This post is republished from my original article on the Amex Open Forum website. It is part of "Small Business Friday" on this blog, where I share ideas and marketing techniques specifically to help small businesses stand out. To read more articles like this, visit the "Small Business Friday" category on this blog.
If you have ever driven during rush hour in the Philadelphia area, you might have noticed a rather curious billboard. This billboard is in attention-avoiding black with no images or color. Instead in a slightly weird font is the URL to a single website: I Hate Steven Singer dot com. While driving by the billboard, you may also hear the same Mr. Singer on the radio – talking about the many reasons to hate him. Getting home, and logging onto the Internet, if you happen to visit the website you would find what may be the most irreverent jewelry store homepage ever created. On the right hand side is the simple question "Is she pushing for the ring?" Underneath, Steven Singer offer his "guide to buying you some more time."
Most jewelry stores are all about pushing the engagement ring. Steven Singer has a page full of bracelets, earrings and necklaces you can get for your girlfriend to buy yourself more time without having to buy a ring. Clearly this is not your average jewelry buying experience. Looking at the history of this store – you would learn that in 1980 at the age of 22 a guy named Steven Singer opened what was once the smallest jewelry store (8 ft long by 8 ft deep) in heart of Philadelphia Jewerly Row, the country's oldest (and second largest) jewelry district. How did Steven Singer take his jewelry shop from its humble beginnings to being an award winning destination? Here are a few lessons:
- Use a permanent campaign. Part of the reason that Steven Singer's marketing works is because people who live in the Philly area have been seeing it for years. His presence is more than just a fleeting campaign – he is part of the community and people consistently know and recognize him through his marketing.
- Fuel natural human curiosity. If you saw that billboard, you would wonder why people hate Steven Singer. Posing a challenge in that way causes people to want to learn more and visit the website as I did. On the site, he tells a story about how the company started, offers valuable information about diamonds and content that you would easily tell a friend about if they happen to be in the Philadelphia area and seeking jewelry or diamonds.
- Own your region. The store advertising is a local retail store. Too often small businesses try to grow outside of a core area of business. Steven Singer's model seems to be to work very hard at owning his local market, and then letting word of mouth cary his business online or beyond.
- Focus on a different audience than your competitors. Much of the jewelry advertising that you see is focused on women who tend to be either the influencers or direct purchasers. Everything about Steven Singer's brand, on the other hand, seems to be more male focused. The tutorials on the site are filmed from a guy's point of view and the content is written for males much more than females. The underlying message for guys seems to be: "we understand you."
- Have a personality to lead your efforts. Steven Singer is a real guy and his presence offers a strong personality for the brand to build all their promotions around. In a business that is dominated by families and generations, this store was a first generation effort that grew in part because of the involvement of the founder in the local community and willingness to create a conversation through advertising on his name.
- Create a signature event. Every year, Steven Singer jewelers creates the World's Largest Bubble Bath. Though obviously a media stunt in somewhat poor taste targeted at single guys, it underscores the understanding that the brand has of their audience and offers something memorable that brings new and old consumers back to the store annually and reminds them of the tradition that they may already (or soon could be) part of.