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Tip Sheet: June 2013

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Tips: June 2013

Fresh ideas to better your business.

BY THE INSTORE TEAM
Published in the June 2013 issue

GENERAL

SHINE A LIGHT
Ever dropped a diamond in the workshop and then gone through the maddening frustration of not being able to find it? Slam no more phonebooks, because Jerome Hutchison, owner of Golden Buffalo Fine Jewelry in Riverton, WY, has a nifty tip to help. “We turn out all the lights and shine a flashlight across the floor. We’ve found every one we’ve dropped that way. Keep your eye open for twinkles,” he told his local paper, The Ranger, which recently ran an account of his jewelry salvaging efforts.

POWER OF ONE
Changing employee behaviors is one of the toughest things to do as a business owner or manager. People generally like the status quo. The secret is to start small, one step at a time, says Morten T. Hansen, writing on the Harvard Business Review blog. “People need clear direction. If you bombard them with eight values or 12 competencies you want them to practice,” you will be met with inertia, he says. A better approach is to focus on changing one behavior at a time.

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THE COLOR PURPLE
If you saw footage of the Christie’s New York “magnificent jewelry sale” in April you may have noticed that many of the pieces were displayed on pale purple neck forms or bathed in mauve light. There is nothing new about purple’s associations with royalty and wealth (it has to do with how difficult it was to originally produce the dye needed to create purple garments). And display artists today still believe that it is the color most likely to persuade customers to open their wallets. It certainly seemed to work at the Christie’s auction: it garnered over $81 million with almost half that spent on one gemstone, the Princie Diamond. (Check out this month’s Cool Store to see another take on purple.)

SALES

LISTEN HERE!
With the rise of the Internet, the role of salespeople has changed from product expert to sales facilitator. But the idea of what makes a good associate seems to be stuck in the past; business owners still invariably hire gregarious, back-slapping extroverts, Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human, recently told NPR. “We have this idea that extroverts are better salespeople. But if you look at the correlation between extroversion and actual sales performance — that is, how many times the cash register actually rings — the correlation’s almost zero,” he says. “Why? … They’re just spending too much time talking. … They don’t know when to shut up. They don’t listen very well; they’re not attuned to the other person; they sometimes can overwhelm people.” Listening is the first skill in selling.

DON’T SWEAT
The Price Cutters That job you lose to the jeweler who undercuts you down the road? Sometimes the loss can pay off for you in the long run, says Sam Parker on JustSell.com. “When the lowest priced product or service doesn’t meet the expectations of a customer, a deeper appreciation of the price/value relationship is developed.” Bottom line: Know the value you provide.

THE FUZZY-WUZZIES
According to new research done by the University of Utah, people will typically spend 10 percent more as soon as “fuzziness” is introduced into the equation. It’s part of the reason people lose financial discipline when using plastic and when they have multiple spending and checking accounts. When the total isn’t a precise figure, it’s easier for your brain to justify spending more. It also underscores why it’s so important to have a specific open-tobuy when you go to trade shows.

MARKETING

PIN YOUR DOCUMENTS TOO
Yes, Pinterest is image based, but that doesn’t mean there’s no play for the written word. Indeed, it’s a great place to pin your newsletters, says Tamsin Fox-Davies, senior development manager at Constant Contact. Writing on the email marketing company’s blog, she explains how to do it: First, pick out a key image from your latest newsletter and pin it to one of your Pinterest boards. Then, and this is crucial, link it back to your archived newsletters. “It will give you extra exposure and some nice SEO benefits, too,” Fox-Davies says.

BLUE RIBBON STRATEGY
Tiffany & Co. broke tradition this year by providing sneak previews of items featured in its 2013 Blue Book to its Facebook community. Social media analysts lauded the strategy as a neat way to provide unique content to fans over an extended period of time, build buzz and reach new potential customers.

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FIRST RESPONSES
If you’re using social media for marketing, what should you say following a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings or the devastating storms that lashed the Northeast last year? Sometimes, nothing at all, says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations. “Gaffes can occur with the most innocent of intentions in any media content, marketing or not,” she says. If you want to post something but are unsure what to say, take a look at what other businesses are sharing, and how online users are reacting. “You may decide to just say nothing for a day or two, depending on the nature of the event,” she says. One thing to note: If you use automated posts scheduled through a site such as HootSuite, turn them off immediately. “If people don’t find them insensitive or silly, they’ll likely conclude your messages come from a robot — not a real person — which is just as bad,” Friedman says.

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SPONSORED VIDEO

Gene the Jeweler

Gene the Jeweler Gets Kicked Out of the Studio

In the latest episode (#42) of Gene the Jeweler, Gene is going about his business, recording a new episode. But that doesn’t last long. Four-time NFL Pro Bowl leading rusher Ahman Green walks in, and Gene finds that his time in the studio is over — whether he likes it or not. (See more Gene the Jeweler episodes at instoremag.com/gene.)

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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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