A Great Match: Diamonds and Direct Mail

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Candy and flowers are easy. But jewelry … not so much. So I turned to direct mail for some ideas.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and you know how that goes. Candy and flowers — they’re easy. But jewelry … diamonds  … not so much. This year, I wanted to get something different for my beloved, so I turned to direct mail for some help. Along the way to finding something that she’ll really like, I also found some examples of good marketing practices.

The first brand name I thought of was Blue Nile, the world’s biggest online seller of diamonds. Back in 2000-2001, long before content marketing became a thing, these folks were actually doing it. Blue Nile mailed a 40-page booklet targeting clueless guys (ahem  … me) with advice on “how to carve a turkey,” “why you should buy a tux,” and yes, “how to buy a diamond.”

Blue N_01I pulled it from the files of Who’s Mailing What, and it was exactly as I remembered. Lots of copy, kind of cheeky, with nothing too technical, just a good starting explanation of the four C’s of diamond selection: cut, color, clarity, carat weight. No pricing that might scare off buyers even before they’ve had time to digest what they’ve learned. For some people, the easygoing tone, minimalist graphics, and simplified information are enough to begin looking around on a website, but I wanted more.

Next, I looked at a mailer from Mitchells, an independent family of retail stores out of Westport, Conn. that prides itself on exceptional customer service. Mailed in 2011, this guide to “Our Diamonds!” is a giant 10”x13” brochure printed on heavy soft gloss paper that shows off its wares in crisp black-and-white and 4-color photos.

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One page includes a 3”x6” diagram of the “Anatomy of a Diamond.” It’s good information to show; you can almost imagine one of Mitchells’ salespersons carefully taking the time to personally explain the details to you in one of the stores. There’s no pricing for anything here either, but given the store’s upper income demographic, that’s another detail best left to the salespeople. The company’s expertise is highlighted throughout the brochure via quotes, photos and service descriptions.

With some background now in hand, I poked around the website for Diamond Nexus, a Wisconsin-based online retailer, before signing up for its email. The incentive — a chance to win a ring — was pretty persuasive.

Immediately, a pop-up address form was launched, asking “Would you like a FREE catalog?” I filled it out and four business days later, I got a polybagged copy of the company’s Winter 2015 direct mail catalog.

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It measures 7-1/2”x10-1/2”, 60 pages, on heavy stock paper. Sharp color images of diamonds, rings, and jewelry are scattered throughout. And there’s pricing! But what really sets the catalog apart, and sparked my interest initially, is its focus on the company’s unique selling proposition (USP). All of its diamonds are manufactured, or “grown” in a lab, not mined. The ethical and environmental reasons for this business choice are explained over a few pages at the front of the book.

DN_02They’re followed by several pages of photos and highly-detailed charts describing how its diamonds are made, sized and certified, and how they differ from the mined diamonds of their competition. At the same time, a “No Regrets Guarantee” is offered to offset any worry that the customer may have about the purchase.

The great thing about the content provided in all of these direct mail packets is that it fit each of its audiences so well. Getting the customer to like and trust your brand — whether it’s with offbeat humor, terrific customer service or different ethical standards — can be an approach that stands out in a crowded field and creates lifetime customers.