What strategies do you use to bring business into your salon? Many owners and stylists make the mistake of throwing too much of their marketing efforts into winning new clients, either through advertising via traditional media or search engine marketing.
Focusing mostly on new clients sounds like a good idea, until you realize just how much your salon or spa could grow if every new customer who has ever walked through the door became a permanent addition to your book of business. Retaining your customers is just as important as gaining new ones, and it costs significantly less to keep a client than to gain one.
But you can’t just rely on good service to keep customers coming back to your chair. You may think your talent is unparalleled, but cost-conscious salon customers can be lured away by a competitor with a discount. Once you’ve won them, you have to keep winning them. After you’ve done a great job for your customer, what else can you do to turn that first-timer into a loyal fan?
1. Stay top of mind.
Let’s say it’s been a few months since that customer’s first visit. Your client decides it’s time for another cut, but she can’t quite remember the name of your salon. So she turns to Google or Yelp to look for salons in her area and ends up at a competitor. You’re not likely to ever see that customer again.
Brand awareness is absolutely vital for any small business because you depend heavily on name recall. Building that awareness takes effort, but the increase in repeat business is well worth it.
The best return on your marketing investment will come from email and social media, where you have an opportunity to keep your name in front of your contacts on a regular basis. The key to using email for top-of-mind awareness is to deliver content that is consistent, relevant and helpful.
To build your email database, make it easy for first-timers to book appointments online with their email addresses via your website. For walk-ins and phone appointments, offer them a new customer discount at checkout if they sign up for your email list. You can also host a sign-up form on your site; be sure to include an incentive (“Get exclusive beauty tricks in your inbox twice a month!”) or else your form will gather dust.
Now it’s time to start planning your communication strategy. How do you stay top of mind without annoying your contacts?
2. Be relevant and engaging.
Once you have a growing database, your awareness strategy should be to balance regular contact with content your customers actually care about. Don’t send repeated sales pitches and updates about your business; this kind of “me” focused content encourages unsubscribes. Instead, provide information that helps or entertains the reader, ideally while reinforcing your position as a beauty expert worthy of your customers’ limited time and attention.
For example, we recently sent a campaign about easy, on-trend braid ideas for our salon customers, coordinating across email and social media to ensure it reaches as many eyeballs as possible.
Try writing/posting about topics that establish your expertise across a range of subjects, from skincare to nails to all-around wellness and relaxation. Be creative and always stay focused on what your customers want to read about.
And pay attention to frequency. While email campaigns should be sent no more than once every week or two, your social pages need a lot more attention. Feel free to mix in content from reliable third-party sources with your own original content on your Facebook and Twitter pages so they always stay updated.
Another easy way to keep your social pages full of engaging content is to show off your best work. The beauty business is naturally focused on visuals and aesthetics, so take advantage of the more visual social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to highlight your best, most striking customer case studies. Before-and-after posts are especially great for showcasing your talent.
3. Incentivize customer referrals.
One of the major benefits of a retention-focused marketing strategy is the potential increase not just in repeat business, but in referral business as well. All it takes is a little extra effort. There are plenty of ways to [link to referral post] generate referrals from past customers, but offering an incentive is a powerful motivator.
We recently launched a summer-themed referral campaign for our salon customers, which offered a chance to win a $500 backyard makeover from Home Depot.
These campaigns pull double duty: They increase brand awareness with current customers by acting as another non-intrusive touch on top of your regular content, and they increase your reach to drive new business.
Simply asking your current customers for referrals, whether online or in person, can often be effective. The reward for delivering content your customers can’t wait to read is that they now want to refer their friends to you. You’ve built a positive relationship with them, and it’s time to reap the benefits.
When you stay in touch with your clients and prove your relevance to them via amazing content, you’re building a type of loyalty that can’t be bought with advertising. It takes an ongoing commitment to establishing yourself as a beauty expert, including a regular pace of both original and third-party content distribution, and that takes discipline and time. If you want the benefits of awareness marketing without the effort, we’re here to help.
Bonus Content: Getting referral business doesn’t have to be challenging. Grab your copy of our pocket guide: 10 Steps to Getting Referrals Leads from Your Clients.