Part substance, part strategy, staking out your spot on local “best of” lists requires a game plan. NAILS attempts to demystify the process of claiming your spot on the list.
Step 3. Stuffing the Ballot Box
While many salons learn of readers’ choice awards after the fact, staying in touch with editors and following the newspaper can alert you of upcoming polls, allowing you time to launch a campaign to get clients to cast their ballots — usually online. The Brass Rose Spa & Salon in Blairstown, N.J. was chosen Best Day Spa in the County by the New Jersey Herald, but owner Rosemary Weiner did not even know the voting was going on until they received notice of the award. Even so, Weiner stresses the importance of maintaining a relationship with the lifestyle editors of the local newspapers and regional magazines. She sends editors articles about The Brass Rose or general spa and beauty topics that would be of interest to their readers. “This keeps us in their minds when they are thinking of doing an article,” she says. Some of the ways salons encourage voting when they know they’re in the running:
- Post a sign in the salon
- Put an “invitation to vote” in each retail bag
- Alert clients in online and print newsletters
Step 4. Enlisting the Help of a Professional
Sonny Rapozo of Hot Locks Salon Spa in North Falmouth, Mass., recommends salons use an external public relations and marketing agency to best represent the salon. “They are experts in the field and have the manpower, resources, and contacts to make the most from any opportunity.” Hot Locks Salon Spa was on Boston magazine’s “Best of Boston” list. Companies such as Marketing Solutions or PR/PR can help salons with the task of media coverage. Salons may find that while they are small, as are many nails-only salons, the task of marketing and getting noticed can be handled by the salon owner or manager. As the salon grows and adds new services, it becomes increasingly hard to create a total package to present to the media. At some point salons may want to enlist the help of a professional to handle some or all of the tasks.
Step 5. Once You’re on the List
When the voting is over and the ballots have been counted, you will be notified if you make the list. Don’t forget to thank the magazine or newspaper’s staff, as well as your clients. Make a real impression — Oskin likes sending candy or flowers with a thank you note to the publication’s editor. Obtain reprints of articles and post a thank you sign in the salon along the lines of: “Thank you for helping us become #1 in Your Town. By reader poll we were selected as the best salon for…”
Step 6. Taking It to the Next Level
Local media coverage can open the doors for coverage in other venues. There are many regional and national publications that follow noteworthy salons. Many guides are printed and sold in drugstores and bookstores. “The writers and editors are not going to track you down. Salons need to get the attention of the editors who compile the national lists,” says Oskin. “Salons should contact publications with a media kit three to four months before the publication date.” Being a local media darling does have its rewards. If you make yourself available, local print and radio will seek you out for your expert opinions when they feature the industry offerings or practices. The consumer-driven and journalistic approach is better than any advertising you could buy.
ASSEMBLING A MEDIA KIT
“Every salon seeking media exposure needs to put together a media kit,” says Marketing Solutions’ Oskin. “A media kit should at minimum include a salon bio, description of salon specialties, owner information, photos of the salon, and awards. Salons may also include a copy of the printed salon menu, newsletters, and background on the business. The idea is to impress the media.” Though some media outlets can’t accept gifts, the salon can include a gift certificate for editorial staff to receive complimentary services. If the publication doesn’t accept gifts, they will just send it back. “Even so, it is a nice touch. Salons need to entice the publications to take notice,” he says. And how else will they know you offer the best pedicure in town if they tried it for themselves?
REAPING THE REWARDS
Roula Nassar of Roula’s Nail Spa in Houston counts employee loyalty as one of the major benefits of being on “best of” lists. “Employees want to work for a business they believe in. They are proud to be a member of the team,” she says. Oskin points out that if salons integrate their inclusion on “best of” lists into marketing efforts, a salon can reap the rewards for years, in the form of referrals, increased credibility, and further media exposure. Rapozo adds, “It gives your staff a real ego boost! It also helps to establish them as experts in our community.”