There are more marketing tools available today than ever before. Which ones will help – or hurt – your hair and beauty salon in retaining and finding customers?
While it may seem smart to take a ‘shotgun’ approach to marketing – using as many different tools and methods as possible to see what works – experienced salon owners know that a more strategic approach is more cost-effective and successful in the long run.
So, as the owner of an up-and-coming hair and beauty salon, what marketing tools are worth your time and attention? To find out, we talked to salon owner Cortney Campus of STYLE Downtown in Pensacola, FL for some insights.
Newspaper display ads and clippable coupons were a beauty salon staple for many years. These days, as with many traditional print and broadcast advertising mediums, their value has diminished along with circulation numbers.
However, that doesn’t mean a strategically targeted print advertising campaign will have no benefit. Especially when announcing a grand opening or any other large event or promotion, adding newspaper display ads and coupons to the marketing mix can help attract new customers. This is especially true if your salon targets seniors.
TV and radio have likewise become far less beneficial in recent years, but, pitched right, both still have the capacity to boost awareness of a grand opening or seasonal promotion.
Be sure to weigh the relatively high cost of these traditional methods against the potential benefits before investing what will be a large portion of your marketing budget.
Digital marketing tools
The use of digital marketing methods is far more common and cost-effective today.
Social media channels – especially Facebook and Instagram – have a huge impact on local customer acquisition and loyalty in the hair and beauty business. Beauty salons’ target demographic tends to be highly active on social media and heavily invested in their cell phones.
Becoming active and visible on social media helps encourage new customers to try out your salon and keeps current customers excited about returning. Check out why more than 27,000 people follow Style Downtown’s Pinterest page.
Ideas that have proven helpful to salon owners in recent years include:
- Making a habit of posting before-and-after pictures of satisfied customers on Instagram and/or Facebook
- Conducting contests and giveaways on either platform to generate foot traffic and word-of-mouth advertising
- Creating valuable content (perhaps via a blog on the salon’s website) and promoting it through social media
- Encouraging satisfied customers to post ‘salon selfies’ on social platforms to share their new ‘do with friends
- Investing in software to automate email and SMS marketing efforts to encourage customers to return with special offers. (Also a great tool for appointment reminders!)
- Exploring the numerous hair- and beauty-related mobile apps available on Apple and Android platforms that your customers may be using. They could offer valuable, targeted advertising opportunities
- Location-based mobile marketing offering specials to individuals walking by the salon
A loyalty program can be a high-tech offering utilizing a custom mobile app, or it could be as simple as a hand-punched card customers bring back with them each time they visit.
While offering a discount for first-time customers sometimes works as an incentive to get them in the door, many salons have found that offering a significant discount off the second visit nets them a greater number of long-term repeat customers. The reason is that most brand-new visitors to your salon will be there because their current hairdresser was unavailable at the time they needed a haircut or beauty treatment – they’re willing and able to pay full price to get those services today rather than waiting until tomorrow.
However, they likely intend to go back to their usual hairdresser the next time, assuming they’re available. By offering a discount on the second visit, you provide enough incentive to give your salon a second shot.
If they’re happy with how they look when you’re finished, and they have a similarly positive experience the second time around – and this time for a far lower price – they’re much more likely to stick with you in the long term.
Your hair and beauty salon should absolutely have a website that clearly accomplishes all of the following goals:
- Provide accurate contact information and operating hours
- Humanize the business by introducing owners, staff, and support team members with pictures and brief bios
- Share testimonials from satisfied clients
- Optimize for local search
- Allow clients to book services directly from the website via desktop or mobile
A site can be as basic or as complex as your market demands, which is why it's important to understand your market, and prepare a site that's suitable for them.
If you're technology savvy, and don't mind turning your hand to a little design work, then you can always put a rudimentary site together yourself with services like WordPress, Square Space or Wix.
If, however, you require something a little more complex, or lack the patience and time to set your own website up, you should look to engage a web design agency, or some top freelancers.
Once you've got your site up and running, getting traffic to your site is your next challenge.
Don't rely on social media platforms as a place to house all of your precious content. Just as MySpace was once the largest social media platform from 2005-2009, even the mighty fall.
Word of mouth
For all the undeniable power of effective SEO and use of social media, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising still has an important role to play in a one-on-one service business like hairstyling.
Encourage your happiest clients to share their experience with friends. Offer creative and valuable incentives such as referral rewards, discounts for special ‘bring a friend’ events, product giveaways for social media mentions, or anything else that encourages word-of-mouth referrals.
Then, as with any marketing tool, focus on providing the very best possible customer experience once someone walks through your door. That is, by far, the most effective way to build and grow a successful hair and beauty salon.
If you’re interested in purchasing your first beauty salon or adding another location, check out our current listings here . And if you’re already running a salon, leave a comment below about which of our tips you have already used, and to what effect, and which marketing tools you plan to test next.