I’ve written a lot, taught a lot, coached a lot on the subject of USP or Unique Selling Proposition. While most of our Worldwide Salon Marketing Members ‘get’ the reasoning behind all the Emotional Direct Response salon marketing ads, flyers, letters and other material in the Simple Salon Marketing manual, very few owners of salons & spas even attempt to understand the importance of having a truly unique message for their prospects and customers, and it’s effect on your salon’s income.
In 1961, famous American advertising executive Rosser Reeves introduced the idea of USP in his book Reality in Advertising.
According to Reeves, there are three requirements for a USP:
1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Each must say, “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.” (Your headline must contain a benefit – a promise to the reader.)
2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. Here’s where the “unique” in Unique Selling Proposition comes in. It is not enough merely to offer a benefit. You must also differentiate your product.
3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the masses, i.e., pull over new customers to your product or service. The differentiation cannot be trivial. It must be a difference that is very important to the reader. (What Reeves was talking about here was making a BIG promise. But not necessarily an expensive one.)
By contrast, so much beauty industry marketing, particularly among average ‘corner store’ hair and beauty salons, is so timid that it disappears, becomes invisible. “Come to us and we’ll make you look much better…” Vague, wishy-washy nonsense.) Now, big companies spend millions, billions of dollars building a strong brand.
There are lots of soft drink manufacturers, many of whom sell a ‘cola’ product. But you can only buy Coke from Coca Cola. Unfortunately, YOU don’t have the kind of money Coca Cola has to build a ‘brand’. So we use ‘guerilla marketing’ methods to achieve differentiation in a USP. One of the best methods I know to create a strong USP is when your product or service has a unique feature, one that competitors can’t boast about. Of course, if you have that advantage, it all becomes pretty easy. Okay, I hear you thinking,
“But what if I’m just an average salon doing pretty much the same kind of stuff as the competition?”
According to Reeves – and I agree – uniqueness can either come from a strong brand (an option 95% of salons can’t use) or from a claim not otherwise made in that particular form of advertising. And that’s what you should be doing in your salon.
In other words, saying something about your business or service that others could be saying, but aren’t!
It’s called Making the Invisible Visible.
Here’s an example of that process in action:
For years, Schlitz brewing company dominated the market by ‘telling the story’ of how they made their beer. No different from the way everybody else made their beer, but they ‘made the invisible visible’.
Decades ago (there’s nothing much NEW in this concept) Milwaukee’s famous Schlitz brewing company went from nowhere to market leader when they started ‘telling the story’ of how they made their beer, in painstaking detail. Ironically, they made their beer exactly the same way every other brewer made beer, but crucially, nobody else was telling the story.
There’s another VERY large advantage to taking this approach. I call it ‘claiming the high ground’. Once you’ve done it, your competition is left to look like followers instead of leaders if they copy you. Famously, Reeves crafted a USP for M&Ms – ‘It melts in your mouth, not in your hand’ – that had the opposition chasing them for decades, and is still in use today. What could the competition do, run an ad that said “we also melt in your mouth, not in your hand”? I don’t think so.
If you’re a reasonably intelligent salon owner (in other words, one of the few who understand that the money’s in the marketing, not in the product or service) then you might have picked up on a couple of crucial lessons in this post.
Creating a USP is not necessarily about how good your product or customer service is. Everybody claims they provide ‘great customer service’. Big deal. As you can see from the examples I’ve quoted here (Schlitz and M&Ms) they didn’t talk about how good their product was. Instead, they talked about stuff that was actually peripheral to what was in the bottle (or the box). So, think: what can you say about your business that is unique (or perceived to be unique), that either cannot be said or isn’t being said about a rival salon? And remember, it’s not about you, the business, or the product – a truly ‘sticky’ USP is always about the customer, and the benefit to that customer.
Here’s ONE way for a salon to create a truly Unique Selling Proposition:
First, write a LIST of things that aggravate and annoy (your potential) customers. For example,
Being kept waiting
Getting shoved from one therapist/stylist to another
Dirty, unhygienic floors, rooms etc
No parking nearby
(You can and should be able to make a LONG list of things that pee people off about salons.)
Second, pick at least ONE of these, and provide a GREAT answer to it.
Example: one of our Member salons decided that what annoyed her mostly middle-aged clients was going to a salon and being served by therapists or stylists barely out of their teens. So she came up with a cracker of a USP: “You know what it’s like when you visit a salon and you’re thrown in with an inexperienced junior? Well, at (salon name) the average age of our staff is thirty eight, with an average experience of 15 years! So you can rest assured your skin is being looked after by people who know what they’re doing!”
No meaningless blather about ‘Our customer service is exceptional’ or ‘We’ve won the industry’s top awards’. Just stuff that matters to the customer.
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We all want customer loyalty; it’s a solid foundation for growth. I thought it would be prudent to take a look at how to make loyalty programs more valuable to you and your clients.
According to a recent study by research group Neilsen,
“Disloyalty levels are on the rise among the world’s consumers, with just 8% of people considering themselves to be committed loyalists when it comes to their favourite brands, according to a global consumer study conducted by global measurement company, Nielsen.
Nielsen’s Global Consumer Loyalty demonstrates that consumers are actively on the lookout for new brands as the gamble of buying new products is de-risked by levers such as rising income levels in developing markets. A significant 42% of global consumers say they love trying new things and nearly a further half (49%) of consumers – whilst preferring to stick with what they know – can be moved to experiment.”
So it’s more important than ever to develop some kind of “sticky” loyalty program to keep your salon & spa clients close to you.
According to Nielsen, there is a better way to build a mousetrap, in this case, a program that ensures stronger loyalty, as well as profits.
This intriguing study says that giving clients what they want for rewards isn’t always the best idea, if you’re looking to increase profit margins.
The point is to develop a customer loyalty program that gives clients strong rewards and builds your bottom line. To achieve that, you have to ask yourself a critical question: What do you want your loyalty program to accomplish?
Nielsen outlines what consumers want most and least in a loyalty program and it gives you some real insight for developing or expanding your own program.
Almost every salon owner’s worst nightmare; getting so sick that you’re forced ‘off the tools’ for an extended period. For most, it would be a financial disaster.
But for Anita Clements of Twisted Desire salon in Brisbane, a sudden and debilitating illness that left her bedridden for weeks has been a…
As Anita relates in this 5-minute interview, her salon – with only three staff – made $3,000 MORE money in a week. And sales are continuing to go UP, not down, as she was forced to concentrate on the business, not cutting hair. Here’s how it happened:
Now, for just ONE DOLLAR, you can TEST DRIVE the exact same system Anita used to boost her salon’s sales and profits
Want to bring in a PILE of cash to your beauty or hair salon business, but don’t know where to start?
Louise Adkins of Lavish Skin in Benalla, Victoria has been a Member of WSM’s Client Attraction System for 10 years, but she’d never tried selling memberships to her clients like this before.
In this video, Louise describes how she followed the Membership strategy, added a few flourishes of her own, downloaded one of the Salon Membership Promotion Templates from the Client Attraction System– and got to work!
Result: $31,000 in one-day sales, plus more to come.
Here’s how she did it…
Now, for just ONE DOLLAR, you can TEST DRIVE the exact same system Louise uses to drive her salon’s marketing.
In the Melbourne suburb of Berwick, Leiza Cester’s Allura Hair Boutique gets more than 120 calls every month from prospective clients finding her in a Google search. In Hobart, Tasmania, Effie Tsopoulos’ Escape Beauty Lounge gets more than 150 calls every month from prospective new clients.
If YOU aren’t getting that kind of response from your website, watch this video…
Most salon websites have a series of crucial errors that make it hard for your prospective clients to interact with you. Take a look at your own website, both in a computer browser, and on your phone.
Imagine you’re looking at it from a customer’s point of view. (In other words, forget about the pretty stuff at the moment, and concentrate on function, not form.)
Let’s imagine your prospective new client is sitting on a bus, or on the couch, and they’re browsing the web, looking for a hair salon nearby. Typically, they’ll Google ‘Hair salon’ and the name of the suburb or locality they’re in.
If you’re Search Engine Optimization is working properly, they’ll find your website on the first page of search results.
If your Google My Business Listing is prominent – in the ‘Big Three’ at the top of the search results – she might do one of two things; click on the ‘click to call’ button if she’s on her phone, or click on the website link if she’s on a tablet or laptop.
Let’s say she goes through to your website on her phone or tablet. Is your phone number prominent at the top of the website? Is it ‘hot’ so she can simply touch it and it calls your salon?
If not, that’s a problem. Rule #1 – don’t make it hard for people to find your phone number!
Is your site ‘mobile responsive’?
In other words, when you look at it on your phone, do you get the mobile version of the site, or the full desktop version? If it’s the full desktop version, that’s a problem. Remember, 60% or more people do their initial searching on their phones.
If your salon’s website is almost impossible to read on a tiny phone screen, that’s a FAIL!
Google will eventually punish you for that, dropping your site down in the search rankings. So, Rule #2 – your site MUST be mobile responsive.
What about all the visitors to your site who almost call you…but don’t quite? Somehow, you need to capture their contact details so you can market to them later. One of the best ways to do this is to offer some kind of free gift – say, a $20 Gift Voucher – that they can download in exchange for their name and contact details.