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You Ask, We Answer Part 3 of 3: Questions from Jewelry Brands About Coronavirus and the Jewelry Industry

I recently invited my clients and Instagram followers to submit their questions about running a jewelry business in the time of coronavirus. This post is part two of a (so far) three-part series, and I’ll be answering three questions at a time. Click here to read part one, and click here to read part two. If you’d still like to submit a question, you can always email me, and I’ll do my best to answer it.

How can you implement marketing initiatives when you don’t really have the budget for them?

While it’s nice to have a marketing budget (ideally you’d be dedicating 7 to 8% of your gross revenue to marketing and advertising), you may not always have access to those marketing dollars. For example, if you’re a brand-new jewelry business, then you wouldn’t have a marketing budget without support from investors or loans. In addition, when something unprecedented like the coronavirus sweeps the economy, you may be unable to spend any money on marketing.

The good news is that you can still implement marketing initiatives with little-to-no money, as long as you’re creative, disciplined, and dedicated. Over the past few years, plenty of bootstrapped entrepreneurs have launched and grown their business with some very scrappy marketing initiatives. After some time, as they are able to gain more funding, they can eventually scale their marketing initiatives.

One of my favorite examples of a scrappy entrepreneur is Gary Vaynerchuk, the current chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company, and the active CEO of VaynerMedia. Gary didn’t start out as a media millionaire. After college, Gary returned to his hometown in New Jersey to help his family grow their wine store. First, he started emailing customers weekly discounts and specials and sharing his favorite wine recommendations (cost = nothing except time). Next, he decided to start a website called to take his family’s brick-and-mortar business online. In an effort to boost traffic to the website, Gary began publishing a 20-minute daily YouTube show Wine Library TV (cost = nothing except time and maybe some basic video equipment). His goal was to educate and delight his viewers, but he was also indirectly promoting the site. Ultimately, he grew his family’s wine business from a $3 million to a $60 million business (Source), simply by committing to his content.

Be aware that what you won’t be spending in dollars, you will be spending in time. Here are some ideas for marketing initiatives that you can execute for very little money:

Video marketing: Like Gary, you can start creating regular video content. By using the smartphone you already own and finding some flattering light, you can start creating video content immediately. Your goal should not be to sell your jewelry, as if you’re a home shopping network host, but it should be to provide value to your customers, whether you’re entertaining them, informing them, delighting them, amusing them, or whatever. Publish often and publish regularly. Don’t let your desire to be perfect hold you back from starting today.

Email marketing: Email is one of the best ways to start building lasting and meaningful relationships with your customers, and it can cost absolutely nothing. In fact, Mailchimp’s Free plan includes all the basics you need to start marketing. For no money at all, you can maintain up to 2,000 contacts and send 10,000 emails per month, with a daily send limit of 2,000. To start sending emails, you don’t even need to hire someone to help you, since Mailchimp’s templates make it easy for you to design your email campaigns. You simply need to commit to maintaining a consistent email marketing calendar and sending those emails.

Social media marketing: You likely already have an organic social media marketing strategy for your business, and you’re probably posting on Instagram and Facebook without spending much money. However, you can get more out of your social media marketing efforts by spending more quality time on the platform. Engage with target customers by browsing hashtags you think your target customers may be using. Like their photos and leave comments, and they will likely check out your feed as well. When it comes to organic social media marketing, you get back as much as you give – there are no shortcuts or magic spells.

Content marketing: Content marketing is by far my favorite way to do marketing on a budget. When I say “content marketing” I mean blog posts, ebooks, style guides, and more. When you create truly meaningful and impactful content, you’ll start gaining your target customers’ attention, since they’ll be interested in your voice and excited to hear more from you. Of course, content marketing takes a lot of time and planning, and it’s more of a long-game marketing strategy. However, it can be evergreen if you choose to make it that way, and it can be repurposed in many ways, so it keeps giving back to your brand.

How will the role of direct-to-consumer change?

Now that consumers’ shopping habits are changing, direct-to-consumer brands will have their time to shine. Many consumers are currently dissatisfied with ecommerce giants like Amazon; in the past, they would visit Amazon to order their everyday household items along with apparel and accessories. However, that’s changing.

Amazon strives to be the “everything store”, but the truth is that during the coronavirus outbreak they simply can’t keep up with consumer demand. As a result, they haven’t been able to fulfill orders in a timely manner and have gotten a little too big for their britches.

Seeking alternatives, consumers are turning to the source: direct-to-consumer brands. In the past, small brands relied on their wholesale partners because it was simply too difficult and costly for them to get in front of consumers themselves. However, thanks to the advent of Shopify and the exemplary model set by many ecommerce direct-to-consumer brands (including Warby Parker, Casper, Dollar Shave Club, and Glossier), consumers feel more confident about shopping the underdogs and supporting the small business owners rather than subsidizing the giants.

As long as you’ve done everything you can to refine your branding and optimize your website, then the right customers will find you, since they’re currently seeking alternatives. You need to be ready to meet them where they are. In addition, you’ll want to focus on providing an exceptional customer experience, one they won’t be able to get from an ecommerce giant; focus on packaging, customer service, personalization, followup, and community to truly make a splash.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of shifting to direct-to-consumer?

If you’re not currently selling direct-to-consumer, you may be wondering about the benefits and drawbacks of moving to this model.

First, let’s discuss the advantages of selling directly to your customers instead of relying on a retailer. Not only do you have more control of your brand story and how it’s communicated, but you also have unlimited potential to expand your brand reach and the chance to understand your customers better.

A retailer that’s representing your brand doesn’t know you as well as you do. You don’t know how their salespeople are portraying your product and whether or not they’re giving your brand the same amount of attention as their other brands. When you sell direct-to-consumer, you can train your customer service team to your liking. In addition, the sky’s the limit with direct-to-consumer. If you’re able to implement solid marketing strategies and scale at a manageable pace, then there’s really no stopping you. Finally, since you’re working directly with your customers, you have the chance to understand them better; that means you can create more impactful marketing campaigns and new products that resonate with your target customers.

Are there any drawbacks to selling only direct-to-consumer? Above all, you won’t have the support of a retail partner that may have more money and resources than you. First, you’ll need to be prepared to invest in your marketing, since you won’t have a retailer to support you in that and expose you to your target market. In addition, you’ll also need to be savvy about data, since you’ll own all your own data and will need to know how to make the most of it. Finally, you’ll need to figure out how to handle order fulfillment on your own. Ideally, you’ll want to develop a diverse business model, selling direct to consumer but also pursuing other lucrative channels, like exclusive partnerships with retailers.