I knew I was going to buy my engagement ring from Ecksand the moment I entered the store. And it had as much to do with the company brand as the quality of the rings themselves.
When we talk about branding and engagement rings, the first company that pops into most minds is Tiffany. That’s obviously an enduring brand but marketers can learn a lot more from Ecksand than they can from Tiffany. If we’re talking name recognition, of course you should study what Tiffany did. But if we’re talking unique, special, and a wholesome consumer experience, Ecksand is the David that beats that Goliath into the dirt.
Ecksand does things that Tiffany simply does not do. Tiffany might speak to people who want the name brand status, an inflated price tag, and little else. But Ecksand speaks to consumers like me. Consumers who want value in every step of the purchasing experience. Consumers who want a story with their purchase. Consumers who need to like, trust, and feel close to the company they’re purchasing from.
Ecksand does all that and more. And this is how they do it.
1 – Quality Creates Demand
Yoan, a founding partner of Ecksand, told me something to this effect while we were chatting in the Montreal storefront:
We can shut up shop tomorrow and we will still have more than enough orders and requests to keep us in business for at least 5 years.
For a boutique that does very little overt marketing and relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations, that is a very impressive claim.
This is certainly something to be proud of because it suggests that your product is high quality.
I have experienced this myself on a micro-level.
I stopped advertising and overtly seeking academic writing work almost 3 years ago. But I still get messages every week asking me for help with academic work.
Why? My work speaks for itself. I get word-of-mouth referrals because I’m quick, professional, and my clients get top marks (my writing has helped students get into Yale, Harvard, and MIT to name just three).
If you’re running a small or medium-sized business and you’re delivering premium products, you’re aim is to be able to proudly boast that you could stop taking orders tomorrow and still have a river of buyers.
Why is that your aim?
Because it will influence…
- how you select your product materials
- how you deliver your customer service
- how you construct your entire brand
With that as your aim, you will begin to make product decisions based on enduring quality.
2 – Word-of-Mouth is the most powerful advertising
The first thing they asked me when I entered Ecksand was:
Who referred you?
They are so used to customers being referrals that that is their default question.
Actually no one personally referred me. I read articles that showcased the brand and I fell in love with the story. I loved how the company was conceived as an antidote to a male-dominated diamond ring industry. I loved how intimate the brand felt. And I loved the beauty of every piece in Ecksand’s collection.
Why is word-of-mouth the best kind of advertising?
- Ogilvy found that 74% of consumers name word-of-mouth as a key influence in their purchasing decisions
- Nielsen found that 84% of consumers reported always taking some kind of action based on word-of-mouth
- 82% of Americans stated they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase
Word-of-mouth gives you access to big numbers and higher conversion rates because the consumer already trusts the person recommending the company.
It’s “in-the-bag marketing”.
If you can make a product that is so fantastic and create a customer experience that is so unique, you can take your foot off the marketing pedal and let your happy customers doing the selling.
As for Ecksand… Would I recommend them?
In a heartbeat.
I am so happy with the quality of the ring I bought and the whole purchasing experience that I will purchase from them again and again and I will recommend them to anyone who asks.
If you’re in the market for some excellent jewellery, I recommend Ecksand.
Tell them Ben referred you.
3 – Attention and passion for craft and industry
It’s the little details that stand out.
Like the fact that Yoan asked to see a picture of my fiancée in order to help determine what kind of ring she would love.
He took into account how small and delicate she was, the fact that she was Japanese (who apparently have quite different tastes from Canadians), and a host of other details about her personality and what kind of girl she was (e.g. introvert or extrovert?).
He then used these details to recommend a style of ring that immediately clicked with me.
All the while, he was dropping extensive information about the craft of ring making and enduring trends versus fads.
Having looked at about a hundred different stores across four different cities before coming to Ecksand, I had done my research.
I’m no diamond connoisseur but I boned up on cut, clarity, colour, and carat.
Shockingly, there were a lot of stores I went into where I could tell the sellers did not have a clue about these things. They certainly couldn’t find the type I was interested in. Or they simply spouted misinformation.
Ecksand, however, was a very different case. I left the experience feeling way more knowledgeable about the process and the industry.
Not only did the workers confirm my rudimentary homework in a way that I trusted but they added to it and added to it until I felt like a mini-expert myself.
They spoke with such conviction, sincerity, and passion about the craft. Their enthusiasm was contagious and made the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable – rather than nerve-wracking.
4 – Premium products promote flexibility – The customer is king
It didn’t surprise me that Yoan talked passionately about wishing to visit Japan. He talked with admiration about Japanese craftsmanship. The type of admiration only a true professional, a true expert who is hungry for improvement in his field, can convey.
The Japanese have a saying when it comes to customer service: The customer is God.
We say “the customer is king” in the West but I’ve rarely found any business that follows that principle.
Ecksand did though.
They treated me exceedingly well by being personal, professional, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. On top of all that, they were very overt about how flexible they were willing to be.
I was told something to this effect while discussing budget:
As a diamond merchant, my job is to find the best diamond possible for your budget, taste, and needs.
This was a very different sentiment from what I felt from other diamond merchants.
Walk into a Tiffany & Co storefront and you will get the strong impression they care only about unloading their priciest rock on you. They don’t care about finding you the perfect ring.
Ecksand wanted me to walk away with something I could afford and that would make me and my fiancée very happy.
And I did.
5 – Going the extra mile
After I bought the ring and popped the question, we got a flight to Japan almost immediately.
The ring – although a near perfect fit – was a little loose. And because we were suddenly on the other side of the globe, we couldn’t just pop into the store to take advantage of their free re-sizing.
So what did Ecksand suggest?
They would send me a pre-paid FedEx label so I could send the ring back to Montreal for a free adjustment and then it would be sent back for free as well, the whole process taking less than a week.
I actually didn’t take advantage of that because I was worried about sending an expensive ring in the mail. But I love the fact it was suggested.
That’s called “going the extra mile” and it really resonates with me and clearly it resonates with their other happy customers too.
Ecksand provide a masterclass in branding and customer service
No matter what your field of business is, if you’re trying to create a premium product and a customer experience that will increase your word-of-mouth referrals, study Ecksand.
And if you’re in Montreal, I highly recommend you pop in. I can guarantee that you will leave with something of astonishing beauty.