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How Regional Jeweler Meets Customers Where They Live

Lately, the company is focused on data-driven geo-fencing.

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Bernie Robbins’ iconic butterfly packaging.

BERNIE ROBBINS JEWELERS’ marketing strategy, fueled by a savvy, full-time staff of four, is ever-evolving. Lately, it’s focused on data-driven geo-fencing. “We’re trying to be more relevant to the audience we want to attract,” says CEO Harvey Rovinsky.

Geo-fencing is, in essence, a virtual perimeter drawn around any space. Potential clients within that geo-fenced area can be targeted for certain events, such as bridal events, in the store. So Bernie Robbins can concentrate on a geographical area they believe has a strong potential for bridal customers, and then the marketing department will know in real time whether or not it’s working. They’ll be alerted when someone they’ve targeted walks into the store. “We are a brick-and-mortar location, so return on digital ads is usually an impression or a click,” says Peter Salerno, digital marketing manager. “But in this circumstance, we can see that someone is walking into one of our physical locations because of it.”

In the past year, geo-fencing and behavior-targeted social media advertising have become a larger part of the company’s media budget. Shifting the advertising to be more data driven has increased the ability to deliver advertisements to people who will actually be interested in them. “Every day, we grow our database and develop a better understanding of our potential customers,” says Cristin Cipa, director of marketing. 

“I can’t overestimate the value of marketing,” Rovinsky says. “We commit very significant resources to it. We look at ourselves as a marketing company that happens to sell jewelry.” One staffer in the marketing department spends two days every week taking professional photos of jewelry to use on Instagram and the website. 

Says Rovinsky: “We still do clienteling by telephone and text. Here’s what we’re not doing: newspaper and TV. We still do radio, outdoor, and we do one city book. Other than that, it’s all things digital.” 

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Billboard

“Our clientele is busy and on-the-go; they are looking for visual and easily digestible content,” says Cipa, citing the example of a co-op Cartier billboard. “Regional billboards are still a large part of our media budget. With five locations across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we cover a large geographic footprint and believe that strategically placed billboards continue to reach our geographic targets.”

Influencers

Bernie Robbins has increasingly engaged with “micro-influencers,” people in a range of age demographics who live in the community, have strong social followings, but also have a real relationship with a network of potential local customers. Influencers are recruited for their authenticity, a word Salerno describes as the big, sexy word for 2018. 

Print

A co-op Forevermark ad in Philadelphia Style magazine focuses on a classic engagement ring that, thanks to clean branding, is allowed to simply pop off the page. “Forevermark engagement rings are stunning and we loved aligning with their elegant language, ‘It’s a long journey to become the one,’“ says Cipa.

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Social Media Strategy

Bernie Robbins adapts its brand voice to its social media audience. “We know we have to have a strong presence on Instagram to engage with our younger customers,” Cipa says. “Our brand voice on Instagram is slightly younger and tends to be more playful. We are selective and only post professional, clean-looking photos.”

Regional Promotion

Leveraging key regional happenings is key to the company’s marketing strategy. Bernie Robbins owners Harvey and Maddy Rovinsky, lifelong fans of their hometown team, the Philadelphia Eagles, offered fellow fans a dream proposal story by giving away two tickets to the 2018 Super Bowl LII to the first couple who purchased an engagement ring valued at $50,000 or more. The giveaway launched on a Monday, and by the end of the week, they had a winner — Bob Wanum of Doylestown, PA. Married for more than 30 years to the love of his life, Teresa, Bob proposed a vow renewal during the big game. 

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Butterfly Packaging

The signature butterfly packaging, which represents joy, hope and love, has been an iconic part of the brand for 50 years.

Branded Champagne

Bernie Robbins’ branded champagne is served for special occasions and during events.

Chic at the Shore

Bernie Robbins has hosted the event series, Chic at the Shore, in the Somers Point, NJ, location every summer for years, publishing a magazine to highlight the events and the jewelry. In 2017, the marketing department bolstered the branding by sending out email blasts and launching a digital flip book, which lives on their website and allows consumers to browse at their convenience. “Our loyal consumers love the weekly events hosted all summer long,” says Cipa.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Brand Portfolio

Store Brands Its Nautical-Themed Identity

A quest for a canoe started it all.

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WHEN ERIK AND LESLIE Runyan were planning interior design for their new store in Vancouver, WA, they were browsing in a store in Portland, OR, and happened to see a light fixture they loved: a hollowed-out canoe hanging upside down from the ceiling, with lights mounted inside. That led to a quest for a canoe chandelier of their own. After searching for weeks, they found a handmade wooden canoe for sale atop a houseboat on the Willamette River near Portland. “I drove my boat to it, Leslie and I hoisted it up, and so began its journey to Vancouver,” Runyan recalls. “The seller had no reason to suspect that I was going to put three holes in it and hang it upside down!” The resulting work of functional art, crafted by Steve Strong of Strong Construction, set the tone for the nautical-inspired store on the Columbia River as well as a branding campaign. The canoe is a powerful symbol for Runyan, for several reasons. The river, Runyan says, and access to the ocean, created Vancouver and define both city and store. When not running the store, Runyan can be found crewing aboard motor yachts from Mexico to Canada as a licensed Merchant Marine 100-ton captain. “These moments are my inspiration,” he says.

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Themed Parties

Events “Under the Canoe” have included Chamber of Commerce “After Hours” parties and receptions for artists during Art Walk Downtown Vancouver events.

The Gift of Gab

Erik Runyan says even his talented staff fits in with the nautical theme, since they are all great storytellers, an important attribute to have when engaged in high-seas adventures or a canoe ride down the Willamette River.

Under The Canoe

The novel canoe chandelier became the center of a marketing campaign. “Promoting all of the good things that can happen ‘Under the Canoe’ is fun and will continue to grow,” Runyan says.

Under the Influence

A branded wine label is part of the ERJ branding plan. “It gives me great pleasure to open and share a bottle with a customer or send them home with some to enjoy later,” Runyan says. They also introduced Wine Wednesdays, when light appetizers and local seasonal wines are served.

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All In, Online

Most of ERJ’s advertising dollars go to the Internet. “SEO, SEM and social are how you can find me now. I am ‘all in’ looking for a connection with future customers of ERJ. My web traffic has quadrupled for the efforts put toward Google, Yelp and Facebook. Our blogs discuss both diamond education and proposal tips.”

A Catchy New Moniker

In addition to the Under the Canoe branding campaign, the use of EJR, rather than Erik Runyan Jewelers, helped modernize and transform branding for the century-old business.

Almost Seaworthy

The nautical branding theme is smoothly integrated with the store’s interior. Other nautical notes found throughout the store include an operational ship’s wheel, plank wood flooring, welcome aboard sign, custom compass rose wood floor medallion and visibly marked latitude and longitude coordinates. The 18-foot ceilings add to the feeling of openness and room for adventure.

Making an Impression

ERJ’s ad images include the canoe symbol as well as the compass symbol, which is integrated into the ERJ logo.

Canoe Talisman

Erik Runyan is in the process of developing canoe-themed jewelry.

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Brand Portfolio

Kentucky’s EAT Gallery Aims to Feed the Soul

Brand identity tied to neon sign.

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MAYSVILLE, KY, IS A PICTURESQUE town of about 9,000 on the banks of the Ohio River. For much of the 20th century its downtown was home to Morgan’s restaurant, a popular diner with a classic neon sign that spells out EAT.

When it became a jewelry gallery, new owners Simon and Laurie Watt kept the sign, lost the food and gained an eclectic collection of art, jewelry and other treasures. In its current incarnation, EAT stands for Exquisite Art Treasures. The owners showcase one-of-a-kind pieces from jewelers around the world and create natural stone and pearl jewelry in-house. It’s an unusual but distinctive brand identity for a jewelry store. “New people in town get confused and we do get the occasional person who comes in and looks around and says, ‘Isn’t this a restaurant?’ But overall, it’s a clever play on a vintage sign. The name does a lot for us. It makes people curious,” says manager Katherine Cotterill.

The store’s tagline, appropriately enough, is “EAT Gallery: We feed your soul.”

Maysville is not far from Lexington, KY, and just about an hour east of Cincinnati, OH, which has a thriving art community. So to reach the artsy denizens of Cincinnati, they’ve targeted independent movie houses that show foreign films and other independent films for a marketing campaign. Movie-theater advertising brings in more potential customers than anything else they’ve tried. Cotterill created a 15-second video showing actual products available at EAT Gallery that runs before every movie.

Advertising on National Public Radio takes the form of sponsorship and offers some information on the history of the building and “the business that houses jewelry and treasures from around the world,” Cotterill says.

Social Media

Manager Katherine Cotterill, left, organized a contest called Thankful For, in which customers were invited to share what they were thankful for and why. The winner was given an original painting. Other contest winners have been awarded swag bags.

The Sign

The name EAT Gallery (Exquiste Art Treasures) comes from the neon sign (pictured above) that has hung on the front of the building for over 60 years.

Direct Mail

Glossy postcards for trunk shows and special events feature beautiful photographs of jewelry found in the store. Cotterill, who once worked for a Maysville portrait photographer and took some photojournalism classes in college, also handles most of the store’s product photography in-house using a lightbox and lamps she stores in the gallery’s basement.

Gem Gossip

Influencer Danielle Mielle visited EAT Gallery as part of Gem Gossip’s jewelry road trip series.

Theater Program

Maysville has a group called Maysville players, the oldest continuing theater group in the state. “We do a big glossy full page in all of their programs. We definitely stick to very artsy kind of organizations and groups, because all of the jewelry is handmade. When they leave with something, they have a story,” says Cotterill.

Packaging

EAT Gallery’s bags are likely to bring comments and boost brand visibility wherever they go.

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Brand Portfolio

This Reno Jeweler Learned That Being Himself Was the Key to Building an Unforgettable Brand

“Extraordinary, never ordinary,” is their tagline.

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When Britten Wolf opened his own jewelry store with his wife, Michelle, in 2013, he just wanted to be himself. The store specializes in custom, unique and handcrafted jewelry, and in 2015 became one of INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Stores.

“Extraordinary, never ordinary,” which became his tagline, is the message he strives to convey consistently. He realizes, though, he had veered off message for a while in his marketing, and began to promote other jewelry brands along with his custom design services. Custom design makes up at least 80 percent of his business.

But Michelle — and everyone else who knew Britten — urged him to refocus on custom design, which is what he had become known for. What helped him get back on track was the non-profit Small Business Alliance, which had helped Wolf launch his business with a $150,000 loan. Since then, the group has also deployed college students studying economics and business to help him fine-tune his marketing plans.

“The best advice I got was be you,” Wolf says. “What I realized when they told me to be me, was that you have to stick with what you built your business on. I was trying to be that other jewelry store as opposed to being me. But when you hear that from a lot of people, finally, it clicks.”

Wolf has a non-traditional approach to advertising. “Jewelry is visual, and so I’ve never thought radio would be that good. And TV is expensive,” he says. So he targets online, mobile, SEO and web advertising, and uses analytics to keep track of what’s working best. One of the hashtags associated with BVW Jewelers on social media is #GettingHitchedInReno.

In 2017, the advertising budget was 6 percent of gross sales. It was also the year that BVW Jewelers hit its $1 million mark.


Advertising Vehicle

Wolf bought a 1952 GMC pickup, added the store’s logo to it, and uses it to attract attention in a variety of ways. “We keep a stack of business cards in it and pass them out like candy,” Wolf says. “Wherever we drive it, people follow; it’s a great conversation starter and quite often, we see them in the store at a later date.” They also enter the truck in Hot August Nights, the region’s largest special event, which attracts more than 6,000 registered classic cars and more than 100,000 attendees. “Family and friends hop in the back and we toss out Mardi Gras beads, attached with candy, as well as buttons with our logo and information, all while cruising up and down parade routes. It’s awesome! You can hear people all the time talk about the truck when you drive by.”


Social Media

Wolf handles marketing himself, arriving at work at 7 a.m. each day to begin social media tasks. He and his team use mobile apps to post to several outlets at once to maximize their time and effort. Although it seems daunting, the solo approach isn’t impossible for a small-business owner with a clear-headed strategy and the motivation to make it work. “If you get into a routine, you can do it in about an hour a day, but if I try to do it in the middle of the day, it doesn’t work.”


Reviews

Positive reviews are rolling in. Wolf encourages Google reviews by giving clients a reminder card and a 15 percent discount on their next purchase. His current Google rating, based on 54 reviews, is 4.9 stars. On Yelp, 98 reviewers have given his business an average rating of 5 stars. “We have had more positive reviews on Google and Yelp than any other jewelry store in northern Nevada by offering contests and support via mailings, emailing our customers and working with partners,” Wolf says.


The Tagline

The tagline, “Extraordinary, Never Ordinary,” isn’t all about BVW Jewelers. It’s also about his clients. “With our brand, we want to show that everyone should be extraordinary, meaning unique,” Wolf says.


 

Jump Start an Artist 

Community outreach and events are a big part of the BVW marketing package. BVW Jewelers implemented a “Jump Start an Artist” program, dedicated to helping one up-and-coming jewelry designer realize her dream each year. From rendering to completion, Wolf facilitates the manufacturing of the piece or pieces, including packaging, advertising and development that leads to a viable and profitable line. Once produced, BVW Jewelers offers case space to the line for one year. Jump Start allows an artist who has unique ideas and has not had their designs created an opportunity to construct their pieces while learning what each process of the production entails.


The Logo’s Book

The logo’s fleur-de-lis style represents a floral pattern that for Wolf symbolizes growth. And it’s memorable. “Having a logo with patterns sticks in the mind more than just bold letters … I like to think it’s a bit more elegant,” Wolf says.


Philanthropic Philosophy

In 2016, BVW Jewelers auctioned off a 14K white and yellow gold necklace with diamonds and rubies, sapphires and emeralds, for which 100 percent of the proceeds were donated to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. BVW Jewelers also supports the Food Bank of Northern Nevada consistently by donating a percentage of all art sales and 100 percent of the proceeds from all watch batteries sold, to support the Back-Pack Kids program. The Back-Pack Kids program at the Food Bank helps provide weekend food for children who are homeless or chronically hungry.


Marriage Equality Campaign

In 2015, Britten and Michelle Wolf launched an ad campaign promoting marriage equality in their city with a 30-second spot shown in local movie theaters. They received overwhelmingly positive reactions to the ad, in which two young women become engaged with a traditional diamond ring from BVW Jewelers and celebrate their love and commitment with a kiss. The first weekend it appeared on social media, it generated more than 20,000 impressions on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. “The day after it ran, we had a couple come in after seeing the video and basically pay for the commercial” by ordering custom rings, Wolf says. “My wife and I have always had a belief in equality.”

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