How a Jewelry Brand Can Avoid Spending Money on Advertising

These days, most jewelry designers work on a shoestring budget, reinvesting whatever profit they make into creating new pieces for their collections. Furthermore, jewelry store owners are wary of spending money on advertising because they can’t predict its effectiveness and what its return on investment will be.

Through advertising in the late 1940s, diamond brand DeBeers coined the phrase “A Diamond Is Forever.” Their ads dramatically changed the course of the bridal jewelry industry. But today’s consumers have more choices, and they’re happy to exercise their freedom of choice. As a result, they’re not as singlemindedly swayed by a brilliant ad slogan.

In general, unless you’re a jewelry brand with a dedicated budget for advertising (money you won’t miss by allocating it solely for advertising), you shouldn’t try to scrape together money you might need for something else.

You’re probably scratching your head and wondering: How, in this day and age, can I put myself in front of potential customers without shouting over my competitors? Don’t I need to buy expensive, fancy advertising to legitimize myself? 

The answer is: definitely not, at least not at the beginning. Have you ever heard of a brand called “Starbucks”? Let me tell you how they were able to do it so that you can follow their example.

Starbucks is a successful, global brand that was founded in 1971 and didn’t start advertising on television until 1997. I can still remember feeling stunned when I saw a Starbucks TV commercial for the first time because I was so used to NOT seeing them on TV and so used to them just being there. Everywhere.

Sure, Starbucks’ competitors like Dunkin’ Donuts have had success with more traditional advertising campaigns in print, on the radio, and on television; I’m not trying to convince you that advertising is a terrible strategy for increasing brand awareness. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to spend the money until you have it.

While born in 1971, Starbucks could be seen as belonging to the club of whole-experience brands exemplified by companies that launched or came of age after the digital revolution—think Google and Zappos. These are companies known for product, customer service, overall ethos and voice, and whose brands aren’t heavily associated with advertising. As a brand built more on a word-of-mouth approach, your Starbucks associations are more likely tied to its staff, its stores, and its products than its ads. – Fast Company

How did Starbucks get away with not advertising for so long and still grow the brand at a rapid pace?

They focused instead on building a solid brand with all the qualities mentioned in the Fast Company quote above: a desirable product with consistency across all store locations, exceptional customer service, and an identifiable and distinct image supported by an unwavering mission. No amount of glossy, high-budget advertising can convince a customer to become a loyal fan of a brand that lacks any of the aforementioned qualities.

Follow Starbucks’ example by working on the following:

Product development: Make sure your jewelry is wearable and desirable. Revise your designs and inventory until they match the image you want to portray to customers. Offer a quality product that will make potential customers drool and inspire them to add your jewelry to their wish lists.

Customer service: In most cases, jewelry is not an insignificant purchase, and customers want to feel like the seller actually cares about his or her dollar. Focus on hiring the best and most talented customer service associates and standardize the process of handling customer complaints and issues. Be aware of how your customers are feeling and do everything you can to keep them happy.

Company mission and brand voice: Define yourself and be sure that everything you make public – your products, your photos, your written communications, your conversations with customers and business partners – matches that definition. The same way that you can anticipate your experience no matter what Starbucks you enter, anywhere in the world, your brand should be that predictable, but never in a boring way.

What will you earn as a result? You’ll develop a solid brand that will thrive on word-of-mouth marketing from satisfied customers. Your products will also easily lend themselves to social media marketing (free!) because they’ll have a clearly defined focus with an obvious story attached to them.

When you’ve grown your business and finally have the budget for more traditional advertising, you will have done the difficult work of thinking through the image you want to project to customers. As a result, you’ll have a more clear vision of how you want to present your brand visually and be able to communicate that vision to advertising agencies or third-party collaborators.

Have you spent money on advertising? What was the result?

Featured photo by Sam valadi

The Role of “Curation” in Jewelry Marketing

Most shoppers crave a point of view; they want to understand how an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry like a bold necklace can fit into their lives and how they should wear those items. Otherwise, they’d be overwhelmed by too many choices.

At the height of print media, fashion magazine editors were the style curators, showcasing clothing and accessories they loved and that matched their publication’s aesthetic.

These days, anyone can curate a digital fashion and accessories collection based on categories like season, color, mood, and occasion. Pinterest and Polyvore, among other tools, allow anyone with an Internet connection to showcase a point of view.

Instead of shopping in a brick-and-mortar retail store, we might shop an Instagram post styled by a highly trafficked fashion blogger.

As a jewelry brand, you may find that some bloggers and social media users will add your pieces to their own curated Pinterest boards. Why not follow their lead and curate your own merchandise by organizing your jewelry offerings into manageable and “shoppable” collections?

Too often, I see jewelry stores with displays that lack focus. Most jewelers, especially those who sell bridal jewelry, cast as wide a net as possible when it comes to merchandising. Who can blame them? They believe the more styles they offer, the more customers they’ll attract. In reality, the lack of focus is overwhelming.

Online, the issue seems to be even more widespread. No physical jewelry case is limiting any one retailer from posting as many products as possible. The temptation to sell everything may be great, but marketing your curated jewelry brand will always win as the most effective strategy.

As an example, let’s view the Tiffany & Co. e-commerce website. In the “Engagement Ring” category, a user can shop by style or by collection. The collections have names like “Harmony” and “Soleste” and are divided into manageable groups that have been curated by a common design element like a pave diamond shank.

Someone who hasn’t done much engagement ring shopping or “dreaming” might not know where to begin in terms of style, but the person might have a positive visceral response to a collection’s overall mood. A collection can help focus and alleviate the anxiety of the subsequent buying decision.

Furthermore, creating collections within your brand’s jewelry inventory allows you to tell a story about your merchandise. In the highly competitive world of e-commerce retail, where you may never meet your customers face to face, you must distinguish yourself with a story that contains strong emotional elements.

When you curate your own collection, you can assign it and the items within it, names, and the product descriptions can be more than a simple rundown of the technical details. Instead, the item can become a character in the larger story of the collection.

Do you already use collections as part of your jewelry marketing strategy? If so, how do you decide which items to group together in a collection? Do you tell a visual and/or written story about the collection? Comment below with your thoughts.

Featured photo by Barta IV

Should a Jewelry Brand Buy Followers and Likes?

Recently, I had the chance to meet my new friend Jilienne – jewelry connoisseur and jewelry marketing/PR extraordinaire – for coffee, and we chatted about social media marketing for jewelry brands.

At some point, a stranger interrupted our conversation and added his thoughts about buying likes (and taking “desperate selfies,” but that’s a topic for another post). Apparently, the stranger is a social media marketing expert, so he’s always trying to talk clients out of buying likes.

If you’re not aware of the practice, anyone with as little as $3 can buy likes for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These days, likes can be purchased in bulk from companies that generate very believable-looking accounts with real profile photos and descriptions. In some cases, likes come from real people in other countries. A simple Google search and a credit card number can get you as many likes as your heart desires.

Buying likes can be tempting, especially for brands that are just beginning their social media journey and are having trouble gaining traction. Most days, social media can feel like a popularity contest. And no one can deny the theory of “social proof,” which posits that brands with more likes generate even more likes.

If it’s so easy to buy likes, why shouldn’t you buy likes? Here are three reasons: 

1. Social media shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Instead, media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should encourage engagement and interaction. And bots won’t interact with brands or buy their products.

The stranger who interrupted the conversation I was having with Jilienne made a great point: if you’re an actor or model who needs to prove”social worth” to an agent, then maybe buying likes will work in your favor: on the surface, you’ll appear popular and well liked. However, if you’re a brand interested in using social media to generate a loyal following, then buying likes definitely won’t work for you.

2. The metric that should matter to you – your engagement rate – will suffer. Social media marketing experts don’t necessarily worry about likes; they worry about ratios.

Let’s pretend that you have a million followers, and 1,000 people like your photo. A thousand like might seem impressive, but why aren’t your other 999,000 followers also participating? Why aren’t they liking your photo? Given the likes-to-follower ratio, 1,000 likes isn’t impressive at all.

According to Socialdraft, a healthy engagement rate is about 4 to 12%. They use the following formula to determine rate of engagement:

Engagement rate = # of likes + # of comments / # of followers x 100

Personally, I would say that a 10% rate of engagement is fantastic and should be your goal for every post. If you’re buying followers, you likely won’t achieve this ratio, and if you’re buying likes, you’ll be spending lots of money to maintain a “healthy” albeit fake rate of engagement for every post.

3. Your notifications feeds will eventually start to annoy you. I’ve noticed that fake followers tend to leave spammy comments, which damage the appearance and reputation of your posts.

Reading those spammy comments and being bombarded with likes by boring, fake profiles gets old after a while. Managing a social media account with fake followers and likes can be a lonely practice. The fun of social media is connecting with new people and moving that connection from digital to analog as swiftly as possible. Here’s a fun fact: Jilienne and I met on Twitter! Real engagement is possible and exciting.

Have you ever bought followers? If so, did you have a positive or negative experience? If not, would you ever consider buying followers?

Featured photo by genibee

How to Host a Blogger Event for Your Jewelry Brand or Store

Maybe you’re a jewelry designer or brand who’s been wary of spending money on traditional advertising. You’re not sure if you’ll receive a return on your investment.

I don’t blame you – some of the ad industry’s most vocal critics believe that “selling” is no longer an effective strategy and that, instead, creating entertaining and engaging content is a preferred method for generating brand interest and loyalty. However, you might not be sure how to generate buzz in a unique way that will be seen and heard by your targeted audience.

In this post, I’ll explain why you should consider hosting a blogger or influencer event for your jewelry brand or store and also how you can execute it successfully.

Understanding Bloggers/Influencers

I’ve been thinking about how this new era of product-driven content created by fashion bloggers and influencers compares with content published by “gatekeepers” in print fashion magazines. If you read a fashion magazine, you can very clearly distinguish between sponsored content and public-relations-fueled magazine journalism: for example, jewelry worn by a celebrity in a red-carpet photo or a product mention in a round up of on-trend engagement rings.

Which do you trust more – an advertisement or a non-sponsored recommendation?

These days, brands are frequently approaching highly-trafficked bloggers and social media influencers with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers. If an influencer agrees to collaborate with a brand, he or she will receive free products, services and/or payment in exchange for exposure: a sponsored blog post, a hosted giveaway, or prominent product placement in a photo or video.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doesn’t necessarily monitor bloggers, but they do strongly recommend that bloggers and other digital influencers disclose sponsored content to uphold “truth in advertising.”

Finding Bloggers and Influencers to Invite

At this point, you’re probably wondering, who are these magical unicorns making a living by photographing themselves wearing beautiful items that companies send them for free?

With a small time investment and some free tools, you can find the influencers in your niche, whether that be bridal jewelry or vintage brooches. You can see who they’re wearing and what brands are paying them to be spokespeople.

Here are some tools I like to use (all have free versions or free trials) to find influencers:

Followerwork: With Followerwonk, you can search Twitter bios and timelines for keywords related to your niche and then sort results based on how many Twitter followers the user has. More Twitter followers usually (but not always) means the person is influential in his or her field.

Buzzsumo: Type any keyword, and your results (limited with free version) will include a list of influencers in that field.

Bluenod: Bluenod is a very visual platform that displays influencers based on connections and number of followers. Results are presented in a web format that displays a community revolving around your chosen niche and the most influential people within it.

Or, you can simply try a few Google searches to find new blogs.

Why Should You Consider Hosting a Blogger/Influencer Event?

The most influential bloggers and social media stars write about products like it’s their day job – because for many of them it is. They’ve become accustomed to companies approaching them, and they often execute their content in a predetermined format to satisfy their contract terms. Furthermore, readers become accustomed to the sponsored nature of the content, and that content may, over time, cease to influence buying decisions.

Furthermore, these days nearly every blog post, Instagram photo, or tweet by a highly influential fashion blogger has most likely been funded in some way by a clothing or accessories brand. Customers might see a sponsored post and think, “Oh, that necklace is cute,” but chances are that they won’t remember the brand, unless they go out of the way to read the caption and click through some links. Unless the influencer is an official and exclusive spokesperson for a brand, that brand’s product might only appear once or twice among hundreds of posts.

Here’s an idea: what if a blogger or influencer found herself excited and genuinely enthusiastic about sharing her thoughts in regard to your brand because you provided him or her with a unique, unforgettable experience?

Talented and skilled public relations experts strive to surprise and delight influencers by sending samples, hosting events, following up, speaking their brand’s language, and striving ultimately for product placement without spending any more money than the cost of samples and party incidentals.

Approaching brand development with a public relations mindset and making relationship building your goal will excite influencers and help you create long-lasting connections with raving fans who’ll most likely stick around for a while.

Plan Your Event

Now that you’ve found some influencers you’d like at your event, you need to invite them. When you reach out to your designated bloggers/influencers, definitely personalize the e-mail message by noting why you’ve chosen this particular person and emphasizing what he/she will gain from the experience. Be specific and courteous.

Next, you’ll need to decide what form the party will take: will it happen at a physical location or virtually? If all your influencers live within traveling distance of your physical showroom or chosen event space, you can host them individually or as a group! During the planning process, you’ll want to constantly ask yourself: What will the influencer gain from this experience that will make it worth the time?

Bottega Louie
Influencer Thanks Brand for Goodie Bag on Snapchat

When it comes to planning a physical event, the sky’s the limit, but here are some tips to consider:

  • Provide a VIP experience, whatever that means in regard to your brand
  • Pay or reimburse for transportation
  • Give a special gift, whether that be free product or something special related to your brand
  • Create a photo-op-worthy space, so that your influencer can’t help but take photos of your event and share them online
  • Visit a local craft store (with coupons) to search for interesting props and gift-bag accessories
  • Follow up with a generous “thank you”

Planning a digital event is more challenging than planning a physical one because some bloggers and influencers might wonder why you’re inviting them to an “event” rather than simply paying them to produce content.

However, a few intrigued influencers might choose to participate in your digital event for the novelty and fun of it. Here are some ideas for planning a digital event:

  • Send more than one influencer free product and host an Instagram styling contest
  • Ask them to preview new products and provide exclusive feedback – tech companies that launch new apps do this all the time!
  • Create a contest and invite them to help you design a new product or feature that will ultimately bear their name

Set Realistic Expectations

When hosting a blogger/influencer event for your jewelry brand, you need to remember: set realistic expectations. You’ll be investing time in preparing for your event, but you can’t expect all your guests to be enchanted by your brand or feature you in some way on their digital channels.

The only way you can guarantee exposure is by paying the blogger or influencer to generate content about you.

Regardless, a blogger event can be the first step in creating long-term relationships with talented, well-respected individuals who take notice of how much you want to please your potential customers. A relationship created at one of these events can lead to a long-term partnership that might transcend one a blogger forms with a brand that hasn’t gone to such great lengths to charm and impress.

So What Can You Expect?

Twitter Feed
Influential Blogger Retweeted Client’s Blog Post

Results will definitely vary. Recently, I hosted an influential fashion blogger for one of my clients. Our goal was to make her feel like a princess for a day, and the result was that she shared numerous photos and videos from her visit on her Snapchat account.

Furthermore, after the event, we published a blog post on my client’s blog about the blogger’s visit. The post contained photos we took during her visit, and it explained why my client was so excited to host her and show her jewelry.

Overall, I believe the post added to my client’s image, which is built on hospitality and customer care. In addition, we were able to use that content for our social media channels, and the blogger retweeted our post to her Twitter followers.

The majority of bloggers and social media influencers are very professional and absolutely deserve to be paid for their work. However, you can also create relationships with these talented individuals without immediately offering them money. At the end of the day, the influencers in your niche are potential customers too.

Have you ever hosted this type of event before? If not, what type of event could you imagine hosting for your jewelry brand or store?