“Diamond” Bill Warren is amazed at the reach his business has – at how people from New York City will call his small-town store in the North Carolina mountains. “I think they have jewelry stores in New York,” he laughs. It’s no fluke. Bill, a jeweler turned marketing/motivational speaker turned best-selling author, is “everywhere,” by design and intention.
Bill is a happy guy, with a smile that comes across even over the phone, and it pays. The Gold Mine jewelry store owner gets a lot of joy out of spreading his success as founder of Diamond Bill Marketing and Ultimate Jewelers Coach and Mastermind Program.
His new book, “The Fastest Way To A Full Recovery,” was published at the perfect time as jewelers who closed down for the pandemic started opening back up. Bill travels across the country for speaking engagements and seminars, and he’s a columnist for several industry publications.
Bill’s jewelry story began before he was born, when Thomas Edison sent mineralogist William Earl Hidden to the Western NC area, where Bill grew up, looking for platinum to use in light bulb filaments. Hidden stopped at Bill’s family farm and witnessed Bill’s great-grandfather launching little green rocks with a slingshot. “The rocks were sent to New York for testing, and they turned out to be nice emeralds,” Bill says. “So I grew up around emerald mining… It all started for me as a kid, liking shiny rocks.”
Bill became a goldsmith apprentice when he was 16 and later learned wax carving and casting. He was employed at Carlyle & Co. and worked for an
independent jeweler for a few years, gleaning experience from both promotional work and guild-type operations.
Working from his back porch in 1993, Bill would do repairs and help to run stores for other jewelers. “One day, I walked into the room where my wife, Angie, was, and said, ‘Let’s do this on our own. We’re young – if we lose everything we can start over.’ The look of horror on my wife’s face – you can imagine!”
The couple found a 900-square-foot space in downtown Hudson, 5 miles down the road from Lenoir, where Bill had been running a jewelry store. “I was goldsmithing, gem-cutting, designing a lot,” he says. “The next year, Angie came on full-time with me, doing sales, paperwork. She has a wonderful talent for doing display work. Business was touch and go at first, but it grew and grew.
“We outgrew the space, and in the early 2000s bought an old drugstore in town. It’s 2,000 square feet, and business has flourished. We built a seven-figure business in a town of 3,800 people!
“Our story is interesting because a lot of jewelers are in small towns, running mom-and-pop operations,” Bill says. “So many have hit the glass ceiling at $400,000 volume a year and don’t know how to take it to the next level. In the late ’90s, early 2000s, we hit that plateau. I studied direct response marketing. Rather than just showing a pretty picture and a brand name on a billboard, direct response marketing techniques help get the jeweler to the next level.
“My business grew by a quarter the next year and kept growing. Now we are in this small mountain town with a business that just did $1 million this year. Other people started hearing about it and said, ‘You should be showing this to other jewelers.’ Ralph Timmerman with Camelot Bridal pushed me to start teaching and coaching. Around 2005, I started giving seminars, speaking at conventions in North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, then all over the United States.”
Direct response marketing works by drawing an immediate response, focusing on a specific clientele, need or offer. “A retailer might run a radio ad saying wouldn’t it be great if you could get a one-stop shop for all of your Valentine’s needs, for example – a ring, roses, chocolates and a card – pick them all up for $99,” Bill says. “That’s what I teach – thinking of offers that are a win-win for you and the customer.”
The Writing Game
Bill has been a writer for some time, contributing articles to Southern Jewelry News and Mid-America Jewelry News, along with INSTORE magazine and Diamond Pulse. “The first person who gave me a shot at writing a column was Bill Newnam at Southern Jewelry News,” Bill says. “He gave me an opportunity, and I developed a following from there.”
“The Fastest Way to a Full Recovery” – which quickly hit No. 1 for New Releases in Retailing Industry – encourages hard-hit retail jewelers to draw from past experience. “For a lot of folks, 2008 was a scary time. I dabbled with precious-metal buying at the time because like a lot of jewelers, I had to become a hybrid operation. In the economy now, with people being out of work and stimulus checks running out, we’re starting to see that again. But that time in 2008 has prepared us for this time.
“I’ve had my book in me for 10 years. I sensed when we were starting to come out of the pandemic shutdown, people needed to know how to re-engage their clients. The Kindle version hit No. 1 within days in the Retail Industry category, and the paperback version hit No. 2 or 3 within days. Then the paperback hit No. 1. I figured it would do well, but I had no idea the amount of interest there would be, from retailers, vendors and wholesalers.”
Five key strategies in the book are:
- Be Everywhere . . . Keep Smiling. “People say it seems like I’m everywhere, all the time,” Bill says. “I program my marketing to be that way.”
- Strategy Wise: How to Re-Engage Customers. “You have to market to the top clientele – make specific offers to this group.”
- Why Business as Usual Could Mean Out of Business. “You can’t keep doing business as you’ve been doing business. Like Einstein said, ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ Think differently.”
- The Jewelers Paradigm Shift – Virtual Selling. “How is it that someone in New York, N.Y., finds a jeweler in Hudson, and has me doing a multi-thousand-dollar piece for them? It’s the power of virtual selling. Appear across multiple places” such as Zoom, Facebook and YouTube.
- Surviving a Challenge: It’s a Gift. “We’ve been through 9/11 and 2008; it really is a gift. Don’t panic and have knee-jerk reactions. Use the strategies you’ve learned.”
Under the “Be Everywhere” category, Bill takes pride in his Ultimate Jewelers’ Mastermind program, which has 33 members. The group meets at least once a month, virtually, through teleseminars or webinars. Bill teaches a concept he’s used in his own operation, then opens it up for the jewelers to talk about their own experiences.
“Mastermind is the whole enchilada, covering not just marketing, but good buying habits, working with employees, training. And you don’t have to travel to do it. During the pandemic shutdown, we taught strategy in virtual selling. Now these jewelers have another revenue stream for their stores.”
Joy of Small-Town Living
The town of Hudson is like an idyllic Mayberry, and Bill loves that. “I love small-town living; we raised our son here. We spearheaded the N.C. Butterfly Festival for the last 30 years; we invented and sponsored Pickin’ in the Park Concert Series – Angie and I play multiple instruments and started it with a few friends. I’ve been on the Town Council, and I’ve been mayor pro-tem.
“I love helping people celebrate the special moments in life,” he adds. “But there is nothing more rewarding than putting a marketing campaign together and see people flooding through the door. On Black Friday, I used to watch people walk past the store, heading to Target, and I thought, ‘How can I capture that market?’ I did it through direct mail, with radio, using a multi-channel approach. In the last 14 or 15 years, there has not been a Black Friday that we haven’t pulled in 200 people in the first two hours.”
Bill’s philosophy in a nutshell: “I found success in the jewelry industry when I quit being a jeweler and became a marketer of jewelry and jewelry-related services. My advice to anyone is that it doesn’t matter if you have the best jewelry store or the best products if no one knows you’re there.”
For more information, call 828-726-1009, visit www.hudsongoldmine.com email firstname.lastname@example.org. “The Fastest Way to a Full Recovery” is available at www.diamondbillmarketing.com and on Amazon in either paperback ($19.95) or Kindle ($9.95). An audiobook is also available at diamondbillmarketing.com ($9.95).