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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.

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.



Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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