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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

Monday, September 15, 2014

Go Digital

salon online digital marketing tips 1

     It’s time for a check up from the neck up. What are you really doing to grow your business? Are you all talk and no action? Are you on the whine bus with no cheese and crackers? So many want to throw the towel in before they even find the towel.  Here from Salon magazine online are the top 10 digital tools you should be using to get busy. Some of them are repeats, and yes they are repeats for a reason, are you doing them yet? If not jot down these top tools.
Get a Facebook business page.  Facebook shows up higher in search engines than LinkedIn even though LinkedIn is more for businesses. Set up your page, optimize it and link your salon website to it. Encourage your client to “like” it and your page shows up in their feed, advertising it to thousands of their friends.
      Sign up for Yelp. I searched salons in my town and found very few salons actually using this search friendly tool. The salon I formerly worked at only had two reviews and one was actually for me. Encourage your clients to post a review and start building a 5 star rating.
Show off your work on Pinterest. We are in such a visual business this one is a no brainer. Pin photos of your best work and soon you will have others repining your photos on their own boards for all to see. News spreads fast about you and your services.
Get Googling. Google is the search engine giant and sets the rules for how search engines operate.  There are review options as well, link options to your website and mapping tools to direct client right to your doorstep. 

     Look into a Google ad. You know, the ones on the right hand side of your search results.  Sign up forGoogle Adwords and you can have one too.  You can choose whether the link goes to your Facebook page or website. You only pay per click so it can be very economical.
Start an online newsletter.  You get them, everybody gets them so why not let your clients know what is going on in your salon? Most email managing software require you get permission to add them to your email list but once you have their away. Don’t bombard them seriously, make sure your email habits agree with their needs. Everybody is different so if you’re not sure, ask.                   Enewsletters are a great way to keep your clients engaged in what’s new. Study some of the ones you get, and open, and take away some great ideas.
Send out digital special offers, and no I don’t mean discounts. Special offers, special events and special new services or products can be enough  to entice a trip to your salon.
Don’t forget Twitter. Twitter is a great way to inform your clients what is going on with your business. Do you have open appointments in your day? Tweet about it. Encourage your clients to follow you and retweet your tweets.
Watch Beauty Tip Thursday Here

     Are you on YouTube? Another feed high on the search engine list your videos go to the head of the Google class. Youtube a new art technique, display your new colors or a new pedicure area. The list is endless. I know Maisie does a beauty tip every Thursday on YouTube educating her clients with the latest trends.
And last but not least do you offer online booking? I know people are leery of this, and everyone besides my mom has managed to figure this out. Most programs notify you of online bookings, so if your client has made a bit of a mess there is always the option of cleaning it up. Programs send out auto reminders to free up your time and cut down on no shows.
     This article failed to mention Instagram which is another huge social media platform for our industry. Adding hashtags about your services #gelpolish or #manicure  and don't forget to add your city so people searching in your town can find you.
So there you have it. The top ten digital tools to embrace according to SalonMagazine. So go digital, because that’s smart marketing.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Referrals on Fire

     September is a great month for referrals.  If you are not getting the amount of referrals you want it’s time to up your game. Contests are a super easy way to get more referrals. With all the social media today referrals can catch fire. Use social media to drive more clients to your salon.
You can structure your contest several ways. It can be simply the most referrals wins however rewarding efforts of all social media exposure will benefit your business in the long run.  Remember every contact you have on social media is a pathway to upwards of two hundred and fifty more.  Try using a point system to reward all social media uploads.  Making sure your clients tag you in their posts is an easy way to keep track. A simple spread sheet should be all you need to get started.
With Facebook reward each client with 2 points each time they post a new photo of their nails on their page.  Reward each like, comment and share with 1 point.  Encouraging engagement will help drive exposure.  Ask them to post a question with their photo like, How many likes can I get for this awesome set of nails? Or What do you think of this fantastic art or color? You will get a new notification with each interaction and the post will show up again in the feed of anyone that has commented.  This will give each post more longevity in the news feed.

     Reward each Instagram photo with 2 points each time they post s new photo of their nails. Give them a bonus point if they upload a video especially for the bling effect. Make sure they hashtag you or your salon and a few other nail related hashtags.  Again adding a question will get more engagement. Reward each like and comment with 1 point.
Do the same for each social media account your clients are uploading their nail photos or videos to.  Make sure to reward clients coming from a social media referral a special gift.  You can choose to give them a percentage off their first service or give them a bonus gift of cuticle oil or sample hand cream. I know it’s not always about the price so increase the value as a reward. Don’t forget to reward your clients as well, on top of the contest.  Run the contest for a couple of months, I don’t recommend longer than 3, it will be a bit of work to keep up with. Reward your top social media vixen with a free upgraded service, a splurge that they would not normally treat themselves to.  I would also reward the second and third place winner as well. Maybe a free gift card or free service.  It never hurts to reward all who participate even with a five dollars off their service. Thank yous can never be underestimated. They go a long long way in the appreciation department.  Don’t forget the referrals may not come today or tomorrow but at some point in the future so be generous in thanking your clientele for participating.

     Creating contests are a great way to build your business. Imagine if each one of your clients were to bring you just one new client you will double your business.  So harness the power of social media and create your own social media frenzy because that’s smart marketing.