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Commentary: The Business

When You Run Ads And Nobody Comes

Often it’s the message and not the medium that is the problem.




YOU RUN AN AD on the radio and nobody shows up. You say, “Radio advertising doesn’t work.”

You send out 5,000 direct mail pieces, and the results are dismal. You say, “Direct mail doesn’t work.”

You constantly send out emails to all your best customers, but the open rates are abysmal and response rates are worse. You say, “Email doesn’t work.”

But have you considered that it might be your fault?

Truth is, bad marketing results typically come from three sources:

  • Targeting (or lack thereof )
  • Ineffective headlines
  • Weak offers

Targeting has to do with choosing media that your prospects engage with, digital or traditional, and making sure you actually target the right kind of people. You’ll do better if you develop a profile of your best customers. Identify their geographic, demographic, and psychographic similarities and look for a media channel that is attracting that kind of person.


Once you identify the right target, you’ve got to hook them with a powerful headline that 1) captures their attention and 2) converts their attention into interest. Do you realize that in head-to-head tests, one headline may outpull another by hundreds, even thousands of percent? You could double, triple or even quadruple the open rate of your next email, for example, if you test one subject line against another, instead of just picking one and throwing it against the wall to see if it sticks.

If you want people to pay attention to your advertising, write at least a dozen headlines for warmup. Then pick the one you like best and tweak it another half-dozen ways to improve it. Finally, test the headlines against one another.

And then there are offers! At the end of the day, this may be the biggest challenge for jewelers: How to make a compelling offer that won’t kill your margins.

For instance, that “10% OFF!” discount offer of yours. They don’t work, and you know it. You don’t respond to them when they come from other stores. Why on earth would you think your customers would respond to them?

Instead, test value-added offers.

Look, if you’re willing to give people, say, a 20 percent discount, invest that money in an added value instead. If you’re willing to take $20 off of a $100 item, keep the price at $100 and add a gift with purchase (or a second item free or at a deep discount) that costs you the same $20 out of pocket. Because you’re spending your $20 at wholesale and the customer is valuing it at retail, you can show the client a $140 value for their $100 investment. Isn’t that more compelling than a $100 value for their $80 investment?


At the heart of all three of these marketing blunders is the failure to think like a customer. If you wouldn’t pay attention to it because it doesn’t interest you or respond to it because it isn’t a good enough deal, it’s a safe bet your customer won’t either.

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of INSTORE.

Jim Ackerman, “Marketing Coach to the Jewelry Industry,” is president of Ascend Marketing. Reach him at



Wilkerson Testimonials

Wilkerson: “They Feel Like Family”

Newton’s Jewelers in Fort Smith, Ark., was a true institution. But after being at the helm for most of his life, owner (and descendent of the original founder) Kelly Newton decided it was time to retire. He chose Wilkerson to handle the sale. “I’ve known the owners of Wilkerson for a long, long time. I felt at home with them,” he says. The final retirement sale was just a “blast” and the Wilkerson sales team made it so very simple and straightforward, says Newton. Would he recommend Wilkerson to others? Absolutely. “They’ve done incredible work,” says Newton. “They feel like family.”

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