February 2010

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Marketing Options for Esthetics

In the past, marketing of esthetics was done with flyers, brochures and carefully selecting the media you would use.

But then your choice of media was newspapers, billboards, television, radio, telephone directories and press releases.

Now everything is more complex. Some of the old standbys don’t work as well and some of them never worked.

Yellow pages – these used to work great and were the staple of our industry. Now we have multiple phone books distributed in each town which makes the decision of who to go with more difficult or the cost of advertising exorbitant. Ask your clients where they learned about you.

There are some who say they never use phone books as the internet has significantly changed how people seek information. More and more people are turning online to find business information. They can choose a yellow page search, merchant connection, city search, web search or many others. Each of these has costs related so plan carefully as to which will give you the best return. It is a quagmire we will all wade through and is going to take continued monitoring to find what works for each type of business. We can no longer find one and stick with it, constant monitoring is the new norm.

Television – a good alternative depending on how many stations are in your area. The cost per viewing and client demographics will help make this decision. Do they all watch different stations? Can we afford to advertise on all of the different stations? Television can work but it must be planned and budgeted carefully.

Radio – there are even more radio stations than television stations. In several polls that I have done I could not find a commonality in the channel preferred. If they are all listening to different stations or have opted for other audio sources, then reaching the “potential” client this way could be much trickier. If we are dealing with a very specific target group – say college-age girls for hair removal, now we may have a narrower range of radio stations that focus on this demographic.

Golf or bus stop bench advertising – Don’t laugh. They sell these routinely. It will depend on your budget if you want to give this a try, but it wasn’t a success story for me. Likewise some people do advertising on busses, cabs or other vehicles that have high visibility due to their driving patterns. Consider the cost per day as well as the cost per exposure to determine if this is in your budget.

YouTube – has become an interesting marketing approach. You can find people demonstrating all sorts of different services as well as manufacturer’s using this method to distribute information. How protected is your submission? Can it be confiscated or used by unauthorized persons? Does it drive clients back to you as opposed to others in the area? How many local people will find it, and how? I think it has great promise, but I think we need to do our research to effectively use it.

The most important part of marketing is a thorough knowledge of our client base. Who are they and what are their demographics? How do they get information and how do they prefer to be reached? While this always was important, it is even more critical today. If you don’t know your customer base you will waste time, money and lots of effort to no avail. The teen and college age client uses text messaging as their preferred mode of communication. This makes them a perfect market for Tweeting or text-mails.

Those on a tight schedule may not have access to their text phones on a full time basis. The best way to approach this group may be emails rather than tweeting. The message will be there when they have access to it. They may also love e-newsletters, e-cards and e-specials.

As we get into a more maturing group of clients, they tend to be less comfortable with tweeting or email contact. They may use their blackberry but they are not as comfortable with incoming information. The older the client’s age bracket, the more they may prefer a reminder phone call or to receive a printed newsletter, in lieu of a text or an email. The problem with this is the cost factors. It was startling to realize that this year 70 percent of our business holiday cards from suppliers and manufacturers were transmitted via email.

So the more clearly the esthetician has their target market defined the easier it will be to allocate time and efforts into reaching potential clients. It is important to ask clients about their preferred contact method and what methods they read or just delete/ toss. This will help those very valuable marketing dollars be the most effective.

There is no one marketing method that will make everyone happy. With internet contacts, it is important to have the client update us when they change carriers just as in the past it was important to know when they moved. It’s all about staying updated and continually innovating in a changing market place.

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 www.estheticsnw.com.