Sunday, May 25, 2008

Using video to advertise your business

There may be a lot of jewelry stores in New York City, but I recently encountered one that's breaking out of the staid, conservative mold that the industry is known for and testing out new media tools. Located in New York's financial district, Greenwich Jewelers was founded back in 1976 by Carl and Milly Gandia. Six years ago their daughter Jennifer came on board, and her sister Christina followed four years later. The younger Gandias have been slowing modernizing every aspect of the business, adding a computerized inventory system, building e-commerce capabilities unto the website, and - the latest - creating the video ad on (see below).

The girls hadn't meant to follow in their parents footsteps. Sure they helped out at the store during holidays and summers while growing up, but after majoring in marketing communications at FIT, Jennifer pursued a career in fashion, while Christina put her marketing degree from Fordham to work in the financial field.

However, 9/11 changed all that. The store was just blocks away from the World Trade Center but miraculously nothing was harmed. The building however, did retain some damage, and they were told they'd have to relocate. At that time Carl and Milly flirted with the idea of retiring early, but then they got a call from a client who had found space for them. "They felt a responsibility and a desire to help the neighborhood and stay and be of service to the people here that had been so loyal to them, so they decided to reopen," explains Jennifer.

A difficult 10 months followed, and the family came together to design and build the new store and get it back on its feet. After that Jennifer found herself at a crossroads. She had been working in fashion PR for Nars Cosmetics and knew she wasn't interested in continuing there. "I didn’t want want to get to a higher level in the cosmetics industry or in marketing for a large company, so I took time off to do something I'd been wanting to do, which is live abroad, and give myself some time to think," says Jennifer.

She spent a year in Spain but by the 3 or 4th month it hit her - after peering into countless windows and evaluating products in as many jewelry stores she knew what she was meant to do. "I realized I was very interested in the family business and I wanted to be a part of it, so as soon as I got back I started working at the store. The first couple of years was about learning the "ropes" and watching what was happening. I had some ideas I implemented right away - basic operational things like a computerized inventory system and getting slightly more aggressive with the marketing, though nothing sophisticated - just direct mail and local print ads," says Jennifer.

Little by little she started getting to know the clients and what they were looking for, and she formulated a vision for the business. Luckily she and her sister see eye to eye on this. After briefly working in a finance job Christina gravitated back to jewelry. She took a position at Temple St. Claire, a designer of fine jewelry, but soon after joined the family fold. Together the siblings are seeking out smaller artisan lines that have a point of view and are unique and of excellent quality. Last year after a year's worth of careful planning they revamped the website to accommodate e-commerce capabilities and show more products.

But according to Jennifer, their most effective marketing tool to date has been their ads on Citysearch. "That was a turning point for us. Before that most of our business was very local - it was just people in the area that knew about us. There was some word-of-mouth but not outside our immediate area. Citysearch was fairly new at the time and I noticed they were doing advertising so I looked into it. We started out at a small level - like $100 a month - for a listing with just a small blurb about us. Then people started leaving reviews about their experience with us, and it started a snowball effect. We had people coming from places that we’d never seen before - uptown, Harlem, Connecticut. It really expanded our reach. It showed us the power of the internet and what it could do for our business. That continues today - it's still our greatest source of marketing. And it works because it isn't anything we’re doing - it's the reviews that we get. Obviously we're giving people a good experience and they feel compelled to write about us, but it’s the forum aspect that brings people into our store.

When Citysearch launched the video service, Greenwich Jewelers was one of the first ones they contacted. There are a couple of options and price points to choose from - you can either shoot it yourself or have them send a crew and produce it. For the latter they'll send a cameraman over to your place of business to shoot for about an hour and you'll end up with a professionally edited 60-second clip. They also provide you with the HTML code so you can set it up on your website and/or other other sites like YouTube.

If you've been thinking of using video as a marketing tool but don't know quite how, this may spark some ideas. Gone are the days of the cheesy late night Crazy Eddie commercials. With the internet it's easier than ever to make and distribute video, and savvy businesses like Greenwich Jewelers are taking advantage of this.

By the way, they've just launched a new campaign where they're giving away a piece of jewelry every month. All you need to do is sign up - no purchase necessary! This month it's a pair of beautiful NuNu earrings (shown right). Deadline is May 31.


Kaizen Consulting Blog said...

I really enjoyed reading about this family owned business and the power of video marketing. Thank you.

Katie said...

Great article Carmina! One of your best so far! It really interests me to hear how people have grown their businesses, especially using modern technology and the internet. Hopefully your article will spark some ideas or create an "ah ha!" moment for a small business owner. Thanks for a great article.