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Creative Connecting: Selling in a Virtual World
From lighting tips to not saving the best for last, Duvall O’Steen and Jen Cullen Williams run down the list of what you need to know about selling via online product presentations.
This has been the most unusual year ever, at least for most of us.
As we continue to adjust to our “new normal,” best practices and methods of selling are also evolving.
Because all the spring trade shows were either canceled or postponed and many customers are not yet comfortable shopping in-store, virtual product presentations are now more important than ever for both brands and retailers.
Let’s take a look at how jewelers and watch brands can optimize their virtual product presentations to sell more effectively in today’s world.
The Technical Details: Sets, Lights, Sound
As we all know, technology can be our friend or our foe. As you prepare to showcase your jewelry and/or watches virtually, make sure your technology works.
Whether you are using Zoom sessions, Instagram Live, Facebook Rooms, Google Hangouts or another platform, be sure to test and strengthen your WiFi connection. Typically, the closer you are to your router, the stronger the signal.
To enhance the internet connection, try disconnecting other devices in the office or household and/or ask others to log off or shut down their devices to maximize bandwidth and avoid freezing or locking up mid-presentation.
Remember to silence your cell phone and any apps with notifications on your laptop to avoid distracting noises, like the chime of an incoming email or text message.
For your presentation or meeting, professional stylist Shaye Strager of Strager Style recommends you style your surroundings. “Create trust with visual balance,” she said.
Select an area of your home or office that is clutter-free.
Add professional markers in the background, like degrees, awards or branding visuals such as logo signs that make your website and Instagram handle visible and easily readable.
If you are filming or recording your presentation, the signage and contact information is all the more important because the video can have a longer shelf life on your website, YouTube channel and/or feeds on platforms like IGTV and TikTok.
Before you begin streaming or recording, take snapshots of your set with your smartphone to see how it looks and make sure you are center stage. Also, have your product nearby for easy access, unless you have someone off-camera who can quickly
In the fine jewelry and watch industry, lighting is critical for capturing the sparkle and radiance of our beloved products.
Amazon has very affordable three-point lighting systems that are optimal and give your presentation a professional look.
Avoid excessive backlighting—do not film in front of a window (unless you face the window to get the natural light on your face) and remember to turn off overhead lights because they are generally unflattering.
Two of the three lights should be placed behind the webcam at a 45-degree angle to the right and left of your staging area. The third light should be aimed at the backdrop or back wall to minimize heavy shadows.
Another pro tip to diminish shadows is to have some distance between the speaker and the backdrop or back wall. Standing too close to a wall can look like a mug shot.
To optimize your audio, you can invest in professional microphones for as little as $50 on Amazon, but many modern smartphones and newer laptops will have sufficient quality in their built-in microphones.
Avoid using Bluetooth tools like AirPods as they sometimes create a lag or delay, and the sound does not stream as quickly as the video.
Regarding the camera angle, Lisa Lubin of LL Media warns about headroom.
“The normal angle of your laptop screen typically leaves too much headroom,” she said. “Make sure you check out your framing and tilt the camera down as necessary.”
Lubin also recommends looking directly into the camera: “It may seem awkward, but the person will feel like you are looking right at them and in the final recorded version, it will look natural and engage your viewers more.”
If you are uncomfortable or self-conscious when looking at yourself on camera, some platforms like Zoom have the option to “hide self-view.”
This comes in handy when speaking, but when it comes time to showcase jewelry or watches, remember to enable the self-view so that you can clearly see what the camera is seeing and streaming.
The Presentation: Start Strong, Stay Strong
Counter to normal public speaking and in-person presentations, virtual presentations demolish the old rule of saving the best for last.
In our modern, fast-paced digital world, attention spans are short, making it important to start strong and keep up the pace to avoid losing your audience’s interest.
Fine jewelry and branding expert Helena Krodel, partner at David Alan, recommends you contract for time when introducing yourself and your brand, telling the viewer how long your presentation or appointment will last.
Have your “elevator pitch” or a succinct backstory of your brand prepared in advance.
“Tell the listener the problem you will solve for their business,” says Krodel. This will garner their interest and captivate their attention.
Prepare to pack a powerful punch right at the beginning; start with your strongest designs or best-selling collections.
Krodel advises choosing your seven best pieces and having seven more ready and/or reachable right off-camera. Be sure to polish the pieces in advance as the camera catches every little scratch and/or fingerprint.
To keep the pace moving, she recommends “speaking in sound bites … create smart, short and savvy nuggets of information about your brand and/or collection.”
And remember, passion is contagious!
Share your passion for your new collections. Monitor your energy throughout the presentation and let your love of the product guide you.
Be sure to tell the story behind each new design inspiration or demonstrate each watch feature, and share the provenance of the stones. Stories sell and they are easier for people to remember.
Encourage your viewers to ask questions and make comments or requests. The more they are engaged, the better for all involved.
The Practice: Refining Product Presentations
There is an old saying in the theater, “rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!”
Before going live, practice your setup and your presentation.
Test all the technology in advance and try it out on multiple devices so that you can better understand how your audience will see or experience your demonstration.
You may also need to give instructions to your viewer(s) depending on the device they’re using.
Mobile devices like tablets or smartphones have different features and different placements for command buttons (for example, toggling between “gallery view” and “speaker view” in Zoom is very different on an iPad than it is on an iPhone).
Krodel also recommends keeping your camera stationary. “Bring your items to the camera. If you move the camera too much, it can make the viewer seasick.”
Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and events for Jewelers of America, recommends you “start out with a piece of jewelry on a form and then zoom in for a closer look at the stones or the special details. White display forms will let most jewelry show up well on camera.”
Next, be sure to try on the jewelry or watches. It is important for customers and buyers to see how the pieces look on the human body. They need to understand how long the earrings are, or how big that watch face is.
Be sure to have fingernails properly manicured just as you would for a live in-person product presentation.
Also, remember to show the functionality of clasps. Here again, practice is important. If you are clunky or stumbling with a clasp, it may appear as if the clasp is difficult to operate.
Some influencers use mirrors very effectively in their jewelry product videos.
Bebe Bakhshi of @champagnegem has several examples. The mirror increases the three-dimensional nature of a design with less screen time, making it quicker to show both the front and back of a design.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by CHAMPAGNE GEM by Bebe Bakhshi (@champagnegem) on Jul 16, 2020 at 4:06pm PDT
Using video stories on Instagram and Facebook is a great way to present new products quickly and to practice on-camera techniques.
The stories only last for 24 hours, so no harm done if they do not turn out exactly as planned.
Stories can also increase the visibility of your posts and your band. They can be used effectively to test what drives engagement with your audience.
Then, remember to implement those best practices into your longer virtual presentations.
Personalization: Authenticity on Your Best Day
Another important aspect of virtual presentations is personalization, keeping it genuine and focusing on human connection.
We are all missing social interaction right now, so try to keep the connection as warm and friendly as possible.
First and foremost, be yourself. Just make sure it’s you on your best day. Stylist Shaye Strager calls it “putting your best face forward.”
In selecting wardrobe for your on-camera presentation, Strager advocates color therapy.
Warm tones and bright colors make us feel energetic and alive, sparking optimism and vibrance, whereas neutrals and pale blues evoke feelings of calm and connection, like taking a deep breath.
“To create a stronger connection and evoke trust, I like to dress in a similar climate to the person I am talking to,” she says. “If it’s rainy and cold where they are, I will change my outfit slightly to be more visually on par with them.”
Because connecting with your audience visually is so important, media trainer Kathryn Janicek suggests you “make sure your eyes are not blocked by extra hair and eyeglass frames that don’t fit your face properly.”
She also says: “If you have a bold or quirky personality and you love bright colors and patterns, it’s OK to be yourself, just make sure you don’t distract from the conversation.”
Krodel advises combatting nervous energy by speaking about 10 percent slower than usual.
“Lean in slightly to show interest in the conversation,” she says. “Find the happy medium. Leaning back can give you a double chin. Bending too far forward, you run the risk of looking creepy.”
Gizzi suggests direct and personal communication. “Look them in the ‘eye’. Pretend you are speaking to one particular client. Make your audience feel engaged like you are having a one-on-one discussion.”
And lastly, use makeup wisely.
Strager advises eyebrows and lip color.
“Every makeup artist I have ever worked with says, ‘Why would I paint your face if I am not going to frame it?’ The frame of the eyebrows adds an element of symmetry and visual trust. Also, making sure that the audience can see your lips will help people listen to you visually.”
Calls to Action: Polls, Follow-Ups, Next Steps
Lastly, after creating desire and demand for your beautiful jewelry or watches, it is important to close with a call to action.
Instagram Live offers a poll option that can help you gather data from your viewers. Ask them what they want to see more of, or which of your new designs they like best.
Many online portals have chat features where you can ask viewers to leave their questions or comments.
If you are hosting a public forum (going live on Instagram or Facebook), ask viewers to visit your website and/or follow your social media channels.
For private showings to buyers or customers (using Zoom or Facebook Rooms), agree to next steps before ending the call. Offer a follow-up email with product photos, information and pricing on their favorite styles as selected during the presentation.
Whatever digital channels you use to showcase your products and connect with your customers, remember to hit “record” and to archive your recordings for future use.
Video and virtual presentations will continue to be a big part of the business moving forward, especially for future generations who are natives to the digital revolution.
Now is the time to explore, practice and develop your “on-air” personality. Ready. Set. Action!
Duvall O’Steen and Jen Cullen Williams are two independent communications strategists and senior consultants for the agency Luxury Brand Group. They can be reached at DuvallOsteenNYC@gmail.com and Jen@JenCullenWilliams.com.
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