Salon Marketing That Sells Like Crazy
How to Get More Clients Spending More Money with You More Often
Just out of curiosity, I had a casual glance through the
Yellow Pages the other day, under Beauty Salons, looking for something that’d
catch my eye, fire my imagination.
Looking, in vain as it
turns out, for something that would compel prospective clients to call.
Ad after ad, column after
column, they all seemed to merge into an amorphous mass of sameness.
A blur of business cards, big
Some were splashed with
colour. Others sported pictures of glamorous women. But there was nothing – not
a single one – with a message that even faintly said “Here’s a great offer you
won’t be able to resist.”
To tell the truth, I
wasn’t at all surprised. Like most small business owners, beauty salon owners
get all tied up working ‘in’ the business, and find themselves too frazzled,
tired, and just plain too snowed-under to work ‘on’ it. It happens, so don’t
beat yourself up about it.
But there are some quick
and relatively painless steps any salon owner can take to liven up the response
to advertising and other marketing. I’ll give you some examples in a moment, but
first, a point or two about marketing in general.
1. All businesses are
the same. In my work, consulting in the salon industry as well as more than
a dozen others, from health and cosmetic surgery to accounting, manufacturing
and retail, I often get this plaintive cry when I take them through the basics
of direct-response marketing.
“But my business is
different. My clients are different, more sophisticated, they won’t go for that
kind of stuff.”
Well, actually, all
businesses are the same when it comes to the principles of marketing. Doesn’t
matter what you’re selling, you still have to a) get their attention b) generate
interest c) create desire d) and spark some action.
2. Claiming the high
There’s no point in marketing at all, if the most remarkable thing you can say
is ‘hey, we’re at least as good as the next guy, how ‘bout trying us?’ You need
to claim the high ground, claim some unclaimed territory. Who says you can’t
claim to have ‘North Ryde’s Most Sought-After Day Spa Treatments’? Has anybody else?
3. There’s no law
against being outrageous, and having some fun. Most small business marketing
– doesn’t matter which industry, but the beauty salon industry is as good a
place as any to demonstrate this – is so unutterably dreary it should be used by
parents as a sedative for hyperactive children. Yes, the atmosphere in a salon
needs to be calming, soft, nurturing. But you have to get the clients in there
4. Make a Big
Promise. To paraphrase ad guru David Ogilvy, there’s absolutely no point in
marketing at all unless you’re prepared to make a big promise. Why would you
bother spending money on advertising if all you could effectively say was “You
will look quite normal.”?
5. Make an Offer.
The offer, in any marketing, for any business, is the most important thing. Bar
none. You can have all the fancy graphics, lovely swooning models, strong copy
that says how wonderful you are, but if there’s no offer, what’s going to make
anybody pick up the phone?
Okay, some examples.
On being BOLD. I
wrote an ad for a salon client for the Yellow Pages. Small salon, small ad, so I
didn’t have a lot of space to work with. I pondered...what was the biggest
promise we could make, in such a tiny space. What about a bold headline that
Delighted...or it’s FREE!”
Result? That one small
change to the ad this salon owner had run in the previous year’s Yellow Pages
increased response by no less than 30%. She tells me the ad paid for itself
inside three months. Everything after that was pure cream.
A note about guarantees...for
some strange reason, many business owners are terrified of them, afraid the
customers will ‘rip us off’. Here’s the truth:
A strong guarantee’s
ability to drive sales far, far outweighs its potential cost.
In fact, a guarantee full
of conditions and fine print isn’t worth running at all.
“Money back guarantee,
provided you bring back the widget on a Tuesday morning at 2.30am, accompanied
by both your great grand-parents.” I call that kind of guarantee a
And here’s another
interesting thing about guarantees: most businesses already refund purchases
upon complaint – they just don’t tell anybody about it. My contention – proven
time and again to be valid – is that you should use a strong guarantee to make
the sale in the first place rather than using it as a fall-back in the event of
an unhappy customer.
On making an
OFFER. I’ll show you in a moment how to construct a compelling offer –
after all, it is the most important part of any advertising. Yet so many
business owners make the mistake of not bothering to make an offer at all, or
thinking that discounting is actually an offer. It isn’t, and it will only harm
Why? Because if you
resort to discounting, there’ll always be somebody who’ll do it cheaper.
Discounting is what I call ‘distress marketing’. Yes, it might work initially to
drive sales. But it’ll have two disastrous effects: 1) It’ll put a big hole in
your bottom line 2) Your clients will become conditioned to it, so they expect
it all the time.
Now, some little-known
secrets about building an offer. The key here is to offer massive perceived
value – without the extras actually costing you much if anything at all.
For example, let’s say
you’re a permanent makeup specialist, charging say $800 for eyebrows, eye-liner
and lip-liner. It’s a high-margin sale, but so many practitioners seem compelled
to discount at the first hint of buyer resistance.
Much better, instead of
discounting, is to add extra value.
“Book Your Permanent
Makeup and Receive a $95 Microdermabrasion treatment Free!”
The cost of providing
that microdermabrasion treatment is negligible. But you’ve retained the
full-price cosmetic tattooing and you’ve given yourself an opportunity to
up-sell your new client on a full course of say, 6 microdermabrasion treatments
@ $95 each, less the one you’re giving away.
These are just a few of
an infinite number of ways to build an offer. What a really strong offer does is
‘re-invent the business’ from being a commodity that prospective clients compare
with your competition based on price alone, to a provider of a unique service
that simply cannot be compared with what your rivals are offering.
Finally, on having FUN.
As I said, most small business marketing is so dull it’d make Jim Carrey weep.
Here’s a headline I wrote for a salon newspaper ad that’s still running, and
still gets the salon a 2 to 1 return on investment every time:
Expert Swears on the Bible Her Permanent Makeup Treatments Contain No Illegal
A headline has only one
job, and that’s to make people read the rest of the ad. That’s it, plain and
simple. This one intrigues, it begs the question, “Mmmm, how about some of those
legal sexual stimulants then...”
The ad goes on to make a
limited time value-added offer, a money-back guarantee, and it contains a
picture of the salon owner with the caption. “Number #1 Beauty Expert”. It’s a
strong ad, and it works. Now, a confession: I stole that headline from an ad
written many years ago by Gary Halbert, promoting a new perfume range by Tova
Borgnine (wife of actor Ernest) in the Los Angeles Times.
I stole it, and modified
it for my client’s use – and there’s nothing to stop you doing the
same...looking around at other industries, pinching a good headline or idea, and
migrating it across to your own business. Word of warning though, don’t do a
straight steal from your own industry, or you could end up in court.
Hint: The name of your business is
NOT a good headline for an ad. Yet how many Yellow Pages and press ads do
you see committing precisely this cardinal sin of advertising? The name or logo
of a business has never sold anything. Ever. Would McDonalds have sold a single
hamburger if all they ever did was run ads showing those golden arches? No, of
course they wouldn’t. Toyota has never sold a single car by
headlining their ads with the company name. Neither has Microsoft. So why is it
that tens of thousands of businesses waste money on expensive advertising with
their name at the top of the ad?
I call them ‘advertising
victims’. And there’s no reason why you need to be one, if you just put a little
thought into what you’re selling.