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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: March 2009

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Fresh ideas to better your business.

 

PICTURE PERFECT
PARTNER UP When you link up with someone outside the industry, especially in a marketing venture, you’re likely to be offering your customers something they can’t get anywhere else. Weston Jewelers in Weston, FL, did that last year when they teamed up with local photographer Andrew Duany to offer free studio portraits for their Mother’s Day customers who spent more than $1,500. The store ended up giving out 96 gift certificates and generating some great buzz with the mom and daughter portraits. “It was a win/win for (the photographer) because we paid for the advertising. All he had to do was donate ‘sitting time.’ Everyone knows if someone loves the portrait they are not going to stop at getting one print, and that is how it became profitable for him,” says Paul Slutsky, Weston’s VP for marketing. “Today, advertising is all about partnerships and this seemed to be a natural.”

Catching Creepers
SIMPLIFY If you’re like a lot of small businesspeople, your profit-and-loss statement is long and detailed and not particularly informative. “I can’t tell you how many profit-and-loss statements I’ve seen that have about a million different expenses listed in alphabetical order — in dollar amount only. What’s that tell you?” says Laurie Owen, a business coach at Business Resource Services, and an Instore columnist. Owen recommends giving your P&L a spring makeover. Consolidate expenses and group them into like categories, such as salaries and benefits, marketing expenses, admin, etc. Then, next to the dollar amount, list the expense amount as a percentage of sales. You now have what is known as a “common-sized statement,” Owen says. It helps you see when an expense is increasing as a percentage, and not just going up because your sales are increasing.

Brand Buzz
TRACK IT Seen an intriguing new line, but don’t know if you can trust your own taste? Log on to eBay. With some 80 million active users and more than 5 million new listings each day, eBay’s a pretty good — and free — way to track brand buzz. “Our data reflect consumer trends,” eBay’s pop-culture expert Karen Bard told Brandweek magazine. “Therefore, it can be useful to marketers who are trying to gauge the likelihood of a product’s popularity.”

No-Brainer Marketing
E-SIGN IT OK, folks, this really ought to be a no-brainer, but we get enough e-mails from jewelers (and you know who you are) that have no e-mail “signature.” This is simply a few lines of text (preferable to a photo or HTML) at the bottom of every e-mail you send that give your name, your store’s name, its location, phone number and perhaps your store’s slogan. We spend the time and effort tracking down your store and location because it’s our job. Do you want to make it that much work for your customers, too?

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Pain Reliever
SEIZE THE MOMENTS Squint for the silver lining around the cloud of recession, and you might see more time on your employees’ hands for training and professional development. “Often when times are tough, that’s precisely when there is enough breathing room in the daily work flow to give your people the chance to better themselves,” says BV Krishnamurthy in Harvard Business Review. If nothing else, he says, seeing this downturn as an opportunity can reduce the mental anguish.

Traffic Driver
BLOG ON In the world of search — meaning driving traffic to your website — bloggers are king because of the weighting Google gives to frequently visited links. For Goldsmith Jewelry in Orlando, FL, that made blogs an ideal recruit to assist its Valentine’s Day promotion. The jeweler offered any bloggers who wrote anything about Goldsmith the chance to win a pair of $1,500 diamond earrings. “The only requirements were that the blogger write about Goldsmith Jewelry and that they mention the contest,” says Don Lair, the store’s VP of e-commerce. “It could be positive or negative, and would still be a valid entry.” Lair contacted close to 1,000 bloggers by e-mail and received 75 entries directly. Another 2,000 unique visitors were referred directly to the site by the postings on the blogs that entered the contest. The best pay-off though was how it boosted traffic to the store’s website — up 400 percent.

Best Free Advice
RENEW EARLY AND OFTEN Renew your subscription to Instore if it’s due to expire sometime soon. Instore, the best source of free advice out there. But don’t tell your personal trainer we said that.

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Tip Sheet

How to Sell More “Spa Treatments” for Jewelry, and More Tips for September

Millennial shoppers respond to education, privacy and transparency.

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TIME MANAGEMENTAim for Busy, Not Rushed

How should you strive to feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research undertaken by the University of Maryland found this is when people are happiest. And when you’re happiest — meaning engaged and in the flow as opposed to giddy with joy — you invariably do your best work. So, start creating realistic schedules, stop checking email every 15 minutes, take breaks to exercise, and stop letting other people set your deadlines (yes, you could finish the job by tomorrow, but Friday is best for everyone.)

MARKETINGA Time for Pampering

One of the key challenges at this time of the year is how to get customers in the door. The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL, does it with a “Spa Treatment” for rings. The treatment, which is recommended annually, includes inspection of stones by hand, ultrasonic cleaning, steaming of the stones to remove excess dirt, refinishing to remove scratches, polishing the ring, and for white gold jewelry, a rhodium finishing, all for one price. “The spa treatment name was used so that the customer feels as if their jewelry is being pampered instead of worked on,” explains co-owner Don Vodicka. “This has raised our repair sales and keeps our customers very happy.”

MARKETINgShout It in Brass

If you buy your diamonds from Antwerp, it’s always a good idea to let the world know about it. Molinelli’s Jewelers in Pocatello, ID, actually has it in brass letters on their wall.

SALESLaying on a Bridal FeasT

Showcases — who needs them? That’s the diamond-selling approach at Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA, where customers are encouraged to sit with staff at a custom-made, long community table to discuss jewelry. “I designed my store with a lot of seating space in order to show diamonds effectively, and to make my employees and customers more comfortable,” explains owner Ken Siegel.

STRATEGY“How” is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, a popular podcaster and co-author of the Power Of No. “But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow, all you can do is focus on doing your best today.” Stop thinking, Just go do it.

SALESKeep Me Safe and Prosperous

Buy an engagement ring at Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, and you also get a “Keep Me” — an original document that travels with the piece of jewelry. The paper “encourages customers to spend dollars by emphasizing the legacy aspect of their purchase,” explains owner Eileen Eichhorn.

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Tip Sheet

Saving the Boring Jobs for the Office, Watching TV with Purpose and More Tips for July

Plus, how to use questions to make yourself a better listener.

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personalDo Down Time With Purpose

Approach this summer with more purpose, recommends Greg McKeown, writing in the Harvard Business Review. “That means if you decide to watch TV, really watch it. If you are having a meal, take the time to enjoy the meal.” Of course it also means making a choice: do you want to spend your summer downtime in front of the tube? We’re going to hazard a guess the answer is no. Go schedule some activities that ensure you fully recuperate this summer.

EVENTSMake It Light-Hearted

Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, understands that at its heart, shopping for jewelry should be a joyful experience. To support that message, it tries to add a lighthearted touch to city events by doing something fun in the store, say owners Orin and Tina Mazzoni. “Example: when a citywide ban was put on serving wine/drinks to women at the annual Girls’ Night Out, we all dressed as if it were the Prohibition and served root beer and sparkling wine.” How does your fun game compare?

LEARNINGUp Your Reading Game

Want to read more? Try what serial entrepreneur and business author James Altucher does and read about 30 pages of five books each day. Given the average American reads about 250 words a minute, or about a page a minute, that’s two-and-a-half hours. Don’t have that much time? How about 25 pages of three books? That’s little more time than it takes to watch an episode of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey.

PRODUCTIVITYHome Is Where The Creativity Is

Here’s a neat rule to get the most out of your work day (for people in a position to pull it off, meaning business owners): Do creative work at home and boring work, where you may need some compulsion, at the office. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, researchers found that when it came to creative tasks, people were 11 percent to 20 percent more productive outside the lab. For rote and repetitive tasks, however, they were 6 to 10 percent less productive when not in a formal work environment.

SALESIs That So?

In The Patterson Principles Of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you are interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

SERVICEDon’t Band-Aid A Gunshot Wound

When it comes to repairs, it often pays to look beyond the customer’s specific request, says Bruce Goodheart of Goodheart’s Jewelry in Overland, KS. “Don’t fix one prong when there are 20 other prongs you need to re-tip. You don’t need the headache, and it will show how professional you are. You have a reputation to uphold, and you can’t put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”

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Tip Sheet

Learning to Love PITA Customers and More Tips for June

When starting out, go bold and quirky (just not weird), and the secret to a perfect break.

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CUSTOMER SERVICEEmbrace the Pain

In his most recent letter to Amazon’s shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos said one thing he loved about customers is that they are “divinely discontent”. Their expectations only ever “go up,” he said. Eileen Eichhorn, owner of Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, said decades working in her family store has taught her something similar about demanding customers: they make excellent references. “Pain-in-the-ass customers send us the best customers.”

STRATEGYBegin With Bold

When trying a new business venture (or even prototyping a new jewelry line), always try the wackier, quirkier stuff first, says Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp and author of the business bestseller Getting Real. “The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process,” he recently wrote on his Twitter feed.

EVENTSBirthday Gifts Welcome

What month was your company born? Throw a birthday party and ask your customers to bring “gifts” of testimonials that you can use in your marketing. Including such third-party recommendations on your website and in your ads is one of the best ways around to convince others that your store is, indeed, the best place to shop, says Entrepreneur magazine’s Idea Site For Business.

HUMAN RESOURCESDivine Your Own Dress

Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA has solved its dress code issues by simply leaving it up to the staff. It’s part of a bigger strategy to emphasize the employees’ individual talents and unique tastes. “We think it is better for them to be different from one another and create a balanced set of skills and talents, than to all offer the same things,” says owner Ken Siegel. “Employees are happiest when they can be themselves and are encouraged to develop their own self in a safe and happy environment.”

STORE EXTERIORThe Big Picture

First thing to do before slapping a mural on the side of your building? See if the government will pick up part of the bill. Joe Declet of Fins and Skins in Pinellas Park, FL, got tired of telling new customers to look for the “ugly orange building,” so when his lease came up for renewal, he negotiated the right to add the mural. Working with a local artist, he now has a 30- by 50-foot mural depicting a coral reef — and the city offset his expense with a $1,500 grant as part of a beautification program.

MANAGEMENTBreaking Breaks

The most important thing to understand about breaks is that they are not a deviation from performance; they are part of performance, says Dan Pink in his latest business best seller, When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing. “And the most restorative breaks are social rather than solo, outside not inside, moving instead of stationary, and fully detached rather than semi-detached.”

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