I’ve lost count of the number of times over the past 10 years I’ve been accused of advocating ‘tacky’, so-called ‘unprofessional’ or ‘cheap’ marketing for salons and spas. In one memorable instance, a member of the ‘upper echelon’ of the beauty industry, a veteran of some 30 years, approached me during a marketing seminar I was giving and snootily told me “no self-respecting proper company would lower themselves to using your sales & marketing tactics.”
Well, I told her then, and I’m here to tell ya now, she was wrong in every possible way.
Have you heard of Time Magazine? Yep, the very same, establishment publishing giant that’s documented the movers and shakers of the world since 1923.
Like all publishers, Time makes its money from advertising, and to a less extent, subscriptions.
Now, nobody would ever consider Time Magazine any kind of hip, brash, swashbuckling outfit. Certainly not the kind of ‘old-money’ business that’d consider doing something even remotely ‘trashy’ or lowbrow just to boost its market share.
Um, well, yes they would.
Here’s a Time offer that arrived in WSM Director of Online George Slater’s mailbox this week. Yes, a full-color, four page direct mail piece offering
…in exchange for a drastically-discounted, 54-month subscription. (Watches. Time. Get it?) Now, for the serious student of marketing, this is worth studying. There’s nothing new here. Time is using one of the oldest, tried-and-tested, bait ‘n switch marketing strategies in the book. Because they know that people will often buy the product just to get the free bonus.
You see this exact strategy every time you browse your local newsstand; a free DVD or CD, glued to or packaged inside the magazine. Only a handful of people actually want the magazine. But many more just want the bonus CD. In Thailand, the Talisman Billiards Company gives away a free golf shirt with every order over $100. “I do see people increasing their order just so they can get the free shirt,” says Talisman owner Tony Jones.
This strategy works in almost any business. Salons and spas are no different. Got a cupboard full of products you haven’t been able to give rid of? Give them away, with an offer tied to an appointment for a service. “Yours Free” has for more than a century – and remains – one of the most powerful phrases in any marketing arsenal.