Kathy Fye knew she was on to something. A nail tech of 15 years, Fye heard the
buzz in the media surrounding CND’s Shellac and knew the hype was true. She was using the product, and her clients loved it. She realized that people were hearing about Shellac — on the “Today Show,” in The New York Times, and all over the beauty blogs — and she wanted them to know she had it.
She had recently added her location, Terrarium Hair Spa in Temperance, Mich., to Facebook, and was able to update her status and link to the CND page to let her clients know she had the new “manicure miracle.” However, she really wanted to capitalize on the media frenzy to help potential clients find her. “I e-mailed the local ABC station and told them the story was all over the national news, and they should do a story about it in Toledo. Then I told them if they needed to feature a salon, I have it!” says Fye. “I even told them I thought it would end up on Oprah’s Favorite Things!” The local news did do a story on it, and with video coverage and time on the air, Fye was able to ride the wave of the media attention that swept Shellac onto the national scene.
And that’s all techs need to do: Wait for some media attention to highlight a new product and then send a press release alerting the news that their salon carries the new product. Multiple media outlets will eagerly flock to their salon, tell their story, and help them build their business.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
The truth is, most techs aren’t nearly as fortunate as Fye in getting local media to recognize their salon. “Most of the time, techs need to court the media,” says Millie Haynam, an industry educator with a passion for helping techs learn better ways of marketing themselves. “Techs need to be consistent and persistent in order for the media to take notice.”
However, with some planning and preparation, techs can put themselves in a position to ride the next wave of national attention that hits our industry.
First: Be prepared. “Read NAILS to find out what the trends will be next season,” says Haynam. “Learn what’s new on the market and stay educated on changes in the industry.” In other words, stay ahead of the curve. Haynam says techs know what’s new in the industry before the general public knows, so they should never be surprised about a “new” product or color a client mentions. Haynam acknowledges that it can be difficult for a tech to recognize what will appeal to her particular clientele, but techs can gauge interest by talking about the upcoming trends and watching how clients respond.
Second: Use multiple methods to market yourself. Techs will know about seasonal colors and innovative products months before the general public. That puts them in a position to be driving the buzz instead of simply responding to it. Techs can communicate what’s coming, not only what’s here to their clients. This way, clients are anticipating the new product or colors, and the story they hear in the media underscores your expertise more than announces a trend. For example, when a manufacturer advertizes a new line of matte colors for fall, techs can “tweet” that news or update their Facebook status to let their clients know something new will be available soon — and it will be available at your salon.
Manufacturers understand the need for multiple streams of communication, and many of them offer press releases and printable promotional materials, such as postcards, business cards, and posters, on their website. Use these resources as often as you can: Pick up the copy and post it to your status, link to the videos posted on manufacturers’ sites or pages, send out the professionally designed postcards, hand out the business cards as your own, and print out posters to hang in the salon window. When you see an ad in a magazine, read a story online, or watch a beauty segment on television, use every and all available methods at your disposal to let clients know you offer the product being mentioned. Get creative: sandwich boards in front of the salon, a new message on the answering machine, Facebook, Twitter, printed promotional cards, and magazine pages are all ways to help clients associate your salon as the place to call when they hear something new is on the beauty scene.
Third: Understand framing. Along with communicating outwardly to clients, techs also want to attract attention inwardly — they want coverage from local news sources. One common mistake people make when they contact the media, says Haynam, is that they fail to understand what constitutes news. When news cameras came to Fye’s salon, it wasn’t to let the public know the price of her services, or that she was running a sale, or even that she has a new service available. That information would have fallen under advertising, and Fye would have been expected to pay for an ad to tell her message. The reason the news came to her salon is because Fye framed her story as news. Fye knew she had a viable local-interest story, and her press release said, “Hey! This product is getting national attention from L.A. to N.Y., and you should let your readers and listeners know that our town offers this.”
The ABC affiliate introduced the story with two pieces of information that appealed to a broad audience: This will “change the way women think about their manicures” and “a local salon is one of the first to have a nail polish that stays on for more than two weeks.” The news story is not “Terrarium Hair Spa has Shellac.” Did Fye care that the story was more about the 14-day manicure than about the salon? Of course not. She understood that by framing the message as a news story she would get covered, and viewers who saw the news segment would associate her salon with that service. “I am getting 10 new clients a week calling for Shellac manicures,” she laughs.
Techs have an opportunity to benefit from consumer marketing every time something new is launched: metallics, neon, Minx, matte, art, stilettos, etc. There is always something happening, and clients often hear about that “something” through consumer magazines, celebrities, or other media sources. Riding the wave when that information hits the public consciousness doesn’t happen by chance. It happens when techs put themselves in a strategic position to catch the wave. Are you ready for the next one?