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Covering the Advertising Basics, Finding Cheap Showcases … and More Jeweler Questions Answered

Advertising strategies in a new world, the insurance impact of having a kids’ playroom, and more.

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ADVERTISING

We can’t figure out the best use of our limited ad dollars. Traditional media seems to be becoming dated and ineffective. What do you recommend?

Don’t be too quick to give up on traditional media — some of the most basic ways of getting your message out are still the best. We’d suggest that you put your efforts and dollars into the following:

  • A good sign that people can actually see: Yes, there’s nothing more fundamental, but if you have good drive-by traffic this should be the first thing you get right
  • Direct mail. Build a mailing list and send customers a postcard every few months. Announce sales, offer a jewelry-maintenance tip and solicit repair work. Ironically, the more pervasive e-mail has become, the more willing people have become to take a second look at the “junk mail” (sorry) in their mailbox.
  • Invest in a really good website and sign up for an e-mail marketing service (Constant Contact, Chimpmail) to keep customers updated with your events, sales offers and new lines. Your goal should be top-of-mind awareness in your market. Jewelry is still a milestone business. You want people to think of you first when they have an occasion to celebrate.

SHOWCASES

We do many private shows for fundraisers. I am looking to rent or buy cheap showcases for our upcoming events. Where can I get them?

Tough one. Cases are nearly always an expensive proposition, says retail consultant David Geller. “The only good price is if you can find jewelers who have already gone out of business and are storing the showcases and are willing to rent them to you,” he says, adding however that transportation is still a big expense. Dollar-wise you might be better off buying some used ones and storing them for future events. His final suggestion:

Try the clearance section at griceshowcase.com.

ENGRAVING

We would like to offer engraving. Are there any first-time pitfalls?

Most of the perils in engraving come down to a single issue: Communication. Rege Vogan, who has more than two decades of engraving experience working for retail, institutional and corporate clients, says you must make sure you engrave exactly what the customer wants. “I have the customer write down what they want engraved. Then I re-write it to make sure it’s what they want,” he says. Vogan, who with his wife co-owns Vogan Gold & Silver Works in Colorado Springs, CO, also advises you:

  • Ensure placement of the engraving. “What you think and what the customer wants could be two different things,” he says.
  • Check the piece you are engraving for any marks or damage so the customer is aware of them before they leave the piece to be engraved.
  • If the object is made of glass, be sure the customer is aware that there can be air bubbles in the glass and that it could break. The chance of this happening is remote. “But you know the saying, If you don’t warn your customer it will happen,” he says.

INSURANCE

Is it true our insurance premiums will go up if we add a kids’ room?

The short answer: Probably not. “From an insurance perspective, having a kids room may increase some exposures, but may also reduce others,” says Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.’s communications officer Jessica VandenHouten, adding that the company doesn’t make a point of asking if a store owner has such an area.

TARDINESS

I’ve heard the late fees and extra interest we pay to vendors are tax-deductible expenses? What about the IRS’s late filing penalty?

It’s true that interest, late fees, and penalties are all considered legitimate business expenses. But not IRS penalties. But why are you paying delinquency penalties in the first place? If you can’t get an extension and don’t have the cash, you should still submit a return by the deadline — then you’ll have to pay only the 0.5 percent per month rate for being late. Late filing is a symptom of a financial carelessness that doesn’t auger well for your company.

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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