Pricescope represents an amazing opportunity for jewelers who are willing to take the plunge but it’s a difficult step to take. Quite a few industry pros have asked for advice on how they can increase their presence here on Pricescope without coming across as either a fool, a blowhard, or an apologist. Hopefully this will help.
1. First, Some Scary Facts
This place is huge. The forum in particular is visited by thousands of people every day and this is increasingly becoming the way customers research what they want to buy and who they want to buy it from. It’s not unusual to have several hundred browsing at a time. It’s a brave new world and everything you say here is amplified to a whole auditorium full of people. It feels like a casual conversation from your desk but it decidedly is not. If you’re going to play here, choose your words carefully. After you write them they will be locked down and indexed forever in Google and Yahoo so DON’T say hotheaded things. Many find that a post here will get a better Google placement than your own website and you can’t do anything at all to change or get rid of it. There’s a great business opportunity to be had here but it’s not something to step into lightly. Don’t do this if you only have a few spare minutes to waste or if you’re ticked off over something that happened and you’re trying to blow off some steam and don’t be confused by the fact that it’s free. This is a big deal and it does tend to suck up time to do it well. If you aren’t the boss at your store, talk to them about it. You are welcome to participate as an individual but you shouldn’t get into it using your store name unless the management team is solidly aware and on board.
2. Don’t Jump The Gun
Before you start, spend some time reading in the forum called ‘Rocky Talky’. Read every single post on the first 10-20 pages of discussions. No, it’s not crazy and sometimes the headlines don’t really summarize the contents well so just read them all instead of trying to pick and choose. That’s only about a week or two’s worth of discussion here. You might want to go for even more. Yes, it will take you hours and hours to read all of this and, yes, it’s worth the trouble. This is the heart of Pricescope and you’ll get a feel for what people are asking about, what sorts of advice is being given and by whom. If you see something that annoys you, avoid the tendency to jump in and respond. There’ll be time for that later. Keep on reading and you’ll often see other posters come in and offer a correction or at least an alternative view. Notice who comes across like they are a knowledgeable pro and who comes off looking like a jackass. Your objective is to be one of the former, not the latter, right? Keep reading.
Go to the top right hand corner search box and search for your own name, the names of every one of the lines you represent and a few of the expected ways that they might be misspelled.If there has been a previous discussion about you it will turn up here.Obviously, read in full everything you find about you or your store.If it’s critical, study it carefully, discuss it with your team and be prepared to discuss the contents on the forum.I guarantee that it will come up within the first few hours of your very first post if you don’t bring it up yourself. While you’re at it, search for the names of some of your competitors just so you can get a feel for others have handled this (or not).If you don’t already know, step outside of Pricescope and use a variety of the search engines like Google and Yahoo to search for your store name.
Visit the websites of every diamond dealer or jeweler that you found recommended or disparaged in your reading of the forum. Some come up quite a bit and others only rarely but familiarize yourself with these companies and what they’re doing both good and bad. This place has a very strong connection to the Internet diamond business and these companies are the cream of the crop. Internet doesn’t just mean Blue Nile and ebay. Use their search engines to shop for diamonds, read their tutorials, check their prices and study their terms and conditions. This is your competition and unlike the local market where it’s often hard to do research on what they’re up to, here it’s all front and center if you just take the time to look. You don’t have to go on what you’ve been told that ‘Internet sites’ are like, it’s all right there.
Under ‘resources’ at the top of the page is a section for looking up local jewelers.Look yourself up and register if you’re not already there.It’s free and it’s a terrific advertisement.There’s really nothing to lose even if you never decide to post a single message. If your record is missing, wrong, or incomplete now is a good time to fix it up.
You’re still not ready to post. Read the tutorials from beginning to end. You should read every single page that links from the main menu at the top of the page or from the home page. It’s not as daunting a task as you might think but it’s going to take you a few hours and it’s likely that you’ll find some things that you don’t agree with. That’s ok, but you still should understand what’s there. If you don’t know what an Idealscope or a Sarin is, or what the differences are between GIA excellent and AGS ideal cut grades you need to learn. These things get talked about quite a bit and having customers know more about it than you do makes you look dumb. If you’re a dealer you might even want to buy one, if for no other reason than as part of your research (an Idealscope, not a Sarin). Most actually find it useful in it’s own right but it’s not like they’re expensive even if you decide you hate it. Learn what a B&M is.
So far, you’ve done little more than what a significant percentage of your customers are doing ahead of you. This information gap is the reason that so many customers think so many long-term industry pros are uninformed. They’re coming from a different background from you and they take for granted some things that you may very well never have even heard of. Again, you don’t have to agree but it’s important for you to have an understanding of where they’re coming from. It’s a fundamental of debate that you must understand both sides of any argument. What if they’re right?
3. Follow the Rules
OK, so now you’re ready for your first post.Go to the link at the very bottom of the page called ‘Forum Agreement’ and reread the rules.You want these fresh in your mind while you compose your first post.Follow them to the letter. You’ll notice that they are slightly different for professionals than they are for consumers and the pros are held to a higher standard.If there’s a thread out there that’s criticizing you and that hasn’t already been dealt with, this is the place to start.Write your response using Word or your favorite word processor and then cut and past it into the reply box rather than trying to write it off the cuff and have someone else proofread it before you post it.I can’t tell you how to reply but be scrupulously polite and go out of your way to deal with the problem in a way that shows how reasonable you can be.If it’s been a while since it was posted (every post has a date showing when it was posted near the top left hand corner), apologize for being slow because you didn’t know it was there.Be careful not to make personal attacks even if you’ve been attacked and be careful about violating a customers privacy.It’s hard.Use a proofreader. Don’t get defensive, just deal with the problem and explain your position in a calm and reasonable way.Don’t overstep your authority and do it on a day when you’ll have the opportunity to check back several times during the day so you can post further clarifications if asked.If you’re not the boss, get the boss involved in the background so that everything you say is absolutely correct.
If you don’t already have a problem that you need to address it’s easier because you don’t have to start out in the line of fire. Wait for a question to come along where you are 100% confident in your answer and then post some good advice. Don’t say anything about any other store and don’t promote yourself beyond including your store name in the signature. Just be professional and correct. Check back every day for at least a few days. Usually if people are going to respond to you it’ll be within a few hours and you’ll find yourself in a conversation. Be careful to avoid mudslinging, it’s an easy mode to get into and remember that everything you say will remain cataloged under Google and remain attached to your name forever. The consumers here are anonymous, you aren’t. You don’t need to write an ad, people WILL read the signature and they’ll jump through to your website. Be smart. Be witty. Be helpful. Be that store where people will want to go shopping and be the guy that they want to drive half way across the state to see in person in order to get their special ring. Answering a question with a post that reads like an advertisement just makes you look desperate and it might even get you banned from future posting. Imitate the people who do it well.
4. Welcome to the Global Conversation
It’s a lot like work for no pay and it’s against the rules to treat it like an advertisement so what’s the point? If you haven’t read the magazines lately, this is where the industry is going. Every tradeshow and every magazine is full of advice about how the Internet is changing the diamond trade and how it’s going to affect you. They’re right, and this is the cutting edge of that change. On the order of 5% of the customers now buy online and upwards of 50% include it in their research. Pricescope is the #1 site for diamond research in the world so we’re talking about HALF of your customers are here. They’re wondering who they should trust and they’re reading the forum and tutorials looking for advice. They’re asking your staff about what they’ve learned here and they’re searching the files looking for comments by and about you to help decide where they will shop. If that’s not a reason to put in the required work, I don’t know what is.
One further warning.
Even though it’s tempting, don’t come on as a shill or post fake customer endorsements about how great your store is. It seems like an easy thing to do and a way to cut out a bunch of the work but it’s also easy for the admin or the regulars to spot. Trust me on this. It’ll cause you more trouble than you can imagine. If you’ve done the above research, even you will be able to spot a ringer and some of the folks here have been doing this for years. They’re a tough crowd. It’s disrespectful to Pricescope, it’s disrespectful to your customers and it makes you look untrustworthy, which is the very last thing you want to come up when someone Googles your name.
by Neil Beaty
Professional Appraisals in Denver
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