Comments: 0 1

Interview With Jeweler Tom Duma on Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

In episode #183 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I share my interview with Tom Duma, president of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, OH. I first came across Tom through his columns in InStore Magazine; he’s written about topics like calculating ROI for marketing, getting five-star reviews, and leveraging traditional marketing.

A local landmark for over 100 years, the store saw moderate success until Tom chose a different path forward. He purchased the store from his father and went on to reinvent the retail experience. Bringing in designers and international architects, he transformed the family business into a luxury destination, even qualifying as one of INSTORE’s “America’s Coolest Stores” in 2007. Today, Tom continues to redefine what it means to be successful, watching his business grow year over year with new avenues of outreach, marketing and brand development.

We discuss:

– What he’s doing to reinvent the retail experience in 2022 and beyond
– Why traditional marketing is more relevant than ever and needs to work alongside digital marketing
– How you can go about testing traditional marketing efforts like radio, tv, and direct mail
– What to expect when experimenting with a new marketing method
– What’s it like to be part of a mastermind or performance group …and more!

Check out the transcript below.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 0:08
Welcome to the Joy Joya Podcast, where “jewelry is joy”, and everyone is encouraged to add more polish and sparkle to the world with topics ranging from marketing tips to business development, best practices, and beyond. This is the go-to podcast for ambitious jewelry industry dreamers like you.

Hi, I’m your host, Laryssa Wirstiuk. Through this podcast, I aim to empower and inspire jewelry entrepreneurs and professionals so they can thrive while adding more beauty to the world. I’m passionate about digital marketing for jewelry brands, and I’m excited to share my passion with you. As we all know, “jewelry is joy”, so I’ll gladly seize any opportunity to talk about it.

This is episode 183. And today I’ll be sharing my interview with a very special guest who I met through his contributions to Instore Magazine. More about him and his background later in the episode. But in the meantime, I want to give you a preview of what we’re going to cover before I get to his bio:

What he’s doing to reinvent the retail experience in 2022 and beyond.
Why traditional marketing as opposed to digital marketing is more relevant than ever before and needs to work alongside digital.
How you can go about testing traditional marketing efforts like radio, TV, and direct mail.
What to expect when experimenting with a new marketing method.
What it’s like to be part of a mastermind or performance group.

And much more!

But before we get to the solid gold of this episode, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this podcast has both an audio and a video component. So you can either listen on your favorite podcast platform, or watch on YouTube by searching “Joy Joya”. I love creating this content as my active service to you, my awesome listeners and viewers. And you can always support the podcast for free by taking the time not only to subscribe, but also to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, which helps other jewelry dreamers find it too.

Moving forward, I’ll be reading some of my favorite reviews and even creating new episodes based on recommendations and topic suggestions that Joy Joya podcast fans leave in those reviews. So, please let me know what you want to hear or see in the future.

In this segment of the podcast, I give out my Sparkle Award for the week. During this segment, I highlight a jewelry brand that’s impressing me, whether with their marketing or some kind of new initiative, product collection—whatever that may be. The Sparkle Award is also interactive, so you can visit to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.

So this week’s Sparkle Award goes to eBay. And I saw this in an article in JCK but was hearing the buzz about this even before I saw the article: they announced that fine jewelry is now part of their Authenticity Guarantee. It’s the fifth category to be part of this authenticity guarantee, coming behind sneakers, watches, handbags, and trading cards.

This makes me so excited because I love buying jewelry from eBay. It’s one of my favorite places to shop for jewelry. “Jewelry is one of eBay’s most popular categories, with an average of 7.8 million fine jewelry listings on the marketplace daily. In 2021, it sold eight fine jewelry items every minute and sold 4.2 million fine jewelry items for the year.” Can you believe that? That is so much jewelry being sold on the eBay marketplace! So eBay is collaborating with the GIA to verify the condition, quality, and accuracy of an eBay find jewelry listing for potential buyers.

The authenticated jewelry will be marked with an Authenticity Guarantee badge, and it also receives an authentication card with a QR code that allows the buyer to see documentation. Tirath Kamdar, General Manager of Luxury at eBay, says, “The launch of authenticity guarantee for jewelry is an incredible milestone, and we’re thrilled by the immediate positive response we have seen from our communities of buyers and sellers.”

So how does it work? New and pre-owned fine jewelry sold for more than $500 is eligible for this service. Auction items are also included if the item sells for more than $500. Only items from US sellers going to US buyers are eligible. And if an item does not match the listing, or if its authenticity cannot be verified, the item is sent back to the seller and the buyer receives a refund.

The coolest thing about all this: eBay covers all costs of the authentication process. It’s really doing a lot to inspire trust in customers in the jewelry space, and also to trust the resale market providing new opportunities for sellers. I love it!

As I mentioned, you can visit to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.

Let’s discuss some recent news related to jewelry or marketing. Each week I share my thoughts about three relevant articles. The first one comes from Business of Fashion and it’s called “Fashion Should Pay Attention to Instagram’s Content Troubles”. So I don’t know if you’ve noticed; I’ve definitely noticed this and heard from a lot of people that users have really been complaining about the Instagram user experience lately. So their feeds are filling up with ads and suggested posts with little clear relevance to them.

This has been my experience as well, especially with those joint posts or—I cannot remember what it’s called. But when you can do a post together with another account, and I don’t know who that person is, and they’re not relevant to me, but it still shows up in my feed because I follow one of those two accounts. I hate those posts. I wish they would go away. Can anyone relate to that?

Instagram is still a larger platform than TikTok, with more users. But TikTok definitely had more downloads in Q1 of this year. And here’s why I’m mentioning TikTok. For fashion, the trend forecasters out there are starting to turn to TikTok instead of Instagram, which they had used a lot previously. Here’s a great quote from the article: “These days, TikTok is the place where trends like ‘coastal grandma,’ with its breezy, beachy minimalism, seem to bubble up. The app holds an outsized sway over young shoppers, too. In a survey last year, 39% of the Gen-Z respondents said TikTok videos were among the influential factors that would get them to buy a new product. Instagram ads and Instagram influencers trailed behind at 23% and 22%, respectively.”

For many years, as you can imagine, or you’ve probably noticed, Instagram’s visual format combined with its reach has made it one of the most important social platforms for fashion brands that are looking to connect with audiences. But that is rapidly changing as TikTok gains more ground and really becomes the place where trends start to happen. So it’s really interesting to think about.

I’m going to talk about TikTok again. So the next article comes from Tubefilter. It’s called “TikTok isn’t just challenging YouTube for views. It’s impacting Google search traffic, too.” If you have customers in younger demographics, like Gen Z and even some younger millennials, you’ll want to think about how members of these demographics are actually using social platforms to search for things, as opposed to searching for products and things they want to buy via Google. So they’re increasingly turning to social media when they want to find hot new stuff in their area or things they want to buy, rather than turning to that search bar. They’re looking on TikTok or Instagram.

It’s really interesting to think about SEO from this perspective. A lot of brands are focused on optimizing their search engine presence and coming up high in search engine results. And I think that as long as people are using Google, that will continue to be relevant. Google is also innovating its shopping platform to keep up with these changing consumer behaviors. But it’s really important to think about how TikTok and Instagram could actually be their own search engines—and Pinterest as well, I didn’t even mention that—for your products and for your brand. Consider how you can be found there and what your target customer might actually be searching for when they’re looking for things that you sell.

And then the last article comes from Fast Company and it’s called “Influencers are out—authenticity is in”. I have to share this article with a grain of salt because I still think there’s a place for influencer marketing, especially for micro-influencers. And it’s something I recommend to select brands. So I’m going to say, don’t take this sensational headline too seriously. But I would say, definitely, the influencer marketing economy is shifting. “Unscripted, off-the-cuff content blew the direct response style content away in all our metrics.” That is from an agency that creates paid social ads with user-generated or influencer content. They have found that the more natural, genuine customer testimonials perform much better in the ads that they publish, instead of when they pay big influencers to do some kind of testimonial for them. [The article says], “Wagering on less expensive deals with amateur creators, blanketing the internet with relatable, authentic-feeling content that’s optimized for conversion” is really where this economy of influencers is heading.

I think brands, instead of looking for follower accounts are actually asking for examples of content because they just want to have partners that can create great content for them. And the follower counts don’t necessarily matter so much, because it’s hard to see a return on investment. Anyway, what’s important to remember, whether you work with an influencer, a smaller content creator, or you’re sourcing user-generated content from your customers, is that the one-and-done approach, where you just do like a one-off post with someone, is not going to work. This has to be a consistent, repeatable effort in order to get noticed and build trust with your customers. So those are my three articles for this week. You can find the links in the show notes if you want to check them out yourself.

So let’s get back to the main content of this episode. As I mentioned at the beginning, my guest—I was trying to tease him a little bit—I met him or learned about him through his column in Instore Magazine. His name is Tom Duma. He’s the president of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, Ohio. He’s written for Instore Magazine about topics like calculating return on investment for marketing, getting five-star reviews for your business, and leveraging traditional marketing, which is the topic that Tom and I are mostly going to talk about today.

After retiring from professional motorcycle racing in 1982, Tom entered the family business, channeling his competitive energy into selling jewelry. A local landmark for more than 100 years, the store saw moderate success until Tom chose a different path forward. He purchased the store from his father and went on to completely reinvent the retail experience. Bringing in designers and international architects, he transformed the family business into a luxury destination, even qualifying as Instore Magazine’s America’s coolest stores in 2007. Today, Tom continues to redefine what it means to be successful, watching his business grow year over year with new avenues of outreach, marketing, and brand development. Without further delay, let’s get to my interview with my guest, Tom Duma.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 13:47
Hi, Tom! Thanks so much for coming on the podcast today. I’m really excited to have you as a guest.

Tom Duma 13:53
Well, thank you for the invite. I’m equally excited as well.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 13:57
Yes. So tell our listeners and viewers a little bit more about your store. Yes, let’s start there. Tell us about your store.

Tom Duma 14:05
It’s my 42nd year in the jewelry business. I came into my father’s business in 1980 to be exact. And he and I, my wife at that particular time, my sister and her husband, all were one big happy family working with my dad. In 1986, he decided to retire officially for the first time, so we bought him out. And as we went down the road, we got close to the year 2000, my sister and her then-husband didn’t work out in their marriage and ended up getting a divorce. We didn’t have a buy-sell agreement or any of those good things that you should have in all of your business if you have a partner. Make sure you have a buy-sell agreement. So you learn these lessons as you journey through that process.

Tom Duma 15:07
We had to have liquidation of that corporation in order to settle the assets of the family and settle that corporation. It was finalized in 2002, right after Mother’s Day. So then I knew I was coming back into the jewelry business. The building in which the old business was located was not part of our business, if you will, between me and my sister, and her husband and my wife. My father kept the ownership of that as a kind of retirement for him. And so, with my sister and my ex-brother-in-law out of the picture, me and my wife looked at the opportunity now that we had a blank slate because I bought an ongoing concern from my dad, who bought the business from an ongoing concern that was established in 1896.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 16:02
Oh, wow!

Tom Duma 16:03
Yes, so it was a long-standing firm that my dad had purchased. So when we bought it in 1986, there was no need to change anything. It was running fine at that point. But coming forward to 2002, when I had a blank slate, we had an opportunity to change the name. We had to because the old business, we liquidated it. So I named it after my father—I’m the same name. He always spelled his differently than mine because I wasn’t allowed to go to the same dry cleaner because of our names. We would get things mixed up. So he spelled his name with an ‘H’, ‘Thom’; I spelled my own ‘Tom.’ But it was nice to be able to name the business after my father, who spent his whole life in the jewelry industry and was still living at that particular time. He was excited, and from that point on, the rest is history. Here we are now 20 years since starting a new life, basically, in the jewelry industry for me.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 17:13
Sure. So in the early 2000s, of course, consumer behavior was different than it was in the 80s. Consumer expectations were different. And you had this blank slate and an opportunity to really reinvent. So what were some ways that you did reinvent or reinvigorate that retail experience?

Tom Duma 17:32
Well, first and foremost, it was the inventory. So we had an opportunity at that particular point to go after brands. Before, we didn’t carry any major timepiece brands; it was more of a Seiko or Citizen. And then as far as the inventory and jewelry, there were no national brands there either. And so we’re located between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. So we have our own marketplace, we have our own TV stations, we have our own radio stations. So we’re far enough away from those two metropolitan areas.

Tom Duma 18:15
And what I noticed at that time—that all the jewelry stores, and there were a ton of them in our market area—everybody had virtually the same type of inventory mix. And so, there was not a fully branded store where it was Rolex, Mikimoto, David Yurman, all the top brands that I would consider top in each category. So at that point, we jumped off of the bridge, so to speak, and built our store out—completely changed the image and the layout of the store. And we started writing letters to Rolex, Mikimoto, David Yurman, and Quarry. Back at that time, Scott Kay was really popular with platinum. And so all the top brands weren’t here in our Mahoning Valley, everybody would go to Cleveland or Pittsburgh for them. And so, that was the idea. We had no guarantee when we rebuilt the store in 2002 that any of those vendors would come. But here we are, 20 years later, and thank God the business plan worked.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 19:32
Sure, that sounds very smart. So over time, in the past 20 years, is that still the same strategy you use with inventory, or have there been other ways that you’ve been reinventing that experience for your customers?

Tom Duma 19:47
Yes, we are a brand-driven store. And again, the beauty of our market size is that it’s not large enough to support two David Yurman stores or two Rolex stores, or two Quarry stores. So it’s in that sense—in all the vendors, nobody has exclusive territories, because if they wanted to open somebody up down the street, they would or could. They can. But thankfully, again, for the past 20 years, we’ve had that kind of exclusivity in our marketplace with the brands that we support and support us. And so, therefore, that separates us—it’s one of our difference makers. We have a handful of them. That separates us between our competition. But first and foremost, is that inventory.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 20:42
Yes, that makes a lot of sense. So you first came onto my radar, Tom. I saw your column. It was titled, “Traditional Marketing Is Not Dead, And Here’s Why.” And that was in Instore Magazine in February. And it really caught my attention. So what inspired you to write that column in the first place?

Tom Duma 21:00
I’ve been writing for Instore on and off for the past probably five or six years. And so in the fall, they asked for some topics—if I would be willing to write some columns—and, what would they be on? There were a handful of them that I submitted, and for sure they liked the “Traditional Marketing Is Not Dead” title and wanted to hear more about it. And so that’s how it all came to be.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 21:34
Sure. Why are you personally passionate about this topic?

Tom Duma 21:39
I guess, as far as the title, there has been such a buzz for the last five years, or maybe even longer for digital marketing. And it’s everything from social media to websites and all the different things that fall under that umbrella of digital. And it’s like no one was talking anymore about radio or TV or direct mail. And it was almost like, doggone there, I think everybody thinks traditional marketing is dead! And so that’s kind of what prompted it. I’m not a digital marketer hater. But I do enjoy and see results from traditional.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:27
Besides me, did you get any other responses to that article from other jewelers?

Tom Duma 22:33
A few of my peers read the article and would comment, but nobody that I didn’t know besides you.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:44
We were talking before and you told me about the success that you’ve had in reaching, specifically, local customers in your market through some of these more traditional marketing tactics, specifically radio. Can you talk about some of these more traditional approaches and how each of those has worked for you?

Tom Duma 23:04
Sure. When we run a campaign—there’s something every month that we’re going to run, whether it’s an event, or if there’s no specific event, whether it’s Mother’s Day, or Valentine’s Day, or a ‘Love and Diamond’ event, or a winter clearance. If there’s not a specific event, then it’s generally a bridal message. So we’re out there marketing every month, and almost every week on some type of platform. So for instance, every December we’ll run a lot of David Yurman print ads because some vendors like radio, some don’t. Some like nothing but digital, and some like a mix of traditional and digital. So Yurman still does. They like billboards, they like direct mail pieces, and they like newspapers or magazines, as long as they are full color.

Tom Duma 24:09
So we run ads all December, and it still amazes me how many people come in with that ad in their hands. So to me, I don’t even have to ask if it’s working or not. And it tends to skew to an older demographic. I don’t know if that person has an Instagram account, or a Facebook account—they might. But for that person, that demographic, they still have disposable income to spend, and they’re reading the newspaper every day. So I may not have reached them with my Yurman message if I stayed strictly with digital.

Tom Duma 24:59
I think that there still needs to be a nice mix between digital and traditional. It all comes down to reach. How much can your message penetrate into your marketplace? And what demographics are you going to reach? How many times, frequency, are you going to hit them with that same message? And I guarantee—even with my marketing budget, or let’s go out on a limb and say, even with McDonald’s marketing budget—they may be missing some people with their message. Sometimes people aren’t going to tune into digital or into traditional, they might be streaming when somebody’s not listening or they’re just checking out. So it’s hard to get everybody to hear your message and act on it, but you have to, I think, get as much as you can in order to make that successful.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 26:00
Absolutely, and not just as much as you can, but the repetitiveness of it too. So maybe somebody does see you here, but then they forget about it, but then they see you somewhere else. And they’re like, “Oh, yes, I remember now!”

Tom Duma 26:14
Yes, for sure. Marketing is, I think, more of a science than anything else. But then, even with science, there are still some unknowns and we still haven’t figured some things out. And yes, you have to have reach, you have to have frequency, you have to hit your right demographic. They have to be in that position to buy whatever you’re selling. And if it’s not today, then maybe it’s the next event or next year. So yes, you’ve got to stay at it for sure.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 26:50
I’m really curious about these people you’ve mentioned who actually come into the store with the print piece. What specifically are they responding to? Is it a promotion? Is it creative? Is it some kind of messaging in there? What’s resonating with them?

Tom Duma 27:10
The circumstances I gave you this past December with David Yurman, they handle all the creative. So everything I get to pick, whether it’s going to feature ladies’ jewelry or men’s. I think they put 14 different assets out to color newspapers and magazines. And I selected all 14 and just ran one every day, for 14 days in December. Their creative definitely has a larger marketing budget than I do for sure. And their creative department, I’m sure they have all staff. So it’s nice that they handle the creative. And then I just get that. And all I have to do is pay for the ad space, basically. I think Yurman, one, the product, because it’s always product shots. And two, they’re very creative in their layouts and they know what grabs attention and headlines and things like that. So, I think asset generation is very important in what you’re putting out there for sure.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 28:20
Sure. It’s a good reminder to any listeners or viewers—and I know that they’re out there—that have retail partners, their brands selling products—maybe David Yurman isn’t listening to this—but smaller brands to really empower and support your retail partners and potentially work with them so that you can do these more traditional ad campaigns. And it’s a win-win for everyone then.

Tom Duma 28:46
Right, for sure. And then for some of the listeners, I think everybody has a website. If they don’t, you should—it’s just the cost of doing business these days. And the majority of website developers out there do have a creative team, obviously, to lay out your homepage and your banners and whatnot. So, that could be a source for someone to create some assets from perhaps a product that is not branded, just their own product. Or another lead would be to go to a local college and go to the marketing department and talk to some people and be able to do a class project, creating some assets for a jeweler. So there are lots of ways to be able to get that creative asset for sure. Then when you have that, you’re running it on Instagram, you’re running it on your Facebook post. You have a picture on your Facebook cover, and then you could match your banner on your website. And then that same graphic you could use for an SMS text; you can use it for a newspaper ad. And you do it for in-store signage on your case. So now your internal and external messages all match.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 30:14
Absolutely, those are really good tips. I’m also very interested in radio, something I’ve never talked about on this podcast. I think it probably works more for a business like yours that has a specific local market. But I would love to know how you took the plunge into that. And what are some tips around having success with radio?

Tom Duma 30:39
I used to do radio in my old business model. And, like you, I never really could put my finger on the results. I didn’t know. I was just taking a lot of the radio reps that would come into the store with their ideas on how to get reach and frequency and how to reach my demographic. And after that, what I felt was, “Man, it wasn’t successful!” I stopped doing radio and started putting most of my budget into TV. I’m dating myself because digital marketing wasn’t even an option back in the early 90s when this was happening. And so, and then, all through maybe the beginning of the 2000s, up to 2007, I was primarily direct mail, and TV, and newspaper, but not much radio.

Tom Duma 31:41
And then I joined a performance group, and there was this one radio marketer named Bruce Freshley—Freshley Media—he’s out in the Carolinas. And a lot of my peers in this group were using Bruce to write the radio scripts. Then he would record them with you or with a particular jeweler, and he would buy the radio. And he did this for jewelers all over the country. One, he was able to come in and negotiate where I couldn’t because I had no other examples to stand on, if you will. So he made me a deal. He said, “if I can’t increase your business… !” and we came up with, you know, beyond what was going to happen organically, what was going to happen just because of the cost of living, and so on. He said, “If I can increase your number by this much, then you don’t have to pay me.”

Laryssa Wirstiuk 32:44
Wow, that seems like a pretty good deal to me!

Tom Duma 32:47
That’s what I thought. I said, ‘alright.’ I wanted to get back into radio. I felt like, personally, I couldn’t do it very well, writing my scripts and whatnot. And so I said, ‘Alright,’ and I jumped in. And we were with Bruce for several years, and we’ve really seen an increase in sales and revenue and so I was a firm believer. He had a specific way that he bought radio: so many during morning drive, so many during afternoon drive, so many in between that time, how many spots per day. He was very specific in his buying, and he stayed with that specificity every week. Week in, week out, that was the way. And then also, as far as negotiating, he was able to get my rate down from what I was paying.

Tom Duma 33:42
And then for a couple of years, we’ve seen how he wrote his scripts. I bet I was with Bruce for probably four or five years. We parted ways, not from radio, but just from his help. So now I knew how to purchase the radio. I knew what rates I should be paying. And we were writing our own scripts in-house. And we’re still on the radio every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the entire year.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:20

Tom Duma 34:22
Every market is going to be different. I’ve got some friends that have several stores in Chicago, and for them to buy morning drive in Chicago, compared to what morning drive is in Northeast Ohio—it’s completely different. And so sometimes, depending on the market that your listeners are in, radio may be prohibited—they just can’t afford it. But we were running what we call ROS, ‘Run of Station’, and so then that was that specific time. And then there are some of the stations—I know that we deal with Cumulus and iHeart, and those two behemoths are in every market—and what they do is sell radio sponsorships for the station. And it’s a 15-second spot that happens at the top of the hour and the bottom of the hour—24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tom Duma 35:26
So, with some of the major radio stations, we were fortunate enough to be able to get that sponsorship. Most of the time, when someone has it, they never let it go because it’s reach, it’s frequency, it’s everything. You’re just a little limited because you only have 15 seconds to say what you want to say. But because you’re saying it so often, you could come up with four or five different 10 or 15-second spots to say everything you would say in a 30 or 60-second spot. And so we’ve found great success with buying these sponsorships. It’s a contract; it reoccurs every month. I know what my budget is going to be. And I know that we’re out there. 24/7. So that has been really helpful for us. And so I would encourage some of your listeners in different markets, if that’s available, to check it out.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 36:23
Sure. Those are great tips. How do you go about testing something like radio or measuring the effectiveness of it? Is it just a general overall increase in revenue or new customers? What’s the strategy behind that?

Tom Duma 36:36
Well, there was another article, I think, that followed up on “Traditional Marketing Is Not Dead”, and we talked about how to measure the ROI on any marketing. There’s a mathematical formula that you can work into, taking out what would happen organically that comes to the store, to see if you’re generating sometimes 2.5 times the amount of that marketing spend. So if you spend $1,000, you should be generating $2,500 in revenue in order to make that a success. We look at what we do based on total store revenue. Are our sales increasing? If we’re having a bridal message for the last 30 days, we look back: Did we increase in loose diamonds? Did we increase in semi-mounts? Did we increase in ladies’ wedding bands? Use that as a gauge for someone that hasn’t tried radio.

Tom Duma 37:48
I would take a month like March where there’s not a whole lot going on. April tends to be bridal season, you’ve got May for Mother’s Day. Maybe take July or September, a month where there’s really not anything else, and maybe take the money that you would spend on digital or another medium and put it all into that radio for that 30-day period. And then you’ll test the waters by seeing where your sales were at compared to that marketing message.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 38:21
That’s a really good tip. Is there anything else that someone can expect when trying something new? Or what they can set themselves up for mentally?

Tom Duma 38:33
I guess, mentally, we never know who’s going to walk through the door every morning when we unlock it. I think anybody that’s in retail has some basis of faith that what they’re doing is going to pay dividends, right? We’re going to unlock the door and people are going to come in and experience our store and buy our products. In the same sense, if you’re going to buy a radio, then you have to make sure that you do have at least a frequency of three, so that at least whoever you’re reaching is going to hear that message at least three times. That’s a good indicator that you’re buying the right type of schedule. And I would say that you need to buy around 50 spots a week.

Tom Duma 39:30
So, you can maybe try it for one week if your budget is—or your radio station is going to charge you $2,000 for that week, for that flight. And get a very compelling message. If you put a really small ad in a newspaper and said, “The first 100 people at my door will receive a free $100 bill, no strings attached.” That message is going to get out there, and I’m going to have people lined up to get a free $100 bill. So the message in what you’re doing has got to be compelling. It’s got to have a hook. There’s that whole part of messaging or writing scripts. One, it’s got to be compelling. Two, there’s got to be a hook, a reason for them to come in—a little bit of urgency. And if you have those components, I think that you’ll see success. I don’t know how you wouldn’t.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 40:29
Great. So the last time we spoke, you also mentioned you are part of a performance group—is that what you call it?—of other jewelers.

Tom Duma 40:37

Laryssa Wirstiuk 40:38
That was very interesting to me. I would love for you to tell me a little bit more about that, and how it’s helped you grow your business and just learn more.

Tom Duma 40:47
Alright. Maybe some of the listeners can relate to this. But I was in a family business, and my father, who has been in business all his life, was my mentor and my teacher. I looked up to him when I was young, he was successful. Some of the things that he said to me have always stuck with me. And then there are some of the things that he has told me that I have had to relearn or put in different contexts, or take completely out of my thought process. And one of those was that he was never a firm believer in consultants. He didn’t like consultants; he thought they were just there to take your money and that you can do without them. And I learned that they’re consultants because they’re professionals, they focus on that one area, and they do it well.

Tom Duma 41:39
It wasn’t until I was part of the Ohio Retail Merchants Association, on the board of directors for years, and part of my duties was education. So every year, we had the Ohio jeweler’s show when it was up and running and prosperous. I was bringing in all these different speakers, keynote speakers in different areas. Some had expertise in inventory, some in marketing—the whole gamut. I would listen to them and I was always intrigued by their thought process and how they did things.

Tom Duma 42:15
Then in 2008, the housing market crashed and everybody was hurting. It was at that point that one of the keynote speakers was a gentleman by the name of Abe Sherman. Abe was starting Plexus Performance Groups at the time. The concept is 12 jewelers per group. I think he has five groups now. So there are 12 jewelers per group, and we’re in completely different states so that there’s no competition. All of us have the same inventory control system, if you will. We don’t have the same point of sales, but what Abe was able to do on the backside was integrate everybody’s information from their point of sales on a daily basis. So he’s collecting all this data on inventory and sales and gross profit margins and things like that. And then this group comes together and we talk about everything from the front side of the business to the back side of the business, focusing on profit and loss statements, balance sheets, inventory, aged inventory, gross profit margin, showcase turn, gem ROI—all of these key performance indicators. KPIs, we look at and measure. Therefore, there’s a jeweler that is in a market that’s very similar to mine, he’s in Illinois, and so then when I look and see what he’s able to do with, say, his marketing budget and reach. And then I look at my budget and say, “Hmm, am I overspending, or am I understanding?” So there are all these comparisons.

Tom Duma 44:17
Abe Sherman asked me to join in 2010, and at that point, I had been 30 years in the business. I thought I knew a lot. You do something for 30 years, you figure you ought to be pretty good at it even if you’re half blind. But then I realized after a couple of years in this group that I really needed to have my eyes of understanding opened and I really didn’t know half of what I thought I knew. So I would encourage anybody to get into that type of group. Iron sharpens iron—I guess it’s the best way for me to do that. And then being able to see other people’s balance sheets and profit and loss statements and inventory controls and just best practices and everything, really has made me a much better operator.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 45:17
It’s very inspiring to me. And also, I love that you’re so honest about the fact that you went this long, you kind of thought you knew. I mean, you must have known something because you didn’t go out of business, but to really be able to open your mind and to learn new things, even after running a business for that long, I think is really amazing.

Tom Duma 45:37
Oh, for sure. Thank you. I can’t be a big enough advocate for that group. And some buying groups I know, like, RJO and IJO, have that to a certain degree when they gather—so you’ve got jewelers from all over and they do breakout sessions and things like that—it’s not as deep and it’s not as consistent. We meet every month on a webinar like this, and we talk. And then twice a year, we go on-site to one of the host stores, and we look at their entire operation.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 46:21
That must be so valuable too, kind of like a field trip.

Tom Duma 46:25
Yes, exactly. Sometimes when we live in the forest, we don’t see the trees. And then you get another fresh set of eyes. They come in and they say, “Your showcase’s glass tops… ” Women put purses down that have metal bottoms, or whatever, but they always get scratched. And that’s probably the last thing on a jeweler’s mind, is to replace all of his glass tops on his showcase because there are scratches on them. But when you stand back and you look at someone else’s, and you’re trying to look at the jewelry, and you see all those scratches—you know what, I need to replace my glass tops every five years.

Tom Duma 47:10
You get into that mindset: “Okay, it’s been five years, I better paint the walls.” “I better change the carpet” because we tend to—I guess I shouldn’t say ‘we.’ I tended to say: “It’s okay, you can go another year. I don’t want to incur that expense now.” But no, I’ve gotten to the place where there are a lot of best practices that I’ve adopted. Every five years, I’m remodeling my store. It adds to the customer experience; things don’t look tired. And sometimes you need someone else, that shock value, to come and say, “What’s wrong with you, man? Change them glass tops!” You know: “Your ceiling tiles have got a little water stain over there. Replace that!” “Well, if I replace that one, then I have to replace them all because…” “Replace them all!” And it’ll pay dividends. It does.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 48:06
It’s important. It’s a good reminder, I think for sure. Tom, what else do you have going on in your business right now? What’s on the horizon for you?

Tom Duma 48:14
Well, we just ended a two-week, what we call, “Love and Diamond” event. And so it’s Love Diamonds, everything diamonds, from bridal to diamond earrings. “Whether you’re celebrating new love or lasting love” is kind of our tag there. April is obviously wedding month, then people will start looking for wedding bands for summer weddings and upgrades and birthdays, anniversaries, and so on. So that was very successful. We just finished that this past Saturday. And now we’re on to Mother’s Day.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 48:54
Busy times.

Tom Duma 48:57
Yes, before you know it, we’re going to be working on our December Christmas marketing. The years go by so fast.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 49:04
It happens very quickly. Well, thank you so much for your time today, for sharing the knowledge, wisdom, and experience you’ve had in all this time in the industry. I really appreciate it.

Tom Duma 49:17
You’re welcome. I enjoy helping anybody that I can, and hopefully, all my competitors in my marketplace aren’t listening to this.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 49:26
Yes. I’ll block them [laughing]. Thank you, Tom!

Tom Duma 49:32
Yes, anybody, just reach out and I’ll be happy to share.

Laryssa Wirstiuk 49:39
What did you think? If you want to learn more about Tom’s store, Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, Ohio, you can visit

You can always email me, Laryssa, that’s If you loved this podcast, please share it with a friend who’d appreciate it. Don’t forget to subscribe as well as leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. To purchase a signed copy of my book, Jewelry Marketing Joy, visit for more information.

Thanks for listening. Remember to subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more information about working with Joy Joya, visit, where you can sign up to download our free eBooks about various topics in jewelry marketing.