Professional Jeweler Archive: Fear – the Great Guy Motivator

March 2001

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Fear – the Great Guy Motivator

Use it to help sell jewelry, says Bluenile.com


Managing the male buyer/female wearer phenomenon is one of those little tests that help determine a jeweler’s success. While women love and wear jewelry, the men who buy most of the big pieces often know little about the stuff and care even less.

How do you build an image with these guys anyway?

Bluenile.com attacked the problem in a frank, guy sort of way. Rather than try to get men excited about jewelry – after all, it’s not exactly golf clubs – the company used a tool guys understand – fear. Fear of failure, of not being manly, of buying the wrong thing, of not making her happy.

Performance Anxiety

Recognizing there are many ways to fail, Bluenile.com published a 40-page “reader” filled with advice to help men ace those little rituals – like jewelry purchases – that often make them weak in the knees. It contains sly, amusing instructions on how to buy diamonds, gold and pearls, as well as how to propose, buy an anniversary gift or celebrate a difficult childbirth (jewelry, naturally). Other hints include how to:

  • Carve a turkey. (Wash your hands, use a sharp knife and cut through the joints, not the bones. The bird’s, not yours.)
  • Bribe a maitre d’. (Dress well, allude to how much you’re going to spend on the meal and place a $20 bill – no less – in your palm when shaking hands with the gentleman when asking him to “check again” for an empty table.)
  • Buy lingerie. (Start simple. Avoid trashy. Know her size.)

It’s the sort of advice many men wish they’d gotten from an older brother, says Kevin Keith, Bluenile.com’s director of marketing. That many never did provides an opportunity to “connect” with the company’s 25-49-year-old target market. Plus, the how-to angle fits in with Bluenile.com’s long-term strategy of drawing an educated, affluent buyer.

In 2000, Bluenile.com distributed more than 2 million copies of the reader in three mailings – at Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving – to men whose names it bought from companies such as J. Crew and Eddie Bauer. Bluenile.com chose catalog lists because these men were already comfortable buying merchandise without seeing it in person.

Staying Power

“A catalog wasn’t right because Bluenile.com focuses on diamonds, which are one-of-a-kind items,” he says. “It was also important to find something with staying power because (jewelry) is such a considered purchase.”

An additional 10,000 requests, many from women, have come from the company’s Web site. “Mollie” in Massachusetts wrote: “I … was sure to leave it where my boyfriend could find it. If (he) takes the hint, he will be buying me something from you very soon!”

Indications are the reader is performing up to snuff. Bluenile.com says it has received up to 10 e-mails a day praising the publication and the company for its understanding of customers’ needs. (One enthusiast ranked the reader right up there with beer advertising.) Perhaps thinking it would help civilize his guys, the manager of a professional football team requested 50 copies to distribute in the locker room. And Leagas Delaney, the San Francisco ad agency that created the reader, won an award for developing the concept.

More important, the reader is selling jewelry, says Keith, who notes revenue has exceeded expectations. He ranked the reader’s effectiveness a close second to online advertising and ahead of magazine and TV ads.

Moreover, orders have came in as long as six months after the readers were mailed. Most catalogs generate 80% of their sales within the first two weeks, says Keith, so the reader seems to be developing the long life span Bluenile.com officials had hoped it would.

– Mark E. Dixon


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications