June 2009

Elizabeth Brown

Three Months of Marketing | Elizabeth Brown


Do You Have a Job, or a Career?

We have all heard snippets of the popular “You Might Be a Redneck…” series of one-liner jokes by Jeff Foxworthy, with such gems as “If you’ve been married three times, and you’ve always had the same in-laws, you might be a redneck.”

No matter where you grew up, or how polished your family, you have identified with one or more of the statements (or are closely related to someone who does!)

The same principles apply in the salon. If you slink in late with your unwashed hair in a ponytail and dare your boss to comment, you might have “just a job.”

If you forget your client’s name three minutes into a consultation, if you don’t bother to rebook, if you never suggest retail products for home use, and if you would rather “eyeball” your color mixture than measure it, you might have “just a job” (and you might not have that one for long).

If all you want is a job, and all you need is a paycheck, skip the rest of this article.

An out-of-work friend once begged me to help them find a job, well, sort of. They actually told me, “I don’t want a job, I want an income,” and asked me to hook them up with get rich quick internet opportunities.

While a few people do “get rich quick,” in most cases they do so only after spending years developing their craft, doing research, learning the ropes, and working hard.

I know you did not get into this business for the marketing part of the job. You may have had a short introduction to marketing as part of your schooling, but you were probably more interested in learning your craft, developing your technique, and making art than you were about the mechanics of marketing.

Marketing Yourself Is Essential in a Sea of Sameness

No matter how talented you are or how well you treat your clients, there are other people who “do what you do.” Marketing includes activities you do in order to persuade people you do what you do in a way that is better artistically and better for them as a client, than others in your profession.

Marketing is giving clients a reason and the opportunity to choose you. As a new stylist you enter a professional world where your peers have established clientele. Your most important responsibility is not what you do behind the chair; it is to build your client base.

Don’t get me wrong, what you do behind the chair matters when it comes to building your client base. But you cannot do what you do behind the chair if no one is sitting in it!

Your co-workers may have referrals to help you get started and can be valuable resources. Ask them how they built their client base when they first started and what activities they recommend for new stylists. They may have done some creative things in the beginning; they can tell you a lot about clients in your community and about attracting clients that will be a good fit for your salon as well as for you, as a stylist.

Go further. As a student you probably loved opportunities to create styles that were way out of the box, that stretched your creativity and technical skills and resulted in a look no one else was able to achieve. Something uniquely “you.” Your approach to building business and marketing yourself deserves the same creativity; to be successful you have to stretch your skills to produce better results.

Take a look around at other businesses and independent sellers. They have learned that parties and events – taking products and services outside to where clients are, and creating social networks produce builds business and sales that waiting for people to walk in cannot compete with.

Take Justice for Girls, a “T’ween” clothing store in the mall. Their teenage staff host hair and makeup birthday parties for t’ween girls in groups – all the while their moms, sisters, and other women are standing by watching, and shopping and leaving with a bounceback coupon and a reason to return.

Hosting birthday makeover, prom or graduation makeover parties, or bridal or baby showers featuring styling and makeup services to girls of all ages creates opportunities to gain multiple clients, sell retail products, and book appointments, all in a two hour space of time.

There are many ways to build business when you unleash the same creativity in your marketing that you do in your craft. Summer months present perfect opportunities to take your skills to clients with weddings, the summer social scene, street fairs and other community events.

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.