November 2011

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp

Appealing to a Diverse Market

While we can't be everything to everybody we may be able to create an annual marketing plan that focuses on more than one group to keep us busy year-around.

One of the challenges I have always faced as an esthetician is the necessity to appeal to a diverse market.

Especially in slower economic times or off season we cannot afford to have our market so narrow as to dissuade business.

In large population centers where there are many people in each demographic area it is easy to pick a small niche market and strictly cater to it. This isn't as easy if you are in a smaller town where if you isolate yourself to one group you may find your profit margin unsustainable. So what to do?

First examine your market options. Define the groups out there seeking esthetic services. Not too difficult. Aging clients spring to mind, with problem skins a close second. But there is also the male market and what about teens? Young girls are seeing all the time in magazines about teen parties and girl gatherings. This is a previously untapped group.

Those with strong makeup skills focus on brides, proms and special events to keep them busy. This is super in the spring and summer season but can be slower when the wedding frenzy slows down.

Next evaluate your equipment and product offerings. What do you have that is specific to one of these groups or that could meet the needs of multiple sections of your target market. When looking at a new device or product give it careful consideration as to how this will fit in and how cost effective it will be if it only treats a small portion of your client base.

When creating an annual plan remember that we must market to our desired group weeks to months prior to when we expect them to use our services. Makeup season can start early April and continue through the summer with proms, brides and graduation photos for the following year's group of seniors.

Often the bridal shows are six months in advance of this. We may want to participate in the bridal show and then come back with internet or other media marketing two to three months prior to when we would expect the visits.

Want to market to men? Pick one evening and make it a men's night. Men are more comfortable with other men around and appreciate a more masculine atmosphere. For this evening put away anything frou-frou and make it more clinical.

Don't ignore the girls. Those young teens are looking for entertainment and pampering. Give them their own evening or weekend time. Put together teen or pre-teen parties and start locking in to your future regular clients. Keep treatments short and fun. Throw in tidbits of education and include a starter kit for them to try at home. Linking with a hairstylist or nail technician can make this an all around experience and start a technician-client bond that could last for years.

For maturing clients what about marketing to them on a full-year basis? Offer them a "preferred member club." Let them buy a package of six or 12 services to be used in six or 12 months that includes a gift, bonus service or other add-on to reward them for taking care of their skin.

Reward them for their loyalty. These clients often have the time to be pampered and it may be more difficult for them to do or see to do some things for themselves. Offer free spot checks. Make a complimentary routine check for any signs of the ABCD's. If you see anything different you can suggest they check with their doctor. If your client no longer has a spouse to assist them with this, it is a much appreciated service.

One very simple marketing technique that works well to all groups is remembering their birthdays. Send them a card that offers a discount off of a service or purchases. It may be a dollars-off or percent-off coupon. It may be good for one purchase or good for the month.

Every one of us has our own approach and technique that works. "Are you a rewards member?" This is a question we get asked almost every time we go into a store. What is the answer for your establishment? Do you offer them? Have you thought about how you think they should be designed?

Member packages actually work equally well for men and women. Focus on your client base and offer a diversity of packages catering to their individual needs will ensure they return.

The next time you have a slow day look at it as an opportunity not a calamity. Use it as a creative day to begin your own program of diverse marketing.

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.