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The Big Story: Jeweler’s Guide To Digital Marketing Success




Independent jewelers increasingly accept the fact that digital marketing is here to stay. But our Brain Squad survey results suggest there are holdouts in jewelry retail who insist they don’t have the time or technological know-how to change their approach to marketing.

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

Benjamin Smithee, CEO of the Smithee Group and a keynote speaker at the 2016 SMART Jewelry Show, says three words describe the future of retailers who ignore current reality: “Out of business.”

“It’s as simple as walking down the street, sitting in a train, waiting at the bus stop,” Smithee says. “If you count the first 20 people you see, 15 are going to be on their phone. It’s not about being mobile-enabled any longer. It’s mobile first, because the phone has our attention. It’s our lifeline to connectivity for business, to communication with family and friends, to fun via gaming. That’s where the eyeballs are.”

One reason it’s risky to resist change is because your competitors are going to leave you behind, says Ryan Goff, social-media marketing director for MGH in Baltimore. “I tell our clients that the risk of doing nothing is that their competitors are going to be playing in that space, and making noise and getting the attention that they are not going to get.”


Benjamin Smithee, CEO, The Smithee Group

Ryan Goff, senior VP
& Social-Media marketing director, MGH

Alex Fetanat, CEO, GemFind

Goff suggests choosing a couple methods of digital marketing and doing them very well, while recognizing it’s no longer possible to get something for nothing. “If I really want to get attention to my content, I have to pay something,” he says.

Paying for it doesn’t have to break the bank, says Cliff Yankovich of Chimera Design in Lowell, MI. “These days not much happens for free on Facebook, but a minimal investment of $5 to $10 can shoot a color ad for something to several thousand adult women,” he says. “That’s tough to beat for me. I love being able to invite people who like the ad to like the store’s page.”


As technology extends its reach, it’s important to stay on top of what’s current and what’s coming just around the corner.

“There is no reason fundamentally to have a retail store,” Smithee says. “Once we swallow that pill, we can then ask, ‘Why do we want that experience?’ Because it is an experience. There are certain fundamental things we can’t get away from — safety, security, value — but in every other aspect, create experiences for the consumer. Every Saturday or Sunday I would have a ladies’ mimosa day, and bring in a designer, every single week without fail. These kinds of in-store experience also provide great content for digital marketing.”

Where to begin if you’re late to the digital party?

“We feel 5 to 7 percent of your overall revenue should be devoted to marketing,” says Alex Fetanat, CEO of GemFind. “First, work on your Web presence and reallocate marketing dollars to your website. Get rid of your Yellow Pages ad. The second year, reverse your (ad spend) and allocate 70 percent to online and 30 to traditional marketing. It’s working well for a lot of jewelers.”

Shane O'Neill of Fruchtman Marketing

Shane O’Neill, VP, Fruchtman Marketing

Andrea Hill, CEO, Hill Management & StrategyWerx

1 BRAND YOURSELF: Not enough independent jewelry store owners recognize Facebook for what it really is, which is a branding tool, says Shane O’Neill, vice president of Fruchtman Marketing. The key to branding is consistency. “They may boost posts now and then but they’re not running an ongoing daily campaign that sends out a particular message. As a result you get people who say that they try Facebook and it doesn’t work.”

What can you do? In addition to posting daily, think of your social media less as a bunch of disconnected interactions and more as a series of conversations, suggests Andrea Hill, CEO of Hill Management and StrategyWerx. “It’s important that you have a firm grip on your brand story and what it is about your business that you can attach to emotionally. If you focus instead on “this great product” or “that great product” there is a huge risk that they don’t tell a long-term story that people can connect to.”

2 BUILD A RELATIONSHIP: Digital marketing is not a magic bullet. It’s a way to nurture relationships, says Benjamin Smithee, CEO at the Smithee Group. “You can use social as a way to grab attention. But then you need a strategy to create a meaningful relationship. Maybe they’ll give you an email address if you feed them good content — a video series, a text blog, a style guide, education for the uneducated buyer — that’s the currency you use over time.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, author, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

3 Here’s an idea. Make it interesting: “Questions you should ask yourself about all your Facebook content include: Is the text too long? Is it provocative, entertaining, or surprising? Is the photo striking and of high quality? Is the logo visible? Have we chosen the right format for the post? Is the call to action in the right place? Is this interesting in any way, to anyone? For real? Are we asking too much of the person consuming the content?” writes Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

4 Explore geo-fencing: “Let’s say that a jeweler had a store that was near or in a mall,” says O’Neill. “You can target people with digital marketing who are within half a mile of that mall. We put a fence around the area, and when someone enters that area we have the ability to target them with in-app advertising.”

Damian Capello, founder, Red Rocket Media

5 BE SELECTIVE: Damian Capello, founder of Red Rocket Media, says cutting-edge social-media platforms like SnapChat, Vine and Periscope are not ideal tools for business owners or marketers, at least not yet. “Even though they’re cool and hip and trendy, until they become an actual viable resource for retailers, I don’t recommend them. New social media channels eat up your time. Why invest in a new channel that hasn’t proved viable?” If you’d like to experiment, he suggests, sign up instead for new types of ads launched by Facebook, which offers introductory prices when it adds a new format.

6 BOOST POSTS CHEAPLY: If you want to boost a Facebook post, spend $5 a day, not $500, Hill says. “You can get a lot of promotion done for $5 a day, and if it’s not working you can tweak the words you used in the post for the next day.”

Lake Giles, director of Operations & Sales, Thinkspace

7 FINE-TUNE YOUR SEARCH SAVVY: Being searchable online is crucial for success when, for example, 93 percent of engagement rings are still sold in a store, says Lake Giles, director of operations and sales at Thinkspace, a company that manages Web technology and digital-marketing efforts for jewelers. “‘Jewelry stores’ is not nearly as popular as ‘engagement rings’ in a Google search,” Giles says. “‘Wedding rings’ and ‘engagement rings’ do not bring up local results, but ‘jewelry stores’ does. In the same vein, consider, Hill says, whether consumers will search for alternative bridal, as it’s become known in the trade, or for non-traditional bridal.

Jill Hornik, Jae’s Jewelers

8 launch and promote e-commerCE: “We recently created an e-commerce store that is visible through Facebook and Pinterest as well,” says Jill Hornik of Jae’s Jewelers in Coral Gables, FL. “Paired with SEO and pay-per click, we are seeing a substantial increase in online sales.” Experts say that kind of cross-promotion is crucial to making online sales work. “Just having a shopping cart enabled doesn’t translate to consistent sales,” says Fetanat. “Sales are minimal unless the retailer is really marketing it. You also have to have good images and descriptions for the products. If it’s just an SKU number and an image, that’s not going to tell the consumers what that product is.”

If you want to test the e-commerce waters, O’Neill suggests starting with entry-level gift items. “Certainly, there are jewelers who sell engagement rings online,” he says. “However, during the holidays or Mother’s Day, having an e-commerce enabled site allows you to sell those under $500 items, which we know people will buy online.”

9 USE LOTS OF HASHTAGS: No one is going to Instagram to see advertisements and stock photos, says Vaynerchuk. Native Instagram content is artistic, not commercial. Think hashtags. Lots of ’em. Use text sparingly. Use hashtags — five, six, seven — liberally. Questions to ask about your Instagram content: Is my image artsy and indie enough for the Instagram crowd? Have I included enough descriptive hashtags? Are my stories appealing to the young generation?

10 POST PRETTY PICTURES FOR OPTIMAL STICKINESS: Fundamentally, says Mark Bridge, VP of marketing for Ben Bridge, social media is worth it, because jewelers have things that people really want to see. “The things that work for us are showing pretty pictures,” Bridge says. “Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are all visual media and we find that the most response we get is from sharing beautiful pieces of jewelry and individual stories. When customers show pictures from their engagement and tag us in the picture, people love those things. Stories about ‘how this is made’ don’t seem to have the same degree of stickiness that personal stories and jewelry do.”

11 UNDERSTAND FACEBOOK ADVERTISING: Facebook has two types of sponsored advertising, Vaynerchuk says. One simply puts your chosen piece of content in front of more people than the 3 to 5 percent of your subscribers who would have seen it otherwise. That’s called a Page Post. The other extends your reach in the same way, but it allows you to highlight the fact that a fan has engaged with your content and tell that fan’s friends about it. You can choose to create this kind of sponsored story around a check-in, a like and several other actions such as when someone shares a story from your app or your website.

12 MATCH TONE TO PLATFORM: You can’t just repurpose old material created for one platform, throw it up on another one, and then be surprised when everyone yawns in your face, warns Vaynerchuk. Your content must look the same, sound the same, and provide the same value and emotional benefits people are seeking when they come to the platform in the first place. A low-quality photograph on glossy, picture-perfect Pinterest would be a waste of effort. Twitter speaks to an ironic, urban audience that loves hashtags. An earnest post like “We love our customers!” would probably be ignored. It sounds funny here, and yet posts like these are everywhere, proving that most brands are ignorant about what is native to a platform.

13 GO BACK TO BASICS: Collect email addresses, says Fetanat. “It’s the most cost-effective way of engaging with your base and with new clients.” A service such as Constant Contact costs just $50 to $100 a month.

14 TRACK ANALYTICS: If you engage in Internet marketing, make sure the Web company you’re working with provides you with full access to the analytics for your website and for your AdWords campaign so that you can see the effectiveness of the campaign they are running for you, says Lake Giles. “If you don’t know what those numbers mean then you can learn, but having access to that raw unfiltered data is essential to properly auditing the work of your web marketing company.

15 GROW FOLLOWERS: Social media is a numbers game, says Hill. “If you are talking to only 500 people on Twitter, then you are really just yelling in an empty forest. You need a minimum of 5,000 on Twitter, and I’d rather see 20,000 or 30,000; and a minimum of 1,000 on Facebook. It takes time by the way — a good year. You have to put up good content, and if you don’t have interesting, engaging, entertaining content, they are not going to hit the like or the follow button.”

The medium and the message:
4 Retailers Explain what works


International Diamond: A facebook experiment that paid off

International Diamond is in Adrian, MI, a market of about 20,000 people, wedged between the larger media markets of Detroit, Ann Arbor, MI, and Toledo, OH. Custom represents about 30 percent of revenues for the 20-year-old business. August is slow, so manager Chuck Jacobson spent $1,200 to promote a clearance sale only on Facebook. Targeting everyone from age 18 to 65 within a 25-mile radius and offering gift certificates for anyone who liked and shared the page, Jacobson enjoyed a 250 percent jump in his business. “We had people sharing and commenting all month. One item sold within 55 minutes. We posted a ring, a lady saw the picture and tagged her husband’s Facebook account, and 55 minutes later she was in the store paying for it. It was instantaneous feedback that our ad was working, rather than paying for a newspaper ad and never hearing anything. The coolest thing about this whole experiment is that we are finding ourselves interacting with our customers in a totally new and different way. They seem to love it and we do, too.”

The Facebook-only experiment continued into Christmas 2015 and Valentine’s Day 2016. “In previous Christmases we would spend $15,000 trying to reach all the different avenues, because we would have to spend Detroit or Toledo TV market dollars for us to attract people to our town. Using Facebook instead, our sales are up and our expenses are down. It’s been a win-win,” he says.

The message spreads organically now that International Diamond has 3,600 Facebook followers. “We’ve had customers picking up their rings, and putting pictures of them on our Facebook page, saying, ‘Look what they made for us!’ It’s turning into a living organism. It’s huge, when you get word of mouth. We have a strong customer base as it is, but this has helped things,” Jacobson says.

Revolution Jewelry Works: Making it personal

Jennifer Farnes of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO, spends about $5 a day on Facebook to boost posts, an expense she makes back at least tenfold every month. “Our goal was to grow our presence and create a buzz about our designs,” says Farnes, who specializes in custom. She opened her store in November 2013 as a solo act and now has a team of six.

She “layers” her advertising in media including movie theaters, two local papers, TV and radio, with a bit of Twitter and Instagram. The message is consistent. “The message we want to convey across the board is we do all of our repairs in-house and we can make custom jewelry. We direct people in our radio ads and our print ads to our Facebook page and to our website.”

Farnes targets Facebook boosts carefully, usually to people within 10 to 50 miles of the store. She has 6,000 Facebook followers and gets a minimum of 75 to 150 likes per post and 10 to 15 personal interactions, in the form of comments or messages. Three customers who came in directly as a result of Facebook posts ordered custom jobs that will cover her Facebook advertising for the next 10 years, she says.

Millennials in particular respond to marketing that is personal and unique, so she posts photos that depict before and after restoration projects, finished custom jobs, and stories behind engagement rings, such as a photo of a guy proposing, on one knee, in the store. “Jewelry is so personal that if you don’t make your marketing personal you won’t stay in business. If millennials are going to make the decision to interact with another human being, they want to know it’s real and they want to feel like they already know us, before they walk in the door. Because if not, they can just as easily shop on Amazon,” she says.

With one big sale to a same-sex couple, BVW Jewelers paid for their advertisement promoting marriage equality.

BVW Jewelers: The road less traditional

Britten and Michelle Wolf, owners of BVW Jewelers in Reno, NV, launched an ad campaign promoting marriage equality.

The 30-second spot depicts two young women becoming engaged with a diamond ring from BVW Jewelers. 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, and basically pay for the commercial,” by ordering custom rings, Britten Wolf says.

Wolf prefers non-traditional 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 is working best.

Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers: an omnichannel experience

Chris Wattsson, 25-year-old owner of Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers in Marquette, MI, cross-markets his business on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. “We’ve created an omnichannel experience that appeals to all age demographics,” he says. “Only pieces that we have in stock are listed on our website. Customers can come in to see, touch and try on pieces that they see in our campaigns. This has been a game changer for us. We see increased use of our website for research. Pinterest has been huge for engagement rings. We’ve had many men come in with photos in hand of what they are looking for or ask for a piece by name. Phone orders for specific pieces have also been up. We’ve also seen searches of the website for SKU numbers, which are on our wish list.”

Wattsson has also been transparent with repair pricing, listing a repair menu on his website, and featuring photos of jewelers working on pieces. “People have come in because they realize we do repair work in house and they have an estimate of what it will cost,” he says.

Marketing manager Victoria Leonhardt recommends keeping the conversation going on all channels. “Just be open and transparent and as real as you can be,” she says.


Do you need to have an over-arching social media strategy that changes each year? No. The path to success in social media couldn’t be easier to describe. It’s merely jab at people all day, every day. As author Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Talk about what they are talking about. When they start talking about something different, talk about that instead. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.” — David Squires

On Facebook, try to “gamify” your posts. Have a picture of an awesome jewelry piece? Don’t just show the item. Instead, ask customers to tag the person they most want to buy it for them.

Facebook advertising presents incredible options for customization. Would you like to target a post to 26- to 35-year-old single men living in your state three days before Valentine’s Day? If you know how to use Facebook advertising correctly, you can.

Many feel that Twitter is on the decline. But it’s still a way to throw your voice into trending conversations. Check trending hashtags to see if there is any way you can jump into the conversation and do a little branding. It’s called “trendjacking.” For instance, the popular #sorrynotsorry is a particularly apt way to describe your average jewelry purchase.

Use Twitter’s search engine to find people talking about topics related to your business, and respond, adding personality and context, to the conversation.

Keep track of national holidays and faux-holidays on and try to come up with appropriate tweets to get attention on those days.

For Pinterest, think of clever categories to pin your images. A few ideas:

• Jewelry for Getting Over a Really Bad Breakup
• Jewelry for Celebrating a Big Promotion
• Jewelry to Make Your Beach Vacation Even Hotter

Always include a price on your Pinterest posts, because it increases the likelihood of that post being shared dramatically.

You need to be very, very picky about your Instagram posts. You are looking to create and share art. Before posting anything, ask yourself, “If I saw this picture, would I share it?”

To do well on Instagram, hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your jewelry. Or you need to get very, very good at taking pictures yourself.

One more Instagram idea: Shooting products against white backgrounds is the standard for your website and for publicity purposes. But for Instagram, it’s dull. Try different approaches — props, strong lighting, dramatic effects.



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