With some creativity and a healthy dose of legwork, it’s possible to market yourself well even without a big advertising budget. Take these tips from techs and personalize them to work for you.
1) Get a website. I’m not computer-savvy, so I found a service online (www.livebusinessmarketing.com) where I tell them my vision and they create it for me. It costs $40/month. I get enough referrals from my site to more than cover the cost of it. It’s a fabulous tool, and it’s been amazingly beneficial to my business. When people land on my site, I have their undivided attention to tell them why they should choose me over other salons.
— Kaycee Weizel, Nails by Kaycee, Modesto, Calif.
2) Set up e-mail marketing with a company like iContact. I ask clients for their e-mail addresses so I can send them announcements and coupons. In the e-mail, I’ll talk up the service and build excitement by showing which celebrities get their nails done the same way. I get new customers when clients forward the specials to their friends.
— LaBrina White, Luxure Nail Spa, Chicago
3) Use Living Social. It doesn’t cost anything up front, and it’s a great way to get new clients. Basically, you discount your services by 50%, so $50 in services costs the customer $25, and then Living Social will take 35% of what the buyer pays. We had great success with it. If you’re concerned about giving too much away, you can cap the number of “deals” Living Social can sell.
— Lenzi Brock-Moore, Spoiled Spa and Salon, Vancouver, Wash.
4) Make a business page on Facebook, load pictures of your work every day, and tag the client and the tech in the picture so it shows up on their walls for all friends to see. We live in a small town, so through the network of Facebook, people see their friends’ nails and that draws them to our salon to get the nails they’ve seen online. We get a lot of new high school students and local businesswomen this way.
— Kim Hanzlik, Nails, Hands, Feet and Toes, Winnemucca, Nev.
5) Announce last-minute specials on Facebook to fill holes in the book. Our new tech had openings on Thursday and Friday from 12-5, so we put out an announcement on Facebook that we were looking for clients to come in so she could hone her skills; we got 43 responses.
— Rhonda Kibuk, The Purple Pinkie, Ford City, Pa.
6) Run ads on Facebook. Control what you spend with Facebook’s pay-per-click. We set our ad to target females in a certain age group and within specific zip codes. The ad has a catchy photo, the ad copy, and our phone number, so people know we are local. It also allows potential clients to write our number down instead of clicking on the ad. Almost every woman in our client base is on Facebook and social media travels fast and far.
— Angie Nguyen, Studio7 Nails & Spa , Olympia, Wash.
7) Think of social media, online reviews, and local press as a spider web. Connect all of them to make the most impact:
> Sign up to Foursquare so clients can “check in” when they come to your salon and post opinions about your goods and services. Their friends see the comments and are more likely to choose your business based on their friends’ comments.
> Ask clients to write reviews through Google and Yelp. Google analytics compiles your “virtual footprint” to determine your position in search results. You increase your position through the number of reviews you have, along with hits to your website and the amount people are talking about you online.
> Get on the “best of” lists in your local paper. It’s great local promotion and has an added benefit: Voting is done online, so your name gets picked up by web crawlers.
> Master the press release. For the same reasons as the “best of” lists, a press release gets you local exposure with online benefits.
— NICK BROWN, Velvet Nail Lounge, Troy, Mich.
Reach Out Into the Community
8) Everybody thinks in terms of how to get their name out there in a big way, but I have found I get the best results when I just pay attention and take opportunities to promote myself. It takes a little courage, but you get a lot of business once you become comfortable talking yourself up and handing out your card, especially with people you see on a regular basis. Always be “open for business.”
— Alecia Spina, Volpe Nails and Hair, Johnson City, N.Y.
9) Develop relationships with people who work in high-profile positions (real estate agents, bank tellers, jewelry store, Chamber of Commerce) so they have a salon to recommend when their clients and customers ask.
— Tomilynn Rando, New Beginnings Salon, Owego, N.Y.
10) Offer a discount to people in your immediate social circles. For example, I offer a $10 discount to women in my church, which makes me their go-to nail tech when it comes to weddings.
— Lori Pendergraft, Nails by Lori, Spokane, Wash.
11) Market with neighboring businesses (including micro-businesses within your own salon). A gym, for example, has the perfect clientele to target. Offer a discounted or free service with the purchase of a membership. If you work in a full-service salon, do your coworkers nails and put up a sign on their stations offering a discount for services to first-time clients.
— Robin Stopper, Nails by Robin, Tavares, Fla.
12) I create a photo album with 20-25 pictures of my work (usually something that shows off my nail art), plus my business card and a price list. I take the book to salons where I know the stylist and where I know they don’t have a nail tech, and I leave the book in the salon for about two weeks. I always pick up appointments when I do this.
— Crystal L. Jones, The Salon: Hair, Nails and Fitness Studio, Danville, Ky.
13) Take part in community activities. We participated in the town’s “Main Street Trick or Treating” event. It was so much fun; plus, it raised our salon’s exposure.
— Darlene Donovan, Salon Bellamy, Derry, N.H.
14) We reserve a table at local events such as fall/spring festivals at the community centers. Our booth at the local elementary school’s fall carnival cost $25 and all we had to do was decorate. We offered mini-manicures and nail art for Halloween and pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This was a great way to meet people, strike up a conversation, and earn new clients. Also, advertising in the school papers is usually very inexpensive, and parents tend to pay attention to what their kids bring home.
— Tammy Rosenberg, Luxe Salon and Spa, Chandler, Ariz.
15) For the opening of certain popular movies, such as “Sex and the City,” or other special events, we partner with a client who owns a restaurant and wine bar and offer mini manicures and other services to guests. We promote the event thorough the client lists of both businesses, in-salon fliers, and word of mouth. We charge $5 to shape, buff and polish; plus, we make tips. Make sure you have your business cards on hand!
— Darlene Arias, Luxe Salon and Spa, Chandler, Ariz.
16) I’ve found that giving — of your time, your skills, and your experience — does two things. First, it feels good to help people and second, you get your name out there by doing it. We host a lot of events at our salon that help raise money and awareness for things that are important to us: local fundraisers, breast cancer awareness, community events, etc. We do it because we love to help people out, but what we didn’t expect is the response we got back. When people hear about what we’re doing, they want to support our business. We have found that in doing what we love to do, we build a bond with our community and loyalty among our customers.
— KIM BAKER, Bijou Salon, Skaneateles, N.Y.
Tap In-House Resources
17) I give my clients $5 off a service for every new customer they send me. If that person becomes a monthly regular and stays for a year, she becomes a VIP client and earns 10% off every service as long as she remains a regular customer. I give the client who referred her a $50 bonus to spend as she wants. This encourages my clients to refer friends and to be selective in who they refer.
— Amanda L. Schison, Outerimages Studio and Academy, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
18) Hold a monthly raffle at your salon for one free service of whatever is the latest, hottest service in demand. Sell tickets every day; for example, $1 per ticket or $5 for seven tickets. Each month you give someone a free service that could pay for itself in the money you raise in the raffle. Ultimately, people will get wind that you are raffling off a free service and many current and perspective clients will participate. Some may even buy tickets as a gift!
— Princess Gard, Kuts n Kurls, Shaker Heights, Ohio
19) We reward clients in three ways. We hand “15% off” coupons out at many different events, even including them in the check folder at the sushi restaurant a few doors down from us. When people get their bill, they see our coupon and realize how close we are to a place they already frequent. Second, we use loyalty cards. After five visits to the same tech, the client receives $10 off the next service. Third, we use a client-referral program. Clients receive $5 in Luxe Buxe (salon credit to put toward any service) for each new customer they refer.
— AMANDA MILLANES, Luxe Salon and Spa, Chandler, Ariz.
Focus On Appearance
20) Do your own nails! When people ask me where I get my nails done, I get to tell them. Nail art is a good conversation starter.
— Trish Mullins, Nail & Body Works, Clay City, Ky.
21) We have aprons that are crazy cute, and we wear them even when we leave the salon to run to the store or out to grab lunch during a break. They draw a lot of attention; people see the name of the salon on them and it gives us a chance to talk about our services.
— Michelle Vanderburg, Polished Nail Spa, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Print It Up
22) We put a sandwich board in front of our salon and it works great to draw attention and bring in customers. It’s a chalkboard, so we can easily change the specials every couple of days to keep people interested.
— Susan Harrison, Soak Nail Spa, Columbia, S.C.
23) Vistaprint offers an inexpensive, do-it-yourself way to create print marketing pieces that are consistent and professional. I used them to develop my entire print presence: business cards, rack cards, lawn signs, and window decals. I spent almost nothing. Plus, I’ve received a few hundred dollars in Google offerings on top of it.
— Anna Love, Exalted Nail and Body, Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
24) Rotate pictures of your clients’ nails on your business cards. Clients love to see their hands and nails on the cards, and they are sure to pass them out when they receive compliments on their nails.
— Tammy Warner, Nails Unlimited at Beau Cheveux, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
25) Print off fliers or postcards and deliver them door-to-door. It takes about an hour to deliver to 100 homes. My return is usually five calls from the 100 homes. I highly suggest targeting an area where you want to get your name out; it’s a low cost with a high return.
— Carolyn McNairn, Mobile Beauty, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada