August 2009

Elizabeth Brown

Three Months of Marketing | Elizabeth Brown


Back to School Marketing

As salon and spa professionals, we live in a world that runs two to three months ahead – if we do it right.

School typically doesn’t get out until late June, which makes it almost painful to write an article focused on Back to School, but there it is. Target local schools, PTAs, and school districts with offers for teachers, administrative and other staff.

Catering to teachers makes sense. They appreciate value and convenience and they appreciate having a style that is easy to maintain and replicate. Their time is at a premium; days start early and end late, so you might create special hours set aside for teacher’s appointments, or even set up a weekly teacher’s happy hour.

Ask your local school and PTA to place flyers with your contact information and a menu of offers in their break rooms. Contact local schools to ask about advertising special offers for teachers, students and parents in school newsletters. Support local athletic, music, art, theater, and other programs. Attend school events, get involved in auctions and fund raisers. If the school will allow you to, provide them with copies of the flyer that can be inserted into student folders. Public schools may have policies that prohibit or restrict this, but don’t miss out on the private school market -- while they represent smaller student bodies; their parents are likely to be part of your salon’s prime demographic target in terms of home ownership, income, professional work status etc.

The Back to School season presents a time and opportunity-concentrated market. Most kids get their hair cut just before the beginning of the school year. Even kids who wear their hair long get everything freshly mussed before they head back to class to face their peers. Chances are you have clients who come to you for their hairstyling but take their kids to what they perceive is a less expensive walk-in salon. They are not saving time and may not be saving money doing this, but their perception is that they are. While your client is in the chair this summer, ask them about their kids.

Then, when your client is checking out, book your client’s next appointment and offer them the opportunity to book their children’s appointments at the same time at a “family rate” discount. A great cut is especially important to teen students - peer pressure is tough. Having a custom cut and style from you, someone personally interested in them will ensure that their hair, at least, is something they don’t have to worry about. This is a great opportunity to create some type of BOGO where the client pays full price for their cut and color and style, but save half on their child’s haircut.

Add a feel-good element this fall, give clients a discount when they bring in school supplies that you will donate to needy families or local schools for kids in need.

Teachers and parents talk to one another in the parking lot, the classroom, at meetings, sporting events, the coffee shop, and even in the grocery store aisles. They share referrals. If it’s good, they ask each other, “who does your hair?” It’s a market worth courting and extending special offers and events to.

Add-On Marketing Strategies

As you create student- and teacher-focused promotions, you may be working to create new products and services to add to your menu; after all, this has been a slow year and it is time to get creative and begin to carve out new sources of revenues and profits in order to start building business again.

Just as you create add-on menus in the salon and spa, you can create an “Add-On Marketing Strategy” to help you discover new clients, pool resources with other business owners, build business, and increase profitability.

Reach out to other businesses and share contacts and cross-referrals. Find at least five other businesses who would be willing to display your cards or menus at the register or waiting rooms. Doctors, dentists and orthodontists share your desired demographics to some extent, as do fitness centers, exercise and dance studios.

To build male clientele, get into the waiting rooms of your local car repair, oil and tire change businesses. As you watch new coffee, wine, gift and other stores opening nearby, be among the first to walk through the door to offer to do cross-marketing. New business owners are full of energy, have lots of ideas about marketing and events, and would love to build business with you.

This is more than sharing counter space. It is reaching out and bringing in new clients.

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