Tara Hall

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Jun 15, 2016

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Marketing wisdom from a jewelry designer

Whenever I have the time and inclination, I watch a class from CreativeLive.com to keep up my design and marketing skills. I mentioned in another article, “3 Free tools for your small business” that CreativeLive.com is one of the best free resources on the web. The quality of the instructors, the class content and production value is top notch.

One of the instructors whose classes I enjoy watching is jewelry designer, Megan Auman. She generously shares her insights on marketing, branding, and other business-related topics through her CreativeLive.com classes and on her website Designing an MBA.

You don’t have to be a jewelry designer—or in some cases even a product-based business—to learn from Megan. You can apply much of her business knowledge to other industries and business types.

In this article, I share three important marketing lessons that I learned while watching her classes and explain how you can apply them in your business.

You don’t sell from your store. You sell from your list.

Megan runs an online store for her products, so she knows from experience what drives sales. As Megan tells it, the majority of visitors to your online store neither buy nor even return to your site. So how do you sell those visitors who aren’t buying on the first visit or returning to buy?

If you have an email list and an easy way in which visitors can sign up for your newsletter, then you can contact customers and potential customers to drive more sales. According to the National Retail Federation:

When done right, email marketing should represent 25% or more of every online retailer’s revenue attribution.

With email marketing, you can not only provide incentives to shop, such as discounts or free shipping, but also remind them that your store still exists. Consumers today have more shopping options to choose from than ever before. They may forget about your business, unless you regularly remind them.

Online stores need to maintain email lists of past, current, and potential customers to notify them of:

Megan’s advice, however, isn’t limited to retailers like herself. Nonprofits, for example, also benefit from this strategy to reach fundraising goals and to keep their donors and supporters up-to-date on current activities.

When was the last time you sought out a charity online to donate to? Based on my own experience, I’ve given to charities far more often after receiving an email from one than I have sought out one to give to without any prompting.

When it comes to fundraising, an email list is equally valuable to a nonprofit as it is to a retailer. But there are few industries, if any, that don’t benefit from having a healthy email list.

If you’re new to email marketing, then see my article, “What is email marketing and is it right for your business?

Don’t be afraid to pay for likes, followers, or fans on social media.

This revelation from Megan came as a bit of shocker to me, but she admitted to buying likes, followers, and fans for her social media accounts.

The logic behind this strategy is that customers need social proof. If you’re not familiar with the term, Wikipedia defines it as the following:

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

In the online world, social proof helps a business develop trust or credibility with its intended customers. For instance, which do you trust more a Facebook business page with 3,000 followers or one with 30 followers?

While the tactic that Megan describes may seem disingenuous to some, numbers have a strong influence on our decisions and judgements. In social media, we use numbers to judge popularity and success.

If you have a Facebook page for your business, did you ask friends and family members to like it? Unless your friends and family members are also your customers, then what you’ve done is not too different from what Megan advocates—it’s just less costly.

Similar tactics are used offline as well. For example, a cafe may prime the tip jar beside the cash register with a few dollars to encourage more customers to tip. A tip jar that already contains cash signals to us two things:

In the same way that an already started tip jar encourages tipping, using Megan’s tactic to seed your social media accounts with likes, followers, or fans may spur organic growth. As visitors to your account see those numbers, they may be more inclined to like or follow you.

But you still have to deliver valuable content to attract more audience. Another metric that visitors will pay attention to is engagement. Have you ever wondered why an Instagram account with thousands of followers generates only dozens of likes and almost no comments?

A discrepancy between the number of followers or fans you have and the number of likes and comments your posts receive may discourage visitors.

The topic of social proof is an important one. If you want to learn more, start with this article from the social media marketing company Devumi, “Social Proof in Digital Success.”

Price and value are subjective.

Megan has an entire class devoted to pricing, “Raise Your Perceived Value: Increase Your Prices” in which she talks about price and value. Price and value are subjective because they depend upon perception.

And perception is not an accurate reflection of the materials and labor that go into a product. While true for many products, let’s take food as a good example. How often have you purchased an expensive, gourmet food item from a store like Whole Foods only to find that the product didn’t taste any better than its store brand counterpart?

Watch almost any episode of Cook’s Country or America’s Test Kitchen when the host is asked to take a blind taste test. The most expensive foods aren’t always the tasters’ favorites. It’s not usual for a less expensive food, such as Barilla pasta sauce which won a taste test, to beat a higher price brand sold in gourmet markets.

Perceived value depends on several factors, but there are four in particular that Megan mentions and that you can control:


Good photography is important to any business, but it can make or break a product-based business. If you’re a product-based business with a budget, it’s worth spending on professional photography. This applies too to service-based businesses that include head shots of business owners and employees.


Phrasing, or rather content, is important. The words you choose to describe your products or services determine how they are perceived by your readers. For example, the terms “vintage” and “old” are synonyms, but convey different feelings. Consider your word choices carefully to align with your branding.


Few industries use packaging as effectively as the cosmetic industry. Compare a tube of Estee Lauder mascara in an elegant, dark blue and gold box to any discount store mascara with its see-through packaging and bright colors to notice the difference. Packaging has a strong influence on our value perception. We don’t expect an expensive product to be packaged like something that can be bought in Walmart.


If an item is priced at $1.99, do you view it as a bargain? Often times, we do, which shows the power that a price has to influence the perceived value. There is a lot of psychology behind pricing along with many pricing strategies. I touch on some of these in a previous article, “Choosing a pricing strategy for your service-based business.”

Final thoughts

You can find business insights from Megan Auman on her website Designing an MBA. But if you have a chance, I recommend her CreativeLive.com classes. Occasionally, CreativeLive reruns these classes, which you can watch for free. I think you’ll find them well worth your time whether or not your a product-based business.