Marketing seems to be a major headache for many salon owners.

Where to market to get your message to the right people, how much to spend, how to develop just the right marketing mix, or just knowing how to get the right message out there. 

It can become a very expensive endeavour, so it’s important to explore ways to grow your business that doesn’t involve outlaying large amounts of money.

Many business owners tend to confuse advertising with marketing, and although advertising is certainly part of the marketing mix, it’s not everything.

Marketing is made up of everything that your business is doing to get your message out to your clients and potential clients, that will help build your image and make you more money.  This can and does, involve every aspect of your business and not just your external advertising.

Here are 5 simple and inexpensive ways to market your salon that will leave your money in the bank!

1.      Stay In Touch with Your Clients

Everywhere you turn, there are advertisements asking your clients to jump ship and try somewhere new and more exciting.

This can be a powerful draw card, so it makes great sense for you to make sure that you stay in regular contact with your clients to let them know what’s going on in your salon.

This can be as straightforward as doing a monthly e-newsletter

Naturally, you’ll need to have collected client email addresses for this, so if you haven’t been doing this up until now, it is time to start collecting this information for your marketing program.

The easiest way to collect it, of course, is on your client’s first visit to the salon when you’d normally collect all of her other details.

If you’ve missed this opportunity, start now to collect this information from each client as she comes in for services.

If you’re not computerised, you can still stay in touch with your clients via snail mail. 

This, unfortunately, is much more expensive due to postage costs, but still a necessary part of your marketing program.

The good news is that clients don’t want to be bombarded with tons of excess information, so keep your newsletters short and sweet, and stick with just 3 topics in any one newsletter. 

Most newsletters would include a special offer for your client (which you should track to determine its effectiveness), some information about a featured product or service of the month, and finally, some quality information about skincare that will be useful and interesting to them. 

Any more than this and your clients might simply click the delete button.

Keep your newsletters short, interesting and with a benefit to your clients to make sure they get read and not deleted.

2.      Get Your Clients Excited about Spending Money with You

What excites your clients? 

Probably the same thing that excites you and me!

Everyone loves to get ‘something for nothing’, and that’s where a well-oiled loyalty program can motivate your clients to spend.

Loyalty programs have been around for quite some time and there’s a good reason for that….they work!

Let’s face it, big companies like Virgin Airlines, Woolworths, Myer or Qantas (to name just a few) wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t work for them.

Clients love to feel that they’re getting something in return for their loyalty to your salon. 

Yes, they may be getting a terrific service at the ‘right price’, but to put it simply, they want more

Your clients are being educated by the marketplace to expect something extra from the people they spend their money with. 

Every time I shop at Woolworths, I get points to save on the cost of petrol.

It keeps me shopping with them instead of checking out the competitors specials.

Loyalty programs don’t have to be complex. 

The secret to a successful loyalty program is to make sure that your clients don’t have to wait forever to collect their gift. 

It can be as simple as averaging out the clients spend over 10 visits and offering that as a gift on their 11th visit. 

For example, if your client has spent $300 over her first 10 visits, she’d be entitled to a special gift of $30 off the cost of her next service. 

Generally about 10% of the total spend is the value, but remember your client has had to stay loyal to you to get it!

You’re rewarding her for her loyalty and for not wandering off to try the salon down the road that just opened up or is advertising their specials. 

Its simple to get underway, and generally all you need is some new Client Loyalty Cards and a team meeting to explain to your therapists what happens next.

3.      Tap Into Your Database to Find New Clients.

Every salon owner tells me she wants more new clients, and wants to get them as cheaply as possible.

This is not an impossible dream. 

All you need to do is get your existing clients referring friends and family to your salon and before you know it, you’ll have a host of new clients spending their hard earned cash with you. 

This is called a Referral Program and it helps you to gather new clients just like the ones you already have.

Many salons send a nice thank you letter to their clients when they refer a friend to their salon. 

This is very polite, but unfortunately, this technique is a little too laid back to really make an impact on your business (or your clients).  You need to encourage your clients to refer people to you in a more proactive way.

How can you do this?

Well first of all, you need to decide how you’re going to reward your clients for their valuable referrals. 

If you want your clients to go out of their way to do this for you, you have to give them a good reason to do it.

What do you think it’s worth to you to attract a new client into your business? 

What would entice you to recommend a friend to your preferred service provider?

Many salons offer a gift certificate to say “thank you”. 

Some offer $10 and some offer up to $25.  The amount will vary depending on the salon and it’s clients.

Now that you’ve decided how to say “thank you”, you have to promote your Referral program to your database. 

Let them know how they can benefit from referring a friend to you – don’t keep it a secret.  Put it on your service menus, talk about it with your clients, display it on your business cards, tell the world!

4.      Tap Into Other People’s Databases To Find New Clients

Finding new clients doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg!

If you have other businesses in your area that have clients similar to your own, you can tap into their database to find new clients. This is called Joint Venture Marketing and it is a fantastic way to increase your client base for next to nothing.

Here’s how it works: You and your new joint venture partner agree to promote each others business to your own clients. 

For instance, if you JV with a local hairdresser they would email their clients with a special offer from you as a free gift, and you would do the same for them. 

To respect client privacy, you cannot swap client lists.

Naturally the ideal outcome is that some of the hairdresser’s clients will take up the special offer and visit your salon, where you’ll have the opportunity to convert them into long term clients.

Because this offer appears to be a professional recommendation from your salon, it’s important to partner only with businesses that you can recommend enthusiastically and know will do the right thing by the clients you recommend to them.

Salons and spas often find businesses such as gyms and hairdressers a great place to start, but any business that has a client database filled with just your kind of preferred clients will be perfect.

5.      Advertise to the Right People in the Right Places

Are you wasting your hard earned money on spray and pray advertising?

That’s what happens when you think your target market is “everyone”.

As much as it would be nice to think everyone wants to be your client, this just isn’t the case.  There is a select group of people who want to hear your message and are interested in buying your products and services. 

These are the people we refer to as your Target Market and they are the ones you need to direct your marketing messages towards.

If you look closely at your client database, you’ll most likely find that 80% of your income is generated from 20% of your database.

When you examine the characteristics of this 20%, you’ll discover the characteristics of your target market. These are the people who love you and happily spend their money with you.

Take some time out of your busy schedule, and find out who the people are in your Target Market.

Are they primarily male or female, under or over 35, any particular ethnicity, living within what distance of your salon, looking for certain types of services? 

Do you see where I am going with this? 

Once you have identified your target market, you can stop wasting gobs of money on advertising in the wrong places to the wrong people.

By simply asking yourself the question “Is this magazine, paper, radio, tv channel or whatever other advertising mediums you are using going to be read, heard or watched by my Target Market? 

If the answer is not a definite yes, don’t waste your money!  

When it comes to spending advertising dollars, you must learn to be selective and never yield to pressure from people trying to sell advertising to you, unless it’s guaranteed to give you a good return on your investment.

So there you have it – 5 simple ways to market you salon more effectively, without spending huge amounts of money. 

By staying in touch with your existing clients, rewarding their loyalty, utilizing your own and other businesses databases and sending your message to the right people in the right places, you can begin to grow the number of new clients coming to your salon. 

Then, all you have to do is keep them coming back!

Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all.  It encompasses the entire business.

It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.

Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.

Peter Drucker.