October 2009

Elizabeth Brown

Three Months of Marketing | Elizabeth Brown


Put Technology to Work for You

One of the toughest aspects of running any business that employs people is the “employing people” part.

As salon owners you have no choice but to become an instant staff development director, human resource manager, conflict resolution expert and consummate motivator to the best of your abilities.

Even then, people don’t always follow the rules. What may work to incentivize some staff doesn’t interest others. Sometimes, no matter how far you go to empathize, sympathize, motivate and interest your employees, they choose not to come along for the ride.

Some demonstrate a lack of concern for your business, coming in late, skipping employee meetings, refusing to participate in sales initiatives, refusing even to help grow their own clientele. Worse, no matter how hard you try to develop a mutually respectful, positive climate, some employees undermine your efforts – sometimes subtly and sometimes in outright subversion to the goal.

Do you wonder what this has to do with technology?

As someone who has been preaching technology to businesses in the professional beauty industry for five years, I still see it when your eyes glaze over. I feel the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) resistance to the reality that your business does, in fact, need a website. I still hear from individuals within the industry that they are “afraid” that they will make their customers “mad” if they email them.

Since marketing and business arguments have still not overcome your objections to putting technology to work for you, I wanted to give you a more self-centered reason to put the internet and email to work for you.

The internet and email will not talk back, undermine efforts to grow business or create a negative undertone. They will work for you, showing up day in and day out, at any time day or night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They will support your sales initiatives, help generate new business and play an active role in attracting new residents and clients looking to make a change from the competition.

The beautiful reality of email and the web is that you can create the best version of your business for display. You can tell clients about products that stylists ‘forget’ to mention. You can promote new stylists, celebrate personal events of staff and clients, you can congratulate and give kudos, and espouse worthy causes.

You can tailor your communications to client’s desired frequency and to what interests them most. You can create leverage needed to attract other businesses for cross marketing or conducting cooperative events and marketing campaigns.

A lot of good reasons to put the internet and email to work for you.

Half of all Americans spend more than an hour online every day, and that statistic goes up in your prime demographics: working professional men and women, moms, boomers, and prospective clients 35 and under.

Your clients and prospective clients will be looking for you online - you’ll be googled, yahoo’ed and otherwise searched for. A website is a 24 x 7 x 365 billboard to the world. You can start with a landing page for just a couple hundred dollars a year or build a complete online community.

A website can be as simple as a one page “landing” site costing as little as a couple hundred a year (compare the cost of that with your yellow page listing) or a multi-page site with home page plus contact/location, menu, and a special web offer for current or new clients. Simply put, you have to have it, because your clients use it.

Here are a few ways to put e-mail to work for you in the course of business: appointment reminders, sending directions and contact information; thank you notes; newsletter; promotional service or retail offers for clients; event announcements, collecting RSVP’s and taking reservations.

To avoid alienating readers, follow simple rules of email etiquette - be personal, be brief and compelling, and only send email to those clients or prospects who have subscribed or otherwise given you permission. Collect email online and offline in the salon at appointments, point of purchase and events.

Even if you’ve never used a computer, you can still use e-mail as a communications tool for your business. How? Simple. If you really don’t want to learn to use it, hire a local high school or college student. Just a few hours a week will be enough to give you a start on an effective e-mail communications program.

If simplicity isn’t compelling, price may be. Note cards and postcards are inexpensive and fairly quick in reaching people, but e-mail is immediate, trackable and FREE - and e-mail also has a significantly higher response rate than other forms of marketing.

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.