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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: October 2009




Send Alternative Cards

Christmas cards are a terrific way to deliver a holiday shopping reminder and a terrible one — because everyone else is doing the same thing. Networking guru Keith Ferrazzi recommends sending an annual Halloween card instead, because it’s an uncommon practice and the gesture really stands out. “Thanksgiving’s probably not a bad choice, either, just to reach out and say how thankful you are for them and your relationship,” says the author of Never Eat Alone.


If you send out a regular e-mail to your customers, consider throwing in a quick song recommendation or a couple of words about a tune you’ve been listening to recently. Duct Tape Marketing blogger John Jantsch, who has been doing that for eight years in his weekly newsletter, notes it is a very effective way of getting people to think of you as something more than just another business making a pitch. “I actually sold a pretty significant piece of business one time and the person told me that when they saw I liked The Band they knew I was the right choice,” he writes on his blog.


We’re not sure a younger man could pull this one off, but 90-year-old Bill Schifrin, who has been selling wedding rings in New York City’s diamond district since 1947, will rush over to couples kissing on the street, tap the man on the shoulder and offer him his card. “You know why?” he explained mischievously in an interview on NPR. “Because married couples don’t kiss on the street.”


The right moment to approach a customer who has just entered your store has vexed retailers for generations. Jump too early and they are likely to flee the store or get too defensive. Wait too long and they may slip out or worse, consider it poor service. Retail expert Paco Underhill, whose company collects some 50,000 hours of consumer behavior on tape every year, has concluded about one minute is the golden time when shoppers are most amenable to being approached by an employee.


Got a significant store anniversary (25th, 50th) coming up? Hold a contest with a prize going to the customer who brings in the oldest sales receipt.

TEEN POWERNetwork Socially

For years we — along with many others — have recommended hiring a tech-smart teen to help you with your website. It’s advice that works even better when it comes to social networking. Steve Zamaras, the owner of Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis, MD, says hiring a college student this summer to manage his store’s social networking campaign was one of the “smartest things we did this past year.”



Proposal-popping season is almost upon us, and once again the story of how De Beers’ ad agency basically created the diamond-engagement-ring custom is getting play in the press. While that episode is fairly common knowledge, less well known is how De Beers also promoted the “surprise” proposal after it learned that when women were involved in the selection process, they picked cheaper rings. By encouraging surprise proposals, De Beers shifted the purchasing power to men, the less-cautious spenders. Next time a man is wavering on whether to bring his intended in on the selection process, recommend the joy of surprises.


Think your end-of-season party schedule is heavy? Give some thought to the local broadcast celebrity. The holiday season can be a never-ending string of appearances at fund-raisers, corporate dinners and other community dos. The Canadian Jewelry Exchange in Kelowna, BC, does its bit by inviting celebrities down to the store to borrow an estate piece that matches their evening wardrobe. “They give us an authorized credit card number and voila, they are happily strutting around the event while showcasing our wares,” says general manager Lisa Maloney. “It creates ambassadors for the store as well as many sales by the celebrities themselves,” she says.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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