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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: January 2009

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CALLING ALL GRANDMASPut Some Teeth in Your Marketing

Sometimes the best marketing ploy is a big red sales sign. Other times it’s a brazen appeal for your customers to bring in Grandma’s teeth. That worked wonders for Diamond Designs in Marion, IL. “We actually advertised ‘Bring Grandma’s gold teeth’ in for cash. It was a big hit. Our phone was ringing about the ad before we opened the first day. It was our biggest traffic and buying day ever,” says owner Steve McNeill, who continued the campaign through the holiday season.

A BALL IN TUCSONGo to AGTA

The INSTORE Show aside (of course!), AGTA in Tucson is probably the most fun you can have at a trade show. And the best part is that it all comes down to your imagination. Pick up a grapefruit-sized crystal ball to use as a sales prop — “I can see you making a large purchase …” — a chunk of gem-embedded meteorite for show or choose from hundreds of samples of gemstones from opals to amethysts to peridots that you can give to customers or their daughters, all for a couple of bucks a piece. The shows start in the first week of February.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONPick Up Cheap Software

The New Year is a great time to pick up slightly older software as programs are updated. (This happens at the end of every financial quarter.) There’s also plenty of free software out there available for download — from e-commerce (osCommerce) to Web browsers (Firefox, Opera) and accounting (GnuCash). Two of the best sources of freeware are tucows.com and CNET’s Download.com.

SCRATCH MY BACKAsk for Favors

Just about any primer on networking will offer as its central tenet: Help others while wanting nothing in return. Business author Guy Kawasaki begs to differ. In his blog, blogguykawasaki.com, he writes: “Great schmoozers ask for the return of favors … This is because keeping someone indebted to you puts undue pressure on your relationship. By asking for, and receiving, a return favor, you clear the decks, relieve the pressure, and set up for a whole new round of give and take.”

NUMBERS GAMEPut A Dollar Value on Your Calls

If you’re a typically competitive salesperson, it can be tough starting a new year. Whatever numbers you posted last year, you’re now back to zero. To get yourself psyched up, try a trick used by insurance-industry sales vets: Work out how many times in the past year you actively sought out a customer through a letter, phone call or networking activity and attach a dollar value to it. How? Simply by taking the sales you estimate you made from those calls/letters/handshakes and dividing it by the number of times you reached out. Now, when you’re feeling uninspired think of that figure. That’s what every e-mail or phone call you make is worth.

COUNTEROFFERPut Yourself Under the Loupe

When a customer complains she saw the earrings you’d sold her much cheaper elsewhere, it’s tempting to shrug her off as just another unrealistic client. Not Richie Kluesner. The owner of Gold In Art Jewelers in Mount Dora, FL, was determined to show his customer that he had done right by her in terms of value. He replied with an offer of his own: 90 days to return the earrings for a full refund, a 10x loupe so she could go and compare the quality of the other diamonds, and a thank-you for the chance to make it right. “A few weeks later she sent us another letter. She said she could see a huge difference in quality. Now she loves her earrings (and us) again,” says Kluesner, who credits his brother Kenny for the idea.

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40 WACKY WINKSLet Your Mind Go

With the slow economy and everything else going on at the it’s not surprising you can’t sleep some nights. Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon, knows about pressure to create. Here are his thoughts on nodding off: “I start by creating a simple story in my head where something good, and highly unlikely, happens to me. The trick is to focus on something that is more fascinating than your real life. Maybe you are winning a prestigious award, or being the first person on the scene of an accident involving the Cirque de Soleil and a tanker of chemicals that turn out to be a powerful aphrodisiac. After a minute or two of that, I release all controlled thoughts and simply watch what floats by. I try to identify and name what I see … The next thing I know, I wake up after a good night’s sleep.”

Abe Sherman is the CEO of BIG - Buyers Intelligence Group. BIG designs solutions for the merchandising challenges facing retail jewelers and manufacturers. BIG utilizes a data analysis tool, Balance to Buy, to help consult with clients and customize their individual experiences and results.

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