So, I got a message via Facebook yesterday regarding all my ranting about the Dr. Oz fiasco. She wanted to know what I thought the answer was. Of course I sat down and wrote back. And, of course, I had a lot to say.
Here's the deal, folks: I've been shouting into the wind for over 10 years now that the only way we're going to see a significant stepping up of the industry as a whole is if we see a significant stepping up of the public's demand of the industry. The only way we'll see a significant stepping up of the public demand is by educating them about what they ought to expect from us.
Right now the average woman-on-the-street thinks that pink-and-white acrylics are called "solar nails" and far too many of them think that "gels" are done with powder and liquid. A few years ago, I worked in a place that actually got walk-in traffic. Do you know how many times someone came in and actually said, "This is the first time I've had my nails done by a white girl."? Now, no offense to any and all of our non-Caucasian sisters — and brothers — out there making dust for a living, but I can't forget the first time someone said that in front of me. Not TO me, mind you, IN FRONT OF me — but that's another rant. That girl said it in the manner that implied that her perception of the business I am so passionate about was that doing nails is a low-paying job for immigrants with little skills. Putting them in the same category as many people place migrant farm workers and back-kitchen fast food staff.
No. She did not become a lifelong friend and valued client. But like I said, that's another rant.
Point is, the public at large is going to require a lot of education before they get it in their heads that the nail industry is just like any other industry. I have no stinking clue why it is that most women already know that if you go to a walk-in hair salon and pay $15 for a haircut that they should not expect their hair to look like a movie star. Of course, there's a difference between a $15 walk-in haircut and a $180, make-an-appointment haircut, color, and style. Seriously. And they know the difference between the knock-off Coach bag that they got at the flea market for $20 versus the genuine article that they bought at Macy's for $300. And try giving a girl an engagement ring with a cubic zirconia in it. See how that works out. But for some crazy reason, these same women — who can all tell you why a Mercedes Benz is better than a Hyundai — can't seem to figure out that the walk-in nail shop with the giant neon green banner on the awning is different from the place where they had to get a referral and make an appointment.
Duh, people. Really?
My point was: I'd advertise. I wouldn't just advertise MY salon, MY business, MYself. I'd advertise for the industry. I'd make public service announcements. I'd tell the world what they ought to expect from a quality service and give them the resources they need to find them.
The information is already there. BeautyTech.info is up and running and designed entirely toward educating the consumer. No one has to start from the ground up; we just have to direct the consumers' attention to the information. We need to lead them there. So that clients all over the world can arm themselves with the information they need to find us, know what questions to ask to make sure they've found us, and know what to expect from us and what to do about it when we fall short. Believe me, it'll help the public and it'll force the industry to step up too.
If everyone out there ran an ad in their local paper advertising BeautyTech.info with a little line that says, "Getting nailed shouldn't hurt" or "How to find a safe nail salon" or "What you need to know about getting your nails done" or whatever, how many people do you think would visit the link? How long would it take for that website to go viral? We could do it. We could make it happen. We could change the world — or at least our little corner of it. But it requires doing something selfless. It requires making an investment in the industry. Doing it without adding our own names, our own businesses. The public is worn out and desensitized to advertising. If the information gets to them attached to a business name, they will know you're pushing your personal agenda. They need it to be free of endorsement. They need to know that this is generic information, not your way of "proving" to them that you are best place for them to get their nails done.
If I had the money, I'd put these ads on buses, I'd put them on billboards, I'd put them on TV and on the radio, in the local paper, and in every major fashion magazine — and all 27 of those stinking magazines dedicated entirely to hairstyles. It'd be everywhere.
I can't afford to do that alone though. But it has got me to thinking I can do some. I can start somewhere. I think our local paper might be running some advertising soon — for you.