Last updateTue, 17 Apr 2018 11pm

Jeweler puts the Rock in Rockford

Mark and Monika Clodius, co-owners of Clodius & Co. Jewelers, like the fun and excitement of treasure hunts and finders keepers events. These events have worked well for retail jewelers in recent years producing tremendous good will in the communities store owners serve while garnering favorable amounts of media coverage.

Clodius-Mark-Monica-SeptBut the Rockford, Illinois couple wanted to put their own spin on these contests by combining them into the couple’s own “Clodius Rocks,” a contest that will seek to better brand the jewelry store while highlighting key points of interest in the greater Rockford area. The top prize to be awarded in March 2013 will be a 1-carat diamond worth $8,000.

The social media-based, branding awareness campaign has multiple segments to keep people engaged and interested in the six-month long contest that starts this month and concludes in March. The first part of the Clodius Rocks contest involves the actual rock. And at this stage, that doesn’t mean diamonds.

Mark and Monika commissioned a local headstone carver to produce more than 80 flat rocks (averaging four inches in diameter), each featuring a hand-carved store logo. Other identifying features specific to the contest include a sticker on every carved rock, each with its own unique QR code.

When scanned using a smartphone, that code will go to a dedicated website that contains information about the contest, and the jewelry store. But more important to the lucky Rockford area resident that finds it, discovering the prize they can claim in the store.

Once in the store, the contestant will be given their prize. A quick digital image will be taken of each winner and posted on the store’s Facebook page to help promote the contest. In the month following the discovery of a contest rock, contestants with the most “likes” for their image can win another prize. To add to this social media component of the contest, contestants can also work toward a most earned “likes” prize at the end of the contest in March next year.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The third segment of the contest is asking Rockford area residents to submit their ideas on key places of interest that can be incorporated into future Clodius Rocks contests. After 18 months of careful planning and laboriously researching the logistics involved in implementing a six-month contest, Mark and Monika are looking to run consecutive Clodius Rocks contests, in small chunks of time, each year for the foreseeable future.

“The contest was designed for long-term branding and brand awareness,” says Mark. “We fully intend on making Clodius Rocks lasting well into the future.”

Such an ambitious plan required much in terms of planning and logistics, starting with the rocks used in the contest. For starters, the couple wanted to source better looking gray and reddish flat rock known to the area.  Once a number of these large, flat-surfaced rocks were sourced, then the couple had to find a way to get their store logo carved on each rock.

“Fortunately, the marketing company we hired to help promote the contest knew of an 80 something-year-old woman who does headstone carvings,” says Monika. “We contracted her to produce more than 80 rocks for the initial contest. The carving for each stone is incredibly well done, with each completed stone almost of keepsake quality.”

Stickers for the QR code also presented a time-consuming logistical challenge for the couple. “You wouldn’t believe the number of adhesives we had to consider before we could move on to creating the QR code stickers,” says Mark. “It was these sorts of unexpected things that kept delaying the start of the contest, which has taken 18 months of planning to finally launch.”

Given the projected timeline of the initial and future Clodius Rocks contests, the carved rocks, the glue for each sticker, and the readability of each QR code must endure the tests of time, namely contending with the weather associated with Rockford’s seasonal changes.

With the amount of work involved and invested in the project, Mark and Monika are confident current and future contests will successfully tie their brand to the community, but also create a sense of pride in Rockford.

Hard hit by the recession and anemic recovery following the housing market crash of late 2008, Illinois’ jobless rate at press time was at 8.6 percent, which is greater than the current national average, hovering at around 8.3 percent. But Rockford’s unemployment rate of 11.8 percent is well above not only the national average, but also the state average.

“The jobless rate has really hit Rockford hard,” says Monika. “This is a wonderful city, but the economy has forced many people to leave Rockford. Another goal of this contest is to not only bring a little happiness to and vitality back in to the community, but to also remind residents what a great city Rockford is to raise a family and to call home.”

Other methods of community bonding with the Clodius Rocks contest include working with the local visitors’ bureau to attract contestants from Winnebago County as well as neighboring counties. The couple also plans on creating strategic cross-promotional partners with local businesses to help promote the Clodius Rocks contest.

Clodius-rocks-Sept“But for the first Clodius Rocks, we’d like to make it about branding our store and promoting the city,” says Monika. “Partnering with other businesses such as restaurants and other businesses that align well with jewelry stores will happen with future Clodius Rocks contests.”

The first Clodius Rocks contest begins this month and will run through major gift-giving holidays in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2013. Mark and Monika see this as a plus during major shopping seasons such as Christmas and holidays like Valentine’s Day. “Think of the word-of-mouth that will come with winning a prize of jewelry in time for these gift-giving occasions,” says Mark.

Meanwhile, advertisements during this time will be a mixture of the store’s product and price-points campaigns with ads specifically aimed at promoting Clodius Rocks. “Special clues will be announced through our media partners, namely radio, to air clues and hints on where to find the rocks,” says Mark.

The couple also wants to bring up their Facebook fan base numbers. In addition to posting contestant images on Facebook and the subsequent “likes” contests, there will also be clues posted only on Facebook.

“It’s not just about the [fan base] numbers,” says Monika. “We’d really like to see a lot of interaction between people as the contest progresses. When your fans drive the content on Facebook, you’ve reached a level of social media success.”

Prizes for finding contest rocks run the gamut, from inexpensive fashion-forward silver jewelry on up to fine high karat gold jewelry to store services starting from watch battery changes on up to free appraisals.

“Right now we have most of the prizes set,” says Mark. “We have lots of $50 to $150 prizes, plenty of $100 to $500 prizes, and a good sprinkling of $500-plus prizes. There will be no shortage of incentives to get involved in Clodius Rocks with these and our grand prize of the $8,000 diamond.”