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Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's Personal

     I had an exchange this week with a company on Facebook that was pretty much textbook brand marketing at it’s finest. I was scrolling through my feed when I saw a photo on their page with a not so neat polish job and cuticles a mess. I thought about it for a minute and asked myself with all the non professional bloggers kicking our behinds with their amazing work why would a manufacturer post a picture like this? So I did what anyone else would do, I called them on it. 

Here is the exchange.
Dear anonymous nail lacquer company. As a professional nail artist, just a piece of unsolicited advice...make sure your nail photos are pristine. Taking the extra time to make sure the cuticles are crisp will increase your brand authority, ending with a smiley face. Which is the equivalent of saying bless her heart but…you can pretty much say anything you want after that, especially if you’re from the south.
I wasn’t expecting a response and didn’t get one for three days when this popped up in my messages.
Hi Millie, we truly appreciate (and agree with) the feedback. Most of our images are actually supplied by the fans and other nail artists; so we don't get to control the nuances as we would if purchasing professional photos/designs. Speaking of that - if you are ever interested in doing some nail art and sharing we would love to send you some polish! Anonymous Nail lacquer company for the win.
I responded.. Oh sorry my bad. I didn't check to see who uploaded the photo. I'd love to play with your polish! You can send it to and I included my address. And thanked them.
I went back to their page and didn’t notice a water mark anywhere on the photo, but have to take their word for it.
      So, how do you respond to a negative review or remark?  Studies show a client that has been converted from unhappy to happy can be your biggest fan. Clients want to know they are not just a number or a time slot, they want to know you care. Have you noticed a few clients gone missing from your schedule?  Have you contacted them? I know sometimes it can be daunting, but wouldn’t you like to know if there is some small thing you can do to win back their business?  It takes way less time and money keeping and gaining back a current client than getting new ones.
Scroll back through your client schedule and take note of those clients that have mysteriously disappeared.  If you’re brave enough, call them.  Something like Hi dear lost client, I haven’t seen you in a while and was just thinking about you. I’m calling to make sure you are alright and there wasn’t something I failed to do for you as your beauty provider, then shut up. Sometimes they will tell you the real story, which hopefully can be rectified with a simple conversation. Sometimes they won’t and that’s ok too. At least you made the effort, took notice they had gone missing and told them you were thinking of them. If you can get them back in your chair, more power to you. If not, thank them for their support of you and your business in the past and let them know if their situation ever changes you would love to welcome them back, that is if you want them, and we all have those few we don’t.
Make sure you are constantly managing your client data base. Try not to send an impersonal we miss you email or text offering a discount to come back. Pick up the phone, make it personal, because that’s smart marketing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Are You Making a Living or Making a Difference?

     In this ever competitive world with a salon on just about every corner, only the strong survive. So what is it you are doing to be strong? To survive and not only that, thrive? I had a young girl come into the salon Saturday and I thought I recognized her but I was heading to the back room. I had finished early for the day and was helping with towels before I left. I heard the owner say Oh, you’re with Millie? I came back out and recognized the young girl was one of my clients daughters home from school and she claimed her mom had made an appointment with me. I double checked my schedule, she could have made one online but my phone usually alerts me. Just as she pulled out her phone to check with her mom I said, no biggie, I have time and stayed to cut her hair. She is a young college student and I drew her into conversation about school, her classes, her dorm , her world. I spent extra time drying and beach waving her hair, something I know she would not take the time to do herself and she loved it. I thanked her and wished her luck at school and safe travels. After I called her mom and asked if she had maybe had an old card with an old number and we figured out she had called the old number and asked if anyone had time to cut her. She was booked at my old salon.  The point of my story is the girl drove to me, I am her hairdresser.  She automatically assumed her mom made the appointment with me. What are you doing to be the only beauty professional in your clients mind. How are you different? How are you providing service no one else can or will? This incident really got me thinking. Why do my clients come to me? Yes I have been a professional over 30 years and have many skills, many more I try and keep up with. But is that it? A few of my recommendations on StyleSeat are as follows.

"Millie is skilled and efficient. It is reassuring to know that your nail technician is a true professional trained to do nails. "
My first appointment with Millie was awesome - what an awesome experience! It was relaxing and a lot of fun - I look forward to seeing her again soon for my next appointment! I can't wait to try out all the artistic and unique nail designs Millie can offer! A true artist! =)"
But this one really got me.
Millie is a fist class professional women with great ethics. She is a wonderful human being!!!! "
To be the difference you have to make a difference in your clients lives. I was reading something the other day that talked about not separating our spiritual life from our work life. Many of you know I truly consider my work a ministry and one of my gifts connecting with people. I thought about this long and hard and decided to pray for my clients. I know some people may be offended by this and that’s ok. If you don’t pray, send good Karma, surround them in light, whatever your spiritual being guides you to do. I have the business and the clients I have for a reason. They are in my life for a reason and I know I am in theirs for one. A client shared with me her son was in an accident a few months ago but what I didn’t realize  and she just recently shared was that he was incarcerated for the accident. There is a ministry at my church for families who have a loved one in jail. I shared this with her, even looked up the number, called her with it and offered to accompany her if she was uncomfortable going alone.  Was that coincidence? I think not. So for me, its not just about the money, or cranking as many clients a week out I can. It’s about sharing our gifts, beauty is only one of them.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Are You Getting Buzzed?

     Generating a buzz around your salon is a sure fire way to gain new clients. Creating a buzz is different than marketing. Creating a buzz is about reaching out to the media and in turn reaching their readers.  P/R, public relations is about relationships. Building relationships with key media players will build your business. Offering content is the name of the game, the media is always looking for great content. Map out your business media vision plan. How do you want to be perceived in the media? What do you want the public to know about you. What do you want to be known for? If you’re truly serious put together a press kit. You can put this together on a DVD or have a link to your press kit on your website and direct the press there. To get started, it should contain an introductory letter, telling them about you, a brief overview of your business and that you would be happy to be of service to them. Include what sets you apart, your Unique Selling Points. Have copies of any press you have already had along with any awards you have received. Include contact information, business card and a current press release. Make sure to include high quality images of your work and your salon. Oh and don’t forget to spellcheck and edit for grammatical errors that spell check doesn’t pick up.  As a former owner I sent out a press release every season. Themed services got a lot of attention, my Chocolate covered cherry pedicure, and Pina colada pedicure got press and brought in new clients. Partnering with charity events tend to get the media’s attention as well. Many journalists in traditional print media need from one to three months lead time so be ahead of the curve. 
  A few ways to get ink according to NAILS magazine?

Throw a party any party. Grand opening, Fall festival, holiday open house. Find an angle and invite the media
Host a charity event. Consult with current clients and find out what causes they support that you can get involved. Donate a portion or all of the proceeds to the charity. Take plenty of photos and share on your social media and with the press.
Toot your own horn.  Write up your accomplishments in the form of a press release, maybe you’ve won an industry award,  a nail art competition?  Be a shameless self promoter.
Send nail art photos with the latest nail trends and treatments. Offer yourself as an expert.
Do you have impressive employees? Write up a press release about a stand out employee, maybe they volunteer to a worthwhile charity, maybe they have a unique hobby, are they an award winning tech?
Anything you can capitalize on that is unique about your salon is press worthy
Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge

     I have to give a shout out to my friend Maisie Dunbar here too. If you look up salon buzz in the dictionary you will see her photo! If you are not following her at Maisie Dunbar Salon and Spa you need to. She offers so many unique events and offers her salon up to host them. She has Art shows, Jewelry truck shows, book launches, community events. Maisie is truly the queen bee of buzz. Reach out to your clients and your community and get connected. Make contact with community leaders and offer to help with events. A little charity work goes a long, long way. So get buzzing and get press, because that’s smart marketing. 
See the full NAILS article here How to create a buzz about your salon

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's About the Customer

     Business plans are so 2010. Today customer plans are all the rage. In an era of smart phones as a cultural device they are creating smarter consumers. How are you reaching these smart customers in order to build your business? What are smart marketers doing now? Todays inspiration comes from
     Don’t focus on the competition, focus on the customer. Focusing on the competition results in small incremental shifts. Focusing on the customer, changing that dynamic can have exponential results. In today’s digital age with billions of pieces of information available to everyone the customer is much savvier. They can look up information in a few keystrokes or phone swipes. The customer has taken over the power.  Customers are paying way more attention to what other customers are saying over what companies are saying.
     By focusing on customers and asking yourself, How do I solve a really big problem of theirs?  In our business problems can be things like appointment availability, nail challenges or value challenges.
     How can you manage your work schedule to accommodate what your client needs are? If you don’t want to work a 12 hour day why not look at opening early for the before work crowd, working till noon, for the lunch timers and then going back after 5 for the clients needing evening appointments. This leaves you with a few hours midday for banking, bookkeeping, supply shopping, visiting with a mentor, helping at your child’s school. Whatever it is you may need to attend to can be done in this window of appointment free books. I usually like to take Mondays and Wednesdays off but believe me when I tell you if a client needs in, I make it happen. If I’m not willing to solve this problem I don’t earn their business. Do clients try and take advantage, sometimes, but because I respect their time, they respect mine. You don’t build a huge clientele by not being a little flexible.  

         With nail challenges, are they trying to improve their natural nails? Do you offer a comprehensive strategy to provide this service? Have you partnered with a natural nail company? Have you kept up with new treatments like IBX or natural nail boost gels? If you can grow their natural nails and keep them healthy you will have a client for life. Is value a challenge? Are clients finding it hard to swallow your pricing? If you are not setting yourself apart from the crown providing a valuable client experience they will continue to price shop. What challenges are you trying to solve here?  Will their nails hold up with superior wear over time? Many clients don’t see the value in paying more if their service doesn’t hold up. Take classes, watch videos, perfect your technique until they can go three weeks without any issues. Do what it takes from researching newer products to perfecting the system you already have in place. If your work doesn’t hold up your books won’t fill up. 
     Never underestimate the power of client referral. So many of my new clients are gained directly from a current satisfied client. Find out what customers really care about to make a difference. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool. Why? It is mostly customers connecting with other customers. Look at Harley Davidson. They don’t have customers, they are a tribe.  Do you have a tribe?
 There is nothing better in marketing than a referral from a happy customer, one willing to write a review on your Yelp page, give you a shout out on your Facebook page or post their happiness on Instagram.  Deliver a stellar customer experience, be able to deliver is on a regular basis at a reasonable price and this will be your game changer.  John Sculley, former CEO of Apple and Pepsi says “If you aren’t doing something great for the customer, then you’re working on the wrong problem.” If you can link it back to solving their challenges, then you’re in position for growth. Look deep into your business, focus on the client, not the competition because that’s smart marketing.
To read more about John Sculley's marketing musts ClickHere