But until recently options for marketing a salon were limited, not easily affordable or reliable. In 2001 when I opened my salon, Spin, in Brooklyn, NY, my choices were; advertise in the local paper, buy a mailing list and print postcards, or offer coupons in a ValPak. I even considered printing flyers and putting them under windshield wipers on the avenue.
I choose what seemed the most tasteful and professional, purchasing a mailing list, designing and printing a postcard, paying the postage, than waiting for the deluge of excited clients to beat down the door. They never did…I had spent thousands of dollars of my much needed start up capital on a direct mail marketing campaign, to learn a crucial lesson. The average rate of return on direct mail was 1%. Unless you were mailing out tens of thousands of postcards, the return was not worth it.
Next, I considered a traditional ad in the local newspaper, which I never actually read or purchased. The options in terms of layout and design, were not very exciting, and did not reflect my brands image. It seemed to me that the only people reading it were seniors, who were not my target market, so I never placed an ad. The saleswoman hounded me for months and it took a very unpleasant discussion to get her off my back.
Thankfully, by this time, Spin had earned a good “word of mouth” reputation and enough new business was coming in the door to keep us afloat. I was also able to add Salon Solutions as our front desk software and begin to compile an email list; this was a game changer for us. Now, I had the power to directly connect with my clients for free, on a regular basis. Being granted “permission” to keep in touch is very powerful. Having every client confirm their email address and that they wanted to receive email messages was a great way to retain and inform existing clients.
By 2007, I had built a healthy and profitable business, and was able to sell Spin to a local stylist who was in a complicated partnership and needed to get out. Around that time the world of small business marketing changed. Social Media began to seep into the everyday lives of consumers. We did not know it yet, but social media would become the most powerful, affordable and accessible tool for marketing any business.
At first, Social Media was purely personal and any marketing was basically SPAM. Remember MySpace and all the jumbled crazy ads that would appear on your profile? I certainly do, it was one of the main reasons Randy Taylor and I created Hairbraine.me, so hairdressers could have a place to share without all the clutter and unrelated distractions.
Over the years, Social Media has grown smarter and extremely targeted in its messaging. Not only can you build a tribe, but also target your marketing toward a specific audience who are looking for what you’re offering. The cost is nominal and in most cases free, but the dedication of time and focus is imperative. Content is king! Photos, videos, blogs and discussions are what fuel the fire and keep the attention focused on your brand.
The game is constantly changing and you must stay informed and active. There are no longer gatekeepers who hold the key to the masses. If you produce quality content, share it freely and engage consistently, you will be able to market your business and services without restriction. New clients will appear at your salon, regular clients will become your raving fans who share your content and your staff will acknowledge that you are driving the business forward.
John Harm’s new group, The Business Side of Beauty, on hairbrained.me is shining much light on the topic of marketing and Social Media. This latest discussion from Chelsea Galaida, is a great conversation starter focused on the current best practices for hairdressers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
In this case, Social Media is not only a tool for marketing, but also a vital resource that connects hairdressers and allows us to share information in a way that wasn’t possible even 6 years ago.
Armed with the right information and drive to share valuable content, you can have an expansive marketing program that will serve as a key driver for your business success.
By Gerard Scarpici, Co-Founder of Hairbrained.me