May 2008

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Appealing to a Diverse Market

One of the challenges facing an esthetician is dealing with the diverse market to which we need to appeal. We cannot afford to have our market as narrow as to dissuade business, especially in slower economic times or in the off-season.

In large population centers where there are many people in each demographic area, it is easy to pick a small niche market and cater strictly to it. This isn’t as easy if you are in a smaller town, where isolating yourself to one group may cause your profit margin to become unsustainable. So what do you do?

First, examine your market options. Define the groups seeking esthetic services. Aging clients spring to mind, and clients with problem skin a close second. There is also the male market -- and what about teens? Young girls are seen all the time in magazines having teen parties and girl gatherings. This is a previously untapped group.

Those with strong makeup skills focus on brides, proms and special events to keep them busy. This is super in the spring and summer season but can be slower when the wedding frenzy slows down. While we can’t be everything to everybody, we may be able to create an annual marketing plan that focuses on more than one group to keep us busy year-around.

When creating an annual plan we must remember that we must market to our desired group weeks or months ahead of time. Makeup season can start early April and continue through the summer with proms, brides and graduation photos for the following year’s group of seniors. Often the bridal shows are six months in advance of this.

Pick one evening and make it a men’s night. Men are more comfortable with other men around and appreciate a more masculine atmosphere. For this evening put away anything frou-frou and make it more clinical. What about a television in the corner of the reception or waiting area with a sports game on? This doesn’t mean it has to blast across the salon and it could even be on mute, but the visual is a nice masculine touch men will appreciate. Are there a few sports, outdoor or finance magazines available for browsing? Is there a display of products focused toward men’s needs?

Look for the little touches that will make a man feel at home. For men’s services consider efficiency treatments that don’t drag on. They like peels and microdermabrasion. Be sure to address clogged follicles and ingrown hairs. We must also be sure to address their hair removal needs. More and more men want freedom from body hair. As many men are sensitive to hair removal, be sure to offer icing or another soothing agent before and after treatments.

When possible, it is a good idea to separate the male group from the proverbial “gaggle of giggling girls.” However, don’t ignore the girls. Those young teens are looking for entertainment and pampering. Give them their own evening or weekend time. Put together teen or pre-teen parties and start locking in to your future regular clients. Keep treatments short and fun. Throw in tidbits of education and include a starter kit for them to try at home. Linking with a hairstylist or nail technician can make this an all around experience and start a technician-client bond that could last for years.

You can market to your maturing clients year round. Offer them membership in a “preferred member club.” Let them buy a package of six or 12 services to be used in six or 12 months that includes a gift, bonus service or other add-on to reward them for taking care of their skin. Reward them for their loyalty. These clients often have the time for you to pamper them and it may be more difficult for them to do things or see things for themselves.

Offer free spot checks. Make a complimentary routine check for any signs of the ABCDs (the signs of skin cancer: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color and Diameter). If you see anything different, you can suggest they check with their doctor. If your client no longer has a spouse to assist them with this, the client usually appreciates this service greatly.

One very simple marketing technique that works well to all groups is remembering their birthdays. Send them a card that offers a discount off a service or purchase. It may be a dollars-off or percent-off coupon. It may be good for one purchase or good for the month. Every one of us has our own approach and technique that works.

“Are you a rewards member?” We are asked this question almost every time we go into a store. What is the answer for your establishment? Do you offer them? Have you thought about how you think they should be designed? Member packages actually work equally well for men and women. Focusing on your client base and offering a diversity of packages catering to their individual needs will ensure they return.

The next time you have a slow day look at it as an opportunity not a calamity. Use it as a creative day to begin your own program of diverse marketing.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit