In this interview Gary Capps talks to Dr David Weiman of MarketingJewelry.com about simple steps you can take to massively improve your jewelry business.
Dr David Weiman is the marketing Director for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, the worlds oldest gem, bead and jewelry arts magazine.
Dr Weiman is also a psychologist who specializes in helping jewelry artisans understand the psychology of selling handcrafted jewelry.
You can read the full interview below as well download a pdf copy of this interview or listen to a recording of it here;Gary Capps Interview With Dr David Weiman
Gary Capps Interviews David Weiman of MarketingJewelry.com
David is the third generation of Weimans in the jewelry business. His grandfather founded the small jewelry chain Weiman’s for diamonds that had several locations in Philadelphia and then his father owned and managed the stores until changing careers to become an attorney.
David is the marketing director of several publications such as Lapidary Journal jewelry artists magazine which is oldest gem and jewelry arts magazine in the world and Step by Step jewelry as well as being one of the founding creators of Beads Fest, the instructional bead show which is now all over the U.S.
David has also been a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania since 1998, presenting seminars around the country on how to make the psychology of connecting with customers easy to understand and simple to implement.
Welcome David and thanks for taking the time today to talk to me.
Gary, it’s a pleasure to be with you.
You are known as the expert jewelry-selling psychologist. Can you explain why psychology can play such an important part in being successful in your jewelry business?
The essence of this is that jewelry is not a necessity; and yet people keep buying it. There’s virtually an infinite market for it.
In fact, I recently suggested in a newsletter article that I wrote that the jewelry makers ask their customers how many pieces of jewelry they own; because my contention is nobody really knows how much jewelry they own. Most people don’t unless all they own is a watch and a wedding band and a bracelet or something like that. It’s something that people buy that they really don’t have a specific need for.
You can understand the psychology of that, why people buy things they don’t need and understand specifically around the buying of jewelry and what attracts people to it and where the real action is.
I know we’re going to get into a little bit later in our conversation some of the deeper psychological meanings behind some of these transactions. It really is, I believe, mainly psychological and the reason is that the average consumer is not an expert in the materials used to make jewelry.
Most people do not understand what they’re looking at. They couldn’t tell the difference between something that was real gold and gold-plated, for example or a real gemstone vs one that was created in a lab or in a manufacturing plant. So the psychology of it is very, very rich for this particular field.
I definitely agree with you about people not knowing how much jewelry they own; especially when you look at my wife’s little jewelry basket or jewelry box. I just had to buy her more because it was her birthday. It’s definitely an impulse buy a lot of the time, I think, rather than a need for the product.
When we’ve asked people what they were thinking of during that impulse moment, a lot of times it’s a connection to something in the past. Somebody may see a ring that they do like but it also reminds them of a ring that their grandmother owned; and that may be the impetus for buying. They can’t really tell you why they were attracted to a piece; that’s at an unconscious level but it is fascinating how people make those choices.
Yeah; so trying to tap into why they want that and if you can get in line with why they want that item then you can align with that customer successfully.
Could you give any specific examples where some clients have implemented these psychological tactics in their business and some of the results they have seen?
For customers who understand what I teach about the objection-handling process, they notice a shift not just in their attitude but in the corresponding attitude of the customer.
More specifically what I mean is, a lot of jewelry-makers are defensive – and rightfully so; I’m not criticizing them for having this feeling. A person walks by your booth, you have your jewelry out, and the prospect or the passer-by kind of snorts and says, “My 5-year old can make something better than that.” Your initial inclination is to react very defensively and sort of create an argument with that person. A person who walks by and says, “I would never pay that much money for that piece.”
The defensive instinct is to argue back but that’s the last thing you want to do; because all of these moments where somebody is saying something is an opportunity to engage and learn more about them.
So the shift there is, instead of responding to be curious and ask questions about why they said what they did and to learn more about their preferences. Because that’s a skill that’s always useful whereas arguing in business is never useful.
The other thing that I think is critical is when somebody recognizes what they do well and what they don’t; and in what they don’t, if they have any desire at all to improve that.
Somebody attended one of my Bead Fest seminars on selling jewelry and she recognized that her interest in connecting with people was so low and she was so shy that it wasn’t working out for her to do shows well. She told me that her boyfriend loved her jewelry and really did like connecting with people; loved talking with people about it.
The major change that she made after attending the seminar was to start selling together with him. He started coming to the shows and he started taking over that direct connection with customers. At a future show – she had come to the same show one year later – she told me that she had doubled here revenue from shows because she was engaged, she was enthusiastic; people were attracted to that and they started buying more.
I was going to ask you to say what you feel are the three most common obstacles that any jewelry business owner new or old should really face up to and overcome?
So you think the connection with people, making sure that you can align with customers is obviously a very important one. Do you think there are another couple as well? Obviously, making sure you get that right; what would be another couple of really common obstacles that they need to overcome if they want to succeed?
The most common one, the obstacle itself is the challenge of seeing it as business instead of a hobby. A lot of people who come to my website Marketingjewelry.com are hobbyists who are interested in converting this to a business; or people who have been in business for a while who are now looking to bring up the level of it.
Even those folks tell me that they still have trouble seeing themselves as a businessperson. You have to leave that aside as a dirty word. Being in business as a jewelry maker is a wonderful, amazing way to share your jewelry with other people. It’s not a dirty word and it’s something that they should feel good about.
I think another obstacle is just the idea that they’re selling something; but the reality is that our entire lives are spent persuading people in some way to do something that we want. When your 5-year old wants a cupcake for dessert, they’re selling you on the idea that they deserve it even if they didn’t eat their dinner.
So, we’re selling throughout out entire lives and these tactics or skills of persuading are important to possess. Many people say, “I don’t want to have to sell my jewelry.” Well, that’s fine. You may not be as successful as you could be.
I think the third area is understanding the value of their jewelry and that it is worth more than most jewelry makers charge for it. The obstacle there is recognizing that they are worth it. They as human beings who have created this are worth it and that the jewelry may last well beyond the generations, even of the person whom they sold it to in terms of passing it down.
For example, a piece of jewelry that you sell to a customer who has a daughter, if she gives it to her daughter, it may survive longer than her daughter and that daughter’s daughter. It’s something that will be passed down through generations if it’s well made. That’s extremely important and extremely relevant.
I think that’s a really good point to make. There’s that term out there about’ starving artists’ and there seems to be a badge of honour about that starving artist who’s just getting by, by selling a bit of jewelry and people not valuing it enough to actually realize what they’re doing is worthwhile. I think that’s a really good point that you made there.
And that gets conveyed in very subtle ways; when your body language and your tone of voice is submissive and you’re showing that you don’t feel very good about it, abut the jewelry and whole sales process, people pick that up. And it does transfer to how valuable they feel the jewelry is.
When you’re confident, when you feel good, when you know the jewelry is worth the price that you’re asking for it and you love making it, all of that goes into the experience that the buyer has as well.
Yeah; so when there are people looking to actually start turning their hobby into a business, where would you suggest that they actually begin to market themselves, to actually grow out of that hobby phase into making money?
The most logical place for people to start is with the people who are closest to them; and that is family and friends. For a few reasons, although they may feel uncomfortable accepting money from friends – but that’s something they have to get over.
The social circle is extremely important for jewelry sellers at the beginning. They’re people that the jewelry seller is already comfortable with, that they already know. Their folks are going to give them an honest opinion about the jewelry.
It is very common for people who are wearing jewelry to get remarks comments and questions about it. When it’s your sister or your mom or your cousin Beth who’s wearing the jewelry, and somebody they work with notices it, cousin Beth says, “Oh, yeah; my cousin Rachel made this.” it’s an easy and smooth connection right back to the jewelry artist. So that’s typically the place where they’re going to have the most success.
That can extend a little further out if you think of social contacts as a series of concentric circles; the next furthest out point is generally people that that person works with. Most jewelry artists are not fulltime jewelry artists, the do other things. So the other people in your social circle like co-workers, people who perhaps you’re involved in a club or an activity with.
In fact, this is often how jewelry makers in selling. Somebody notices a bracelet they have on, that they made. A co-worker says, “I love that; where did you get it?” The jewelry artist says, “I made it.” The co-worker says, “Could you make one for me?” And that’s how it starts.
It’s some nice word of mouth marketing, really.
What about people who’ve already go an existing business but they’re looking to shift up a gear or two. How would your advice differ to those people?
There it’s much more important to ratchet up your marketing. There’s a lot of… I guess for those folks, a lot of them lose sight of that their current customers are their best source of new business and referrals.
It’s kind of like if you had an apple orchard and you were in a hurry; you sort of quickly went through and grabbed as many apples as you could. You’re leaving a lot on the trees. I want those jewelry makers who are already established to go back and do a little more harvesting; to spend more time marketing.
I say this with sort of a chuckle in mind because not a lot of people keep track of this. If you’re marketing yourself 10 hours a week you want to spend 12 hours a week doing it. If you’re marketing yourself 4 hours a week you want to spend 6 hours doing it.
Whatever they can do to add a little more time to that is going to pay off; because if you think about it – you yourself as a successful businessperson can relate to this – to get to your first level take a huge amount of work. To get from that level to the next level doesn’t take twice as much work. It probably takes a quarter again as much work; because you already have the base. You’ve already learned from your mistakes. You already know what works.
So it’s really a matter of putting more time in and seeking out more of the folks who fit your primary and secondary targets.
I think it’s like… somebody explained it to me once. It’s like when you get a business started and for those people that remember the old water pump with the big handle? I’ve seen them on telly; they weren’t around when I was a young lad. But you used to have to pump those really hard and fast for a while, you get the water started. But once you actually filled up that pipe and the water was coming through it was very nice and easy and gentle to keep it going and the water would carry on flowing.
Running a business can be very much like that, can’t it? Once you put in that initial effort then you can keep it going along quite smoothly.
That’s a great analogy for it because you have already got that thing flowing. You’ve done the hard part so it’s about tweaking from that point on
And good maintenance, really and keeping in touch with those customers, remembering important things about them which is really important.
When people get into business, they often feel they’ve got to sell their product… I think we touched on this when you were talking about confidence and how you actually present yourself. Can you explain the difference between selling yourself and selling your products and why selling yourself can be so important?
It’s a great question and it reminds me of the phenomenal marketing writer Harry Beckwith, who’s written some great books on service marketing that I think definitely apply to selling jewelry as well. One of his books was Selling the Invisible, that was his first one. He also wrote What Clients Love, which is just a terrific book for jewelry sellers to read; And You Incorporated.
It basically says that people sell things in the wrong order. People tend to sell on the price first then the product then themselves. He’s talking about service marketing but this applies to jewelry as well because the person has to trust you before they buy the jewelry. If they don’t, they may buy it because they still like it. But that’s not going to result in a long-term loyal customer.
Long-term loyal customers result because of their connection with you. So you really want to sell in the opposite order according to Beckwith, than you would think. You want to sell yourself first then the product and the price last; because for artisan jewelry, people aren’t buying it on price.
If you don’t want to spend very much money on jewelry, here in the U.S. you could go to Walmart, Target, or any of the large discount stores and find jewelry while spending almost no money for it. That’s not why people buy artisan jewelry. People buy artisan jewelry because it’s unique, it’s one a kind, it’s handmade, and they get to have a relationship with the artist – that’s key. People love saying to someone who’s admiring their jewelry, “I know the artist who made that.”
So you really want to re-orient how you’re selling, to focus on what you have brought to that jewelry because otherwise, it’s just an object. We associate so much with something that we love that you want to include yourself as a part of that package; something that a lot of jewelry makers are shy about.
I’ve gone to websites at the request of jewelry makers who have asked me to review their site where they don’t have a photograph of themselves. You’re trying to make this personal connection with the customer and they can’t figure out what you look like. So that’s key.
I often advise people not just to include a photograph of yourself but show you interacting with customers; people laughing, smiling, and having a good time. That’s extremely persuasive. Again, it sort of links back to our discussion about low self-esteem among jewelry artists and artists in general; that you want to see yourself as part of what the person is buying – and to feel great about that.
That’s a really, really good point there. You’ve been in the industry for a long time now, over 20 years I think, working in this field. Is there one common problem that you’ve come across in that time that you could name and how would you advise people to get past that?
I think the biggest problem is under-pricing their jewelry. Before we started our recording today, you and I were talking about your software Bead Manager Pro and I was sort of testing it out myself; I love it – and that’s a shameless plug for you but I really do. I think it’s fantastic.
A lot of people under-price for all kinds of reasons. There was somebody who came to one of my seminars and she said, “I was selling a piece for $27 and I was sort of happy to get $27 for it. So my husband sat down and broke the piece apart in terms of its components. He didn’t literally take it apart, he just added up everything that was there and said I had $37 worth of components in it. So I was losing $10 every time I sold it.”
Well, that’s what your software does. Part of what it does is sort of helping somebody handle that. Had I known about this software back then, I would’ve suggested that she get a copy of it.
Things like that; jewelry makers just don’t see themselves… I don’t blame them. They’re not attracted really to the counting of things and knowing exactly what went into a piece because that’s counter to the creative mind. The creative mind is the right brain; that supposedly where all the creativity emanates from and the left brain is the logical side. So she really joined up with her husband and he helped her out. But beyond that., I’m not even sure if she had used a formula the resulted in maybe double or triple her component costs would have been the best way to price it.
The truth is, a piece of jewelry is worth what any willing buyer will pay for it. And aiming low out of a fear that your price will be a deterrent is that problem that I’m talking about. They’re so concerned about rejection that they think, “How low can I price this that anybody would buy it without even thinking about it? “ But that ignores the fact that psychologically people associate price with quality.
For example, if people are looking at two very similar pieces of jewelry and price is not an issue for them; they can afford either piece. One is $100 and one is $50. This also depends on which one they saw first. They may think, “Great! I can get the same piece for $50? Half the price? That’s phenomenal.” That’s not the customer you want. You want the customer who says, “$100! Man, that must be a really nice bracelet; really well-made.”
I’ve had this experience and a story about this I often tell is, I was looking for a toaster oven. The average toaster oven today lasts a week. When I was kid, my grandfather had the same toaster my entire life up until the point where he dies, you know? He had for like, 20 years. They don’t make them like they used to; that’s the common expression.
I went to the Consumer Reports website and I did some research on toasters. They had an interesting conclusion and it was that the best toaster was the lowest priced toaster that they tested. But that wasn’t the most popular one. The most popular one was much more expensive. The ultimate conclusion was that people believed that the higher priced toaster was better so they bought that.
I printed out this article; I went to my local Bed Bath & Beyond store to buy the toaster. I was standing there at the toaster display with a couple that looked like… they had the fresh-scrubbed look that looked like they had just gotten married and somebody just plucked them right off of the wedding cake; picture perfect couple.
They were looking at a toaster that must have had a $200 price tag on it and I was about to pick up one that was about $25. As they were reaching for the toaster they wanted – which was on my list as not a good toaster; it did not make toast very well. it made hot bread; slices; it actually browned it.
I said to the couple, “Wait a second. I have the consumer reports article that says that toaster you’re about to pick up for 200 bucks actually doesn’t make toast very well.” They looked at me the way they would curiously look at an animal in the zoo; like I wasn’t talking and I was just a curiosity. They backed away a little bit and they grabbed that toaster and bought it.
So, even as I was trying to present them with evidence that it didn’t do what they were buying it to do, they didn’t care. They wanted to spend $200 on a toaster. I got mine for 25 bucks; works perfectly well, I’m very happy with it. But I don’t have the prestige feeling that I own this popular, exclusive brand.
That has a lot to do with it.
There are people who, when the see a piece of jewelry, the more money it is the more they believe it’s better; it’s higher quality, better components. And because it’s not something people understand very well… I mean, a toaster’s pretty easy to understand and the couple that I saw in Bed Bat & Beyond still bought this overpriced thing that didn’t work. But that’s what they were happy doing.
If you think about it, they spent 8 times what I did an they got an inferior product but they didn’t care. What they cared about was that the price was (in their mind) directly associated with the quality.
If jewelry makers can get over a little bit… (Look, I’m from a jewelry family. I’m from the third generation of my family in the jewelry business. I tell people I was born at night but it wasn’t last night) to really think about this and to feel comfortable and to almost be curious and experiment with it. If I were to charge 50% more, what would happen there? How would that change people’s perception of it? And ho to continue to think about this concept – that it’s worth what a wiling buyer will pay for it because that’s extremely important.
I would say that really, the most common problem that I’ve come across is just people under-pricing their work. I think your software addresses this and I think they can go even further in experimenting because the software lets them do that, with hanging some of the elements that go into it. Because honestly, if you priced it out and it came out to $75, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t get $250 dollars for that ring.
A really good word you used there at the end was that perception and perceived value was so important. That’s not to say people should be trying to overcharge for shoddy products.
You want to make sure it is a good quality product because you want to make sure those customers come back again. But the perceived value of something that is quality made can be so much more than even the double mark-up rates that people charge for it. I think that’s a really good point that you made there.
It’s amazing that people feel good when they…
…..Spend some money; they like it because they’ve got something to show off for it.
Exactly. For a certain kind of person, when they pay $250 for that ring, that’s an extremely valuable ring to them. And that all by itself is relevant and important to them. They wanted to pay that. Most jewelry makers I know don’t have a gun at their booth where they’re holding people up. They don’t say, “You must buy this or else.”
The reality is, and I think it’s a tough one, in different markets and different places depending on where you are, you’re either going to hit that market or not.
If you go to a flea market, or what I call a parking lot sale; you know, they have them in churches and flea markets that are outside… they have all sorts of names for them here. Sometimes they call it an ‘antique show’; but it’s really all the junk in your basement that you want to get rid of. That’s not a good environment for selling $250 rings.
But in a more exclusive environment where the people are really looking for that special thing, once they see it, once they’re delighted by it, the feel very good about paying for it and that’s they key thing.
It’s good to know you can actually make your customers feel better by paying more. That’s really good.
We talked a little bit before about making the best of a bad situation, such as show that maybe didn’t go so well. You were saying that maybe if someone makes some comments about your jewelry, you obviously don’t want to react to that.
Can you elaborate on the a bit more and explain how to turn those bad situations into positive ones?
The best thing that you can do when it’s clear that you’re at the wrong show, if you’re selling at place where they’re also selling discount sunglasses and bars of soap, things like that… That is not a good spot for an artist and jeweller but that can happen, is to relax a little bit and say, “OK, I’m in a classroom right now and I’m going to study. This is my laboratory.” I’m just going to talk to people and learn; because you can learn a lot from the bargain hunter, too.
You can ask them questions like, are there areas in your life where you’re not seeking bargains? Where you’re not looking for the lowest price? What are those areas? Are there things that you truly value and price doesn’t have anything to do with it? Oftentimes, the person who is a bargain hunter in 99% of their life may have one or two areas where money’s no object.
We all know people like this. They may be incredibly cheap on everything except where they stay when they travel. They don’t like budget hotels. They like to stay in a nice place.
I know people who are excessively cheap about everything except this one food item that the love.
Don’t name them here.
No, I’m not going to use brand names but…
I meant your friends just in case they ever hear this – don’t name them.
They know who they are.
But there may be one thing. It may be a certain kind of cheese that they like, or a certain kind of oatmeal or whatever it is. They’ll gladly pay up for that. So learning about that person’s mind is extremely important.
The other thing is to talk to other vendors there, and see what their experience has been at other shows, other venues, in other communities, in other towns and learn as much as you can from that.
All of this is in the service of educating yourself about that kind of consumer. Do you want to sell to a bargain hunter? No. They’re not a good customer for artisan jewelry because artisan jewelry cannot compete on price. But that’s not what it should be competing on. It should be competing on value, quality; the fact that it was handmade and it’s unique, things that we’ve already talked about.
So, one way of making the best of a bad show is stop worrying about what you’re not selling and start really talking to people. Take your time, learn as much as you can. You can also use that information to avoid that type of show in the future.
Try and write out as many characteristics or factors about tat show that you think are making it a bad show. Oftentimes when we leave a venue, we don’t remember as much about it as we think we do. We’re typically more confident in our memory than is actually true. So of you’re allowed, take some pictures, take some notes, and in the future when you’re evaluating the show make sure that the components that you feel sure made that show bad don’t exist in the new one.
For example, some people love a show that’s just jewelry makers. Some people don’t. Some people want a show where there’s jewelry, accessories and other artisan level products there. That’s fine. But if it’s birdfeeders, that’s probably not a good show for your jewelry.
Seriously, the most important thing they can do is learn as much about a show before they pay a booth fee. Google the name, see if anything’s been written about it, call vendors who you believe… if you know who was there the prior year or the last time that show was put on, call them and talk to them. Call the promoter and ask them what kind of advertising and marketing they intend to do and how many people were at the last show. There’s disincentive for then to be honest if the show as bad. That’s just the nature of business but definitely learn as much as you can because a lot of people are optimists about a show they’ve never been to before. It’s just a natural human tendency if we don’t have experience about something, to be slightly optimistic about it. They’re hoping for the best. You can hope for the best; you still need to plan for the worst
One piece of advice I gave that I was highly criticized for was that if you’re going to a show and you’re not sure what value people place on artisan jewelry, is to have a small line of manufactured jewelry with you that you did not make, that you will put out of it’ truly a bargain hunter show. Why should you suffer there and sell nothing?
The criticism that I got was from people who said, “You can’t do that! You can’t go to an artisan jewelry show and then put out manufactured jewelry.” They missed my point. I’m not advising people to go to an artisan jewelry show with manufactured jewelry. I’m saying if you wind up at a flea market then you should bust out your manufactured jewelry, put your stuff away and sell, sell, sell, try and recoup some of your investment. There’s no need to be stubborn about it. I know jewelry artists who do that. It’s almost like their emergency kit.
Their little bargain basement basket.
The Bargain basement stuff; It’s out there; why not be prepared? I’m not suggesting that anybody present that as handcrafted jewelry. I’m saying take all of your stuff off the table, put that stuff out, and sell it. You’ll learn for the next time.
I think that’s really good and it ties up across where we were talking before, about adding more value and the perceived value of your jewelry and the right audience for that; then realizing, exactly as you say there, when you’re in a different audience that that’s just not going to work in certain situations. So understanding your sales situation is very important. That’s really good.
OK, we’re just going to wrap up. I want to ask you finally, what is your number one success tip for everyone out there?
The number one success tip is to set goals; to be clear about where you want to go. If you went to the airport to fly to California from New York; you got on the plane and the pilot said, “I’m not really sure where we’re going today. We’re just going to get in the air and see what happens.” You’re would try to get off that plane.
The reality is that in all areas of life we benefit from having goals. The goal there is to fly to California, not all over the country. It’s key, it’s essential to have a sense of where you want to go with your jewelry business.
Is that in terms of numbers, like your profitability or your revenue? That’s fine. If your goal is just to enjoy yourself more selling your jewelry, that’s fine. If your goal is to sell at five more shows or do three more home parties this year, that’s fine.
But without goals, your jewelry selling is sort of like water meandering down a hill towards a stream, without much direction except downhill. I don’t recommend that. I really like people having a focus and some clear goals to direct what they’re doing because you will arrange your behaviour around that.
So if your goal for example is to do five home parties this year; you’re chatting with some friends at the local supermarket and one of them mentions that she’s going to be having some kind of summer party, you might think, OK, that’s an opportunity there to discuss doing that as a jewelry home party.
Without that on your radar screen, you may have let the moment go by without taking advantage of that or discussing it with the person; and I don’t mean that all of your friends have to suffer because you’re trying to market your jewelry. But when you have the goals firmly planted in your mind, in your brain; in your unconscious mind, your brain helps you look for ways to achieve those goal
So I really think that number one success tip is to write them down. Discuss them with friends and family, with your business partner (certainly your business partner); but to discuss it with others to make it public and to hold yourself accountable to it.
That’s great. Thank you very much for your time today, David.
For those people who have been listening, if you want to find out some more advice from David, you can go his website Marketingjewelry.com. He’s got a free e-book that you can download which is 50 Great Jewelry Selling Techniques.
Thank you again David, for taking the time to catch up with us today.
Gary, my pleasure. Thank you.