are read by the podcast’s show host. Big companies make big deals with big podcasts and roll out a slow and labor-intensive process of sending out scripts and communicating what they do and don’t want to be said. These ads don’t get a consistency of voice, because every podcast host has a different voice. They are powerful, however, because they benefit from the trust that the audience has with the podcast host.

But the future of podcast advertising has another option. It’s already started and could very well open up to local retailers in 2020.

Dynamic Ad Insertion: The Future of Podcast Advertising

A new technology called “Dynamic Ad Insertion” is adding new options for podcast advertisers. But more importantly, it’s making advertising on podcasts possible for new advertisers who wouldn’t have been interested in the past.

Lex Friedman from Art19 talks about it in an episode of the Reword Podcasts which questions the ethics of the new practice. But Friedman is comfortable discussing and defending the new practice. Here’s how it works:

Today, most podcast episodes are uploaded to the internet and can be downloaded and listened to by anyone at any time in the future. The listener will hear the exact same recording no matter what time it is and where they are when they listen. Dynamic Ad Insertion makes it possible to insert a different prerecorded ad into the audio file based on the IP address of the person who is downloading the episode. That means that Sally in Milwaukee can hear a different ad on Thursday that Dan in San Diego will on Sunday.

This is a big deal because it enables ads to be location-based, time-based, and pretty much allows them to work a lot more like the ads that a jeweler might run on other platforms. If you have a limited time offer, you don’t have to worry about people hearing the ad after it has expired.

At the time of the recording, Art19 was selling these types of ads by invitation only. But they and many other podcast companies see Dynamic Ad Insertion as the future of podcasting and the technology exists now. That means that jewelers could see the opportunity to benefit from the cult-like following that podcasters have developed from their listeners as soon as this year. This is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2020.

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