How To Market Your Salon On A Small Budget
Do you ever need to not market your business?
Surely, when you are fully booked you don't need to bother anymore? Why would you? If you are fully booked there is no room for anyone else.
Marketing your business is a never ending task and there is never going to be a time when you won't need to do it, I'm afraid if you think there will be you are very much mistaken. Even the likes of John Lewis, Coca-Cola and M & S market themselves and they are three exceptionally well established businesses and brands, so if they still need to, so do you.
Of course such brands have a different level of marketing budget to us small businesses, but the backbone of this country's economy is small business - as Napoleon once said England is a nation of shopkeepers and I think Covid reminded everyone of that. What you spend, however small, and where you spend it, are really important to the image, growth and success of your business.
By January you will have put together a calendar for the first half of the year. That promotional calendar is the basis of what you are going to market. A promotional calendar doesn't have to be full of special offers and rock bottom prices, those of you who read my articles regularly know that I am not a fan of this and the way it devalues our skills, education and service. Your promotional calendar will tie in with special local/national events, new product or treatment launches, or services that you want to highlight that are, perhaps, not as popular as some others. They don't have to be reductions and freebies, they can just be a focus - like a product of the month. I am all for adding value so if you are going to offer something always upsell. For example offer an upgraded version of a gel manicure by including a massage and exfoliation, upgrade from one facial to the next etc. show clients what else is available and let them see how beneficial these extras are to them.
So how can you market your business effectively without spending a fortune?
The first thing you need to do is decide upon a marketing budget for the year or, if that is too far in advance, you at least need to have a monthly budget. It's no good just deciding on a whim, or being swayed by an advertising sales person by what they deem to be a bargain or a special rate just for you. If you have a budget and you have spent it nothing is a bargain, unless they offer you free advertising! So stick to your guns, exceeding any budget is not good for your bank balance!
Take a look at what marketing you did last year and ask yourself these questions:
• What did you spend?
• How much extra revenue did that generate?
• Where did you advertise?
• What worked?
• What didn't work?
Once you have this information you can make an informed decision about what you can/should spend and where.
I think it is realistic to expect advertising/marketing costs to go up annually, our prices go up each year as our expenses become higher so why shouldn't theirs? Your marketing budget will need to increase year on year, but if you can't really afford it to that's fine, you just need to be more savvy with how you spend your budget and do more marketing that costs you your time rather than cold, hard cash.
So let's categorise our marketing options by what is free, what has a minimal expense involved and what has a higher expense involved. The savvy thing to do is to absolutely exhaust all free options first before moving on to marketing options that involve an expense. Whilst the free marketing options don't cost you money they will cost your time. So for those of you who don't sit on a Sunday night, like I and many others do, working on marketing, now is the time to dust off your laptop or iPad because, when you aren't working to promote your business someone else is working to promote theirs and you are missing out.
Free marketing options:
• Building a website and utilising it is the first and cheapest marketing to do, as long as you build your own website. Don't be afraid, it is time consuming but even the least technologically minded can do it - I did so anyone can! Clients don't look in the local directory or yellow pages anymore, they get their phone out and google salons or services and if you haven't got a website they won't find you.
• Google Business Listing - once you have a website set up a Google Business Profile. You can add all of your important information to it, add yourself to Google maps, have reviews and add pictures. You need at least 100 pictures on their for Google to recognise you. I know this is a lot, as I said earlier these options will be time consuming, but they are free and invaluable. We all Google something when we need to know something or find someone……I lose count how many times we reply to people with the term ‘Google it' in my house daily! The important thing to remember with your Google listing, and your website, is that you need to add to them and update them regularly so as Google keeps remembering you are a real business and keeps you active.
• Facebook Page - every man and his dog are on Facebook. It's your most instant access to your current clients and target audience. Do a range of competitions getting clients to share your posts with their friends, for example. Whilst this will cost you the prize it is still a very cost effective way of advertising and marketing. No one has the time to post to Facebook daily but you need regular, daily activity to keep peoples interest. Set your posts up a week, or a few days, in advance so the page runs itself. Make the posts interesting and interactive. Social media is a great shop window, find out the social media outlets your clients are using and focus on those.
• Instagram - like Facebook, Instagram is very popular. It is far more visual so is really interesting to clients and great for before and after pictures, showing clients inside the salon, introducing the team etc. . The majority of my clients are Facebook users so I am less active on Instagram for the salon, however, where Instagram does work well for me is as a portfolio for my fashion and celebrity work. So think about your audience, and potential audience, and focus on the source they are likely to use.
• Twitter - you can set your Facebook to automatically update your Twitter (and your Instagram and vice versa), Be mindful that they are quite different audiences with very different audiences.
• Searching the internet to find directories where you can have a business listing for free - these activities increase you SEO without having to paying for google ads etc. Altering your website regularly, irrelevant of how the small change i.e. updating a monthly page of news or promotions will also increase your SEO.
• Posters and literature in the salon to remind clients of all of the wonderful services you provide. There are clients out there who come to you for one thing and go elsewhere for another, because they just forget what you do, so remind them!
• Introduce a refer a friend scheme - the clients you have come to you because they love the salon, the team and what you provide, so why wouldn't their friends? Encourage clients to bring their friends to the salon with a referral scheme. This way you will be guaranteed to be reaching your target audience.
• Network with other local businesses and market each other. Encourage clients to shop local and show the wonderful services available in the area by working together.
Minimal Expense Options:
• Facebook adverts - there is , of course, a cost involved but you can set your own budget, your target area, age group, interests etc. so you know you are reaching the exact people you want to.
• Leaflet drop - leaflets are fairly cheap to produce and then it just costs your time to deliver. Whilst leaflet drops have a mixed result they are a cost effective way of reaching out to your local area. Always put a promotion on them so as you can ascertain how effective it is.
• Local networking/business groups - every area has them, some will be specifically for women, others will be a mixture. They are a good way of potentially gaining new clients as well as working with fellow entrepreneurs to grow your business.
• Advertise your business on your car - you can either get some very reasonably priced magnets that you can take on and off the car, or you can pay to have someone sign write your business details over your car.
Higher Expense Options:
• Sponsor a local team or school - this will provide you with advertising to a large demographic. Choose who you sponsor wisely as you need to make the money back on the initial cost as well as make a profit.
• Magazine/newspaper advertising - this can be really quite expensive and you have to hope that the right people buy the magazine the particular week or month you are advertising in it.
• Google ads - this will ensure you come up on the first page when people use your chosen key words in their search, and as we know everyone uses the internet to find what they are looking for.
• Taxi/Bus Advertising - costly but constantly seen driving around your area so guaranteed to be seen by thousands of people regularly. Make the advert eye catching and clear who you are.
• Roundabout signs - I don't know of any salons who have done this but I have clients with other businesses who have with great results. Just ensure the signs are on a roundabout that are on a busy road that is used a lot, in order to maximise the visibility. Ensure the advert is short, to the point and has the key information that stands out and is easy to see who you are and what you do.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Ask your current clients how they found you and where they look when looking for services, utilise the free options first and build upon it. A potential client needs to see you advertised seven times before they are likely to book so make sure you use a variety of outlets to market yourself, don't just keep doing the same thing because you always have, mix it up. But whatever you do keep doing it and never stop!