From social media to traditional print advertising; competitions to newsletters, just how do you get maximum return for minimal budget
Working in beauty is the best job in the world; you get paid to make people look and feel like the best versions of themselves. However, it’s a tough gig. Everyone wants in on this cool career option and competition is high so whether you run your own business or work as a mobile therapist, a marketing plan is key.
“You can have a great treatment menu, a beautiful building and the best staff in the industry, but if no one knows about you, it’s unlikely that you will have many customers,” says Liz McKeon, Beauty Business Expert (lizmckeon.com). “In order to fill your columns, customers need to be able to find you and find out what you do - promotion, advertising and marketing are all essential elements and the more you do, the more successful your salon business will be.” Rather than tackling it in one big go, divide it into sections, monitor what works for you and regularly dedicate a set amount of time to your marketing plan to ensure you’ve always got a steady footfall.
A few years ago this was one of the only ways of spreading the word about your business and gaining visibility for your brand. It can be hard to monitor but there’s nothing like seeing your name in lights.
DO… try a few, affordable local outlets like newspapers, wedding magazines and regional radio, many of which will offer new advertiser promotional rates. Then when a new client comes through your door, ask them how they heard about you and note it down. “Track this and at the end of each month review your findings to find out which promotional activities generated the most new clients, then invest further,” advises Liz. Another way to monitor whether adverts are working is to run a special offer that can be redeemed with a code. If you are advertising in more than one place by using a different code for each advert you can see what is most effective at generating interest.
DON’T… over spend in this area. As a guide, use around 10% of your turnover for advertising and marketing.
WORD OF MOUTH
Nothing is quite as valuable as a recommendation, especially in an industry that’s so personal.
DO… tell you current clients that you’re looking for new clients - and then give them an incentive to pass on the message. “If every client you met last week sent you one new client, that would double your client base very quickly,” says Liz. “Use incentives to help you like: Refer a friend and get 50% off your next service.” Get your team involved at the same time and offer weekly or monthly initiatives for the staff member that brings in most new clients. Things like winning a half day off on a Saturday will soon get them shouting about the business.
DON’T… forget to make the new client incentive a one off offer though. It is a low cost way to get new customers but it is also a big discount. Also ensure that you never waver on your service so both new and existing clients leave feeling happy, looking forward to returning and wanting to recommend you. According to Liz, about 40% of salon business is generated through word of mouth.
For brands, businesses and individuals with little or no marketing budget, social media can be a winning formula to gain awareness, followers and customers.
DO… stay true to yourself and your business. ‘All successful business should have a defined USP (Unique Selling Point),’ says Liz. ‘It's what separates you from the competition and lets your customers know what you do.’ This should be clear across all your social media platforms, so keep things like fonts, borders, filters and image angles consistent.
DON’T… rush into your social media style. Create a mood board, look at what works and what doesn’t in your area of beauty. Work up a stock pile of images and captions before you start posting.
DO… get inspired, but never copy another beauty worker. For help finding your groove try a company like Anchor and Dash (anchoranddash.com), who offer affordable and effective digital marketing strategies for small business owners and anyone flying solo. They will help you identify your brand, work on a strategy and make your social work for you. They even do photography courses to help you snap successfully for the grid.
DON’T… forget to post. Work out the days and times that do well for you over a month. Try posting first thing, at dinnertime, during commuter hours or when the soaps are on…it will vary from business to business. Then prepare your content. Posting regularly is key and you can even use a free scheduler like Buffer.com or Hootsuite.com to help you with your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feed. They also have a free, weekly newsletter for tips and tricks on the ever-changing social scene too.
DO… get current clients involved. Encouraging them to tag you after they’ve had their facial or brows threaded or hair coloured so all their followers can find out who made them look so amazing. You could even create a ‘selfie’ space in your treatment room, clinic or salon with a beautiful background and flattering lighting.
DON’T… be shy. “Find brand ambassadors like bloggers or journalists who cover your area of the beauty industry and invite them to have a complimentary service in exchange for a review. These soon become trusted recommendations and will help your business earn a name for itself. Just be careful to approach the right kind of person - you don’t want someone who’s obsessed with aesthetics if you want to focus on natural and be wary of anyone who wants to charge – authenticity is key. Look for people who you already follow and have targeted followers that suit you and your business.
DO… use social media to show that you are an expert in your field. In your captions, Instagram stories or Facebook videos make potential clients aware of your top tips, training and skills. You could even try things like Q&A sessions.
DON’T… be afraid to keep social small. Research shows that social media can actually be too big – it’s estimated that Facebook registers around 300,000 status updates a minute and 6,000 tweets are sent every second. This doesn’t help smaller businesses or mobile therapists. Your posts get lost. Set up Facebook groups to get your message out to exclusive invitees, try a client newsletter sent via DM on Instagram or email and consider smaller formats like Pinterest.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTS
Advertising on social media is a very cost-effective way to promote your business.
DO… make sure the right people are seeing your adverts. Social media adverts allow you to select the demographics of who you are targeting, you can choose the age, gender and location.
DON’T… set the budget too high. Start off small and see what works best, track the results using the methods listed above under paid advertising.
DO… consider setting up a Facebook Pixel. This is a code you can add to your website to find out more about your audience, it helps you advertise to lookalike audiences, finding similar people to those that already interact with your website as well as target people who have already visited your website.
Don’t… forget to use the channel most suited to you. With lots of gorgeous photos of your work and plenty of before and after images Facebook and Instagram are usually the best way to promote beauty.
COMPETITIONS & PROMOS
DO... take a 365 days of the year approach. “Promote various services, packages, new treatments, retail products and courses all year round,” says Liz. “That way you are guaranteed a steady stream of new and existing clients. Plus, you are promoting your entire range of amazing services, so clients won't ever get bored of your business.”
DON’T… forget all the important dates - Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas and pre and post summer holidays – they’re all natural marketing opportunities for promotions via gift vouchers or offers and are when people like to gift and be gifted!
DO… create loyalty cards – for example book six treatments get your seventh free or half price – you know how much you use those coffee cards? Beauty fans love a freebie too.
DON’T… be overly generous; be realistic. Make stamping clear and monitor clients who consistently forget their card or cancel last minute.
DO… play the competition game. One amazing prize linked to your business can be a way to get a whole load of new followers and clients. Raffles, freebies, partnering with other businesses for a top to toe experience will hook in a crowd.
DON’T… get into trouble with your competition. Keep an eye on the ever changing rules and regulations on each and every social site. As a guide you can find the general UK rules at gamblingcommission.gov.uk and then go to the Prize Competitions section*.