Courtesy of Priyanka Murthy
- Priyanka Murthy is the CEO of the multimillion-dollar fine-jewelry business Array.
- She says paying for ads and influencer marketing hasn’t been sustainable or worthwhile.
- Instead, she throws celebratory events for customers and runs a VIP loyalty program.
- This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Priyanka Murthy, the 40-year-old CEO and founder of Array, about the customer-engagement tactics that have helped grow her business. Insider has verified her business’ revenue with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
When I founded my fine-jewelry business, Array, four years ago, I felt I wanted to do marketing a little differently.
For one, when I sat down and crunched the numbers, I realized a lot of traditional marketing methods would not be the most effective way to use our budget. Trying to compete with Tiffany & Co. on Google would be an uphill battle. I’d never have the same ad-spending power as Swarovski. Going down these paths felt like a waste of money.
I also thought about my target customer, and traditional marketing didn’t feel like the best way to reach her, either. Our clients are warm, fun, and high-achieving women — kind of like me. I rarely make purchasing decisions, especially for higher-ticket items, from a social-media ad. But when my peer group introduces me to a brand they love, I’m more likely to buy again and again.
I decided that customer engagement would be the main focus of our marketing efforts. Here are three twists on traditional marketing I use to connect more deeply with clients, grow our company reach — and, ultimately, build a multimillion-dollar business.
We celebrate our customers instead of doing traditional event marketing
Events are a great way to show prospective customers our products in person and let them try them on for size. While we do some standard event marketing — like trunk shows or pop-ups with other brands we love — we’ve found the most marketing power in throwing intimate, personalized events for our clients and their communities.
This year, we invited our clients to tell us about a milestone they’d reached: They can share why they’re purchasing a piece of jewelry as part of the checkout process, and we’re connected with many of them on LinkedIn. We chose the most compelling stories to celebrate with an event — a book launch for a tech CEO who was publishing her first book and celebratory dinners for a professor who was getting tenure and a lawyer who was being sworn in as a federal judge.
These events don’t cost us very much — we’ve never spent more than $3,000 to throw one — and have been a word-of-mouth wildfire, tripling our customer acquisition.
Array event attendees picking out jewelry to wear.
Courtesy of Array
For one, the clients we’re celebrating can invite all their friends for free, most of whom are professionals themselves. We never push the brand hard but always offer up some of our jewelry for everyone to wear for the evening. People organically share photos from the event on their social feeds, furthering our brand’s reach.
By the end of the evening, many attendees ask to purchase their jewelry (without any prodding from us). Even for those who don’t, we ask for their emails and, the next day, send them a personalized email asking if they’d like to be on our mailing list. They’re often happy to connect, and our reach grows with real connections.
We spoil our most loyal shoppers instead of spending money on ads
While I’ve experimented with both digital ads and paid influencer marketing, I found them both lackluster on returns. Instead, we’ve found more value in shifting those budgets to create a VIP program to nurture our most loyal clients.
Based on our average order value, we determined that any client who had spent more than $1,200 in a calendar year with us was eligible for the VIP program. As part of the program, clients receive try-on boxes of jewelry throughout the year so they can test the pieces at home for 10 days, have access to an expert personal shopper 24/7, get 25% off anything they purchase, and receive gifts on their birthday and at the end of each year (like free jewelry or a special bottle of bubbly).
Obviously, it costs us some money to make this program so perk-filled. But it costs us less than digital ads and influencer marketing — and we’ve found that the cost has paid off in spades by increasing the lifetime value of clients and encouraging them to talk about the brand and refer their friends. In less than a year, this strategy has helped us nearly double our revenue, while spending 60% less on marketing. We also think this strategy is more sustainable because we’re engendering client connection and brand loyalty, rather than a one-time sale from an ad.
We work with customers on cause marketing
Cause marketing has been on the rise in the past couple of years, and consumers increasingly want to buy from brands that align with their values and that aren’t afraid to take a stand on social issues. We’ve also seen how easy it is for a cause-marketing campaign to fall flat and feel disingenuous.
We’ve found the most success by working with our clients to create a cause-marketing campaign. In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, we polled our community about the causes they cared about and found that science resonated. Then, we reached out to some female physicians we had connected with from sponsoring a health conference asking them to help us design a science necklace, proceeds from which would be donated to Project Hope.
Array’s “science” necklace.
Courtesy of Array
Because our community had been involved from the start, and we knew they were inspired by the cause and mission, they were excited to share it. With the help of the doctors, we worked with on designing the necklace, we asked the female medical and scientific community to help us promote the necklace, and hundreds were happy to help get the word out.
Our client acquisition increased by 30%, and there was very little additional cost associated with the campaign. Plus, we got to support a cause that was just as meaningful to us as to our customer base.