Be a Better Storyteller for Your Jewelry BusinessLaryssa
Visit joyjoya.com/jump for all the details.
In this episode, I’m going to explain to you how you can be a better brand storyteller for your jewelry business. In episode #226, I introduced you to branding for jewelry businesses – why it matters now more than ever, how you can build a legacy brand, and more. I mentioned that having a strong brand has so much to do with inspiring emotion in your target customers – connecting with them beyond the superficial and building an enduring bond.
So how do you not only evoke emotion but also keep someone interested for the long term? Storytelling is the key. Keep listening or watching for:
- Why are stories so powerful?
- What are the opportunities in storytelling for jewelry brands?
- What shapes do stories take?
- And how can you be a better storyteller, no matter what kind of resources you have?
If you didn’t already listen to episode #225, you should know that I debuted an exciting new direction for the podcast as well as a new FREE program that will help you kickoff 2023 with all the resources you’ll need to make this a banner year. Check out #225 here: https://joyjoya.com/jewelry-marketing-jumpstart-2023
To give you a brief recap before we jump in, from now through early July of this year, I’ll be rolling out a free (yes FREE) six-month, podcast-guided program called “Jewelry Marketing Jumpstart” which will involve weekly audio and video lessons as well as companion PDF downloads for each new episode.
Sign Up for Jewelry Marketing Jumpstart – joyjoya.com/jump
Check out the transcript below.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 0:00
Ready to break free from algorithms, vanity PR, and money-sucking ads? My name is Laryssa Wirstiuk, and I’ve learned in seven years of jewelry marketing that content is the crown jewel. My agency, Joy Joya, takes a holistic approach, leading with laser-focused storytelling, impactful content creation, and strategic content distribution. This method has worked for the solopreneur as well as the multimillion-dollar company, and now I’m sharing these systems and tactics with you. Here’s to standing out in a Sea of Sparkle.
This is episode 227. Today I’m going to explain to you how you can be a better brand storyteller for your jewelry business. In the last episode, 226, I introduced you to branding for jewelry businesses, why it matters now more than ever, how you can build a legacy brand and more. I mentioned that having a strong brand has so much to do with inspiring emotion in your target customers, connecting with them beyond the superficial, and building an enduring bond. So how do you not only evoke emotion but also keep someone interested for the long term? Storytelling is the key. So, keep listening or watching for:
- Why are stories so powerful?
- What are the opportunities in storytelling for jewelry brands?
- What shapes do stories take?
- How can you be a better storyteller no matter what kind of resources you have available?
If you didn’t already listen to [episode] 225, you should know that I debuted an exciting new direction for this podcast as well as a free program that will help you kick off 2023 with all the resources you’ll need to make this a banner year. [Episode] 225 was kind of the welcome to that, and this is a subsequent lesson in the program.
To give you a brief recap, from now through early July of this year, I’ll be rolling out this free six-month podcast-guided program called Jewelry Marketing Jumpstart. It will involve weekly audio and video lessons here on the Podcast, as well as companion PDF downloads for each new episode. If you want to sign up right away and get those companion PDFs for each episode, visit JoyJoya.com/jump. I’ll put the link in the show notes as well. But before we get to the solid gold, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this podcast has both audio and video, so you can either listen on your favorite podcast platform or watch on YouTube by searching ‘Joy Joya.’ You can support the podcast for free by taking the time not only to subscribe but also to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
I want to read my favorite review of the week. Kaylawilliams1 says: “I first started with reading her book Jewelry Marketing Joy, then followed that with listening to the podcast. Laryssa gives valuable insight that is both attainable and easy to understand.” Thank you very much for that review. If you leave one, I might read it in a future episode. So please let me know what you think about this episode or about any other major takeaways you’ve had recently.
Okay, my sparklers, let’s get to the next installment of Jewelry Marketing Jumpstart, and it’s all about telling a better story for your jewelry brand. In the last episode, I gave a general overview of brand identity, and in this one, I’m going to focus specifically on storytelling. If you want to download the companion PDF worksheet for this episode, as well as all the future ones to come through July, you can visit JoyJoya.com/jump for that exclusive hookup. Think of them as your roadmap to growth for 2023.
Okay, so first we should talk about why your story is so powerful. And why should you care? Why is this something you need to pay attention to, invest in, and spend time doing? Storytelling often gets dismissed as this wimpy, soft skill, something that’s reserved for children’s bedtime—you know what I mean. But knowing how to tell a strong, compelling story is ultimately what separates the forgettable brands from the legends. Think about your own experience with stories, especially as they relate to learning new things and making memories.
Personally, I really hated history class in high school, in middle school—basically always. So even though we were reading about history in a textbook and it was in this kind of narrative form, I dreaded memorizing this information. I had trouble retaining it. But then, at the same time, I enjoy nonfiction. I’ve read plenty of nonfiction books, many of which are mostly driven by history, and I love them. I’m able to retain that information. I feel immersed in it, even about topics that I wouldn’t have thought I would care about. So having those two experiences really hits home for me. I’m reading this book right now called The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire. It’s all about the history of the Cartier family, including the history of places like Paris. It’s all super compelling to me; I’m turning the pages quickly.
So what’s the difference between my experience in history class, being bored out of my mind and really struggling, versus my experience reading a nonfiction book, like the one about the Cartier family? Story is the difference. Many times, when something’s presented to us as clear-cut, dry, factual information, it’s more difficult to retain. We even have trouble feeling invested in or interested in it. And that’s how your customers may feel when they visit your product page and all you’re offering them is a bulleted list with a bunch of technical specs—there’s no connection, there’s no stickiness. But when something has a story attached to it, one that’s driven by human emotion, then we’re more likely to relate to it and connect with it, feeling compelled to pay attention, and even to remember and, in the best case scenario, share it with others.
Don’t believe me from my own personal experience. There have been numerous studies done on this subject. For one, researchers at the London School of Business found that people only retain 5% to 10% of information if it consists of statistics alone, but when they hear it presented as a story, they remember 65% to 75%. Okay, so now that you’re totally convinced about the power of storytelling, I want to talk about the opportunities in storytelling specifically for jewelry brands. To build on what I just mentioned about the importance of stories, if you want to stand out in a Sea of Sparkle and be a memorable, legendary jewelry brand, then you need to start getting comfortable with storytelling. That’s how your customers are going to recall you and how they’re going to learn more about what you offer and what you’re all about.
In storytelling, you’re also creating a human connection and truly reminding your customers that there are people behind the business. Oftentimes in jewelry, there are makers, designers, and creatives behind the business. This is especially important if you are an e-commerce-first brand or you primarily sell through digital platforms. Storytelling is also a way to inspire people. Do you feel tired of just selling at people all the time? Storytelling can inspire your target customers to buy instead, and you won’t even feel like you have to “sell hard” to get people to buy into your products. Storytelling is also one of the most tangible ways to control the way you want your brand to be perceived and digested, since you’re able to control that messaging and ensure it’s consistently presented in front of your target customers.
It’s also especially perfect for jewelry brands because, as we all know in this industry and love, jewelry often has so much emotion tied to it. Jewelry is, for sure, not a necessity. People buy jewelry because they want to do things like express love, remember a person or a special moment, they want to feel status or luxury, they want to feel pretty or cool, and there are so many other reasons. It’s kind of endless, all the emotional reasons that people may buy a piece of jewelry. So, story plus emotion plus jewelry is a natural fit altogether. Also, people love retelling great stories they’ve encountered in the world. So if your jewelry brand has a story that’s so amazing that people will want to share it, then you’ve really found yourself in a golden place. Word-of-mouth marketing alone will lead you to success.
In order to create and share a great story, you have to be really familiar with all the different shapes that stories can take. And I think it’s hard for people to imagine what stories can look like. Since many of us hear the word ‘story’ and we think of Mother Goose or fables from when we were kids, the word ‘story’ can definitely have this diminutive, little kid connotation because that’s what we do when we’re kids. We tell stories, we listen to stories, we share stories, and we learn from stories. And the word ‘story’ is typically associated with the written word, but it’s not exclusive to the written word. So, I really want you to expand your definition of storytelling and start having fun with it.
Stories can definitely be written in either short or long form. They can be as short as a sentence or as long as a 1500-word-plus deep dive blog post or some other type of written content. They can be visual. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” When you have photography for your business or you’re planning your next photo shoot, think not just about how pretty or visually on-brand it can look, but how can it truly tell a story? Maybe not every single image you ever share has to tell this epic story, but many of them should. And that story should have a through-line; it should have consistency. There’s also audio and spoken-word storytelling, which doesn’t have to have text or images attached to it. It’s easy to consume and digest, and it’s relatively inexpensive to create. That’s a type of storytelling that I don’t think a lot of brands are doing. And then, of course, there’s video content which could be short form, long form, can be live, or can be recorded.
As we know from social media—Instagram, TikTok—video is one of the most compelling forms of storytelling, especially in our present digital age. There are tons of opportunities to do storytelling in video, and they don’t have to be highly produced as long as they’re authentic, entertaining, value-driven, informative, etc. And then all types of other social media posts, like all the different formats on these social media platforms, offer their own venues for storytelling. It’s about getting creative with using these formats, and finding out how to translate what it is you really want to say into the medium that makes sense for you.
So how can you start becoming a better storyteller today for your jewelry business, no matter where you are in your journey or what kind of resources you have available? First, you definitely need to get in touch with your business’s values, mission, and purpose. Just like with any good story, think about your favorite book, your favorite movie, or your favorite TV show. Most of them are compelling or tug at your heartstrings because of the characters. For your story, you need to consider who those characters are. Is your business the character in its own story? Is the founder or designer the hero or the main character? Are you making the customers the main characters in the story? And what roles do each of these characters play? You want to make sure that there’s personality infused into the story as well as the tone and voice in which it’s being told, no matter what medium you’re using to tell that story. Be as authentic and transparent as possible. And that story should be meaningful and personal.
I think a big mistake with storytelling is that, especially with brands, they try to overcomplicate it. They feel like they need to make up for something that they’re lacking or to really get their customers’ attention by adding all these details and making it so multifaceted. But actually, keeping it simple overall is the best. Don’t be afraid to linger on those important details. But keep the overarching structure very simple so that it’s easy to communicate. As they say, have that elevator pitch. Can your story be told during an elevator ride if you distill it down to its simplest parts? Don’t tell many different stories, and really be consistent with the one story that you tell.
You also may want to consider getting familiar with common story arcs because, people in the world, over centuries and centuries of storytelling, have been telling the same kind of structured stories, all with some element of conflict. Conflict is what makes stories most compelling. Some of these arcs are things like overcoming adversity, a rags-to-riches story, a long journey story, a comedic journey—there are all kinds of ways to tell a story. You may even want to study some of your own favorite fiction stories as well as brand stories to see how they’re taking advantage of these elements. Regardless of what you choose, the arc should really help the customer see themselves in a way or be able to relate to the brand or to the stories being told around the products
At the end of the day, all this needs to do is evoke emotion. If it feels too complicated to follow my tips or do these things, then just try to come up with something that you think will tug at your target customers’ heartstrings. You can test this story on people you think would purchase from your brand. How do they feel when you share your story? Also, always be asking yourself, “Why do I want to tell this story? Do I have a reason for it? And what do I want my customers to feel? Is there a disconnect between that or is there alignment?”
What do you think about that? Does that make you feel a little more comfortable about exploring the story that you’re telling? You can visit JoyJoya.com for more actionable tips about telling your story and my guidance for doing so.
Okay, so before we get into the Gold Mine, as well as my jewelry marketing news roundup, I want to share a case study of a jewelry brand that I think embodies everything I just spoke about. These are my thoughts about how I’d apply the lesson in the wild.
Disclaimer: This brand is not a current client, just one I admire and study and want to share with you. The brand that I want to highlight today is Alex Monroe, a London-based jewelry brand that’s inspired by nature and founder Alex’s nostalgia for roaming the countryside as a child. The jewelry is “made to be loved and made to be treasured,” according to the “About Us” page. When I sat down to prepare this episode, I asked myself, “Hmm, which jewelry brands should I highlight as an example of storytelling?” I have to be honest with you—Alex Monroe was the first one that popped into my mind because I think their consistency and commitment to their storytelling is so inspiring and a great model for all brands. They are truly committed to their point of view, and they’re not afraid to amplify it through their stories, both written and visual.
The story that they want their customers to experience, at least from the way I see it, is one of inviting their customers to frolic with them in an English garden or an open field with wildflowers, completely innocent and carefree, like a child. So there’s this element of nostalgia as well. This is extremely specific. But Alex Monroe as a brand has managed to build a strong identity out of this story. It connects with their customers’ own fond memories of innocence, freedom, and being carefree. Of course, the products also tell this story. They utilize a lot of floral motifs, leaves, insects, birds, other animals, and more things from nature, but the language as well as the imagery also propel the story forward. The collections have names like “A Garden Gathering”, “Golden Harvest”, and “The Beehive”.
I noticed on their e-commerce site that they have a call to action to invite visitors to sign up for the email list, and they say, “Join Our Hive”. So even the smallest details like this—these little, tiny vine animations on the website are another thing I noticed—they all seek to move the story forward. The same is true for their social media presence. They’re already talking about how they’re looking forward to spring and the flowers blossoming, so it’s all completely consistent. The “About Us” page on their website shows this really beautiful widescreen photo of Alex Monroe himself, sitting in a field of wildflowers and sketching a design in his notebook. And I love the specificity and brevity of his story.
I’ll just read you a quote because I think it really illustrates the point I’m trying to make: “Jeweller Alex Monroe grew up in the 1970’s Suffolk countryside in an old, crumbling house surrounded by wild, tangled nature. He enjoyed a childhood rich with freedom and imagination — roaming through fields, forests, and rivers, and constantly crafting all sorts of interesting (and sometimes mildly dangerous) tools and inventions to accompany him on his adventures!” Can’t you see that being pulled out of a novel as a description of a character or within the first 50 pages to set the mood? And that’s really what I encourage you to do, in a way, with your brand story. Can this be epic, interesting, and compelling enough to be in a best-selling novel?
Furthermore, I think this brand has really put thought into how the story resonates in the greater scheme of the world. They have this section on their website called “Our Ethos”, and it says: “Alex has always been mindful of the impact of his work and the jewellery industry as a whole… recognising, addressing, and managing the environmental and social impacts of our business with a balance of positive action has remained of huge importance to us all.” That is a little more cut-and-dry and factual, but it’s a really great complement to this more creative way that they’re talking about the brand. And it’s reflective of the values and the consistent detail throughout all of it because they are really concerned about their environmental impact. As a brand that’s inspired by nature, I would sure hope so. I think that is an important element, even though it might not be as cool or glamorous. It tracks, basically.
Which jewelry brand do you think is leveraging storytelling to its fullest potential? You can visit JoyJoya.com/jump for more resources on this topic, as well as access to future resources that will be released every week.
All right, so let’s move into the Gold Mine segment. This week’s topic is all about why having questions in marketing is sometimes more valuable than having answers to those questions all right away. Okay. Does this make you feel better about your own questions that you have in your business? So last year, in 2022, I was working with a business coach who showed me a lot of possibilities for my business, for my marketing and sales processes, and introduced a lot of new concepts to me. At the time, I think he was just trying to show me what was possible or where I should be aiming to go. I probably wasn’t ready for all of this information because I needed to take it back five steps and do that before I could accelerate to where he was encouraging me to be. But I feel like just knowing some of this information really kind of cracked my brain open to see what was possible and made me hopeful for where I wanted to go. So in that way, it was really positive. But on the other hand, it caused me a lot of anxiety and stress to know about some of these things because logistically, I had no idea how to wrap my head around the concepts that he was sharing with me or even how to implement them. They felt a little bit out of reach, even though my business coach was super patient with me and guided me through a lot of these things.
It kind of felt to me like… Let’s go back to the being in school example that I shared earlier. It’s like you’re at a basic addition and subtraction class, and your teacher is telling you, “Oh, one day, you’re going to be in advanced trigonometry,” and is starting to show you the textbook. You’re still here, and they’re telling you that one day you’re going to get there. But basically, that stuff looks like a foreign language to you. You don’t even know how, one day, you’re going to understand that. That’s how I felt with some of these things in my business—like I was here and they were showing me something way ahead of my current situation.
Me being an ambitious perfectionist was putting a lot of pressure on me to understand the ‘there’ and putting a lot of pressure to accelerate my journey and my path there. [I was] trying to catch up and get all this stuff done so that I can make it to the place that looked like this shiny castle on a hill. I could see it in the distance, but I couldn’t really understand how to carve the path up the hill to get to that place. So, for the first few months of the year, I really beat myself up for not understanding everything and having all the answers. And reflecting back on that time, I was just so rigid because I had my head down, focused like, “I need to get to that place; I need to understand what he’s talking about.”
I’m like: “If he’s telling me this is possible, then it’s possible. Why am I not there tomorrow or even next week?” I thought: “Surely if I’m learning this now, of course, shouldn’t I be able to absorb it right away and immediately apply it?” I think being in school makes us think that’s the reality because you go to a class, you learn a lesson, you study it, you take a test or quiz, and you pretty much know how to do something, at least on the most basic level. But I think in business, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re figuring things out as you go.
Even more broadly, in life, you can learn about something or learn about its existence and still not really understand how it applies to you or how to fully execute on it the way you might in school. That’s super frustrating. You can sort of understand something in theory, but you just don’t get the practice, it seems too abstract. I’m mostly just sharing this story because I want to ask you: Do you ever feel in your business and your marketing like you know about the possibility of something, but you’re not quite sure yet how it practically applies to you and your situation? And maybe you’re even at a point where you don’t know how to get to the place where it will finally make sense to you. I want to embrace the beauty of questioning and figuring things out because I don’t want you to be like me and beat yourself up because you’re not there tomorrow.
I invite you to try not to answer the questions all at once, immediately, because sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes you actually have to live a little and go through certain experiences, maybe even changing your mindset, maybe even gaining some confidence, maybe even having some interactions. On any planet, it would be possible to know the answer to that question. So it’s not you; it’s the fact that time needs to pass for you to get to a place where it will make sense and you can finally have that growth that you see in the distance. Especially with marketing, you could know something is not working, you could have guesses about why it’s not working, and you could have theories about how it could be better. And perhaps even you and your team can’t quite figure it out, and it’s frustrating how much you’re trying to push through it. But more and more in marketing, business, and life, I’m embracing that awareness is sometimes good enough and all you can do right now. Awareness, rather than denial, ignoring, or putting things off, is the first step to knowing that something’s off or could be better; also having awareness and not thinking you need an answer or solution right away.
Of course, maybe there is a quick answer; you should seek it and see if there is a possibility to answer something or address something quickly. But not everything can be solved and figured out in an instant. The trick is to be comfortable with just having the awareness to keep it top of mind and to keep exploring in that direction with confidence and as much as you can without anxiety or fear. And that way, you’ll eventually find one day that it’s no longer even a question or a conundrum anymore because you will have discovered the answer simply by having moved forward with intention and awareness. And waiting—as hard as it can be, waiting to get to the point where it finally makes sense—will actually give you more clarity in the long run than if you tried to fix or address things right away before you were actually ready to do so because in that time, circumstances may change, things may evolve, new information might come forward, etc. So let me know in a YouTube comment or a podcast review if you can relate to this. Do you often find yourself putting pressure on yourself to figure things out right away? Or do you have the patience to move forward while the answer reveals itself to you?
All right, let’s talk about some news related to jewelry or marketing, and if you want the links to these articles, check out the show notes. The first article comes from pymnts.com, and it’s called “Vrai Ramps Omnichannel Approach Amid Surging Demand for Lab-Grown Diamonds.” VRAI—you’ve probably heard of this direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand. The President and CEO, Mona Akhavi, recently spoke with the publication PYMNTS about consumer spending behavior on diamond jewelry, even while doubt and uncertainty in the economy prevail. She said that, at least for the company VRAI, during the holiday season of 2022, gifting diamond jewelry was big, and many of their categories around gifting diamond jewelry grew by two times year over year this holiday season. At least according to Akhavi and what VRAI has seen in their business, “lab-grown diamonds are what consumers, especially millennial consumers, are leaning towards”; 70% of millennials want to know the provenance of diamonds, and many are flocking to lab-grown.
While it began as a digital-first direct-to-consumer brand, the company has since built showrooms in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities worldwide. Akhavi says that customers are curious to see lab-grown diamonds in person so that they feel more comfortable about making a purchase. Going back to storytelling and why this connects, this allows the brand to continue, control, and deepen the storytelling around their product by having these impersonal interactions in-store. Also, one story that they’re telling is how VRAI controls its supply chain from end to end; it can make sourcing assurances that shoppers want. Also, [regarding] the more interactive visual part of the storytelling, they’ve decked out showrooms with projectors and screens for messaging, information, and education. And then, a more nontraditional element of storytelling that they’re utilizing is strategic partnerships. This has helped them tell and distribute their story. They just launched Brides magazine’s Valentine’s Day collection. Akhavi says that Brides magazine has been an incredible partner for them “because it’s exactly the type of audience that’s been looking for products like ours.” Through this strategic partnership, they’re able to amplify their story.
My main takeaway is: Even if you don’t have the same resources that VRAI has available, how can you think about perfecting your brand storytelling for your target customer and then finding ways to communicate it uniquely?—whether that’s in-person interaction, more interactive content on your website, more video content on social media, or whatever that may be.
The next article comes from CNBC, and it’s called “Gen Z is driving luxury sales as wealthy shoppers get younger.” This article from CNBC spotlights research from Bain & Co., saying that millennials and Gen Z accounted for all of the luxury market’s growth last year. Why? Social media as well as a surge in wealth creation means younger customers are shopping for luxury. Still, inflation may be curbing general consumer spending, but it doesn’t seem to be making a dent in luxury sales, which seem to be going unscathed. Purchases by some of the newest consumers are expected to grow three times faster than older generations over the next decade, according to a new report.
“Gen Z consumers are starting to buy luxury goods—everything from designer handbags and shoes, to watches, jewelry, apparel, and beauty products—at age 15.” Wow, I didn’t have money to do that when I was 15. But okay, cool. Buying luxury shoes and handbags online have become much more accessible in recent years as luxury companies have embraced online sales and a host of secondhand luxury goods websites have emerged.
Why am I talking about this? What is my main takeaway? If you classify your jewelry in the luxury category or even fine jewelry, I think it may be a really good time to take a hard look at your customer personas. Ask yourself if they’re really representing all possible demographics. I think traditionally, some of these brands think: “Oh, we only cater to [people who are] 35 plus or even 40 plus because those are the people with the money. They’re more established in their careers. They want to treat themselves with these non-essential items.” But you may have a shot at consumers who are younger than you thought could be buying from you, especially if you’re able to really nail down and tell a story about your brand that resonates with them.
The last article comes from Robb Report and it’s called “How Cartier’s New Vintage Program Restores (and Resells) Coveted Watches and Jewelry”. This interesting article explains how Cartier tells an important story of long-lasting tradition and how their designs and quality have withstood the test of time. So, this program called “Cartier Tradition” was first conceived in 1996, and at that time, it was Cartier’s way of selling their vintage pieces. By now, there’s actually a huge demand from customers for these vintage pieces from the vault, so much so that Cartier has actually decided to expand on and blow out the original program.
According to the article: “It has grown from a handful of pieces distributed across its marquee storefronts to an inventory large enough to fill a wing of an exhibition space. While some items are still displayed behind vitrines in-store, most of the pieces, ranging in price from $20,000 and up, are shown to select VIP clients around the globe during high-jewelry presentations.” In terms of storytelling, this program also shows how committed the brand is to quality and upholding certain standards. The article says, “The house is so detailed in its restoration process that it can take months to source the correct materials for quality and historical accuracy.”
My main takeaway is: I love when a jewelry business’s initiative or offering to its customers not only provides an important desired service, as has been shown with this one, which has been in greater demand recently, but also furthers the brand values as well as the brand storytelling. I think Cartier has really achieved this with its Tradition program.
So, what did you think? Do you have any questions about Jewelry Marketing Jumpstart? You can always email me, Laryssa Wirstiuk, at Larryssa@JoyJoya.com. If you love this Podcast, please share it with a friend who would appreciate it. And don’t forget to subscribe as well as leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you’re completely new to digital marketing, then you will want to purchase and read a copy of my book, Jewelry Marketing Joy. Visit JoyJoya.com/book for more information.