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.

Mitchells_01

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.

DN_01

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.

Stimulate Sales by Answering 4 Key Questions

When was the last time you performed a quick marketing check-up? Generations and attitudes continually change. A unique selling proposition from a decade ago may no longer resonate. Past customers, prime and ready for your product today, may have been overlooked in your marketing and sales plan.

When was the last time you performed a quick marketing check-up? Generations and attitudes continually change. A unique selling proposition from a decade ago may no longer resonate. Past customers, prime and ready for your product today, may have been overlooked in your marketing and sales plan.

Recently I had lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. He was desperate for some ideas to stimulate leads for his business. That conversation reminded me that we all need a check-up from time-to-time about how we’re approaching marketing. The outcome is captured in these four questions that you, too, should ask yourself:

  1. Do you have a good feel for the persona your audience? After the conversation with my friend, he came to realize that most of his market now comes from the millennial generation. He was still thinking and marketing like a baby boomer and realized his dated materials probably weren’t being seen. With each passing day the millennial generation is becoming a larger influence. They are starting jobs, buying houses, and making the purchases that 20- and 30-year-olds naturally do. On the business-to-business side, these younger people are taking over key business responsibilities from an older generation. Don’t look dated and use the media channel your market frequents!
  1. Is your position, or unique selling proposition, clear? Does it pop out in just 8 seconds (the average attention span these days)? With even less time to grab attention, your USP must be easy to digest in just seconds.
  1. Do you leverage sales from your raving fans? My friend, who’s in the real estate business, has the names and address of over 1,700 past buyers. But he hasn’t contacted them in years, thinking they likely weren’t in the market for his services. But they might be now. And they certainly can be good for referrals to family and friends. Are you reaching out to past customers?
  1. Do you think just having a website is going to deliver leads? You have to drive traffic, probably more today than ever before. If you aren’t emailing past customers with a link to a landing page, using content marketing, search engine marketing or retargeting to bring people to your website, your traffic will suffer. People search online differently today than they did only a decade ago. Social media is now a significant way people get news. People search for educational content or reviews.

If it’s time to evaluate your business and marketing approach, ask yourself these questions. With adjustments and updates in what you’re doing, you stand a better chance to stimulate your sales.