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A long-standing salon insurance customer of Salon Gold, Hellen Ward takes us on a salon marketing masterclass.
Most salon owners that I know are multi-talented – they have to be considering all the different hats they wear in their job roles. As well as most of them running a busy column of clients, which can be stress-inducing at the best of times, they often put their job as businessman or woman on the back burner in an attempt to fit it in to their ‘day job’.
After all, running your team means putting your HR hat on, examining your turnover involves your finance hat, and when it comes to negotiating your expenditure, you find yourself turning into an accountant; all on top of dealing with the day to day problems that managing a salon brings with it.
All those jobs take huge amounts of valuable time, but if we don’t spend crucial time on marketing, we can’t ever really hope to drive our businesses forward. Brilliant marketing is how we grow and develop – but not many of us (myself included) have any specific qualifications when it comes to this element of our jobs. We’ve had to learn it as we’ve gone along. Moreover, it’s something that we increasingly bring in-house rather than outsource, so trying to become more skilled in it is essential.
When time is precious and our roles are multi-faceted, prioritising marketing can sometimes be the last thing on the list, especially if you’re in the thick of it, ‘fire-fighting’. But spending time on this element of our jobs is vital to keeping our brands invigorated. So how do we get better at selling ourselves? After all, that’s all marketing is!
I’ve leant the hard way that it’s one of the things on my to-do list that can never be fully ticked, because it needs constant nurturing. There are five key elements which, in my opinion, need plenty of consistent TLC.
Check out your e-presence
Like it or not, our websites are our shop windows. Find out how easy you are to track down online. The more generic your salon/brand name is, the harder you will be to find. For instance, Serenity Spa is a great name for a beauty salon – so much so that thousands of others think so too! And that’s not great when you’re a customer trying to find a salon. I always advise to use either your own name, or find a domain that is bullet-proof (yours and yours alone), even if it means re-branding.
Or beige, or however you want to term it. Anything anodyne will invariably make people disconnect with you. Bland isn’t sexy, or appealing. Better to have a strong sense of what you are than to be a ‘me-too’ salon. Marmite is good – bland isn’t. Don’t be scared to specialise and scream what you do best. Some people will like you (great) and some won’t (not so great), but think supermarkets… who is performing well? The high end, for sure, but so are the basic brands. And the ones in the middle that don’t really know which they are and aren’t clear which category they fit into? Mostly struggling, and concerned for the future. There’s a lesson there for us all!
Humanise your business
Often salon owners have great stories, but invariably when I go to their home pages there’s boring, generic text and don’t offer the visual that makes people want to connect – other people! Customers like a brand story – they want to see the owners, the team, hear about how it all started, get a feel for the salon and make an instant connection with it. After all, statistics tell us we have six seconds only to grab their attention, so giving ourselves a strong USP from the get-go is critical. How compelling is your website? Does it say what you need it to in that short time-frame? If not, change it.
Keep it simple
Successful marketing is all about spelling it out. Don’t be cryptic. Ditch the vague. Get rid of the ambiguous. Follow the rules whenever you are talking about products and services, especially if you are working on promotional material. Have a rule in your head which says, ‘if my marketing couldn’t explain this to a 10 year old then it’s too complicated’. Follow the steps:
- What is it?
- Why do I need it?
- How much is it?
- When, where and how can I get it?
Strengthen your strengths
It’s tempting to spend time working on marketing products and services that are underperforming in an attempt to boost your turnover. It’s human nature to try and fix what isn’t working. But if time is limited, its far more productive to work on building the bits of your business that customers are telling you you’re best at! Further growing and developing something which is already strong not only puts more money in your till and gives your customers more of what they want, but this is also how you ultimately find your USP (Unique Selling Point). Working on offering more choice and selection on things you do that are already successful is a far more fruitful use of your time.
Great marketing isn’t easy. Finding a style, ‘tone of voice’ and brand image to give you a unique ethos and create a brand in an already crowded marketplace is hard. But trying to be like everyone else will never lead to real success, so don’t be afraid to really communicate clearly – sell yourself and what you do best and find a style that works for you, and ultimately, your customers!