Speak Briefly, Carry a Big Stick

August 1998


Speak Briefly, Carry a Big Stick

Can you sum up who you are in seven or fewer words? That was the challenge to jewelers in a seminar presented at the recent American Gem Society Conclave by Barbara Hight-Randall and Randy Randall of Hight-Randall Jewelers, Rochester, MN. Their niche is "The Personal Jeweler" – a name they live by in every aspect of their business. The couple chose that phrase to break through the cacophony of visual and verbal messages that overwhelms consumers today.

"Marketing is a battle of perception, not products," says Hight-Randall. How customers perceive your business, especially through your communication with them, will determine your success. Every word the Randalls use when communicating with customers illustrates their commitment to personal service. "We really care," says Hight-Randall.

Even more significant than what message you choose is how quickly you get the point across. No one has time for complicated messages today. So what message should you choose and how should you convey it vividly and permanently in the nanosecond busy consumers will grant you?

Recently, Tiffany & Co. ran an ad that summed up one of its key messages: "We're a jeweler you can patronize even if you don't have a lot of money." Tiffany is out to lure the young with this message, and it chose visuals and words with breathtaking clarity. A young man on a bicycle carries a Tiffany blue box on his bike rack, with the simple message "on gossamer wings." (I nurture a secret hope this phrase means the young have decided to love Cole Porter as much as I do!) Below the bike is a simple photo of a $225 silver bangle in the popular bamboo motif. Fashionable. Inexpensive. A product of youth.

Another ad, this one from St. John by Marie Gray, a clothing designer, conveys that "jewelry means fashion" better than almost any other jewelry ad I've seen (unfortunately, it's costume in this case). The ad shows the ubiquitous St. John blonde model surrounded by Indian women in traditional saris and lots of Indian jewelry. On the model's ear is one simple earring incorporating an Indian motif. The model is in sharp focus and the Indian women are in soft focus. The message is simple. Take the Indian ethnic look (popular in clothing fashion) and apply it elegantly and simply to your own jewelry. You can be fashionable and still be safe.

As we head into this holiday season, think about paring down, working for clarity, keeping it simple. The medium is the message.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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