Interview With Melissa Becker About Value-Added Jewelry MarketingLaryssa
In episode #134 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I share my interview with Melissa Becker, a Vice President of Berkley Asset Protection, a Berkley Company, and global specialty insurer dedicated to jewelry, fine art and other collectibles. With a 20-year career in the insurance field, Melissa now serves as the marketing and communications leader for its global jewelers block, personal jewelry, and fine art practices. Melissa is also responsible for leading Lavalier, a direct-to-consumer personal jewelry platform. Melissa and I speak about the importance of value-added services in jewelry marketing. Find the transcript below.
Laryssa: Hi, I’m your host Laryssa Wirstiuk. Through this podcast, I aim to empower and inspire jewelry entrepreneurs and innovators, so they can thrive by doing what they love. I’m passionate about digital marketing for jewelry brands and I’m excited to share my passion with you. This is episode 134 and today, I’m going to share my interview with Melissa Becker. A vice president of Berkeley asset protection for a Berkeley company and global specialty insurer dedicated to jewelry fine art and other collectibles. With a 20-year career in the insurance field, Melissa now serves as the marketing and communications leader for its global jeweler’s block Personal Jewelry and Fine Art Practices.
Melissa is also responsible for leading lavalier which is a direct-to-consumer personal jewelry platform. In this episode, Melissa and I speak about the importance of value-added services in jewelry marketing.
So, when I say value-added service, I mean those above and beyond things that will help your jewelry brand distinguish itself from competitors. For example, most wedding jewelry brands offer a service like free ring sizing when it’s within a certain period of time after purchase. That’s a pretty standard service that I see among wedding jewelry brands. And they do that to stay competitive among each other. However, how many jewelry brands go above and beyond to educate their customers on things like long-term care and cleaning of their wedding jewelry? How many jewelry brands go above and beyond to educate their consumers on something like appraisals or even about insuring their products? How many offer a service for something like planning the perfect proposal to go with the engagement ring?
A value-added service is anything a customer wouldn’t necessarily expect you to offer and isn’t just something that you’re offering to kind of keep up with the joneses of your competitors as they say.
So, by offering value added services the services that will help you really stand apart from your competitors, you can focus on creating what’s called true lifetime value with your customers. No brand should be spending all of their time, effort and marketing budget on customer acquisition all the time. It’s just not sustainable, it’s not a sound business strategy. Instead, jewelry brands should be focused on making lasting impressions with their customers. So, that those customers keep returning again and again for more and more. Over time, this will reduce cost in your marketing spend and it really allows you to plan for the long term of your business.
These value-added services that you decide to offer can be handled in-house or they can be handled through maybe a partnership like the one Melissa talks about in this episode. So, she’s gonna explain how
jewelers who have partnered with Lavaliere have been able to surprise and delight customers and build trust which ultimately leads to that thing that I talked about lifetime value. Customers really crave that personalized attention and they need and want more guidance than you probably even realize. This is not a sponsored podcast episode or any sort of personal endorsement for lavalier jewelry insurance. And I’m not saying that insurance partnerships are necessarily right for every jewelry brand, but I hope that my conversation with Melissa really kind of starts to get the gears going in your mind about the value-added services that you can be offering for your brand.
But before we get to today’s episode, I want to share some marketing related news and insights from the past week that caught my attention. And if you’re watching this on YouTube, you may notice that my background is different. I’m in the process of moving both my home and office, which as you can imagine is a little bit disorienting.
So, I’m trying my best to be focused with this episode. I hope that that chaos does not come through in what I say. So, the first article I saw in JCK, it’s about the Silver Promotion Service or SPS which recently debuted a renovation of its website ‘savorsilver.com’.
I did not know about this website before but this kind of caught my eye, because I love these different initiatives organizations and groups that help jewelers promote products that they are offering. Or provide resources for these jewelry bands of ways that they can promote their products in this case Silver. So, the updated site was designed to be a resource for all things silver. There’s a new silver news section, which if you’re a brand that sells silver jewelry you may just want to keep your finger on the pulse of that. So, that when you do interact with a customer who’s interested in silver,
you have talking points to offer. Like you have interesting news and insights to offer about silver.
There’s also a Silver trends tab on the website and product roundups from their jewelry brand partners. So, I think that’s just a really cool thing. You should look for websites like that for any types of products that you sell whether it’s natural diamonds, whether it’s gold. Look for those resources that will help you have talking points for when you do interact with customers. And then finally two pieces about Instagram. So, first Instagram recently launched a live test of being able to upload image and video from desktop. Which is exciting to me, because I often have a lot of assets photo and video assets saved on my desktop. And it’s sometimes annoying to have to airdrop them all the time to my phone in order to make uploads. Then the second update that I think is exciting.
So, previously in Instagram stories only brands over a certain amount of followers were able to post links in their stories and now Instagram is slowly rolling out the feature to be able to post links in all stories. Which I know so many of you listening are like, no way this is awesome. I don’t know why they haven’t done this sooner I think it’s pretty great. So, look out for that feature coming soon. If you want to get the links to the articles I share in this segment of the podcast, you can sign up for my email newsletter by visiting ‘joyjoya.com/signup’. And you’ll get a digest with the links whenever a new episode drops. Okay, let’s get to my interview with Melissa.
Thank you so much Melissa for coming on the podcast. Today, it’s really a pleasure to have you as a guest.
Melissa: I’m looking forward to it.
Laryssa: Great, so give us a little background information. I know that you play a major role in overseeing communications and marketing. Can you break down exactly what you do in your position,
and also give more information about the company for listeners who may not be familiar with it?
Melissa: Sure, I work for Berkeley asset protection. We’re a leading insurance company specializing in fine art, jewelry and other high value assets for both individuals and consumers, individuals and businesses. We’re based here out of the US, but we insure people all over the world.
Laryssa: Perfect. What does a typical day look like for you? What do you do on the day today?
Melissa: There is no typical day, right. Marketing is the unknown and reacting to whatever the customer needs or whatever fire is burning that particular day. But traditionally my role is focused around marketing communications for all of Berkeley Asset Protection. So, all those products I mentioned as well as running Lavaliere personal jewelry insurance. So, about three years ago I was given the opportunity to pivot away from just doing marketing and sales and still doing some marketing and sales.
But also running lavalier personal jewelry insurance, which has been probably the biggest honor and opportunity of my career. I’m really enjoying it and I look forward to talking to you more about how to market insurance and incorporate it into the jewelry sale.
Laryssa: Amazing. So, what is jewelry insurance? Maybe some listeners know maybe some don’t, but let’s hear it from you the person who’s involved in it every day.
Melissa: Sure, so the commercial or jeweler’s block insurance is designed to protect really anybody associated with jewelry. So, the designer, a retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer or any combination thereof as long as they’re part of the jewelry industry. So, a jeweler’s black policy would cover things like your inventory wearing a work in operation. So, if you’re setting a diamond, travel some of your shipping coverage, all of those individual coverage lines would be incorporated into a jeweler’s block policy.
And what normally happens is the individual jeweler would work with their local agent to provide those details and then the agent works with Berkeley Asset Protection or the insurance company to provide a manuscript or unique policy to cover those specified needs.
Laryssa: Why would this be important for a business? Are there certain jewelry businesses that maybe benefit from it more than others?
Melissa: I say that everybody needs insurance. I don’t care if it’s personal or commercial. I think everybody’s been impacted by an insurance claim at some point. So, whether you’re in a new designer opening up shop or a big international conglomerate, you have an opportunity for a loss. So, I think you know having an insurance policy is just a peace of mind to know that if the unfortunate happens. There is a stop gap and somebody,
a company that has your back and will step in to help you recover your loss. An insurance company can also offer some great tips. Oftentimes, we get a call from a customer that’s a moving location or are redesigning their show floor. And they’ll ask us, ‘Oh, can you help me with the safe or can you help me understand what to do with my alarm system? Or how I should best design my floor plan?’
We certainly will jump in and our last prevention team will offer any tips and work with architects to help design that floor plan. In addition, our website ‘berkeleyassetpro.com’ has a ton of free resources for the jewelry industry on. If you’re going to a trade show for the first time, here’s some loss prevention tips. If a hurricane unfortunately is coming your way, here’s a set of guidelines a checklist of things you should keep track of. So, we offer more than just in the event of a claim you know you get a check from your insurance company.
Laryssa: Those are, I mean that sounds like an amazing resource thing that I probably if I were a jewelry designer maybe not even necessarily think about that I need to worry about. So, it sounds like you got everything covered there.
Melissa: We try to think of every nuance or every opportunity to improve the jeweler and the loss prevention techniques. You know from opening a store to closing a store we pretty much have it covered.
Laryssa: So, you mentioned jeweler’s block insurance or commercial insurance which is obviously for businesses. What about insurance on the consumer side? How can consumers insure their products and how is that different?
Melissa: Yeah, it’s so interesting to me that jewelry is one of the largest or biggest purchases that somebody will make behind their home in their car. Yet when we close on our house, I know you’re moving. When you close on your house you have to show proof of insurance or before you leave the dealership you have to show proof of insurance. But we don’t think of jewelry in that same light.
So, what Lavaliere does is we make that process as simple and painless as possible. A lot of our jeweler partners at point of sale will recommend or just refer their customers to Lavaliere to encourage them to get insurance. And while they’re standing in the store, the customer can go online on their mobile device and fill out a handful of questions and provide some information about their ring and be insured in two to three minutes.
So, that piece is insured just like their car is when they leave the dealership, it’s insured when they walk out of the jewelry store.
Laryssa: Is there anything unique about a jewelry policy that might make it different from like a homeowner or renter insurance policy? Why should a consumer pick one over the other?
Melissa: This is actually probably the question we get asked most often. Should I put it on my homeowner’s policy or should I buy a separate policy? And there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer but I’ll give you some general best practices.
At Lavaliere all we do is jewelry. So, from our underwriters to our customer service team to our claim adjuster, all they’re seeing is jewelry. So, they understand, the trends, the designers the emotional attachment that we all have to our jewelry and you’re treated in that manner. We also designed the policy around covering jewelry versus if you’re with a big box insurer and you’re adding it on to your homeowner’s policy. You’re getting an add-on, versus a separate specialized policy.
And from a pricing standpoint, I will say oftentimes it’s less expensive to insure separately because this is what we do. So, we price accordingly versus a big box insurer just you know adding it on and pricing it according to your homeowner’s policy. Another key point that often comes up is as we have claims you know on our homeowner auto or jewelry policy, one starts affecting the other.
So, if you have your ring on your homeowner’s policy and you have a loss, that could impact your eligibility going forward. So, does your homeowner carrier offer your renewal or do they increase your rates? So, I always say keep it separate, let us focus on what we do well which is jewelry and let your big box carrier focus on what they do well which is ensuring your home and auto.
Laryssa: Those are some interesting insights and I wouldn’t have necessarily thought that if you combine them all that a loss might impact. Like your rate moving forward. So, I think that’s a really smart point that people should keep in mind. So, since this is a marketing podcast obviously, I want to get to the fun good stuff. I’d love to hear your thoughts about, how jewelry brands retailers that sell direct to consumer could kind of use this as a competitive advantage as a selling point, the education of the insurance to consumers. Like what are your thoughts about that?
Melissa: Yeah, so one of the keys to success for Lavaliere has been marketing our product through jewelers. And obviously, our jeweler partners wouldn’t engage with us if they didn’t see value.
Laryssa: If there is a designer listening like an independent designer for example and they’re really struggling to look for ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Maybe stand out from the competition, is partnering with an insurance company something they should consider and why or why not. Like what value does that provide them to help them grow their business?
Melissa: Yeah, when I’ve made purchases over the years at a jewelry store, I get some jewelry cleaner they put it in a box. But they don’t offer insurance, but I look at the having the jewelry cleaner and the nice boxes. The jeweler’s saying, ‘Once you leave the store, I want this piece to be taken care of and you’re going to clean it and you’re going to store it in this box, but then you’re also going to insure it.
Because in the event of a loss, I want you to be protected. There was a young man recently like in the last six weeks that picked up his engagement ring from one of our jeweler partners. And he was so nervous, they took the piece with him everywhere he went. So, he went to Starbucks then he went to lunch. I think he went to the gym or dinner in the gym. And somewhere in between within the first 24 hours, he lost the ring.
So, he didn’t even get to propose, the future fiancé didn’t even know he had the ring and of course he’s panicking. But thank goodness the jeweler partner had him get insurance before he left the store. So, we were able to work with that jeweler to get this young man back to whole. And the bond that that jeweler now has with the customer is forever. He was actually one of he sent me an email about this and he said the experience that he had with this couple being able to replace the ring
and the fact that Lavaliere paid out on this claim he was very thankful. So, it really does make a nice tie-in for future of a jeweler relationship with their clients.
Laryssa: Absolutely, and I think too. I mean that sounds wonderful. The one way to keep your marketing costs down is to kind of extend the lifetime value of your existing customers rather than having to acquire new ones all the time. So, if an assurance story like that can help keep someone on for the long term, that feels worth it to me for sure.
Melissa: Absolutely and the one other thing that we do at Lavalier that our competition doesn’t is we do a lot of co-branding. So, for instance if a jeweler partner wants to allow us to use their branding assets, we know who their customers are that are within Lavaliere. We can send a co-branded marketing piece to say, ‘Oh, you insured your engagement ring but we know that there’s a wedding band out there somewhere and consider going back to XYZ jeweler to get that wedding band and then insure it with Lavaliere’.
So, there’s different ways that we can partner with the jeweler. If they like, it’s not mandatory but we certainly can do that on an ongoing basis to help bring those two brands closer together. And also, it’s another touch point for their customer.
Laryssa: Sure, it seems like a good reminder for the business too. Because especially some of these like very small family-owned stores. They might not have the sophisticated marketing processes in place to always be following up checking in on like purchases that might make sense for different milestones or periods of time. So, having that extra partner who’s like making sure those timelines are followed, that sounds like a really great way to stay on top of the customers that they have and again to create that customer lifetime value. So, having the customers for the long term as opposed to like one-off purchases all the time.
and the peace of mind that knowing that their customers with Lavaliere will acknowledge the jeweler relationship. So, we’ll say, ‘Thank you for ensuring your such and such engagement ring.’ So, whatever the designer or the retailer’s name we’ll include that in our correspondence when possible. So yeah, it’s just a real nice full circle branding experience.
Laryssa: Yeah, I like that a lot. So, this has been super informative Melissa. I would love if you have any final takeaways or things anyone should know about jewelry insurance. I would love for you to share any final thoughts.
Melissa: Yeah, insurance you know I’ve been in it 20 years and I can’t say enough. It’s important and it’s relevant to everybody. I encourage you just to remind your customers that it’s that they need it. Because in the event of a loss you could become the hero. From a marketing standpoint, one of my favorite overall generalizations about marketing is it’s like business psychology.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. We have to ask, as marketers we have to ask questions. Listen to our target audience and be able to make recommendations and take actionable steps to meet the demands and the needs of our target audience. So, it’s ever changing and we just really have to pay attention and stay aware of our target audience.
Laryssa: That’s so true. That’s something I’m constantly repeating on this podcast. I joke about like getting it tattooed on my forehead, because I say it so much like know your audience know your customers. Literally everything boils down to that point.
Melissa: Yeah, insurance inherently isn’t something fun that people like to talk about, right. so, when I’m designing um an ad campaign the great part of it is I get to deal with jewelry and art. So, if I’m doing insurance, I’m so thankful I’m in jewelry and art, because it’s fun and interesting.
But when I show it to my peer group, they’re like whoa that’s risqué or that’s bright. Because it’s so unusual from what you traditionally would see for insurance marketing. So, I always have to remind my peer group that remember this isn’t for you. We’re going direct to consumer for you know our audience might be 25 to 35 or whatever segment we’re marketing to. So, you have to look at it through that lens and not the lens that we’re accustomed to.
Laryssa: That’s a really great reminder as well. Well, thank you Melissa it’s been a pleasure to have you on the podcast. I appreciate your time and all your insights.
Melissa: Same here. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.
Laryssa: So, what do you think you can always email me Laryssa. That’s ‘laryssa @joyjoya.com.’ And as a reminder, my book ‘Jewelry Marketing Joy’ is published and ready to ship. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit ‘joyjoya.com/book’
for all the information.