By Jim Ackerman
If you’re feeling the pinch of increased competition, you probably think you’re feeling it from the Internet or the big chain stores.
But it actually may be because it isn’t clear to the marketplace why they should do business with you. Perhaps you should give them some clear-cut reasons in the form of a Unique Purchase Appeal.
Ours is an odd industry. On one hand, we deal with things elegant, beautiful and at some level one-of-a-kind. On another level, we’re seen as a commodity. A diamond is a diamond; all jewelers are alike.
This public image is our fault as an industry and as individual jewelers, and it is hurting us all. Fortunately, no individual jeweler has to “buy in” to these myths. You have the power to break out of the commodity mode and be seen as desirably unique in your marketplace.
To do it, you’ll have to differentiate yourself using the most powerful marketing concept on the planet. The Unique Purchase Appeal or UPA is one sentence to one paragraph that describes how your business is different from the competition, in a way that appeals to your target customers.
So, what is it about doing business with you that would make Mr. or Mrs. Jones want to come to your store, rather than your competition? What is your point (or points) of ONLY-NESS?
There are a number of ways you can differentiate yourself. But before you do, it would be a good idea to find out what your best clients want. So, ask them.
We recommend you call between one dozen and three dozen of your best clients – the kind you want a whole lot more of – and ask them three key questions…
· Why did you begin doing business with us in the first place?
· Why do you continue to do business with us?
· What do you dislike about our competition?
By answering the first question, your customers will tell you how you are perceived in the marketplace, by those who haven’t done business with you yet.
The answers to the second question tells you the ultimate value you bring to your best customers, at least at the present time.
The last question allows your best customers to reveal the “holes” in the industry in your market. In other words, where is (or was) their pain. If you can fill a hole in the industry, you will certainly attract customers to your business, almost automatically, once you get the word out.
Once you have the answers to these 3 questions, write your UPA using this formula…
· “We are the only jewelers in the (market area) that (fill in this blank with your point or points of only-ness).”
For example, Don Fernandes of Vail Creek Jewelers in Turlock, California can say, “We are the only jeweler in the greater Turlock area that offers one-of-a-kind custom designs by award winning designer Don Fernandes.”
Clients who appreciate the uniqueness of one-of-a-kind designs and want the bragging rights of saying their pieces come from an award-winning jeweler will appreciate this position, be willing to pay a premium price to get what Don has to offer, and come flocking his way.
Clear across the country, Drue Sanders of Drue Sanders Custom Design Studio in Albany, New York, also offers her own custom designs. In fact, Drue’s inventory is almost entirely limited to her designs, or to order a custom-made piece. She provides one-of-a-kind pieces or limited editions, but if you want something made by somebody else, you’ll have to go somewhere else.
She’s famous in her market for this “mine or settle” approach, and it’s allowed Drue to capture a clientele which is highly appreciative of the unique, especially when delivered through such private – perhaps you might even say intimate – and certainly individualized customer service.
Or what if you were to build your business on corporate or academic recognition programs? Suddenly the geographic limitations would come off of your business, and you could easily find you have a national or even an international market.
Could you focus your enterprise on a specific affinity group, like teachers? Why not? It may allow you to eliminate the expense of a storefront and allow you to simply bring a limited, moderately-priced inventory to the teachers at their schools. I don’t know anyone who has done this but it could be remarkably lucrative, if anyone would tackle the market.
You could also be a “conseierge” jeweler, taking product to the client instead of forcing the client to come to you. Busy executives would certainly pay a premium for this kind of service. Margins up, discounts gone!
These are just a few ideas. Go ahead, stretch your mind. Think outside the “ring”.
Once you have your UPA, what do you do with it? Why, shout it from the rooftops, of course. Your UPA should be woven into the very fabric and fiber of everything you do from a marketing point of view.
Ideally, it should be reflected in the name of your business. It should be reflected in your business practices. If you work by appointment only, perhaps you could call yourself, “By Appointment Only Jewelers” or “One At A Time Jewelers.”
You might even make it a condition of doing business with you that clients give you at least three referrals of people such as they, whom you would invite to become a part of your exclusive “practice.”
Your UPA should be stated on your business card and your letterhead and envelopes. It should appear on your invoices, on your fax forms, on your repair tickets, your signage, and in all of your ads.
Your employees must understand the significance of your UPA. They should have it memorized and, and, be fully indoctrinated in the benefits it provides to your clients. When that happens, they will take greater pride in working with your organization. You’ll attract better employees as well as clients, and their sense of mission will translate into better salesmanship and more revenue for you.
Sound like magic? Well, it is really, once you have it all in place. But it’s not easy. If it were, every jeweler would be doing it. It is worth the price you’ll pay in researching and honing a powerful, compelling Unique Purchase Appeal. It will take some time and effort, but once you distinguish yourself as something special in your marketplace, you’ll have a powerful marketing edge that will give people reasons to come to you, rather than the Internet or the cheapo chains. You’ll skyrocket your business and leave your competition in the dust.