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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: September 2009

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PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHINGGenerate Hate

Originality is good, but execution is better. Lucian Lee, owner of Hale’s Jewelers in Greenville, SC, says the humble gift certificate saved his holiday season last year. In truth, this was no ordinary gift cert but a mini catalog mailed first-class in a clear cellophane envelope so it stood out in the mailbox. Inside was a $500 gift certificate toward any purchase over $1,000 with an expiration date of Dec. 24. Hale says the redemption rate was over 10 percent and generated comments such as “I hate you. Why did you send this to my wife.” James Porte, whose company Porte Marketing Group prepared the program, says it underscores a simple marketing truth: Presentation is everything!

WELL FEDDonate to the Expired

Here’s another lesson in how the little things can generate huge rewards. Nancy and David Fine Jewels in Millburn, NJ, pays a part-time worker to walk the nearby streets and top up expired parking meters. A note is slipped under the windscreen wiper saying, “Dear Millburn-Short Hills Shopper, Your meter was expired! We fed your meter and saved you from a $25 ticket. Please return and shop in downtown Millburn. Diamond wishes, Nancy And David.” Goodwill aside, the initiative has generated customer spending of more than $72,000, say store-owners Nancy and David Stone.

GIVING GAINS!Prepare to Receive

Any way you look at it, 2009 will not go down as a normal year. So why not take some contrarian approaches to life and business? Here are four from lifehack.org based on the idea that giving is the best way to receive.

1. Lacking confidence? Give it away! Find someone you know who is lacking in self-confidence and give him a boost.

2. Short on creative ideas? Give them away. Suggest creative ways to increase their profits.

3. Cash shortage? Give some away. Consider giving money to a friend or family member to help them out. It’ll refocus your thinking.

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4. Stuck with a problem? Help others first. Think of someone with a similar problem and think of a way you could help him. When you help others, help will always come back to you, lifehack.org assures.

BIAS CHALLENGEDFind the Balance

Being a successful jeweler requires two skills that often aren’t complementary: craftsmanship and salesmanship. Store owners who are heavily task-focused — that is, love to tool away at the bench — don’t tend to be great at relationships. Yet those with too strong a bias for human contact often have a tough time getting things done. Neither inclination makes for a good business, says David Peck, head of business coaching service Leadership Unleashed. “Locate your bias and then challenge yourself to try more of the other — when you do, you will likely discover new ways to lead your small business,” he says.

JEWELRY FAIRYDress Up

When a customer couldn’t be there to deliver the ring he’d bought as a gift for a particular date, Diamonds ’n Dunes in Kitty Hawk, NC saw a chance to step in and help him out in memorable fashion. Co-owner Eileen Alexanian dressed as the “Jewelry Fairy” and delivered a box filled with shipping peanuts, a bottle of store-branded champagne — and down at the bottom — a “gorgeous” tanzanite ring. “The guy has been a hero ever since,” says Eileen, adding that the story has been a great word-of-mouth builder.

EYES ON THE PRIZEVisualize

Got a salesperson who’s in a slump? Get him visualizing his goal with some specific questions, says sales trainer Jeff Goldberg in a column for the New York Enterprise Report. If you know he’s saving up for a new car, remind him that his next sale is going to take him that bit closer to owning it. Follow up with questions about the color he’s thinking of, and how he thinks the car will look in his driveway. “By helping Bob visualize his goal as already having been achieved he was able to get turned on again, even though he had hit some rejections,” Goldberg says.

NET BUSTERSExplain the Difference

The Internet turns 40 next month. So you’d think that by now we’d all be pretty knowledgeable about online shopping. But that’s not the case, says Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts. Most customers have little idea of what a drag it is to buy jewelry online — how many diamonds are not available, that you have to pay before you see a stone, that your credit card is frozen and you can wait weeks for your credit to be freed up, etc. Finding a gentle way to explain this while highlighting your advantages will often ensure success, says Peterson.

UNDERDOGSRemember the Little Guys

When negotiating with a vendor or another potential business partner, make it a point to win over “the associates,” writes Harry Beckwith in What Clients Love. “Top Dog doesn’t need reminding she’s top dog, but ignore the subordinates, and they’ll take offense and think of you as a shameless bootlicker.” If you can get the associates on your side they’ll argue in your favor when you leave the room.

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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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