April 2009

Elizabeth Brown

Three Months of Marketing | Elizabeth Brown


Marketing for the ‘Single Shingle’

Very few things are more frustrating to the “Solo Artist” than the realization that most business-building how-to books, articles and advice are written for those that have personnel and monetary reserves.

As someone who has worked for and with small businesses for years, I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by salon and spa professionals in the booth rental market.

Regardless of size, businesses are limited to initiatives they have the time, manpower, equipment and resources to pull off. As a booth renter you face all of the same responsibilities and challenges; but, unlike corporations with departments, specialists and support staff, you have to deal with every aspect and initiative of your business from planning to implementation and from finance to marketing to the actual “work” all by yourself.

So how do you, as an independent salon owner, construct a plan that takes little or no money or other staff to implement while still reaping the results of more clients, increased loyalty, more frequent visits and client referrals?

First, something universally true: think ahead. Create a pattern for yourself. Take a scheduled block of time each month to look ahead for the coming three months. Thinking ahead gives you time to set dates, utilize e-mail or direct mail to promote your event or offer, purchase in retail or supplies needed, and to identify and recruit business partners to share costs and prospects with you.

Second, when it comes to marketing, stop thinking you are limited to your own resources. When the dot coms went bust in the 90s, many entrepreneurs found themselves out of jobs, starting over. Now in a similar economy, people who have lost jobs are turning to new home-based and service businesses for supplemental income or while in between corporate jobs.

Some women who stayed home previously are now working part time to contribute to the household as massage therapists, exercise instructors, and home-based jewelry, jeans and other sales. Plus, service businesses that rely on discretionary spending (spas, cosmetic medi-dental, chiropractic, massage, etc.) are feeling the pinch and will welcome opportunities to share marketing costs with you, help sponsor events, and share contacts for cooperative and cross marketing efforts.

April is customer loyalty month. As a booth renter, even you can create your own rewards program for loyal clients. You can construct a discount or add-on service as an incentive for re-booking at the time of service. As a single stylist you can make it your goal to thank each and every client with a thank you note or e-mail.

If you plan to provide a reward based on number of visits or dollars spent, you can create your own punch cards on your home computer, designed to fit on a business card, and print them out at home on pre-perforated paper, or you can order cards from a professional printer at a low cost – as low as about $50 per thousand. You can create business cards so that the back side of the card serves as your punch card, appointment reminder, or carries a special bounce back offer from you.

May is full of dates which lend themselves to pairs and group offers. From Mother’s Day to prom to graduation to the coming wedding and anniversary season, now is the time to construct and market mother-daughter, sister-sister, or girlfriend group packages for formals, updo’s, makeup parties and more. Business partnership opportunities abound in May – from party planners to restaurants, formal rentals, limo rentals and more.

Then wedding season is here! Before June arrives, construct a bridal package cosmetic and hair special, a massage-relaxation special, a mother-daughter or bridal party offer. Contact local wedding planners, formal rentals, limo rentals, bakeries, and local wedding and reception facilities regarding cooperative and cross marketing opportunities.

Partner with an exercise or fitness instructor to create a “get in shape for the big day” package offer. Share information about your business partners services with your clients who may be getting married or have family or friends slated to take the plunge.

Create a flyer that can be mailed or e-mailed (as a PDF) and send your flyer – or a stack of them – to wedding planners, wedding and reception facilities and formal or limo rental businesses along with copies of your business card. Once again your business card can do double duty with a pre-printed offer right on the back of the card. Or go a little larger, and order a folded “tent” style business card that contains enough extra space for you to print up all your bridal package offers, or a mini service menu.

Talk back! If you have a great idea or experience for partnering with another business, I’d love to hear from you. Send it to salonandspa@12monthsofmarketing.net.

Elizabeth Brown is the founder of Be InPulse Marketing and Design in Auburn, Washington and the author of 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa. Email the author at elizabeth@12monthsofmarketing.net.