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Why are retailers so hesitant to invest in marketing?

Marketing is one of the highest priorities your business can have. If you’re not marketing it correctly, you’re not going to survive in the current retail environment, says GEORGINA STALEY.

Many retailers say that marketing is too much of an expense – but it’s a necessary expense. There are too many competitors coming at you from all directions. Your business is going to get swamped, so you have to make it stand out.

Now is the time to start thinking about your marketing strategy for the coming year.

There are so many different ways to market your business, and retailers need to find a unique angle that they can promote. There are too many voices out there that are saying exactly the same thing. For example, you’ll find a lot of jewellers saying, ‘I do custom designs’, when nearly every jeweller does. That’s not unique.

It’s the same principle when jewellers market themselves by saying, ‘I use the latest 3D jewellery software’ – well, a lot of jewellers do that, too. Uniqueness is not just using Matrix, it’s having a certain item or product that’s not available anywhere else. It could also be something to do with how your business is run.

You can’t just say, ‘I sell diamonds and they’re the best in the world’ or ‘I sell lab-grown’ – unique means being different to everybody else.

The Internet is one of the biggest factors in the retail environment, and it has taken many jewellers by surprise. That’s because our industry was not affected by digital marketing or online shopping until fairly recently – in the last one to two years – whereas other industries felt the impacts a lot earlier.

Previously, consumers did not trust online retailers with jewellery, but now they can shop online easily and know they will receive what they ask for.

The result is that you, as a retailer, have to place yourself in that market.

"The Internet is one of the biggest factors in the retail environment, and it has taken many jewellers by surprise"

Improving your e-commerce business means attending online retailer expos, exposing yourself to digital marketing, and learning those new skills. Whether you like it or not, it doesn’t matter – you have to do it.

It seems like most retailers are frightened by social media, but there are professionals available to help guide you. Putting together your content is one of the biggest ‘fear factors’, but that’s quite easy now – it’s simply about taking a lot of photos.

For my business, we work with a Facebook marketing expert, but we also create most of the content ourselves. We plan a ‘campaign’ every month, and then break down our marketing activities for that month. That’s done on a 12-month basis but we’re quite flexible. Often, we’ll review each quarter and look at what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, and change that.

When you’re marketing your business online, you also have to be aware of demographics. For example, because our customers are a little older, Facebook is our leading marketing tool. After that, it’s Instagram, whereas other retailers have more success with Instagram due to the demographics of their customers, being Millennials.

Millennials are a worthy focus, but the 45-65 age group of women, who are buying for themselves, is definitely an area that jewellery retailers could be marketing to. You can see jewellery retailers in the US starting to focus on that target market. We also advertise on TV because it’s effective for our four regional stores. Plus, it’s reasonable in terms of cost for the amount of coverage we get.

Advertising on YouTube is also incredibly under-utilised in this country. All it takes is some 15-second ads that you can ‘top and tail’ in the YouTube ad breaks – put your clip at the start and the end, with a different ad in between. The best part is that you only pay when the ad is completely viewed, so it’s not an expensive way to market.

Yet, few people are doing it!

The time is long past for retailers to adapt to the new reality of retail, and they need to overcome their fear of marketing, whether that’s the challenge of learning social media, or the time commitment of putting together content and thinking of a unique selling point. You need to accept the expense of paying for different types of advertising or hiring a professional to help.

Ultimately, you can’t afford not to market yourself – after all, how else will customers find your business?

Name: Georgina Staley
Company: Georgies Fine Jewellery
Position: Owner
Location: Merimbula, Bega, Narooma and Batemans Bay, NSW
Years in Industry: 30

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