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If I Owned A Jewelry Store: Andy Sernovitz



If I Owned A Jewelry Store: Andy Sernovitz

Complexity expert and author wages war on bloated processes and shopping environment sameness.


Published in the September/October 2012 issue

If I owned a jewelry store, I’d realize that I was in a competitive, crowded market. I’d understand that my customers have a lot of options — from the big-name guys to the online discounters to the established local shops.


I could pay for attention and some buzz with advertising. But when you do that, you always pay, every time. It’s expensive, and it frequently fails. 

Or, I could focus on earning the love, respect, and recommendation of my customers. If I could thrill people, they would do the marketing for me, for free — forever. It might be more work, but it’s also a lot more fun and a lot more profitable.


So, because I like the idea of making more money and having more fun while I do it (and because I’m The Word of Mouth Guy), I’d go with option two.


STEP 1: Find the talkers

All word of mouth begins with talkers: The people who will talk about you.

Think about it, who would talk about you?

Most people instantly think of their customers — and it’s true: Happy customers are a great group of talkers.


But every business has a much bigger pool of talkers than just the people who buy from them — and jewelry stores are no exception. Take wedding proposals, for example. No engagement ring has ever been purchased without the guy asking at least three people where to buy it.

YOUR HOMEWORK: Brainstorm a dozen talkers who aren’t your customers. Don’t think about the people who buy from you, think about the people those buyers talk to.

“You need to keep the conversations going.”

STEP 2: Give them something to talk about.

Once we’ve found our talkers, our next job is to experiment with things that will help get them talking. In the word of mouth marketing world, these are what we call “topics.”

This is the fun part. It could be attentive service, something to distract the kids, a cool display of rare or exotic jewelry, a mineral collection — something that gets them saying, “Hey, I was just at the jewelry store and they had this really cool ______.”


I remember this great jewelry store in Chicago that had an amazing fish tank. My kids probably dragged me in there a dozen times over the course of a year — and eventually I got to know the friendly staff. Guess where I went when I wanted to buy my wife something sparkly for our anniversary?

You can also help make this happen by giving them stuff to share. Think fliers, posters, T-shirts or maybe a cool 12-month calendar featuring a stone of the month. There’s a line here between cheap stuff people throw away and interesting stuff that inspires them to talk. So, do a small test with a few things and see which ones get people excited.

YOUR HOMEWORK: Try something this week with the goal of getting everyone who leaves your store to tell the next person they see about you.

STEP 3: Give them a lot of excuses to come back.

Jewelry stores face a special challenge: Most of your customers make purchases maybe once a year — or even less. You need a way to keep these people thinking about you and referring you to their friends, even when they’re not in the market for jewelry. You need to keep the conversations going.

What if every month you hosted a big celebration for couples who got engaged or married with one of your diamonds? What if you teamed up with wedding planners to host educational events? What if you brought in exotic jewelry and gave your fans the chance to try it on?

Or, instead of a big event, what if you offered complimentary jewelry cleaning? How about lessons on what to look for when buying jewelry? Appraisal sessions? Free ice cream on Tuesdays?

YOUR HOMEWORK: Think of all those happy customers and their families that you’ve helped. How can you do something great for them that gets them back in your store and gets them thinking about — and referring you — actively again?

Andy Sernovitz >> teaches word of mouth marketing and social media. He wrote the New York Times bestseller Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He leads, the community for social media leaders at the world’s greatest brands, and, where marketers and entrepreneurs learn to be great at word of mouth marketing. He taught at Wharton, started a bunch of companies, and is chock full of useful advice that you can read on his blog, “Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That!” (



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