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When Media Falters, Message Leads the Charge



When Media Falters, Message Leads the Charge

17 years ago when I began working as a copywriter for Williams Marketing, an ad agency specializing in small businesses (especially jewelry stores), media choice was fairly straightforward. There was print (newspaper and magazines), and there was what we called “intrusive media” (radio and television). My boss at that time, Roy Williams, was a big proponent of the power of sound to influence people even when they weren’t paying attention.

Back then, choosing an advertising medium was like choosing a channel on network television before cable.  You had a few channels to choose from, and that was it.  Today, you have so many delivery options for your advertising that it’s difficult to choose – even more so because the proliferation of media has led to a splintering of effectiveness.

I was asked recently what advertising medium I would choose to get my message out if I were a store owner, in light of these changes?  While I certainly have some ideas on that, the best solution to driving traffic is more obvious: Craft a stronger message.

We all know that the best “advertising” is word-of-mouth.  With that in mind, what could you do with your unique selling proposition that would cause people to spread the word about how amazing your store is?  How could you specialize in terms of product?  What guarantees could you offer?  What kinds of unique events could you hold?  What kind of different approach could you take in your showroom – or with your advertising message itself?

When I was working at Williams Marketing, one of our clients was Kesslers Diamond Center in Milwaukee.  The owner, Richard Kessler, developed a guarantee called “The Miraculous No Small Print Warranty.”  It states that anything purchased at Kesslers is guaranteed – even if you lose your center stone.  Maintenance is free forever.  This is a message that wins customers.  Is there a risk of having to replace an expensive diamond?  Yes, but that’s nothing compared to the customers who have come into the store based on this warranty (at least in part).


We also had a client called Robbins Bros.  They touted themselves as the World’s Biggest Engagement Ring Store.  If you lived in their vicinity, do you think you would check them out if you were getting engaged?

We had another client named Justice Jewelers.  The owner, Woody Justice (who passed away a few years ago), spoke in each ad about the personal touch that customers would receive if they came in, and of course the great selection that the store offered.  He finished each ad with the declaration, “I’m Woody Justice, and I want to be your jeweler.”  It was open, honest, and it told each potential customer that they were important to the owner.  This campaign was so successful that we had dozens of other jewelers requesting that we write a similar campaign for them.

In those days, we could count on radio to deliver these messages to win over clients.  Today, many people are listening to satellite radio or their own personal music libraries, lessening radio’s effectiveness (although it can still work, depending on your market and the cost).  The point is, each of these messages would be equally effective no matter whether they were delivered by traditional media or online.  The means of delivery might change, but the message is what strikes a chord.  People don’t care how or where they are reached.  They care about what you’re telling them.

What incredible story are you telling your market? 



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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