Marketing is effective and it works, but like everything else in your business life, it needs to be well organised, clearly thought out, and managed properly, if it’s going to be effective and deliver a return on investment. 

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It’s fair to say that many hair, beauty, and wellness businesses are still not focused on marketing, and the salon industry is very patchy when it comes to looking at how businesses promote themselves. Generally, salon businesses - like many other business sectors - fall into three main categories. First, there are those that do very little or even no marketing at all. Then there are those who use marketing as a reaction to circumstances e.g. things are quiet and income is down, so they become more active to try and recover incomes by offering deals. And lastly, there are those that see marketing as integral to their business and have a structured approach to it, measure the effect of it, and continually look for ways to improve it. 

Of course, the latter is the best option. So what’s the problem? And why aren’t all hair, beauty, and wellness businesses focused on it? After all, you’re in a competitive market, you need to generate sales, and you provide services and products that people want and value. 

Three main reasons why salons don’t engage fully in marketing is 1. a lack of understanding of marketing itself, how it works, and what to do i.e. expertise, 2. is time and 3. is resource i.e. marketing is labour and skills intensive and expensive.

Technology, like our free appointment scheduling software, online resources such as Google, and social media platforms are changing all of that. More than ever before salon businesses can and should promote their products, services, and offers both affordably and efficiently. 

Here, we’ve put together 7 simple tips to get you thinking differently about how a fresh marketing approach can transform your business potential.

Understand what marketing is, challenge your perception of it and know what you want to achieve from it 

Ultimately, marketing is about selling. But how you do it and arrive at the destination ‘sale’ matters. Sales promotions, offers, and incentives are an important part of your marketing mix, but why not try to look at marketing from a wider perspective?

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If you see marketing purely as a sales mechanism, all your campaigns will be based around trying to sell something now to someone who either doesn’t want it or need it now. Remember, people buy on their terms, not yours. If you’re a reactive marketer who uses marketing in response to circumstances, people won’t buy something just because you need to sell it today – they’ll respond only if it relates to their need or want at the time you happen to be promoting it. 

Also, this approach tends to focus on discounts alone. But why should you discount, and why should your marketing centre on that one thing? If you deliver high-quality services that are built on decades of training, expertise, and trust, continually cutting prices could devalue your brand, so it’s important to get balance in your salon marketing. Use discounts tactically, not universally.

Seeing marketing as a method of informing clients, giving them choice, and adding value to your relationship with them is a different thing altogether. Marketing is all about effective communications that keep your clients informed, educated, and inspired whilst ensuring your business is always front of mind. It’s not just about offering deals.    

Achieving a good marketing mix is the best way to achieve this. As a brief summary here’s what your marketing plan should ideally do for you:

  • Generate awareness: potential clients need to know you’re there, so you need to be on the radar in your local area
  • Create understanding: There are lots of hair, beauty, and wellness businesses in your area, so people need to know what your business specialises in and offers, what makes it different and why they should come and try it
  • Position your expertise: Demonstrate that you understand your craft and how this relates to the needs and expectations of your clients, and community. Introduce your team, showcase what they specialise in and share how they’re helping people look and feel their best. This ensures potential clients identify with your business on a personal and emotional level
  • Offers: Incentives to retain the loyalty of clients, attract new ones and boost sales are an important part of your plan
  • Results: To evolve your marketing approach, you need to know what works and what doesn’t work, so you can build on your successes, take ineffective tactics out of your plan altogether, or adapt them.

Create a marketing plan

It’s said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail so, make sure you’re organised and have a marketing plan in place. Whilst there are literally hundreds of tactics and strategies to overwhelm your marketing senses, keep it simple and manageable. It’s better to do a few things very well and be consistent than to try to do too many things, fail or even stop. 

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As a general rule your marketing plan should follow ‘SMART’ objectives - simple rules to keep you on track and ensure you have a sound marketing approach:

S = specific, M = measurable, A = achievable, R = relevant, T = time-based 

Specific: 

Set out what you want to achieve from your marketing and ensure your plan meets those objectives. 

For example, one aim might be to increase client loyalty. In this case, you could look at following up every appointment to see how your client felt about their experience, and if there were any issues or things that could have improved it. In the event they’re not entirely satisfied you can invite them back to correct the issue. If they’re happy but haven’t rebooked, you can offer an incentive to encourage them to. Remember, these campaigns are easily activated using marketing tools. 

One objective might be to run seasonal and event-led campaigns such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas. Here, you could design bundles, romance packages-for-2, and gift experiences to promote in advance. Using email marketing and text messaging will help you to easily implement these campaigns and evaluate their effectiveness.  

Another specific aim might be to win back 50% of clients that have not returned. Again, you can use reports to track this and reach out to non-returning clients to encourage, and where necessary incentivise, them back.

A social media aim could be to increase your Instagram fanbase from 1,000 to 1,500 within 3 months. Come up with a plan to make sure you achieve this specific aim whilst making sure your new followers are relevant to your business. This could include simple activities like asking your clients to follow you, connecting with local businesses such as bridal shops, boutiques, and restaurants and sharing ideas to help each other grow, or creating social competitions such as “Follow us on Instagram and win a hair and beauty makeover worth £x”. You can also invite people to comment and share, which makes these kinds of ideas more interactive and engaging. For example: ‘Simply follow us, share/repost and comment to tell us why you’d love to win this amazing prize!’ 

Remember to involve your team, as this develops team cohesion and ensures they support the plan, know it, and are invested in its success.

Measurable:

Some forms of marketing, such as print advertising, are harder to measure in terms of response but where possible, you should be able to measure your activity and say ‘As a result of doing that, we achieved this.’ 

For a print ad this might be in terms of OTS (Opportunities to See) which is basically the circulation and readership it reaches, but most digital and social activity is very measurable. For each campaign, try to ascertain its potential reach and then look at the results to establish effectiveness. Our marketing emails and text messaging can be easily measured for results and reports will help you track the outcome. You should also look at Google Analytics and your social media insights to see the effect of your marketing campaigns and determine which were the most successful.

Achievable:

Create a set of marketing activities that are achievable and realistic. For example, a blog might be part of your plan, but don’t commit to 10 blogs per week if you don’t have the time or resources to achieve it. And when it comes to social media, look at setting goals in terms of the content mix and the number of posts and stories you can realistically maintain. Having a plan that’s achievable is important to keep on track.

Relevant:

When creating your marketing plan, make sure that activities and campaigns are consistent with your values and long-term objectives. So, if it’s your goal to become the No.1 colour salon in your area, build your marketing plan around this goal so your marketing activity supports and helps you achieve this end result.

Time-based:

Timing is so important to make sure your marketing plan is implemented to maximum effect. Setting launch dates, prioritising tasks, and assigning responsibility is so important. For example: if you have a Valentine’s Day campaign, make sure you launch it at the right time to generate maximum awareness, interest, and sales. Launching it on the day is probably a little too late!

Implement your marketing plan

When you’ve settled on your plan, take or assign responsibility to ensure it is implemented and managed effectively.

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Most marketing plans will span a number of areas such as your website, social media, and PR, and many can and should be activated via your software. Make sure you promote your campaigns across as many available channels and platforms as possible to maximise their reach and return on investment. This may also include in-salon marketing and point-of-sale, as well as more traditional forms of marketing as local advertising.

Evaluate the effect and results

Once you’ve activated a campaign, such as Valentine’s Day promotion, ensure you review and evaluate it.

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Look at the results i.e. how many people did it reach, what was the response, and what results did it achieve? This is vital to build on its success and to see what can be applied to benefit or improve future campaigns.

Evolve and adapt to keep your marketing fresh 

Whilst there are some features of your marketing plan that will always be consistent, such as the seasonal and event-based campaigns, don’t settle for doing the same thing year in, year out.

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It’s important to look outside of your business, see what the latest trends are, ask clients if they’re looking for anything you don’t already do, and use your imagination to continually refresh your marketing calendar. 

Again, involving your team is a great way to get ideas based on their discussions with clients, friends, and colleagues. 

Don’t overlook the obvious in search of something unique

Sometimes you can scratch your head trying to think of a really unique marketing idea, but don’t overlook the obvious in search of something original. Especially when marketing success is right there with our simple-to-use marketing tools and premium marketing features.

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We have simplified marketing tasks by offering intuitive, easy-to-implement, and automated marketing features. Setting up SMS text and email appointment reminders, following up appointments, and using the platform’s blast marketing feature is at your fingertips. 

Why not run a colour promotion to clients who come in for a cut and style, but have never had a colour service for example? Or how about setting up your online store using the new Fresha Store feature to introduce colour clients to your colour care products? Inviting clients who’ve not experienced your beauty services to try a facial or waxing service could also be an important feature of your plan. And if you introduce a new product, service or treatment, make sure you add it to your marketing plan to launch it. 

Similarly, using Reports to identify non-returning clients and win them back is proving highly effective for partners. 

These are all part of the marketing mix and they can, and do, result in gaining income ground, which is the lifeblood of any business. 

Maximise your website, social media, and online potential 

Saving the equally important to last, your website, social media, and online approach are vital. 

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Your website projects your image, tells your story, positions your expertise, and introduces your salon, services, and team. Get a website that excites existing and potential clients, and inspires them to tell others. Add a blog to position your expertise and show that your finger’s on the pulse of the latest trends and treatment techniques. Link Fresha with a booking button to generate online appointments and make sure you push your latest offers and campaigns.

Use social media effectively too. Time content and stories in line with your marketing plan and add active links back to your website and Fresha account to fill your calendar! On Instagram, which doesn’t support active links in your content, use a free resource like https://linktr.ee as your bio link so visitors can click to your website or book an appointment, as well as using the ‘Link’ feature in your stories.

Finally, setting up a business profile on Google and using things like reviews ensures that you show up in local searches, and make your way up the rankings. The likelihood is that people living or moving into your area to live or work will search for a salon, spa, or barbers just like yours on Google, so get in the game and play to win wherever and however you can.