How J.F. Kruse Jewelers Found Success with Radio Advertising

posted by Bob Leighton

We've already featured this client in our top advertising strategies series. That post focused on their strategy from a "best practices" perspective. This story focuses on J.F. Kruse as a business, and the extraordinary results they found through branding on the radio.

Read the nine best local advertising strategies in this ebook.

At Leighton Broadcasting, we believe in serving, connecting, and celebrating our community. J.F. Kruse Jewelers has been a prominent St. Cloud small business for over 15 years. Their purpose is defined in three simple words: spirit, story, sparkle. So what happens when the two entities combine to serve, connect, and celebrate through spirit, story, and sparkle?

Pure magic.

Success on the Radio

The J.F. Kruse Jewelers TeamWhen J.F. Kruse Jewelers first opened in 2000, they spent the first few years advertising primarily by word of mouth. By their fifth year in business, they reached a point where they wanted to reach more in the community as well as continue their growth. Through their own research, and knowing the community of St. Cloud well enough, they chose to connect with us.

Mike Kelley, J.F. Kruse’s Marketing Director said, “I knew people listened to the radio and it’s one of the ways you can get that reach without spending an arm and a leg. You can reach men, women, and all different ages, which appealed to us. This town has always been a radio town. People will ask me if they should do billboards, TV, or radio. 90 percent of the time I say radio. This town just … fits with radio. Especially for the investment.”

Mike continued, “Broadcast to us makes sense because we can target for specific events too, which really helps. For example, if I’m doing a women’s event, I can target some stations that have a substantial audience of women. If it’s a guys’ event, I know I can target stations that are heavy on the men side. In terms of general branding, that’s something new and innovative for us that we’ve really just taken on in the last two years. In the past, we did things just over the holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and the like.” 

Branding is Ongoing and Evolutionary

Branding is the process of developing a strong business identity. It’s the practice of creating a name, symbol, design, tagline – anything that creates consistent recognition for your audience. A recognizable brand is something that is built and earned.

J.F. Kruse began building their brand with Leighton Broadcasting in recent years. Mike said, “We realized we have plenty of customers looking for just-because gifts, anniversary gifts, or birthdays. That’s when we took to branding. We do branding every week now.”

Indeed, branding isn’t something that is set it and forget it. Can someone even "do" branding on the radio? Sometimes, small businesses think branding isn’t necessary, that they’re not in the same category as global brands with powerful brand messaging. Branding is always necessary if you wish to expand your customer base, increase revenue, or grow you business.

You have to remind people who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Spirit, story, sparkle. Radio’s strength is brand building. It’s the medium that has the voice to convince, it’s personally relevant, and radio increases recall and brand preference. So yes. You can definitely “do” branding on the radio! 

Top of Mind Awareness

“We want our branding to bring people top of mind awareness,” Mike said.

“We do branding on each radio station so when the time comes for jewelry purchases, regardless of time of year, that trigger will happen – Hey, J.F. Kruse! Even if we’re number one, two, or three on their list for jewelry, that’s fine with us. We know we’ll at least get a swing at bat. And this, in large part, is due to the branding we do with Leighton Broadcasting.

We do branding on each radio station so when the time comes for jewelry purchases, regardless of time of year, that trigger will happen.

Success with radio advertising requires creating a local brand identity. This is key to expanding business operations, building a loyal customer base, and remaining competitive in both local and expanded markets.

Mike added, “the stations in general were what brought me to radio in the first place. I’m constantly on our floor, and asking people general questions about what they listen to – whether it’s Pandora or radio. Time and time again, it’s radio. That’s what promotes us best in this community." 

Leighton Broadcasting as the Branding Experts

“It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, I will always tell them about Leighton Broadcasting just because their strategy is the big part. I just got done talking to a customer of ours about why we do so much radio. I told them Leighton has a different strategy. This customer was interested in another station here in the community. I told him while that station is good, I recommend starting with Leighton Broadcasting because of the strategy side. In our experience, the other stations just base your advertising off of dollars. How much are you willing to spend? Then this is how much time you’ll get on-air,” Mike said.

J.F. Kruse Comparison Chart

We do things differently at Leighton Broadcasting, and Mike concurred. “Our team at Leighton sits down with us, and together we go through a process – it’s all about strategy. Who do you want to reach? What are you looking to gain from it? Are you looking to reach certain times of day? Leighton has a different approach, whether you’re trying to create awareness for a certain event or just general branding. And, it’s not just Hey- give us a general budget and here’s how we’ll make it work for you, he said.

More specifically, Mike mentioned how the relationship between Leighton Broadcasting and J.F. Kruse began with Stephanie Theisen.

“She’s who taught me about radio and how strategy works to benefit our branding. I’ve worked with several reps and account executives in all different types of marketing, promotions, and advertising areas in my time in this industry. It’s crucial to partner with the right people. You not only want someone who understands your business and industry, but someone who can write great creative and properly use it. Steph is one of those people; and above all that, she even thinks of the little things. If we’re running a timely event, the ad we air will actually mention specific parameters vs. “Event going on now”, which is what most other stations will say. That specificity and detail creates a sense of urgency for customers – those small details matter so much to me,” Mike said. 

The Future of J.F. Kruse

When he reflected on how much has changed over the years, and more specifically the past decade since they have partnered with Leighton Broadcasting, Mike said what he’s noticed most is the intertwining of all their marketing efforts.

A customer, for example, will hear a promotion on the radio, and take it to social media to further engage J.F. Kruse, whether it’s about an event or campaign they’re running.

He has customers who continually tell his staff that they hear J.F. Kruse on the radio.

Overall, Mike has noticed their brand is just more prominent. People don’t necessarily buy from J.F. Kruse because they heard an ad on the radio. They buy because they stop into the store, meet the staff, like the jewelry, or because someone else had a positive experience in their store, and they’re looking to emulate that.

That’s another added benefit of branding with us. What we’re doing with J.F. Kruse, for example, isn’t necessarily advertising. It’s much more than that. Name mentions reiterate the top of mind awareness strategy that J.F. Kruse values so much.

Let’s say the morning show hosts of a station have their own promotion – like a call-in trivia game. Our clients can have their name mentioned as that station’s promotional sponsor. In J.F. Kruse’s case, they partnered with 104.7 KCLD’s morning show for "Radio Paparazzi" where the jewelers give call-in participants gift cards. That doesn’t feel like advertising (especially to our listeners), when it’s part of the station’s programming.

I know this works because I'll get call and texts from people saying, 'What are you guys doing? I hear you all the time!'

Mike said that’s an important part of their overall strategy. He said it’s integral to do the name mentions and gift card promos while the store has an event going on; these promos and giveaways increase foot traffic, which in turn increase awareness of their brand. It all coincides, and intentionally. He said, “I know this works because I’ll get calls or texts from people saying, what are you guys doing? I hear your name all the time! That recognition and top of mind awareness … That’s my favorite part.”

Read the J.F. Kruse Case Study