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Economy Stinks, But Your Marketing Doesn't Need To

News of doom and gloom certainly brings out the very worst in some people—not to mention businesses. If there was ever a time to take a hard look at everything you do, everyone you employ and every strategic move you make, it's now. The lackluster economy has given rise to a new wave of excuses and, I might add, some pretty bad marketing decisions. Here are nine strategies to consider as this year unfolds:

• For 2009, be conservative. Take last year's annual sales figures and subtract 5 percent. Now, calculate 6 percent of that figure to determine your 2009 marketing budget. (Obviously, if you find things are better than expected, you can always add to the budget come October.) Instead of looking at the previous year alone, determine trends by studying monthly averages over the past six years. This will provide more insight into how your store is doing and will pinpoint which months are generally better for business.

• Hold onto your broad-based media dollars and start some heavy negotiations in the late summer months for the upcoming third and fourth quarters. Media outlets are having a rough time. In the summer, they will be forecasting those quarters ahead, and knowing that the first half of their year was down, they're going to be aggressive.

• Make sure to hold a minimum of one—if not two—events every quarter and make sure they are guaranteed to drive traffic and a measurable return on investment (ROI). This might require a decrease in your broader-based initiatives that are more difficult to measure, such as general image advertising in broadcasting, outdoor and print. Just remember: Decrease-don't delete.

• Contact your best vendors that currently provide co-op advertising. Although many traffic-building events are not typically approved for co-op, remind your sales and marketing rep that these are not "typical" times. A five-second tag on the end of their television commercial or a 10-point logo in a magazine is simply not going to cut it. Really, don't you both have the same objective?

• Ignore the "D" word: discounting. Instead of slashing prices, provide added value and incentives that are not directly connected to lowering prices.

• Make it a priority to capture 60 to 80 percent of the e-mails of your preferred customers. Make the "ask" part of your sale and make sure that every piece of direct mail has a data capture area. When you secure at least 1,000 e-mails, get on a monthly e-blast program that can track open rates and click-through rates.

• Be up on technology and determine trends and buying habits by knowing what your primary demographic is reading, watching and listening to. I can't believe I still have to say this, but invest in a Web site that provides adequate information on your store. Then set aside at least 10 percent of your marketing budget for paid search advertising to drive traffic to that site.

• Make morning meetings, whether they last 10 minutes or half an hour, mandatory. In each meeting, have your sales staff review at least five customer profiles and purchase histories each day. Take digital photos of products this client would like and send them to him/her with a note: "Ellen, this necklace just came in, and I thought of how great this would look with those earrings you purchased last year." Provide information about the piece and the price.

• Stop taking marketing ideas from every Tom, Dick, Harry and jeweler friend you have. A tactic that works for them does not constitute a brilliant idea for you. If it's worth considering, then it should fit your strategy and budget. And you might want to discuss it with your marketing/advertising agency and partner. A true professional should provide you with solid advice.

None of the items above are suggestions that I haven't made before. These are common-sense marketing strategies. In theory, you should already be doing all nine. You're not? Well, we get a little sloppy when we're fat and happy.

Ellen Fruchtman is founder and president of Fruchtman Marketing, a full-service agency and a member of the American Gem Society headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, representing U.S. independent jewelers, jewelry manufacturers and trade organizations.

Source: National Jeweler