Etiquette Part 8

Copyright © 2004 by Davis Multimedia, Int'l. All Rights Reserved.
As Printed in September 2004, Volume 30, No. 3 of The Engravers Journal.

     The holiday season is traditionally a joyous time of celebration, full of warm and affectionate sentiments and adorned with Christmas trees, menorahs, wreaths and candles. Included in this festive season are special holidays, e.g. Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s–all very popular jewelry/gift-giving occasions which offer many excellent opportunities for promoting all types of personalization, particularly engraving.
     This article on holiday inscriptions is the eighth in a series of articles on jewelry/gift engraving etiquette. The first few installments presented many important engraving/etiquette considerations worth referring to. Part 1 (Feb. ’04) discussed name engraving. Part 2 (March ’04) concentrated on initials. Part 3 (April ’04) focused on dates, donor names, occasion names and messages. Part 4 (May ’04) presented some very practical ideas—the correct placement and orientation of personalized message.
    Part 5 (June ’04) introduced this series-within-a-series of specifically-related gift suggestions with gift messages and inscriptions related to graduations. Part 6 published in July 2004, covered wedding inscriptions and Part 7 (August ’04) focused on messages for Birthdays and Anniversaries. In this issue we will continue the mini-series by concentrating on a new theme: holiday gift messages.

    While a few end-of-summer sales are still going on, but long before the first snowflake hits the ground, most R&I professionals are deep in the midst of preparations for the upcoming holiday gift-giving season. Their search is already well underway for new engravable items to add to their standard gift line. And trying to determine what gift items will be most popular among each year’s shoppers is not an easy job. However, this year retailers are likely to find a greater selection of unique and attractive, customer-pleasing personalizables than ever before.
    Personalized gift ideas for the holidays are almost limitless. There are personal gifts, desk accessories, jewelry, household gifts, decorative items and even personalized Christmas ornaments.
    But if stores hope to substantially increase their holiday sales by simply appealing to their customers with more and better gift choices, they will find that this is not enough. To further entice customers who are shopping for holiday gifts, specific engraving suggestions should also be presented which are related to the holiday theme. By adding an initial, a date, or a timely inscription, even the most ordinary gift choice becomes a memorable keepsake.
    Offering personalization ideas for the holidays and promoting it early can mean greater profits now and fewer gift returns after the holidays. Not only does personalization by engraving, sublimation, sandblasting etc. provide an added attraction to help secure the initial sale, it also guarantees the sale, since engraved items may be considered final sales and customers understand this! And because many stores do nearly half of their annual personalization work in the last quarter of the year, it’s important to get started early and find ways to make it easy for customers to make their gift selection. Without adequate information and suggestions readily available (regarding what items to engrave, what to say, how to say it, letter selection, layout, etc.) many engraving sales can be lost during the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping.

Figure 2: These engravable holiday ornaments come from Gloria Duchin, East Providence, RI.

    The busier your shop is, the more difficult it becomes to adequately assist even the unhurried customer to reach an engraving decision. Personalization must therefore be presented in as easy and uncomplicated a manner as possible. Customers who have little experience with engraving and other personalization processes may be very hesitant. And for each customer who hesitates to seek assistance it may mean one less sale.
    Since the most time consuming part of any engraving order is deciding what to say and how to say it, the first step we suggest is that you compile a list of personalization suggestions strictly related to the holidays.
    Hopefully some of the sample layouts and suggested messages presented in Figure 1 will serve as an initial source of suggested holiday inscriptions. You no doubt have many of your own favorites to add to those offered here.
    You may have noticed that we have avoided use of the abbreviation Xmas in our list of suggested holiday inscriptions. This was intentional since some gift recipients may find such an abbreviation offensive. We are not suggesting that you not use the word Xmas, only that you point out to the customer that not everyone appreciates such an abbreviation.
    We also recommend that you provide only a limited number of holiday related suggestions since too many choices can easily confuse customers. Customers will quickly become discouraged if they have to "weed" through a lot of unrelated or inappropriate messages.

Figure 3: Traditional ornaments are always sure to please. Photo courtesy of Universal Laser Systems, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.  

    The small amount of time spent now to compile your own list of holiday related inscriptions will prove to be quite a time saver later on when discussing holiday gift engraving ideas with your customers, especially for salespersons with limited experience. This becomes especially true as customers become more rushed and time is at a premium. The idea is to make engravable gifts as fast and easy to order as possible. The handy list just suggested will provide a good start.
    Specially designed holiday displays can offer additional ways to sell engraving and therefore finalize holiday sales. . . without the initial aid of a salesperson by letting your displays do much of the sales work. One time-proven method is to discreetly place among displays and in showcases some small message cards/signs such as "Let us personalize your holiday gift purchases."
    In this article we have offered just a small sample of the many special holiday inscriptions that might be suggested to your customers. In addition, we have suggested a few ideas for selling your engraving services during the busy holidays.
    Hopefully these ideas will help to promote all of your personalization options, not just laser and mechanical engraving but also sublimation and glass etching, presenting it in as easy and uncomplicated a manner as possible. It stands to reason that if the selection process moves along more efficiently then personalization and gift sales can be expected to increase also.
    Future articles in this series will include specific personalization suggestions for other gift giving occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.