2015 – what’s YOUR salon business plan for the New Year?

Yay girlThe 7-Step Salon Success Blueprint for 2015

It’s nearing the end of another year. Once the Christmas madness is done and dusted, and you gaze into the crystal ball for 2015, what do you see for your business? A limp re-hash of 2014…or a newly-dynamic, expanding, organised enterprise with systems in place that bring a constant flow of new and returning clients?

Marketing success isn’t a happy accident – it takes planning, focus, ACTION, and a well-defined infrastructure in place to help you take advantage of opportunities as they appear. But what does this infrastructure look like? Here’s the Worldwide Salon Marketing Blueprint.

Think of these Ten Essentials like the internal structure of a small sailing ship – the keel, ribs, bulkheads, pumps and labyrinth of wiring and hydraulic plumbing – all hidden from public view – that all work together as a system to keep the vessel afloat and drive it through the waves.

1) Your DATABASE.

Your database is like the keel of a ship...unseen, but VITAL

Your database is like the keel of a ship…unseen, but VITAL

The keel of your ship. And like a ship’s keel, it’s THE very foundation of a successful salon.

Anyone these days who still believes you can efficiently and effectively run and market a hair or beauty business using names written on the pages of a school exercise book is either seriously deluded, or accustomed to fighting battles blindfolded and with one arm tied behind your back.

Your list of clients – their names, their (full!) contact details, what they’ve previously purchased, their date of birth, their average spend…all of this information is GOLD.

But most of this vital information is useless unless it’s collated in a properly-organised database.

If you wanted to create a special offer appealing particularly to women aged between 29 and 45 who have one or more children and a history of buying facials and/or brazilian waxes, and email/SMS them with a link to that offer on your website, you simply cannot do it effectively and efficiently without those details in a database.

The price of computer-based systems has plummeted.

There are now scores of purpose-built, off-the-shelf database systems designed specifically for the hair & beauty industry.

You can implement a complete Point of Sale and Client Management system in your salon, and have it up and running inside 24 hours, for as little as $29 a month. There’s absolutely no excuse any more.

2) Testimonials and Online REVIEWS.

womoTestimonials and word of mouth have always been a primary source of new clients. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. Nobody these days would dream of booking an overseas trip or a new restaurant without Googling first and reading reviews.

And online reviews are now THE crucial piece of information prospects seek when they’re searching for a salon or spa. Many of our Member salons report getting 10, 20, even 30 new clients every month because of the prominence and sheer volume of their online reviews.

But getting reviews for your salon or spa online requires the setting up of online review infrastructure.

Here’s what to do:

1) The three main online review sites suitable for salons are www.truelocal.com.au and www.womo.com.au (for Australia) and www.yelp.com (the biggest international review site.)

2) Set up your business with a page on each of these sites.

3) Start asking your clients to give you reviews.

sms marketingWSM members: in the Members Only Million Dollar Resources Library here, you’ll find the How to Get Masses of Online Reviews pack you can download, complete with done-for-you templates you can use to both collect reviews (the easy way) at your reception desk, and to send to clients by email.

Not a Member? In WSM’s flagship My Social Salon marketing & mentoring program, you get unlimited access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive library of business & marketing resources designed and continually updated ONLY for salons and spas, as well as technical support, wesbsite and mobile app support, search engine optimization, and one-on-one coaching and guidance. My Social Salon is strictly limited to those salon owners who want to be business owners and entrepreneurs, not merely technicians. Go here to find out more.

3) VIDEO – simple, quick, easily uploaded – and devastatingly effective.

Your smart-phone is your friend. It’s also the friend of every single one of your clients, because everyone has one! They do almost everything on their smart phone – they browse the web, post to social media, send messages to their friends, shop, and…they watch videos. Smart salon owners – particularly those members of our My Social Salon program – are beginning to use videos as a stunningly effective tool to both reach out to their clients with interesting content, as well as generating instant business.

Here’s what to do:

1) Shoot a short video using your iPhone or Android. It can be just about anything – a quick ‘selfie’ interview with a happy client, a one-minute ‘how-to’ video featuring a new treatment or service in your salon, an introduction from a new staff member, a special promotion you’re running. Here’s an example from one of our Members, Anita Clements of Twisted Desire in Queensland:

Here’s another example, from WSM member Sharon Loveday of Beauty Confidence in Mitcham, Victoria:

Any salon owner can do this! If you can touch the ‘record’ button on your smart-phone, or get one of your staff to do it, you CAN do this. But it’s what happens next that makes the magic.

2) Upload your video – straight from your smart-phone – to YouTube. For this you’ll need a free Google account (if you already use gmail, you’ll already have a Google account.) The whole process takes just a few minutes. YouTube will ask you for a Title, and a Description. In the ‘Title’ field, type a few words of what the video is about, and don’t forget to include your phone number, and your location. Why? Because Google uses this information as part of its Search Engine Optimisation process – if people see your video by going to the YouTube website, you want them to be able to see where you are and how to contact you.

You can simply leave your video there on YouTube. However, it’s smarter, if you know how, to then embed your video directly into your website.

Here’s how Anita and Sharon have used their videos on their WSM-built websites:

Go to Twisted Desire here (scroll down the page)

Go to Beauty Confidence here.

3) SMS and email your clients with links to the videos.

Here’s where you get the impact, and the results.

There’s no point in recording videos, uploading them, embedding them in your website if you don’t tell anybody about it.

Even if you don’t have everybody’s email address, you no doubt have every client’s mobile phone number. Send out a group text message, eg “Hi Jane, it’s Mary from (your salon name), I’ve just uploaded a quick video on a brilliant new hair style we’re doing, would love your feedback, check it out here: http://bit.ly/1vpCgGp and give me a call on 000 000 000″

(Hint: web addresses can be loooong – and soak up a lot of characters in an SMS. To shorten the link, copy the web address where the video is and go to www.bitly.com, paste the address of your video into the field in bitly, and it’ll instantly give you a much shorter link you can use in your text message and email. If you have email addresses of your clients, send them an email as well as a text message.)

You can do a video like these examples every week. Your clients will love them.

WSM Members: as a Member of My Social Salon you get unlimited, one-on-one guidance and training on how to shoot the video, how to upload it, how to put it into your website, and templates for emails and SMS messages to send to your clients.

Not a Member? Click here to see if you qualify for a 30-day Risk Free Test Drive of the entire My Social Salon marketing & mentoring program.

4) Your WEBSITE – (but that’s just the start)

your salon websiteIf your current website – and all the other infrastructure around it, like Google Maps, reviews, videos etc – is bringing you a steady, measurable, identifiable stream of customers and clients every month, then you probably don’t need to do too much with it. If it’s already on the first page of Google for relevant searches, like ‘hair salon (your suburb)’ well and good.

But if you’re NOT getting a steady stream of clients who find you online, it’s time to ramp it up – or be left behind.

Here’s what to check:

1) Test your website’s Google ranking like this; open the Google Chrome web browser and ‘go incognito’ by pressing ‘control’ + ‘shift+ ‘n’ so Google doesn’t know who you are and gives you totally fresh results.

In the search bar, type what you think people in your area are searching for, e.g., ‘waxing’ and then your location or major geographical area, like ‘waxing northern beaches’.

If your website isn’t listed on the first page, it’s nowhere, and needs work.

Nobody searches Page Two.

2) Is your website appearing in the Google map listings? If not, you need to ‘claim’ your listing, and that involves generating an old-fashioned hard copy postcard from Google with a PIN number in it. They’ll mail it to you.

3) Look up your website on your smart-phone’s web browser. If all you get is a tiny version of the whole main website, it’s not mobile resp0nsive. That’s a problem, because more than half of web searches these days are done on mobile phones, and if all prospects get to see is a tiny version of your main website, not only will Google eventually downgrade your site in the rankings, but prospective customers will find it too hard to read, and go elsewhere.

4) Is your phone number prominent at the top of your website? It needs to be. On your smart phone, is your phone number appearing as a ‘hot’ or ‘click to call’ link? If not, it needs to be. Don’t make people jump through hoops just to call you.

5) Is your website being updated frequently and regularly with fresh content – text and images? If not, it needs to be. Google ranks websites it sees as being ‘loved’ and updated regularly. There’s no such thing as a ‘finished’ website.

WSM Members: members of our My Social Salon program can have their entire online presence managed, updated, maintained and hosted by Worldwide Salon Marketing. Members get unlimited free technical support, free training, and step-by-step guidance on how to post pictures and new pages to their website, if they wish to.

Not a Member? If you become a Member of the My Social Salon program, all of the above will be done for you. Or, you can still get your online ‘stuff’ done for you without being a Member of My Social Salon – go to www.salon-website-design.com and check out the available packages.

5) Your NEWSLETTER

pure serenity newsA regular, hard-copy newsletters is THE single most powerful piece of ‘old-fashioned’ direct marketing you can do. Mailed to your top clients every month (with copies handed out to other clients in the salon), a regular newsletter has been proven over and over again to generate business. A newsletter makes your clients feel involved, engaged, appreciated. It informs your clients about services they might not have known you provide (extra business!) Newsletters don’t need to be ‘professional’ looking and all-singing, all-dancing, glossy productions. They don’t need to look ‘corporate’. They don’t even need to be more than a single sheet of paper, double sided. But they DO need to be

1) Regular, monthly. Any less, you’re wasting your time.

2) Newsy. It’s not all about pitching offers. A bit of gossip, a hair or beauty tip, information about new products, a ‘client of the month’ profile, a short story about your dog or cat, a picture and story about a new staff member, a special offer of the month….you’ll never run out of material. After a couple of issues, you’ll wonder how you can fit it in, and have to expand to four pages or more.

Here’s what to do:

1) Get hold of a simple program like Microsoft Publisher – much easier to work with than Word.

2) Start gathering some content – story ideas, a picture or two, a client testimonial, a beauty or hair tip, put together a Monthly Special offer.

3) Call your newsletter “Beauty News” or “Hair Today” – anything but “Your Salon Name” News. Start filling it up. Publisher allows you to create simple boxes into which you can put images and text.

4) Don’t forget a box for your essential contact details, website, email etc!

5) Save it, then turn it into a .pdf for printing.

Resources for WSM Members: If you’re a Member of WSM, we can arrange layout and graphics services for you at next-to-nothing cost. Just ask us.

Non-Members:
If you can’t possibly think of any content, try Susan Vincent’s Salon & Spa Beauty Bank, where you can download hundreds of purpose-written articles, blog posts, images and more, for just $97 a month.

Of course, a newsletter is just one arrow in a comprehensive offline marketing strategy, which should include mailbox flyers to attract new clients, letters to get lost clients back, special promotional posters, postcards and a dozen other ‘old-fashioned’ but still very effective hard copy pieces – all of which are available in the vast library of templates within the Million Dollar Resources Library for My Social Salon members.

6) Social Media

FacebookFacebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, can be useful to help build rapport and interaction with your ‘fans’. But they’re a LONG way from being the be-all and end-all.

In fact, Facebook particularly is becoming less so, as the company is constantly making it harder to reach your audience unless you’re prepared to pay.

It’s not ‘Free’ marketing by a long shot. Relying on Facebook and other social media platforms entirely to drive customers into your business is just plain dumb. If you do that, you WILL fail.

But there are ways of using Facebook much smarter than most people realise.

1) Never, ever ‘boost’ a post in an effort to reach more people. It’s expensive, and generally unproductive. A better way is to use Facebook ads. But it can be tricky, with major traps for the unwary.

(Members of the My Social Salon marketing & mentoring program get their Facebook advertising looked after for them, by a team headed by our Facebook specialist and director of online, George Slater.)

2) People use Facebook and other social media to be social. They don’t go to Facebook to buy stuff. So post stuff on your fan page that is engaging, that has been shown to get likes, shares and comments. Pictures, videos, funny stuff. Occasionally, a pitch or special offer.

But Facebook is not a selling platform, it’s an engagement platform. (Hint: if you’ve uploaded on of your videos to YouTube, do NOT merely post a link to that video into your FB page. Instead, upload your video directly into Facebook. It plays better that way, and doesn’t take people away from your page like a YouTube video does.)

7) A Mobile App

appAs previously noted, ALL of your clients carry with them 24 hours a day a smart-phone of one kind or another. Somehow, you have to get in front of the eyeballs that are staring at that little device 50 times a day. SMS is one way to do it. A custom-designed and built Mobile App is another. Having your own mobile app sitting on the home screen of your clients’ phones means you can

1) Send them ‘push’ notifications – FREE – that turn up on their home screen like a text message, offering special promotions, links to your website, links to videos and much more. Everybody who has your app downloaded from the iTunes or Google Play stores will get that notification, wherever they are.

2) Clients can use the app to book appointments with your salon. (One salon we know of gets 70% of its business via its mobile app)

3) Clients can ‘share’ your app with their friends, spreading the word about your salon.

4) Your app can be linked to your website – update your website, and your app automatically updates too.

Here’s what to do:

a) You can build your own app, if you have the time and inclination to learn how to do it. (Not many bother to do this!)

b) You can have one built for you. Worldwide Salon Marketing builds stand-alone apps for salons all over the world. Go here to check it out.

c) Members of Worldwide Salon Marketing get an app built for them as part of their overall membership, at no extra cost. Go here to find out more about the My Social Salon marketing & mentoring program.

The above is far from being an exhaustive list of ‘must-haves’ for a successful salon’s marketing infrastructure. Many salons have some of these already in place. Very, very few have all of ’em. (Our member salons do, but that’s because they’ve recognised the value of having a system in place that drives customers to them from a variety of sources, instead of merely hoping )

Salon Marketing ToolkitGET your salon organised for 2015 – go here to apply for a 30-day Money Back Guaranteed Test Drive of the entire My Social Salon marketing system and mentoring program, including the famous Essential Salon Owner’s Marketing Toolkit.

Fill those empty appointment slots in MINUTES

Access the NEW Lite course, where you’ll learn:

– How to fill empty appointment slots
– How to stop no-shows dead in their tracks
– How to get money from your clients right now
– Exactly how to bring back your “lost” clients
– What you need to do to have new clients finding you online

AND SO MUCH MORE!

Learn exactly what you need to do to turn your salon into a thriving success!

About The Author

Greg Milner

Greg Milner, CEO & Founder, Worldwide Salon Marketing. Greg is a writer, marketing consultant, direct response advertising expert and former TV producer. Since founding WSM in 2004, he's coached and guided more than 4,000 salons & spas all over the world in all aspects of marketing, both online and offline. The tools and templates he and his team have developed are used by salons & spas on every continent. He is the author of the industry-standard direct response marketing manual, Simple Salon Marketing, and the e-book Rich Salon Owner.