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Editor's Note

Why Excuses Are The Enemy of Learning

To get better in business and life, you must first embrace failure.

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“If you continue to be defensive every time I give you constructive criticism, you’ll never learn anything.”

I was in my mid-20s when a mentor and former employer said those words to me, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson. When you make excuses, you lose the opportunity to learn from failure and improve yourself.

It’s more difficult than it sounds. Human nature is to look outside oneself for a source of blame. No one wants to be thought of as “a failure.”

And yet, if you’re willing to bow to the requirements of wisdom, your confidence can only rise as your quest for improvement moves forward.

Our magazine is all about education, and we figured there’s no better teacher than failure — thus, you hold in your hands, “The Failure Issue.” Inside, you’ll find stories from successful businesspeople who aren’t afraid to admit how they failed, and how that failure was transformative.

For example, check out columnist David Geller’s story of how he went from near-bankruptcy to profitable through a cash-flow crucible. And read about David Nygaard’s odyssey from multi-store owner to personal jeweler and city councilman through bankruptcy and divorce.

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It all starts with a willingness to learn — and if you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t be reading INSTORE. So read on, and prepare to get the most from failure!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Have employees wear white cotton gloves when moving product around to keep skin oil off jewelry. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 30)
  • Hold “failure reviews” when anything goes wrong in your business. (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • Keep a Failure Wall in a back room where you and your staff can share “growth lessons.” (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • In job postings, describe your company, your reputation and your goals. (Ask INSTORE, p. 62)
  • Reward your clients through a Brand Ambassador program that compensates them for sharing their enthusiasm for brands. (Cool Stores, p. 78

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at trace@smartworkmedia.com.

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Editor's Note

Why The Big Survey Should Be Invaluable to Business Planning

When 800 store owners talk, you should listen.

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WE CALL OUR ANNUAL survey “The Big Survey” because we ask so many questions of respondents, but it’s also big because so many of you participate — more than 800 of you, in fact. And that makes the results incredibly valuable.
They’re so valuable that when I’m asked to speak to industry organizations, I often use the results to illustrate any number of points. For instance, I recently spoke to a group about how millennials are disrupting jewelry retail. I went back to last year’s Big Survey to reference this fascinating result: 51 percent of stores who were thriving said that the rise of millennials has been good for business, while only 18 percent of stores who were struggling said the same.
It’s questions (and results) like these that make The Big Survey so indispensable when charting the future of your business. In this case, it’s clear that if your store doesn’t cater to the needs of millennials, you’re more likely to struggle.

This year’s survey includes results like:

  • the best-performing jewelry and watch brands
  • salary comparisons for owners and staff
  • the “dark arts” of streetwise jewelers
  • the most impactful tech for jewelry store owners

And much, much more! I hope you’ll read this year’s survey not only for the fun bits and responses that make you go “huh,” but also for the takeaways that could set you up for future success.

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Remove store fixtures that are too tall to allow shoppers to look across and take in your store. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
2. Make sure your staff is fully aware of what holiday promotions will run when. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
3. Always ask prospective employees, “What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?” (Ask INSTORE, p. 70)
4. After any holiday sale, ask the client, “How many others are on your list?” (Shane Decker, p. 70)
5. Attend local small-business meetings to search out possible cross-marketing opportunities. (Cool Stores, p. 76)

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Editor's Note

For Great Marketing Advice, Don’t Ask Our Editor-In-Chief

The good news is, your fellow retailers are doing awesome things.

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FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, before I started working at INSTORE, I worked in marketing. I wrote radio, TV and print ads, and after six years of doing it, I thought I was pretty good at it. I also did media buying and marketing strategy consultations. Heck, I even wrote scripts for on-hold phone messages.

Today, much of what I learned is obsolete.

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Sure, the bedrock principles of marketing are still the same (find a way to pique the consumer’s interest), but the methods of delivery are radically different. As a result, the messaging has changed as well. A radio or TV script just doesn’t work when you post it on Facebook.

Moreover, the techniques that worked back then don’t resonate as strongly with today’s consumer. That’s because people love to be surprised. And, they love an experience.

The good news is, many of you are innovating in ways that appeal to your customer base. We’ve collected 12 such ideas in this issue’s lead story (plus a few more online at instoremag.com) that will inspire you to create your own enticing approach. From unusual promotions, to modern takes on old concepts (like the catalog), to high-tech targeting, these strategies are the type of above-and-beyond concepts that cause people to stop and take notice.

So I hope you’ll find an idea in this issue that works for you. Just don’t ask me for advice: Those “guaranteed to work” Yellow Pages templates aren’t so guaranteed anymore!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Schedule your trunk shows in November to capture clients earlier in the holiday buying process. (The Big Story, p. 40)
2. Split your displays into “jewelry islands” within the showcase to allow for multiple clients to view items at once. (10 Jewelry Display Mistakes, p. 52)
3. Use your clients as models for your direct mailers. (Brainstorm, p. 62)
4. Buy low-priced items in limited quantities to use in “feeding frenzy” marketing promos. (Jim Ackerman, p. 64)
5. Partner with local bridal-related businesses on a “Bridal Box” giveaway to engagement-ring customers. (Cool Stores, p. 80)

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Editor's Note

Today’s Bridal Client Requires A New Approach

Selection isn’t enough anymore.

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IF YOU’RE SELLING bridal the same old way you’ve done it in past decades, you may find fewer people saying “I do” to your engagement rings.

Twenty years ago, it was enough just to have a strong selection of solitaires. Heck, it’s been less than five years since custom design began to dominate the bridal conversation and lab-grown diamonds started making waves.

Those products are responses to three traits common to nearly every engagement ring shopper these days: they want uniqueness, an environmentally and ethically friendly product, and quality at a reasonable price. If you’re not addressing shoppers’ desire for a ring distinct from their peers — and one that satisfies their social conscience — you need to revisit your business model, quickly.

Today’s engagement ring shopper also responds well to an unexpected positive experience. Many jewelers now provide one or more “extras” to bridal shoppers, which we’ve collated in our lead story, “41 Surefire Ways to Make Your Bridal Business Stand Out.” These could be anything from a proposal package to a photo shoot, booth seating or concierge services.

And that’s just the beginning. Throughout this issue, you can read about how to make the most of the lab-grown diamond phenomenon, how to streamline your bridal inventory, how to get clients to return for jewelry service, and much more. So if you’re ready to turn something old into something new, turn the page and get cracking!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Write a blog post that describes the best places around your community to propose. (Tip Sheet, p. 56)
2. Create infographics about jewelry and diamonds to share on social media. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 32)
3. Give a silicon band free to engagement ring shoppers while talking about jewelry care. (Do You Or Don’t You, p. 73)
4. Treat engagement ring clients to a ride to their wedding in a vintage vehicle. (The Big Story, p. 40)
5. Track which live samples result in special orders. (Sherry Smith, p. 61)

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