By Michelle Graff
Johnstown, Pa.--No matter where one lives in the U.S., a snowstorm in spring is never a welcome occurrence, especially after a long, difficult winter.

But a recent whiteout worked to the advantage of Johnstown, Pa. jeweler Dennis Petimezas, owner of Watchmaker’s Diamonds and Jewelry, because it meant that other businesses had to cancel their appointments with media buying consultant Robert Russo.

The local NBC affiliate, WJAC, brought Russo in as a consultant for some of its most loyal advertisers in March after it got bought by a larger media conglomerate. Russo, who also teaches advertising on the college level, conducted one group session followed by individual sessions.

The entire experience lead to what can only be described as statistical epiphany for the jeweler. It changed the way he views, and buys, advertisement spots on cable television, broadcast television and radio.

Like most people, Petimezas just paid attention to the sticker price, so to speak, when buying media, figuring that the best deal was going with the least expensive option.

What he learned from Russo was to dig deeper, to calculate what it was costing his store per viewer or listener to reach the audience he wants to reach; namely, young adults aged 20 to 42, many of whom are part of the generation known as the Millennials or Generation Y.

“The small independent jeweler, we’re all looking for the same thing and that thing is Generation Y. That’s our target market,” he says. “They’re sophisticated, they’re smart and, most likely, they’re immune to traditional marketing. That seems to be the characteristics of this group.”

If retailers don’t reach this group through advertising they miss out on bridal customers, which, Petimezas says, are what drive the entire business. “Bridal is everything. If you get them (as bridal customers) and you make them happy, you have them from here on out.”

After crunching the data he received from Russo, the retailer discovered that broadcast television was best for catching the attention of this young audience. They are plugged into shows such as The Voice and The Blacklist, and the commercial breaks on broadcast networks are shorter, making it more likely viewers will remember the ads.

Because of this, Petimezas says he’s shifting more of his budget toward broadcast television and away from cable and radio.

Cable, while still effective, has to be carefully bought. For the jeweler’s audience, picking airtime during breaks in mixed martial-arts fighting or professional wrestling reaches more jewelry-buying members of Gen Y than, for example, re-runs of The Brady Bunch. Petimezas says he’s willing to pay a premium to have his commercials air during specific shows if it means he’s reaching the right audience.

Petimezas certainly isn’t the first retailer jeweler to reach the conclusion that potential ring-buyers are tuned in during sporting events; just think about how many Kay Jewelers and Zale commercials air when fall hits and the NFL returns to the air.

Radio still has its place, though satellite radio, music sharing sites and MP3 players have taken the edge off its effectiveness. Petimezas says according to Russo, the best time to reach people with radio is between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., when they have them on in their offices or businesses. Once consumers are “free,” traditional radio tends to lose out to electronic competition.

When asked if he wasn’t wary of what he learned from Russo--he was, after all, brought in by the local TV station, which obviously would benefit greatly from more broadcast television buying--Petimezas says no, as he used the data presented and did his own calculations, based on the audience his store is trying to reach. The results would not be the same for every business because they’re not all after the same demographic.

Following the group session, Petimezas returned for his one-on-one, snowstorm-extended session, with a jump drive containing marketing materials and his local commercials in hand.

While the retailer had been hesitant to run what he considers his more cutting-edge ads on broadcast television, such as his “sexy mom” Mother’s Day spot, Russo pointed out that it’s more difficult to offend people today due to edgier content on broadcast networks and the Internet. His advice: if the station will run it, then run it.

“I thought it would be too much,” Petimezas says. “It wasn’t too much.”

Russo also offered advice on two mediums that occupy distinctly different ends of the survival spectrum: print, which many consider to be a dying beast, and social media.

Print is effective in reaching an older demographic and is a medium Watchmaker’s turns to for anniversary ring specials. What Russo suggested was promoting the store as being in Johnstown but adding “serving Somerset, Ebensburg and Altoona,” three nearby towns, to all print pieces in order to expand the store’s reach.  

As for social media, Russo advises retailers to pursue it, Petimezas says. If they can’t do it with existing staff, than hire an outside firm to handle it. 

“I almost feel guilty because I didn’t get a bill,” Petimezas jokes. “I am used to paying for this kind of knowledge.” 

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