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Strategies For Handling Donation Requests, Pay Per Click … and More Jeweler Questions Answered

What’s your advice for the dreaded donation issue, especially when the request comes from a VIP customer?

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What’s your advice for the dreaded donation issue, especially when the request comes from a VIP customer?

This is one of those areas where it’s best to have a pre-emptive policy to deal with such requests, because as your profile grows in the community they will come as surely as the events/charity season follows summer. The best solutions are those that also bring customers in through your door: Here are three excellent approaches we saw from among contestants to our recent America’s Coolest Stores contest:

  • Spectrum Art & Jewelry in Wilmington, NC, donates a $25 gift certificate plus a free “Jewelry Box Review,” in which the person brings in their jewelry collection for inspection and to discuss a possible custom restyle. “It spins off repair and maintenance work, appraisals, gold and diamond buys and custom jobs,” says owner Star Sosa.
  • Instead of donating a piece of jewelry that is likely to go for much less than it is worth at an auction, Schmitt Jewelers in Phoenix, AZ, gives away a $1,000, $1,500, or $2,500 certificate toward the purchase of a custom-designed piece. Often, the final job is worth much more.
  • Stars Fine Jewelry in Maine is a master of the “come in and check if it’s real” charity contribution. At one event the store co-sponsored, they gave out 199 cubic zirconia and one real diamond (all half-carat size). Some 200 people came in to see if their “gem” was real.
Where can I find professional quality generic material to run as a slideshow on my flatscreen monitors?

There are a number of places that provide a huge range of generic photos — iStockphoto, Big Stock Photo, Punchstock, Shutterstock or for free at Flickr’s Creative Commons Gallery — but do you really want stock photos? There’s something a little bit fake about them that just about anyone can pick (how many women do you know who beam huge smiles while eating salad alone?) Your vendors are an obvious source of material, but if you don’t want their branding setting the tone in your store there are numerous alternatives — a loop of your store’s history interspersed with photos of happy customers, screen shots from your Facebook page, images from Matrix or Countersketch to highlight your custom design service, a slide show of upcoming designer events or your recent buying trip to Antwerp, a gallery of your best work — or because we — like most humans — are partial to shots of people, run wedding photos provided by a local photographer. For a small acknowledgement, they are sure to be happy to provide examples of their best work. Last, you could try subscribing to a professional service like mystoremonitor.com, which was started by display consultant and INSTORE contributor Larry Johnson.

Is pay-per-click a good investment for a jeweler?

Google’s own data makes it clear: Pay-per-click works extremely well for existing businesses that have already built themselves a name. Pay-per-click performs poorly for businesses that aren’t already well known. If the name of your business is a household word in your town, consider investing in local pay-per-click. But if you’re still trying to build your name, put all your eggs into a single mass-media basket and then lift that basket to the sky, says Roy Williams, author of the Wizard of Ads. “The biggest mistake you can make is to spread your ad dollars around, thinking you should cover all your bases. You don’t have the money for that. Have courage. Get focused. Talk loud and draw a crowd,” he says.

When is the best time to send out an email bulletin?

According to email service provider MailChimp, which sends out around 200-300 million emails for business clients every day, your best chance of getting someone to open one of your bulletins is early morning, so an overnight blast usually guarantees the best response rates. The other peak time is around 2 p.m., when you’ll often catch office workers at their desks, looking to take a break from their work. The days with the highest open rates are Tuesday and Thursday but every industry and size of business generates different results so experiment with some A/B testing (same message/different times) and see what works best for you. In terms of benchmarks, small retailers average open rates of around 22 percent, according to MailChimp’s data.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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