Every so often it happens that I’m chatting with a salon owner on the phone, and she will tell me that she feels as though she’s exhausted her marketing strategies and is completely out of ideas. It’s easy to feel like marketing doesn’t work when you have tried some new tactics and they have failed. However, it’s important to remember that marketing is a mindset, and those who have an open mind succeed. Try something, and if it doesn’t work, try again. And, don’t let your own inexperience in marketing deter you from attempting something new. Successful salons with large social media followings likely also started from ground zero and slowly gained marketing success because they kept trying. To get you started with promoting your salon, here are 10 marketing ideas you should be trying.
Idea #1: Hire local Instagram celebrities as influencers or brand ambassadors.
Instagram influencers are everywhere, and they are a huge industry. It’s no wonder that so many salons want to know how they can use local influencers to brand themselves in their city and make waves on Instagram. Here are a few tips for salon owners who want to try using influencers to grow their business and online presence
- Do your research about any “influencer” who approaches you or that you’d like to work with. Make sure that their Instagram followers are legitimate, and try to find other campaigns they’ve done with other local businesses. Then, do some research by speaking with those businesses to learn what it was like to work with this person.
- Make sure this person matches up with your ideal clientele. Choose someone who has the same values, style, and overall “ethos” that you do, and a platform that you are happy to associate with your salon. Also ensure that they are well connected with your ideal clientele in person and online.
- Be skeptical of “influencers” who promote their services to all business. Be wary of someone who is willing to reach out to any and all businesses just for some quick cash as an “influencer”. You want to make sure they legitimately love your business and are not just trying to make some quick money.
If you find the right person who fits perfectly into your business, it’s worth investing some money (or possibly free products or services) in hiring them.
Idea #2: Update your salon interior to have a cute place to take pictures (or even just a corner!).
Investing in a beautiful salon interior helps you stand out on social media, and it’s great for taking pictures and videos of clients. Creating a lovely salon interior is not only about creating a pampered experience when clients come in, it helps to gain attention online as well. If you feel like you don’t have the funds to make major changes to the interior of your salon, there are some small changes you can make that can have a huge impact, too. For example:
- Represent your brand colors on a wall, either through paint or an accent wall with colorful wallpaper.
- Find a theme and make it stand out — it might be flowers, sunsets, or geometric patterns. However you design your “look” online, make sure the theme is represented in your studio as well.
- Improve the lighting in your salon. This not only creates a better mood within the space, but your photos will turn out better, too. (Check out these tips for lighting your salon.)
- Start small. If redoing your whole space is too difficult, try starting with a small area where you can take pictures.
Idea #3: Get your salon featured in the news.
Getting press coverage for your salon just might be the holy grail of promotion. Press coverage provides you with a great promotion piece to share with your current fans on social media and email newsletter, and is the perfect way for new clients to learn about your business. Additionally, if a news source mentions you online and links back to your website, the association with a website that is considered an “authority,” as news sites usually are, helps greatly with your Google search ranking. News sites are always looking for experts to comment on beauty and health trends, new products, celebrity hairstyles and more. Help A Reporter Out connects news sites looking for experts with actual expertise. All you have to do is respond to their request for help, and if they like your response they’ll include you in their article (often with a link to your website.) Subscribe to HARO’s email updates and keep an eye out for inquiries in your field.
Idea #4: Launch a salon chatbot.
Chatbots tend to be an underestimated, but very useful tool for salons. It may seem as though they are complicated and you would have to be very tech-savvy or hire someone to implement them, but in reality, they are simple and free. Having a chatbot can help your salon if:
- Your Facebook page is overrun with commonly asked questions. On messenger, a chatbot can answer those questions without the help of a staff member (“What time are you open until? How much does xyz cost?”)
- People want to book an appointment over Facebook. You can either set up a chatbot to book an appointment directly with them, or you can direct them to your online booking page
- You run Facebook ads and want to turn your Facebook fans into clients. Connect your Facebook ad to a chatbot and you can automatically start a friendly conversation with people who comment on your ad, and then turn that into an appointment.
Idea #5: Track who visits your website, and then show them a Facebook ad.
When I run Facebook ads, I pay for each person that clicks on my ad that goes my website. To get that cost from 60 cents per click to 3 cents per click, I show my ads to anyone who has visited my website in the past six months. This works extremely well. Think about how this could work for your salon: First, someone finds your salon on Google. They visit your website, look around, and then get distracted and jump off without contacting you or booking an appointment. The next week they see a Facebook ad from you, which is perfect because they already know about you from Google, they’re in your target audience, and they’ve expressed interest in your services. When you show Facebook ads to your website visitors, they’re much more likely to claim your offer or book an appointment than anyone else on Facebook.
Idea #6: Send out monthly (non-sales) newsletters.
If done right, regular emails sent to your client list can have a huge impact on your branding and sales. However, they have to be beautiful, easy to read, and non-sales oriented (meaning the main goal is not to sell or book appointments.) They should also be friendly, educational, fun to read, and interesting. Email is the perfect place to tell people about yourself, to share useful tips and ideas, and to become an inspiration and an educator to those around you. Going for a branding/educational approach in your emails instead of a sales approach takes some time and thought, but once you see the results, you’ll never go back. If you send out these emails on a regular basis, your email list will flourish and you will have a thriving community of fans who can’t wait for your next newsletter. If you’re looking for things to include in your newsletter, try these:
- Include a photo of yourself and tell a story of the most interesting or exciting thing that happened to you in the past month.
- Share a beauty tip or “hack” including pictures that you took yourself.
- Spotlight three products that you love, and explain why they’re great.
Remember to write in an informal way, like you would to a friend, and let your sense of humor and personality shine through!
Idea #7: Use 3-5 colors consistently in everything you do.
When I say use consistent colors in everything, I mean everything: The inspirational quotes you post on Instagram, your Facebook cover photo, your website, the emails you send out, your client loyalty cards, and anything else you use to market your salon. Using a consistent color palette is crucial for creating a strong and instantly recognizable brand, both online and offline. You want people to associate certain colors with your salon as soon as they see them, and you want to make sure that the colors you use are saying the right thing about your brand. Is your salon young fresh and minimal? Are you classic, elegant, and upscale? Or are you bright, flirty, and feminine? Understanding your salon personality, choosing the right color palette, and using it consistently will do wonders for your brand and help bring in the specific clientele you want to target.
Idea #8: Experiment with new Instagram hashtags (at least) once a month.
Studies say that posts with nine hashtags or more perform 2.5 times better than posts without hashtag. This means that utilizing hashtags is crucial in growing your social media following. Here’s what you need to know about using hashtags for your salon:
- They “tag” your posts into categories. For example, if you use a hashtag such as #nailsalon, your post will appear when someone searches for that particular tag.
- They’re the best way to get new people to see your posts on Instagram.
- You can use max 30 of them — and you should use as many as you can.
- Use popular hashtags. If you use hashtags you’ve discovered through research, they will be more likely to work for you, as opposed to random ones or ones you think of yourself. The best hashtags are those that are relevant, local hashtags in your city. To find these, research which hashtags people are using near you, and narrow those down into hashtags that your target audience is using.
It can be difficult to find the right mix of local hashtags, beauty hashtags, trending hashtags, etc. So, experiment with using different ones, rather than using the same hashtags all the time (some research even shows that Instagram penalizes copy/paste hashtags). Try coming up with new hashtag ideas at least once a month, test them out, and track your results to see which hashtags help you get more engagement and followers.
Idea #9: Send out an email or text after appointments to ask for reviews.
It can be extremely difficult to get clients to give you reviews. People come in for an appointment and you’ll never hear from them again, like they completely disappeared. Often they may even say they loved your work, promise to give you a review, and then never follow through. The reason for this is simple: People are lazy and they don’t realize how important reviews are to your business. Reviews are highly influential to potential clients who research you online, and having a lot of positive reviews can make people feel comfortable trusting you and your salon. Google also loves reviews, and uses them to determine if you are a high quality local business. The more positive reviews you have, the higher you’ll appear on Google Maps recommendations.
A great way to garner reviews is to send out an email or text (you can automate this with your booking software or just do it manually) after an appointment saying something like:
Make it easy for them, and let them know how important it is to you.
Idea #10: Post fun videos of you and your staff on Facebook and Instagram.
As much as people want to see pictures of your work, after a while, these pictures can get pretty monotonous. Especially if you’re looking at lots of different salons on Instagram and everyone is posting the same before and after photos. Clients also want to see who is behind the chair, and get insight into your style, personality, and sense of humor. People want to know who they are trusting with their hair or nails, and connect with you as a person. One of the best ways to do this is to post videos of yourself and your staff. If you’re intimidated, start with photos. Then, try a Boomerang video. Then experiment with quick 30-second “interview” videos where you ask each staff member a silly question about themselves. Just like anything else, the more you do it, the more comfortable and capable you will feel.
Promoting your salon business can be frustrating, confusing and sometimes demotivating if you feel like you can’t get it right. But, I try to remember three main things about marketing:
- If you find something that works, double down on it. Don’t feel like you have to find that “magic marketing idea” if it’s already right in front of you. Keep it simple.
- If you’re out of ideas and are looking around, don’t be afraid to try new things. Learning some basic marketing and sales skills can be crucial for growing your beauty business.
- If you try something new and it doesn’t work out, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes experimentation can be your best friend, and often it just takes many different ideas and time before you learn what works for you.