Monday, 28 January 2013

How Wedding Bands are Made

Warning:  While the Toddwaz Report tries to be about best-practices, news and industry issues, the following verges on specific product promotion.  Now that I've done this one, I look forward to giving you some behind the scenes tours of Customgold as well.  Through this you'll learn a lot about how jewellery is made and I hope it all makes you a better resource for your clients and a better salesperson.

Valentine’s Day

Imagine your astonishment.  “Skippy” comes in to buy something for his sweetheart on Valentines day.  Fliers, banners and counter-cards all over the mall are pushing beads and $149 price pointed items, but that’s not what Skippy buys.  Maybe he hadn’t been paying attention to everyone telling him to spend less than $200.  He sees something really spectacular, and decides to part with some his motorcycle fund in order to buy that $500 or $1,000 something.  What a wonderful Valentine’s Day it will be!

There are lots of Skippys out there.  They don’t know what to spend on her for Valentine’s day.  They just want to make a great impression.  They want to WOW her with a nice piece of jewellery.  Does he know that a precious metal piece of jewellery with any level of durability is nearly impossible for $199?  Not really.  It’s up to you to show Skippy some options with high-style, durability and quality.  If he doesn’t have a motorcycle fund to draw from and decides on the $199 diamond pendant with the microscopic chain, at least you’ve planted a seed for future purchases and also prepared him for the possibility that the chain will break.

That works with Mr. Jones too.  He might have seen your ads for the $499 specials, but unbeknownst to you, Mr. Jones just received his year-end bonus and it was HUGE.  He might just be interested in buying Mrs. Jones that 1 carat diamond that she’s always dreamed of.

As I always say, “when you start at the top, sometimes you end up there!”

**My video from the wedding band shop tour is pending approval from Lashbrook’s president.  I don’t want to give away any trade secrets.  You’ll see it soon!**

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Utah Day 3

Today was mostly getting my sample bag all set-up, answering a few last minute questions and then off to the airport (with a quick stop at In-‘n-Out Burger - YUM.)  What I can tell you is that I’m a new man.  I used to be a bit of a snob for precious metals.  With the advent of new alloys of Cobalt Chrome and Zirconium Oxide, the high-style of forged Damascus Steel and traditional Mokume Gane, plus the increased complexity of multi-axial C&C machines, PERFORMANCE METALS DON’T HAVE TO BE BORING.  Simple machining allows only simple designs.  Complex machining is paving the way for performance metals to achieve some really unique styles and price-points not possible with all-gold product.

I’ve taken a few video clips of the amazing manufacturing processes.  I can show some of it publically but I have to keep others only for use with dealers for product knowledge presentations.  I’ll be working on completing those over the next few days, so that you can take that promised peek behind the scenes.

Here’s something that I’ve learned while meeting sales reps from all over the US.  I love my family of jewellers in Western Canada!!!  I’m not saying that my new friends were bad-mouthing the jewellers they’ll be calling on.  They just don’t know their markets the way I do.  Part of it is because I’ve got a relatively small population base, but the other part has to do with the number of you who network with each other and keep in contact with and include suppliers like me in your social circles.  I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Utah Day 2

Wow, I feel like a juggler with one hand tied behind her back!  I left my laptop charger at home, and so I can't even start processing the video clips I've been taking.  I'm learning so much about a whole different side of this industry and I look forward to sharing with you some pretty cool info.

It may be a few days, but I'll get there.  Although I'm writing this from a Starbucks, the mormon culture is still pretty strong here.  We dined at "The Roof" last night in what used to be the posh Hotel Utah where every US President had stayed from its' opening in 1911 until its' repurposing in 1987.  No wine list, no coffee, and a nice view of the Mormon temple.

Learning lots and enjoying the company from my ex-marine roommate to New York Mike to the couple who are living apart half of the year to cover two territories.  I've discovered that the Lashbrook name came from the owner's great great grandfather who came to Utah on foot with a wheel-barrow and family in tow.

I look forward to showing you the technology that goes into manufacturing these bands.  It's sooo cool!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Utah Day 1

**Haiti Helpers – Note: Wednesday January 23rd is the final day to send gold-scraps into Customgold.  If you wished you had participated, but missed the boat you can still throw some gold in a baggie and ship it off to Vancouver in time for my trip.  So far, the leading gold collectors; who are in-line for a free half-day of sales coaching, is someone from Alberta.  For more info on why this is the best fund-raiser ever, click HERE

**Train the Trainer event coming to Edmonton – My friend Brad Huisken is bringing his famous sales training event to Edmonton, May 5-7th.  They say the best way to learn something is to learn how to train someone else to do it.  If you are interested in attending, see the attached document.

Today I’m looking forward to a tour of Lashbrook Design’s manufacturing facility here in Sandy, Utah.  It’s been “interesting” so far; my luggage missed the connection in Los Angeles (I know it’s out of the way, but that’s air travel today) and then the shower knob broke-off in my hand this morning.  It’s not all bad because I’m meeting some great new people.

I’m going to try give my Toddwaz Report readers as much behind-the-scenes views as I am allowed to show.  I hope to give you all an idea of how semi-precious metal bands are fabricated.  Stand-by for more.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Beeeee Positive!

As some of you know, Mrs. Toddwaz is a realtor.  Jana hosted a “realtor open-house” for a new fourplex listing the other day.  Some of the realtors from her office spent time commenting about the hookers a few blocks away, the limited parking and all of the negative aspects of the property.  It’s actually in an area of rapid urban renewal, close to downtown and a perfect starter resident for an active young single or couple. In a B-to-B (business to business) situation, the onlooker might feel an inescapable obligation to tear-apart the product in front of them, fully believing that their expert criticism is helpful in some way.  It sometimes works that way with jewellery presentations. 

When I look at a line of 3-400 rings, I don’t see sellers and non-sellers.  I see each piece as the answer to someone’s quest.  There is a buyer out there for every design you’ve ever looked at in a travellers bag.  Maybe you haven’t conditioned your marketplace to respond to a certain styling.  Maybe the craziest looking design that you summarily dismissed would have sold to the tourist who came in the next day.  Maybe you’ve just overlooked a ring that would have sold 4 times in the coming year because in your opinion it was too high, too low, too wide, too narrow or too “froofie.”  (Don’t laugh, I’ve heard that before!)

This is a tough business and you can’t buy everything that comes along.  I appreciate a retailer telling me why they think a new design won’t sell quickly in their store.  I really do.  Maybe it will cause us to modify a design if few enough jewellers choose to stock it.  But, I’m invigorated by buyers who look at designs and identify what kind of client will love that piece.  Looking for the positive in jewellery designs makes for a more enjoyable supplier visit, and I believe a much more productive one for selecting profitable designs.  Looking for the positive in every customer that walks in has its’ own rewards.

Enjoy this video, featuring Sir Paul McCartney and Nanaimo’s very own Diana Krall…

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Spinning or Winning?

Business or personal it’s all the same.  You can be positive by spinning or winning.

When I took my ARMS management training (where I first met Mr. Greg Bird,) the session leader asked us all how business was.  We mumbled various responses.  He corrected us and trained us to give the response, “UNBELIEVABLE!”  He was training us to put a positive “spin” on things.  He wanted us to allow our interlocutors to draw the conclusion that business was unbelievably GOOD when it just as easily could be unbelievably BAD.  Spinning is the art of deception.  Pick and choose truths and half-truths to build a conclusion for the sake of your own motives.

When someone asks, “How are you?” or “How’s business?” you can easily brush them off by saying “fine,” and get on with your day.  That’s fair because some people haven’t earned a close enough relationship with you to justify a deeper explanation.  If you want to present a perfectly positive and prosperous persona, you might proffer a passionate, “unbelievable!”

Here’s the thing.  If you have your eye on a far-off goal of a highly effective “you” or a highly successful business, and you’re doing things to make that happen, you’re on a winning path.  You’re either learning things that you’ll need to avoid as you approach your goal, or your doing things that work and get you closer to your goal.  Either way, you’re making genuine headway towards the positive future that surely awaits you.

As you keep your eyes on the prize (whatever that means to you) you can have a GENUINELY positive outlook.  You can honestly say, “fine,” “unbelievable,” or “super” in response to other people’s inquiries.  You can, not only say positive things, but you be honest about set-backs in light of their contribution to your journey.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Just ASK!!!

No, I’m not talking about closing, but always ask for the sale too!

Marketing is a big catch-all term which can include advertising, networking, social media, events and publicity.  Publicity is out there for the asking.  Just ask.

Imagine Todd sitting in his Easy-Boy trying to think about what to write about for his next blog.  He’s written over 300 articles and hasn’t fully explored the collective wisdom of an entire industry yet, but it’s still a challenge to decide what to write about.  Then I get an email from a jeweller who has a fund-raising promotion having to do with jewellery, or who has discovered a great training pamphlet for watch-battery servicing.  Well, bingo!  Now I know what to write about, and I know that at least one of my readers care about this issue.

It’s the same with your local radio news director or journalist.  They’re sitting there not knowing what to write about next.  If you hand them something interesting and give them a leg-up on writing the piece, you’re doing them a huge favor! 

Here’s a few rules to follow for the do-it-yourself publicist:
·      Call it a “news release”.  News is what they seek.  Press is what other people want from them.
·      Start-out with “For Immediate Relase” or “For Release February 12th” so they know when the news piece would be relevant
·      Make sure your announcement is interesting, and newsworthy or at the very least timely (relating to a current trend, event or occasion)
·      Always make the W5s easy to spot (who, what, when, where and why.)
·      For the body of your news release take one of two approaches
o   Write a fully developed news-piece as you would wish it to be published – and then invite the writer to edit and make it their own
o   Write a compelling introduction and then give a list of bullet-point facts; drawing them to ask more questions and create their own “angle.”
·      End the text of your news release with “-30-“ centered below the last line to indicate that anything following is not meant for publication
·      Supply all contact information
·      Cut and paste it into the body of an email and also attach a PDF of the nicely formatted document.  Some media outlets have such high-security firewalls that attachments are problematic.

Most media outlets have a spot on their website for “news ideas” or “submit a community event.”  Wherever possible identify the writer, editor or news director who is likely to write or assign the piece and give them a call; asking who to send your news release to.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Exclusively yours…

**Attention: Haitian Heroes Go For Gold collectors: Please send-in scrap-gold contributions to Customgold by January 23rd.  Thank you.**

WARNING:  The following is a guest-blog from a fictitious “cranky supplier”.  I publish this to illicit responses from those who care about this issue.  If you have thoughts, please chime-in.  If you respond by email, please indicate whether I can publish your reply to Toddwaz Report readers.

I’m sick and tired of retailers asking for exclusive distribution of my product.  My line contains hundreds of items, so why should I limit my network for a dealer who carries less than 5% of my designs; let alone the ARMS guys who want to cherry-pick my top 10 designs and return half of them for stock balancing. 

How big is an exclusive territory anyway?  One shopping mall, one town, South of the river, 50km radius???  I can’t figure it out.  With the dollar at par and more competition at-hand there’s no loyalty anyway.  I’ve been busting my butt for Canadian retailers for years and in the last few years these glitzy branded goods made in some sweat-shop who-knows-where have come-in an diluted my business anyway.  How do I tactfully tell a jeweller that they’re no longer buying enough to maintain an exclusive when they might just drop me altogether?

If I’m spending over $30,000 per year travelling my territory I’ve got to make it count.  Why can’t we just get back to the good old days?

I believe the issue comes down to true loyalty.  Dealers who give suppliers a good dose of loyalty will get a good dose in return.  I don’t think our industry is that much different from others.  The world is shrinking, borders are becoming more permeable and competition is increasing.  The tactic of exclusivity is now only one piece of a much more complex puzzle.  The good old days may have been good, but they’re gone.  Better days could lie ahead for those who learn to adapt to the changing tide.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Naughty, naughty Tungsten

After receiving a bulletin announcing that Lashbrook Designs will be pulling Tungsten Carbide options from their offerings (for now,) it peaked my curiosity.  So I did some investigative journalism.  The mineral Tungsten is scientifically known as Wolfram (W on the periodic table of elements).  It appears that Tungsten has been involved in all manor of trouble, making it the bad-boy of the mineral world.

Trent West (the Godfather of Tungsten Carbide jewellery) has been suing companies left-right and center in recent years over its’ 9 patents having to do with the production of Tungsten jewellery.  Of two recent defendants, one chose to enter a licensing agreement and another told Tungsten to go get stuffed. 

Tungsten has also been listed as a potential conflict material; as much of it comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Tungsten is so wily, it was discovered on the left ring-finger of Congressman Barney Frank, whose Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act requires public companies to monitor the origin of raw materials to avoid “conflict” minerals.  According to the Huffington Post, he and his husband have no idea if their rings contain Congolese Tungsten. 

Although Tungsten (W) lives five doors down from Gold (Au) on the periodic table of the elements, its’ density is almost identical to that of gold.  According to a New York Post Article, Tungsten has been going around dressed-up as gold to fool investors.

This “Tungsten” character can be one bad apple, but through all of these issues he seems to have survived with hardly a scratch. 

Friday, 4 January 2013


A new four-part series of articles by CBC News investigates a new science called neuromarketing.  Imagine if you could produce advertisements for your jewellery store that you knew would tickle the brain in a way that compelled them to come-in and immediately buy diamonds.  That’s the “brass ring” of this new area of study.  What if Zales, Future Shop or Home Depot can afford to pay-for and implement tactics from neuromarketers to sway consumers their way instead of yours?

One of the reasons they want to use MRI and EEG monitoring to see inside consumers brains as they respond to ads and merchandising is, "It's really giving you a lot of insight into his emotional response, much more so than if you were just to ask him how he’s feeling.”  The first of two insights I gained from this article is that consumers won’t always tell marketers and salespeople what they’re truly thinking.  They might “pull punches” to avoid insulting the salesperson, or they might want to placate the marketer by half-heartedly agreeing with their assertions.  Sales training and relationship building are the two ways to increasingly break-down those boundaries between us and our clients.

The second insight I gained was from their experiment with the classic “Coke vs. Pepsi taste-test.”  When neuromarketers monitored brain activity during a blind taste-test, they witnessed brain-activity consistent with sensory analysis, and the results were even.  When the samples were labeled as “Coke” and “Pepsi”, activity was also seen in parts of the brain having to do with memory and experience.  Preference leaned towards Coke in this scenario.  What this tells us is that everything you’ve always been doing in your jewellery store forms an indelible impression in your client’s mind.  That cumulative impression can override subtle differences in product “taste,” tipping the scales in your favor.

Despite marketing mind-tricks discovered by high-tech wiz-bangs, a history of happy customers will serve you well in the long-run.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Toddwaz Report Volume II

As most of you know, it was a social media marketing objective for me to publish 300 blog posts in 2012.  That box has been “checked.”  In 2013, I have decided to publish 2 to 3 blogs per week as inspiration leads me.  If I manage 100 posts, so be it.  If I put the Report on Hiatus to write a book, training program or work on a system of posts for you to send to your tribe, so be that too. 

I’m going to take it as it comes until a clear opportunity or objective reveals itself to me.  After-all, the blog in and of itself isn’t my vocation.  It’s a marketing tool and a way for me to give back to an industry that has taught me so much, and through which I’ve gained so many wonderful friends.  I look forward to writing to you and discussing matters important to you.  Please keep challenging me with your feedback and comments.  I love to discover those of you who, like myself, care about the future of our independent retail jewellery platform.

As I travel three Provinces representing three companies, I will continue to try and do more than just “sell jewellery.”  My mandate remains to help retailers develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the amazing companies I represent, while adding value to the process through sales training, education and sharing some of the best-practices I am privileged enough to witness.

Looking forward to a Sizzling twenty-thirteen with you all!