The unglamorous truth about salon & spa marketing

bright shiny thingsThe unglamorous truth about salon & spa marketing is it’s very, very tempting to get sidetracked, diverted, distracted by the latest, brightest, shiniest new thing in business and marketing.

Barely a day goes by without you reading about, hearing about, seeing some ‘guru’ promoting yet another gee-whizz bit of technology or social media gizmo that’s going to ‘change the world overnight’. You’re told that this new holy grail will suddenly make everything you’ve done in your business so far obsolete.

One day it was Pinterest. Then Instagram. Then Twitter. Tomorrow there’ll be yet another one.

Sure, you can’t effectively and efficiently run a profitable business without certain types of technology these days, but itseems to me that in all this hype it’s still the ‘unglamorous‘ things that create a steady, income-producing salon or spa business.

Ken McCarthy, internet marketing pioneer

Ken McCarthy, internet marketing pioneer

I was reminded of this while reading an article today by Ken McCarthy, acknowledged as one of the pioneers of so-called ‘internet marketing’.  (The term ‘internet marketing’ is itself misleading. Marketing is marketing, the internet is just one form of media you can use to deliver your marketing message.) McCarthy describes most promoters of internet marketing as the ‘Glamorous Gurus’, modern versions of snake-oil salesmen who

‘focus on the complicated, the exotic and the glamorous while ignoring the simple, common sense things that make money reliably.

Nowhere is this principle more clear than in how the Glamorous Gurus treat their customers.

When you take a good look at how they handle customer service in their own businesses and what they say about customer service on and off the record, it becomes pretty obvious pretty fast that they’re more interested in cooking up schemes to manipulate their customers than in serving them.

Customer service? What’s that?’

If you’ve ever bought anything much online, particularly any kind of ‘business-boosting’ technology thingy, you’ll probably ‘get’ what he’s talking about. Try making an actual phone call to these people, try talking to to a real, live human being. Generally, you’ll get nowhere. And that’s because most so-called ‘internet marketing gurus’ are just that – great at marketing and selling the latest, greatest ‘next big thing’, but absolutely crap at doing the very thing that keeps bringing customers back over and over again; old-fashioned, labor-intensive, time-consuming and very unfashionable after sales service.

In my business, I’ve been a customer service Nazi since the very beginning, back in 2004. Unlike most ‘internet marketing companies’ (which we’re not, actually, but that’s by-the-by) we have real people, in real offices (Australia, North America, New Zealand) who answer the phone whenever a client calls. Who return messages. Who actually answer client emails.

I’ve probably left a lot of money uncollected by NOT wringing every last dollar from anybody with a pulse. At Worldwide Salon Marketing we actually, really do restrict the numbers of salons & spas we accept into our main marketing & mentoring program, My Social Salon, to just 5 per month, for the very good reason that I want every single member to get ‘over-the-top’ service; advice, technical support, responsiveness.

Why? Because, as McCarthy says, ‘people who are treated well come to trust the people who treat them well.’

Sure, when you’re looking after customers all over the world, in a dozen different time zones, getting sometimes hundreds of email and phone inquiries and requests every day, some things do fall through the cracks. Even in my business. We’re human. We make mistakes. But our customers don’t expect us to be perfect. They expect us to fix things when they go wrong.

REALITY CHECK: When was the last time you picked up the phone and called a customer to see how they feel about the haircut they had in your chair three days before…ever???

The facts are that only 5% of people who experience a problem with your service will ever complain. The terrifying significance of this is that 19 out of every 20 people who experience a problem will say nothing, and soon as an alternative supplier of whatever it is that you sell comes along, they’re gone. Which goes to prove the great sales master Zig Ziglar who famously said

Zig Ziglar, the salesman's salesman.

Zig Ziglar, the salesman’s salesman.

“when customers complain, business owners ought to get excited about that. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.”

I’ve always believed that it’s never the problem that’s the real problem, it’s how you fix it that matters. No, the customer is NOT always right, but it’s my contention that a complaining customer, right or wrong, can be turned into not merely a referral source for your business, but a raving evangelist for your business, if you go out of your way to not just respond to their complaint, but to do it rapidly, to over-deliver.

Yes, you might think “that’s going to cost me time, money, lost business or all three.” And it might, in the short-term. But the long-term benefits will be immense.

(One of our own long-term Members, Sarkis Akle of Hair by Phd in Sydney, NSW, has become a self-taught expert in customer service. If you want more on this subject, head over to Sarkis’ blog here)

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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.