Thirteen years ago this month, I started coaching and supplying marketing resources to the salon industry. I guess I must have spoken to literally thousands of salon & spa owners all over the world in that time.
Many things have changed. When I started Worldwide Salon Marketing in February 2004, smart phones hadn’t been invented. Apple had only recently launched the first iPod. Facebook was only launched the same month. Google wasn’t even a listed company, let alone the giant it is today. Instagram was still 6 years away from birth.
Most salons & spas didn’t even have a website back then. Many were still using paper and ink to book appointments.
The phone, mailbox flyers, and newspapers were their primary marketing media, along with word of mouth.
Much has changed, and changed rapidly. And it won’t ever stop. But one thing has never changed, and I’m guessing it never will.
It is this: 90% of people who start, or buy their own salon or spa business should never have gone into business in the first place. It sounds brutal, and it is; but in my 13 years of providing all sorts of marketing & business support for salons & spas, it’s been clear from the very start.
Very, very few people in the hair & beauty industry go into business with a clear idea of what they want to achieve. Almost none has read a business book, studied a business course, subscribed to any kind of business or marketing publication, or taken the trouble to seek out specialist help or advice.
It’s a sad fact that most come from a purely technical background – they’re merely good at what they do – and suffer under the delusion that simply being good at what you do is sufficient foundation on which to build a business.
And yet – silly me – I’ve spent the past 13 years attempting, and often failing, to turn many of these hair stylists and beauty therapists into entrepreneurs and business owners. In many cases though, spectacular success.
When Amy Farley came to me ten years ago, she was a struggling massage therapist, breaking her back for 60 hours a week. Today, she’s a successful entrepreneur and marketer with thriving days spas on both coasts of Australia. When Tracey Orr bought our first Essential Salon Owner’s Marketing Toolkit in 2004, she was operating as a nail technician in a single room at the back of a hair salon. Tracey went on to build Launceston’s biggest and most successful salon.
There are many more such cases. The successful ones possess some common attributes.
· They were relentless about educating themselves on what works.
· They took advice, and hired professionals to do the jobs they were either unqualified to do themselves, or didn’t want to do.
· They ALL took massive action.
· They recognised the difference between working ON the business, and working IN it. And did everything in their power to do the former.
· They understood that their JOB, as owner, was to market the business, bring in the customers, and pay others to do the technical work.
· They started their business with the end in mind.
These are the people I call the ‘ten percenters.’ The ten percent of salon & spa owners – hell, it’s probably less, but I’m generous – who I really should have concentrated on helping further their success, rather than attempting to drag some of the other 90% to the water trough and forcing them to drink.
(Yeah, I know, it’s strange. I’m constantly nagging our Member salons to forget about trying to get recalcitrant, lazy, unproductive staff to do their jobs properly, and instead concentrate their efforts on their winners.)
The vast majority of owners in the hair & beauty business conduct their lives in a constant state of quiet desperation. Too afraid to make the changes necessary for improvement, they struggle from year to same-same year, hoping that perhaps by some miracle, things will get better.
Without changing anything. It’s a common definition of insanity.
Barely a day goes by that I don’t get an email from somebody – usually in the backblocks of India, Pakistan or the Philippines – promising to ‘get my website to the top of Google’.
If you run any kind of business, no doubt you get the same kind of emails. Y’know, those spam emails.
These emails last a nano-second in my in-box, before I hit the delete button. Here are just a few reasons why:
Reason #1: These people always start their pitch with “I’ve been studying your website and notice that it has big problems etc etc..”
If you’ve been studying my website, you would’ve noticed it has my phone number prominently displayed. If you want my business, call me on the damn phone. Don’t be lazy.
Reason #2: If you were any good at marketing yourself, and weren’t so damned lazy, you’d figure out that sending an email to somebody you’ve never met, from a company I’ve never heard of, expecting me to leap at your fabulous offer with open arms, is no way to start a business relationship.
Reason #3: if you’ve been studying my website, and you’re so observant, you’d know that we specialize in real, effective, manual-labor search engine optimization, for scores and scores of businesses all over the world. But you didn’t bother looking that hard, did you…you just fired off a lazy email, among thousands of similar emails, to thousands of small business owners, hoping that some of them will be so ill-informed, they’ll leap at your fantastic offer.
You may have picked up that this practice makes me a tad cranky. But I get positively livid when our own long-term members get the same kind of nonsense offers.
One Australian business owner who’s been a Member of Worldwide Salon Marketing for more than a decade called us this week after receiving one of these delightful offers, in this case from Canada. We’ve been driving this Member’s online advertising and organic search results for a long time, so she wanted to see our take on this company’s offer.
“It didn’t take long to do some research on this company,” says our Member Services manager, Peter Doman. “The reviews we found were scathing.”
“These guys are not to be trusted.
Its the same deal, telling you that they can guarantee first page rankings when in fact you are more likely to be blacklisted,” said one reviewer.
“These guys didn’t even know a damn thing about SEO work or how to set up adwords… To top things off they didn’t even have the right ranking data from my website…
Poor form but it can sucker in the unsuspecting,” said another.
Once presented with this information, our Member wrote back:
“Thank you so, so much, Peter. Based on the reviews, I will give them a miss. Thank god once again for WSM.”
The lessons are clear.
1) There will always be somebody, somewhere, promising a lower price. But in all things, you get what you pay for, by and large.
2) If something sounds like it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
3) Do business with people you trust. They might not be perfect, they might not be the cheapest, they might not get it absolutely right, every time. But people you trust will likely trust you too, and will bend over backwards to put things right, as soon as possible.
Last week, I talked about what you need to know before you write any form of marketing material for your salon.
Now, I did promise I’d show you exactly how you can write an ad that turns your silent phone into a never-ending ringing-machine. This includes the 7 CRUCIAL elements to any successful salon marketing campaign.
Let’s dive in.
There are two types of popular marketing: branding, and direct response. This type of marketing I’ll be talking about is will be direct response.
Branding marketing works wonders for Apple and your local bank – but it’s a money guzzler for salons and spas.
As a salon owner, marketing can be VERY overwhelming, and it’s very easily a huge waste of money. That is, if you don’t do your marketing right. Time and time again, salon owners (and specifically, our members before they join any of our programs) will run branding ads, or ads promoting HUGEEEE discounts.
The thing is, “50% off an eyebrow wax,” or “50% a cut and color!” just doesn’t work. I’ve never been compelled to book in for a “discounted” service – have you?
Direct response marketing, put simply, creating adverts and offers that benefit the customer, NOT the salon or spa. Discounts work on the salon’s behalf – they get you in customers.
Direct response, however, ALWAYS will solve a client’s problem: whether it may be frizzy hair, long hair, hairy legs, cellulite, acne – whatever your service is, you solve a problem.
You already know the 3 elements you must figure out before you write any ad – and if you don’t, read them now, otherwise the following won’t make much sense.
Those 3 elements (you’ve gotta know what you’re selling, to whom, and why they should buy from you) are crucial for you to figure out these 7 must-have elements in ANY marketing campaign, especially for your salon.
They are –
- A headline: your salon name is a SHITTY HEADLINE.
- An offer: no, this isn’t discounting. DISCOUNTING IS EVIL!
- List benefits: what specific problems do you solve? Bumpy legs from shaving, frizzy hair?
- A guarantee: This is the most powerful, yet rarely, and so poorly used.
- Some proof: How can you prove what you say is true? How can you make your potential clients TRUST you?
- Scarcity: why should they call now to book?
- Call to action (CTA): what do they do next?
Phew. That’s a lot to take in.
See, 99% of salon marketing falls into the fatal, profit-grabbing trap of talking about their own business:
“Our clients have come to trust OUR experts… for OUR expertise…. our cutting-edge machines…..”
STOP. Just, stop. I was bored writing that sentence, and I’M A MARKETER!
Marketing that fails is bragging about your business. Marketing that makes money, always puts the client first. Always.
See, advertising is SALESMANSHIP IN PRINT.
Here’s an INCREDIBLE direct response ad – written from a manufacturer. It’s clearly been written by a copywriter – someone who’s job is to write marketing for a living – someone like me.
It has a headline that’s direct, and to the point. It’s job is to appeal one to those are interested, and to compel the intrigued readers into reading the ad.
Let’s dive in:
The headline here is straightforward, and bluntly put: it’s about making more money. They’re clearly targeting people who use Seal-It, either in their current business or as part of their hobby. By giving them this elusive idea that they can MAKE money from the products they use instantly intrigues them.
They’re not selling a product itself through this ad, instead they’re creating a relationship with the interested reader. This is called lead generation advertising.
The offer here is to become a distributor of Seal-It, and to make money: they’ve made it clear: “Become a Seal-It Distributor and make money now!”
Seal-It did it beautifully: a simple list, clearly stating the benefits… “unlimited earning potential,” “no franchise fees…” – they’ve already stated the solutions to a reader’s potential questions.
4. A guarantee: This is the most powerful, yet rarely, and so poorly used.
Although they don’t state a specific guarantee, the little yellow box stating who they can potentially sell Seal-It too, and the testimonial below the box replaces the guarantee.
They’ve added a clear testimonial – AND an image of the couple. Any form of testimonial will increase trust, and increase sales, but photos of the person whom the testimonial is from will increase sales even MORE.
After all, humans connect better with other humans.
Usually, in direct response marketing, you’ll have a limit on what you’re selling. That limit is in either time the offer is available, amount of appointments/quantity available, or anything that makes people **act now**.
After all, that’s what scarcity is designed to do: scarcity triggers the fear button that every human has.
7. Call to action (CTA)
They’ve made it clear: “Call now for your free information packet!”
Can’t get any clearer than that.
I’ll bet your first reaction of this ad was “there’s too much text in it! Nobody will read it!”
To the contrary, actually. The people who WILL read this ad are PRECISELY the only people the advertiser wants. That’s true for you, that’s true for ANY form or direct response advertising:
This is a real advert written by Ogilvy & Mather, one of the largest marketing firms in the world. Click the ad to read the entire thing.
This is a real advert written by Ogilvy & Mather, one of the largest marketing firms in the world. It’s long, about ten-times longer than the Seal-It ad above, yet, it’s one of their best converting ads of all time. Click the ad to read the entire thing.
This ad is not only written for their perfect client, but it covers ALL 7 elements. They’ve written the ad so well, that even I want to call Ogilvy – and I’m not even in the financial industry!
Here’s the thing: if people aren’t interested in what you have to sell, they won’t read a THING.
But if people ARE interested – they’ll read everything. They’ll soak EVERYTHING UP with a sponge.
And that’s the difference between brand advertising, and direct response advertising. You want to tap into your perfect client’s mind, and push their pain points. This is why you must figure out your perfect client before you write anything for your salon marketing.
Because if you don’t know what your perfect client wants, how can you sell anything to them?
Here’s an example of a direct response ad for the salon industry:
If you have wrinkles, dark-eyes or anything else that dermatitis cream solves – you bet you’d be reading that ad. Chances are, you’d be picking up that phone, too. And that’s what direct response marketing is designed to do:
Get people to pick up the phone and call you.
And to do that, you need to have an irresistible offer. Figure out what you’re going to sell, to whom, and why they should buy from you, and start writing your ad following the 7 elements above.
When your salon marketing is done right, the ad will be ringing: off the hook.
My technical gurus tell me that every month, hundreds of people around the world are going to Google and typing ‘how to market a beauty salon’.
It’s such a simple query, an obvious question, and I’m guessing that almost all of these people are searching for an equally simple ‘silver bullet’ answer. Well, here’s where I let you down; there isn’t one.
There is no ‘one’ answer. BUT…there is a three-part formula, and the formula starts with what I call ‘sales thinking’.
You’ve probably heard of what astrophysicists call the Big Bang Theory. They tell us that several billion years ago, the entire universe was started with a massive explosion, and everything developed from there. (yes, I know, a very unscientific explanation.)
Sales thinking is a bit like the Big Bang Theory. Nothing effective is going to happen until you get absolutely clear about this. Sales thinking has to happen long before you put pen to paper, long before you put up a post or an ad on Facebook, long before you hand over your credit card to Google for ads on their platform, long before you laboriously print thousands of mailbox flyers and get them delivered to every household in your area.
Here are the three ‘Big Bang’ things you need to decide on before you even start marketing your beauty salon:
- Target Market – Who are you trying to attract as customers and clients? What type of people are they, where do they live, what kind of jobs do they have, what age are they, who do they associate with, who else markets their products and services to these people?
- Your Message – what are you going to say to these people that is compelling, that is attractive, that gets them to pick up the phone and book an appointment, or buy whatever you’re selling online, or refer their friends and family to you. In other words, what’s your OFFER.
- The Media – now that you’ve determined your target market, and your compelling message to that target market, which forms of media are best suited to delivering that message to that target market?
In my experience, most owners of beauty salons do this all arse-backwards. They look at say, Facebook and decide “Heck, I’ll put up a post offering a discount.” And somehow, they’re massively disappointed when there’s no stampede of customers battering down their door.
They haven’t asked themselves the question, “What kind of customers do I want – and by extension, what kind of customers do I NOT want?” And then, they fail to craft an offer that’s entirely suited to that chosen market.
(Still with me? Good, because 90% of beauty salon owners will have given up by now, still searching for that easy, simple silver bullet.)
Let’s roll up our sleeves and do some more work (equals thinking!)
You essentially have TWO target markets in your current business.
TARGET MARKET #1
This is your existing list of current and past customers and clients. They already know you, they know your staff, they are familiar with you and your business, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how often they’ve interacted with you.
You know their names, their mobile phone numbers, and if you are doing your job properly, you have their physical addresses, their email addresses, the names of their husbands and children, certainly their date of birth, their likes and dislikes.
In other words, you know a LOT about them. And because you already know them, the offers you present to them are going to be (should be) different from the offers you present to the other target market;
TARGET MARKET #2
These are people you don’t know yet – in other words, your prospective customers.
How you find these people, how they find you, and what offers you present to them so that they become known to you, are entirely different from the clients you already know. And the media you use to reach out to these ‘unknown’ future customers is entirely different from the media you use to reach out to your existing clients.
It would be stupid to run a newspaper ad to present an offer to your existing clients, right? Equally, you can’t use email or SMS to reach your prospects, because you don’t yet have those contact details.
Let’s take your existing clients then. Which form of media should you use to reach out to them? EVERY FORM OF MEDIA YOU HAVE!
Let’s say you have empty appointment slots next week, and you need to fill ‘em fast. Most beauty salon owners think “Okay, well I’ll email ‘em with the offer.” Or “I’ll send out a text message.” Or “I’ll put up a post on Facebook…” Or, “I’ll send ‘em a cute letter in the mail.”
That’s valid, but incredibly limiting. Why not do ALL of that?
Only a small percentage of your clients will get your email (some will go to spam) and even fewer will actually open it. Facebook deliberately limits the number of people who see your posts. SMS gets to most people, but only a small percentage will act on it.
But if you use every available form of media to reach out to your existing list, you dramatically increase your chances of getting a profitable response.
And you should concentrate on marketing to your existing clients, before thinking about attracting new ones. A buyer is a buyer is a buyer. They’ve bought from you once or multiple times, they’ll keep buying from you if a) they like you, b) you’ve given them great value, and c) you keep offering them stuff.
Remember, it’s up to eight times more expensive to get a new customer that it is to sell to an existing customer. But every business loses existing customers, for many reasons. They move towns, they (inconveniently) die. Or they’re wooed by a competitor. Either way, every business needs a constant and steady supply of new blood.
Target Market #2 is an entirely different proposition.
These are people you don’t know, who don’t know you even exist. They have to be able to find you, and once they’ve found you, what they see has to be attractive enough for them to pick up the phone and call you.
Thanks to technology, it is now easier than ever before for people to find you. Forget the Yellow Pages. These days, the new Yellow Pages is Google. If they can’t find you when they do a Google search, they are as sure as hell going to find your competitors. And call them, not you.
(How they find you on Google is a subject that fills entire libraries, so this is not the place for that discussion. However, you can study this yourself in a series of four short videos we’ve created here.)
But relying on Google alone isn’t enough. Not nearly enough. US marketing guru Dan Kennedy puts it like this:
“One year, on vacation in Hawaii, I was relaxing at a beach, watching whales in the distance, when a fisherman, obviously a local, drove up in his pick-up truck. He got out with a dozen fishing rods. Not one. A dozen. He baited each hook, cast all the lines into the ocean, and set the rods in the sand. Intrigued, I wandered over and asked him for an explanation. “It’s simple,” he said. “I love fish but I hate fishin’. I like eatin’, not catchn’. So I cast out 12 lines. By sunset, some of them will have caught a fish. Never all of ’em. So if I only cast one or two I might go hungry. But 12 is enough so some always catch. Usually there’s enough for me and extras to sell to local restaurants. This way, I live the life I want.” The simple fellow had unwittingly put his finger on a powerful secret. The flaw in most businesses, that keeps them always in desperate need—which suppresses prices—is: too few lines cast in the ocean.”
It’s obvious – you’ve got to use as many forms of media as possible to reach that elusive target market.
And technology has made that easier too.
1. Facebook Advertising:
No, not simply posting offers in your timeline – actually paying for advertising on Facebook’s platform. But there needs to be some ‘sales thinking’ behind this too. And advertising on Facebook requires not just sales thinking, but some technical know-how too.
The sales thinking goes like this: what do you want the ad to do? What is your Most Wanted Response from people who see the ad? What ‘target audience’ do you want to see the ad? What part of your website do you want the ad to take them, and what is the offer on that web page?
If you aren’t confident about your skills with Facebook advertising, we have a specific Facebook Advertising campaign that’ll attract more clients and more bookings, just for beauty salons and hair salons. You can fill in the form over on My Social Salon to learn more.
2. Google Adwords:
Adwords is how Google makes 95% of its money. But, like Facebook advertising, it requires some knowledge and technical skills before you go blundering into it. Essentially, the same questions apply to Google ads as they do to Facebook: where do you want the ad to take people, which people do you want to see the ad, what is your offer etc.
2. Database building:
For every one person who picks up the phone after seeing and responding to you ad online, there will be 20, 50, a thousand who don’t pick up the phone. What are you going to do to capture their names and contact details to market to them later? For that, you need some kind of database or software program that can put a form on your website so people can fill it in, in exchange for some kind of free gift or downloadable widget.
Again, that requires some technical skills once the sales thinking has been sorted out.
Contact our office on +61-8-94439327 and we can walk you through that process.
3. Offline marketing:
Contrary to popular belief, offline marketing still works. In fact, works better than it ever did, simply because so few business owners are doing it these days. There’s a vacuum in people’s mailboxes.
Designed with proper Direct Response Marketing principles, a mailbox flyer can and does still work brilliantly, and very cost-effectively.
So do newspaper ads, radio advertising, billboards, and a dozen other offline marketing media – IF they’re done properly.
How to write an effective ad or flyer is another subject that fills seminars around the world, and isn’t the place for this essay.
BUT IF YOU SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS PIECE, you’ll find the best marketing manual ever written for salons & spas, The Starter Pack, that gives you the essentials of direct response marketing – and much of applies to online marketing as well.
So they are some of the essentials – the Market, the Message, and the Media.
But there’s one CRUCIAL element overriding all of the above. I call it the CORNERSTONE of everything you do, the key that unlocks the door to the marketing vault. And that’s your
Unique Selling Proposition.
Scholars, marketing specialists and ad copywriters have been banging on about this for years. Somehow, you MUST find, discover, invent something that differentiates you completely from your competitors and rivals. Otherwise, you’re just another ‘me-too’ business among many me-too business.
History is littered with really outstanding USPs. Tom Monihan built a billion dollar business on the back of “Fresh hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed!”
FedEx’s USP neatly answered the uppermost question in the mind of every single customer wanting to get a package from A to B: “Absolutely, positively overnight.”
A strong, accountable guarantee is a great way to develop your USP, and make you stand out from your competitors. Most business owners flinch from offering a strong, unequivocal guarantee, instead watering it down with ‘weasel words’ like “to claim your guarantee, please turn up at midnight accompanied by both great-grandparents.”
You need something to make yourself stand out – something to make yourself be different. In a previous post, Josh Kallmeyer details what you need to know before you do any marketing for your beauty salon. You must know who your perfect client is, along with what you’re selling, and why they’d buy from you. After all – those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Become the 20% of salons that make it. Better yet – become the 1% of salons and spas who truly thrive. The 1% are the beauty salons who really make bank – and make a lot of it.
Once you have grasped how to market a beauty salon, you’re on your way.