By Roy H. Williams
I’m sitting in the grand ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York, surrounded by hundreds of people in tuxedoes and evening gowns. So this is a five star hotel, huh? Seven hundred dollars a night. Wow.
The tuxes are jewelers from across America, gathered to witness this year’s induction of two luminaries into the Jewelers Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees were selected from more than 30,000 jewelers. The first honoree is Michael J. Kowalski, CEO of Tiffany.
During his acceptance speech, Kowalski mentioned that although his company did more than 641 million dollars last quarter, “It’s really not that difficult to take a 200 year-old legendary brand to the next level. What I’ve done is nothing compared to my fellow honoree. Woody Justice is a man who started with nothing and built a jewelry store that’s known across America. And he did it in just 25 years.” The walls shook with thunderous applause as Woody Justice stepped up to the microphone. This was a man known to everyone in the room. His success in selling diamonds is the envy of jewelers everywhere.
I was there with my wife, Pennie, because Woody has been a client and friend of ours for 20 years. Last year his Springfield, Missouri jewelry store did 35 times the sales volume it did in 1987. His current volume is 10 times the national jewelry store average and growing every year.
Ninety percent of his ad budget goes to radio. For many years it was 100 percent, but then he began mailing personal invitations to customers for special events. He also supports the local arts community by purchasing ads in their programs and publications. He doesn’t buy these print ads because he thinks it’s an efficient use of ad dollars. He buys them because he’s a good guy and good guys support the community.
Woody’s rise to the top began the day he realized that jewelry isn’t a visual product, it’s an emotional one. It’s a product of personal identity. It speaks of relationship and effort and commitment and achievement.
And the best jewelry ads speak of precisely these same things.
Here’s one of Woody’s most recent sixties:
“Antwerp, Belgium, is no longer the diamond capitol of the world. Thirty-four hours on an airplane. One way. Thirty. Four. Hours. That’s how long it took me to get to where eighty percent of the world’s diamonds are now being cut. After 34 hours I looked bad. I smelled bad. I wanted to go to sleep. But then I saw the diamonds. Unbelievable. They told me I was the first retailer from North America ever to be in that office. Only the biggest wholesalers are allowed through those doors. Fortunately, I had one of ’em with me, a lifelong friend who was doing me a favor. Now pay attention, because what I’m about to say is really important: As of this moment, Justice Jewelers has the lowest diamond prices in America, and I’m including all the online diamond sellers in that statement. Now you and I both know that talk is cheap. So put it to the test. Go online. Find your best deal. Not only will Justice Jewelers give you a better diamond, we’ll give you a better price, as well. I’m Woody Justice, and I’m working really, really hard to be your jeweler. Thirty-four hours of hard travel, one way. I think you’ll be glad I did it.”
Woody rarely runs ads that talk about having lower prices. Yes, price matters to diamond shoppers. But just claiming to have low prices is hardly effective. You’ve got to substantiate your claim by explaining why your store can offer better prices. And your explanation has to ring true in the hearts and minds of a jaded public.
The style signature of a Woody Justice radio ad isn’t low prices, but blunt, brazen honesty tinged with glimpses of humor, wit and humility.
You might also have noticed where he went was left out of the ad. This omission was intentional. It’s what I call “a word flag.” How many people do you suppose have asked, “Where did you go that it took 34 hours to get there?”
When dozens of customers are asking your salespeople this question every day, it’s a pretty good indication that the radio ads are working, don’t you think?
And a sales volume that’s 10 times the national average is a pretty good indicator, too.