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home | Article Index | What Works: Hardcover Photo Books fo . . .

What Works: Hardcover Photo Books for Promotion
By Frank Stankus

Here is an often overlooked marketing tool that you would never expect to be as useful as it has proven to be in this social media-crazed era -- a self-published hard cover book about your jewelry.

That's right, a book.

Few designers have grasped the advantages of this mode of marketing even though it taps into one of the basic tenets of jewelry sales: jewelry being one of the products that customers really want, even need, to experience before they pay for it. People want to hold it in their hands, feel its weight, see for themselves the brilliance of the stones and the sheen of the metal. Bricks and mortar stores are counting on that to stay in business in the face of internet-based competition.

But if a customer can't experience the feel of an actual piece of jewelry, then the next best thing -- and this is where a book beats the internet - is a big, high-definition four-color picture of it in a book alongside pictures of other beautiful jewelry. A book is more convenient to look at in so many ways, it can be easily passed to someone else for their perusal and it lends an aura of high class to your marketing efforts.

Maybe the best aspect of creating a hard cover book about your jewelry is that doing so can be easier and cheaper than it has ever been, although you don't necessarily have to take that approach. New technologies have put self-publishing within the reach of just about everyone. Maybe because it is still saddled with the outdated reputation that it is an expensive proposition that keeps many from pursuing that avenue of marketing. Whatever the case, few are doing it.
<center>Hillary Randolph</center>
Hillary Randolph

Let's look at a couple of widely-varying examples to get a feel for the differing ways ways you can create your own book.

Hillary Randolph of Somers jewelry is a designer who has had terrific success with this idea. In fact, publishing a book did a lot more for her than just help her marketing. It helped resolve one of the dilemmas facing many artists with young families: how to get your work undertood, appreciated and, most importantly, purchased by a widely-scattered audience without spending an inordinate amount of time on the road.

Rather than rely on the internet or a blizzard of post card and brochure mailings, she hit upon the idea of producing a classy hard-cover book to showcase her work. But to grab and then hold the interest of the people she wanted to reach, she had to produce something akin to a work of art itself, and that meant investing money in it. She didn't flinch. She hired a graphic design team to work with her, chose a more expensive linen material rather paper for the cover and spent $20,000 on photography alone.


Nearly eight months later, 3,000 copies were printed, and she sent one to every wholesale and retail customer as well as her top 50 prospects. A lot of time and money had been invested for something that was given away. Was it worth it?

"Absolutely!," she declares with no small degree of emphasis. She has more than recouped her investment, she says, and its success has let her spend more time at home with her husband and six-year-old daughter. "It's an endless sales tool, she explains. It shows a wide representation of her work but not all of it, and it does not have prices. "That makes it timeless," she states.

But the best part about it, she hastens to point out, is that it works on so many levels. It tells the story behind the work, a crucial consideration for artists. It's a tool for jewelry buyers to get the story down to the sales staff who in turn use it to pass on the designer's vision to the customer. It has spurred some buyers to move from sterling into gold once they saw the difference. And it even spawned major sales from buyers she had never met. The Denver Art Museum, for example, placed a sizable order without ever having seen the actual pieces.

What may be the ultimate tribute to her idea happened when galleries called asking to buy copies to present to their customers. That alone could be considered justification enough for doing this project.

<center>A typical spread in Hillary's book</center>
A typical spread in Hillary's book

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