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The Nitty Gritty Guide to Marketing Your Salon

by Tim Crowley, Hannah Lee, Judy Lessin, Sree Roy | March 1, 2009

>>MARKETING ON THE WEB

The Dos and Don’ts of Website Design

 

Are you guilty of any of these misdemeanors when it comes to site design? Stefan Mischook of killersites.com shares these tips to making your web pages a nice place to visit:

 • Don’t have page counters. Page counters do nothing except make you look like an amateur, mess with your design, and tell people information about your site you probably don’t want them to know.

• Forget blinking or flashing text. The only place you see blinking and/or flashing text is on the neon signs of naked bars or websites made in the mid-’90s.

• Don’t try any stupid tricks in an attempt to fool the search engines. These tactics may have had some limited success in the past, but those days are long gone.

• Don’t use Flash intros. The “skip intro” button is the second most clicked on the web today.

• Don’t use background music on your web pages. Music files are typically pretty heavy and take time to download. And unexpected sound spewing forth from one’s PC can be very annoying.

• Do keep the structure of your web pages consistent throughout your website. People like things consistent, so your web pages should be too.

• Do use standard styles for your navigation. Left side navigation and top navigation is what people are used to.

• Don’t over-use bold, italics, or ALL CAPS in your body text. All three are difficult to read in large doses. Plus, it diminishes the impact of the words you really do want to emphasize.

• Don’t use too many colors in your website. Keep the color scheme of your website limited to a couple of colors and keep it consistent across your site.

Editor’s note: Now that your site is beautiful, make sure people see it. Read “Getting Your Site Noticed” for tips on search engine optimization.

On the next page: Salon-Finder Sites for Cyber Seekers

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Salon-Finder Sites for Cyber Seekers

Get your name out to the web-surfing public by registering with several salon-finder sites. In most cases, you can get a basic listing for free with the option of boosting your visibility for a fee. And whether or not you have a website, the major search engines also allow businesses to list themselves so they come up in local search results.

This is where you can sign up:

Beautysalonandspa.com

Beautytech.info

Beautyweb.com (click on Salon Finder)

Citysearch.com

Findabeautysalon.com

Heavenspa.com

Nailsalonsonline.com 

Oveeta.com

Spafinder.com 

Local Search Engines

• Google: www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter

• Yahoo!: http://listings.local.yahoo.com/csubmit/index.php

• MSN: https://ssl.search.live.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx

On the next page: E-Newsletters Made Easy

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 E-Newsletters Made Easy

E-newsletters are an inexpensive way to reach out to your customers when they’re away from the salon. Generally a mix of consumer education, seasonal specials, and salon news, these monthly missives keep clients feeling connected and reinforce a sense of community.

Here are some tips to maximize your efforts:

• Choose a format that is cohesive with the feel of the salon and stick to it. Clients will start to feel comfortable with it.

• Once a month is a good goal for newsletter publication. If you can’t see yourself keeping up with that, start out offering a quarterly newsletter.

• Allow subscribers to opt in to receive your e-newsletter. It is better to have a list full of readers who want what you have to offer, than just to have a big list. To build a list of addresses, add a newsletter sign-up button to every page of your website, keep a sign-up sheet in the salon, and offer a sign-up during the client consultation.

• Choose an accurate subject line for your e-mail. Include the salon name and a detail of what’s inside. “Summer skincare made easy at XYZ Salon” or “10 ways to spot a healthy pedicure, The Salon.” Readers will come to recognize the salon name and trust the sender.

• Avoid the hard sell. If you want to talk about a wonderful hand lotion for sale in the salon, start with addressing the problem it solves. A mini headline such as “Winter Dryness Attacking Your Hands?” followed by the research that certain ingredients may help alleviate the problem, can lead readers to embrace what follows — the fact that your salon now stocks XYZ Brand hand lotion, containing these very ingredients.

• Offer tips for homecare. Gently reminding clients of the steps to take at home will drive sales of supporting products.

• Include a printable coupon, incentive, or offer within the newsletter.

• Build hype in the salon with a calendar of events and signature services.

 >Help for the Non-Do-It-Yourselfer

Check out these websites that can help with the design and distribution of your e-newsletter:

 • MyNewsletterBuilder.com

YourMailingListProvider.com

ConstantContact.com

iContact.com

JangoMail.com

Newsletterease.com

On the next page: Using Social Media for Self-Promotion

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Using Social Media for Self-Promotion

 

 

Self-promotion through social media — like MySpace, Facebook, and Linkedin — is a natural fit for the beauty business, which depends heavily on word of mouth. It’s a way to strengthen bonds with existing clients and connect to a new audience. (Your increased web presence also boosts your search engine placement.) 

Unlike traditional advertising, social media is a give and take process. Users expect to get to know a company or individual before taking recommendations from them. The idea is to become a trusted member of the community — so much so that others start to talk about you and refer people to you.

Salon owner Erin Snyder Dixon offers these rules of the road to cultivate business through social networking:

Take time to read the guidelines on each site. Some allow businesses to have accounts while others require accounts to be for real people.

Create your account and use it gently to get accustomed to the “feel” of the site. 

Don’t send spam. When someone befriends/follows/links to you it is not an invitation to receive your advertising message.

It’s OK to include the occasional link to your blog but avoid sending out company links in every other transmission.

Get to know people. Offer guidance where appropriate.

Be prepared to participate in the “community” of the site.

Be careful of the personal information you transmit. It is easy to feel like you are well acquainted with people whom you truly know little about.

Never agree to meet people face to face. Consider attending a conference or other public event to get to know other community members.

Avoid using negative information. Keep it positive to attract clients.

Most sites a have a sort of hierarchy. Figure out who the movers and shakers are and watch what they do.

Realize that it takes time to build a social network. Don’t get too friendly too fast or people will pull away — just like real life.

>A Few More Tips …

• Participate on several social media sites, but don’t have time for regular updates? There is a service at www.ping.fm that allows a user to send updates to multiple sites at once.

• Be sure to use a powerful antivirus/spyware program. Some popular ones are Trend Micro and Norton, but there are many out there.

• Set a kitchen timer. It’s easy to be caught up in the conversation and lose track of time. Decide how much time you can “budget” for social media and stick to it.

• Think before you post. Don’t post when mad, under the influence, in a bad mood, or unsure what you want to say or how to say it.

>Social Networking Sites

Bebo.com

Blogger.com

Delicious.com

Facebook.com

Hi5.com

Linkedin.com

Koomk.com

Mashable.com

MySpace.com

Multiply.com

Plaxopulse.com

Plurk.com

Tumblr.com

Twitter.com  

Yammer.com

Wordpress.com

On the next page: The Yellow Pages (Print and Online)

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>>MARKETING IN PRINT

 

Yes, the Yellow Pages Still Matter

While online search engines are the way most of us seek out local business information these days, a recent survey revealed that 30% of us still rely on print directories as our primary local business research source, and many more still turn to the Yellow Pages on occasion. So how do you get the eyes of consumers to look at your ad?

1. Which directory? Do your homework and determine which is the dominant directory in your area. Don’t always go with the cheaper ad; instead compare the various directories’ circulation and their usage numbers. Another option is to pick up the book and call some of the advertisers to ask them about the response they’ve gotten.

2. Display or In-Column Ad? Yellow Pages users with a specific name in mind tend to gravitate toward the in-column ads, while those who are shopping for a business tend to look at the display ads for comparison purposes. Experts agree that display ads are far more effective in drawing new clients.

3. Go for Eye-Stopping Design. For the illustration, use your logo, a photo or illustration of the salon building, a great picture of a hand, or something else equally unique. Whatever you do, avoid using a stale or cliched graphic offered by the directory publisher to any business that wants it. Type styles and borders also are important. The border can help stop the eye and should be dominant if the ad design is weak or light on artwork. If the ad itself is visually compelling, go with a thinner, more subtle border so the two do not compete. Limit yourself to two type styles and keep them simple. Also, use upper and lower case because it’s easier to read.

4. The Power of the Written Word. Instead of using your salon name as the ad headline, use the headline to communicate how you meet their needs. For example: “Open 7 Days A Week,” “Natural Nail Specialists,” or “Exacting Sanitation Standards.” The rest of the copy in the ad should convey what services you offer, emphasizing those that are in high demand or different from others’ offerings, your hours, and location (include a map or cross street).

>Online Yellow Pages Listings Are Free

You may not have to do a thing to get your salon listed on sites such as www.yellowpages.com and www.yellowbook.com. These online directories feature the listings of phone books across the country, so if you’re listed in one of these, you may be included online as well. Yellowpages.com also compiles its own listings. However, you can add your site to the listings if it’s not there already, at no charge. There are different types of paid online ads available, ranging from banners across the top of the page or listings that are designed to stand out from the rest through different typeface or some other distinguishing quality. These range in cost from less than $100 per month to thousands.

On the next page: Design an Effective Print Ad

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Design an Effective Print Ad

Inquire about ad design from the publication. Most publications like newspapers will be able to design the advertisement for you. Talk to the sales representative beforehand to make sure this is possible, and then provide them with your salon logo, image, and information.

Budget for a six-month placement. It’s important to have consistency with any campaign. You want to make sure people have the time to see your advertisement, so spacing out the ad to run for six months is important. Do not purchase a one-time or one-month only ad, because the likelihood that you will get many new clients from a single placement is slim.

Offer a new-client discount. For any type of service business, especially nail salons, it is important to give the prospective client a good reason to seek out your establishment. Putting a special discount for a first-time client increases the chances of that person coming through the door. An ad that functions as a coupon is a great way to do this.

Use appropriate images. Remember that you want to have an ad that visually jumps out at the reader skimming over the pages and immediately lets them know what your business is. If you’re a nails-only salon, a picture of hands and feet is a must, and if you’re a full-service salon that does hair and skin as well, choose a nice picture of a massage or a hair service.

Include a salon logo. Be sure to include your salon’s logo so you can begin to brand your salon and familiarize customers with it. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just consistent. The logo should be included in all brochures, menus, and business cards as well.

Include a website or MySpace page. The web has become the number-one source of information gathering for businesses. So if you don’t have a website for your salon, take the time to make a MySpace or Facebook page, including photos of your salon, menu pricing, and a mission statement.

>Understand your clients and cater to them.

On the next page: Place a Newspaper Ad

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Place a Newspaper Ad

Research local publications. Look up online to find the local newspapers in your city or town. A quick Google search including your city’s name along with an appropriate tagline like “newspapers,” is a great place to start. You can also head to your local grocery or convenience store and browse the publications there. Many smaller news publications are free of charge to consumers and full of advertisements for local businesses.

Carefully consider where your ad should be placed. You don’t want your nail salon ad to appear in the sports section, and you don’t want it to appear in the classifieds either. You want your ad located in a popular section that has the best chance of pulling a potential nail salon client. So browse through the publication you’d like to advertise in and see where you feel your ad should be.

Also, inquire about a health and beauty section. Some newspapers have a special section for health and beauty, but it may not appear in the daily editions, only coming out once a week or so. It is worth inquiring about this because placement in these sections may create the best opportunity for your ad to be seen by potential clients.

Call the newspaper to talk to a sales representative. When you find the publication you would like to place an ad in, don’t be shy about calling a sales representative and discussing exactly what you are looking for. Tell them you are interested in placing an advertisement for your salon’s services, and that you’d like to know what they have to offer. In some circumstances, a sales rep may actually visit your establishment to better understand your needs. (This is becoming more common as the struggling newspaper industry attempts to reinforce its client relationships.)

Get a price sheet. Once you have talked to a sales rep, ask them for a price sheet for the different sized ads, the different placement areas, and the rates for the length of the ad placement. You need to know all of this information up front so you can budget in how much you’d like to spend on advertising.

Inquire about zoning. Many publications have deals for advertising in certain zones. So if your city is big, a newspaper can place your advertisement so it only appears in certain areas of the city, as opposed to the entire readership. This could help save costs if you feel your advertisement will only be useful in certain areas of the city.

On the next page: Reach Out in Your Neighborhood

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Reach Out in Your Neighborhood

Partner with local businesses. Many salon owners have taken the initiative to approach other businesses with new ways to increase customer traffic for both. One example is to go to the local shoe store and offer the salespeople free or discounted pedicures for recommending your salon to serious runners buying shoes. Another idea is to meet with local bridal stores and offer to cross-promote each other’s services.

Put a flyer up at the local high school offering prom discounts. This is a great way to introduce your salon to a younger clientele that might just stay with you as they get older. It’s a great way to build your reputation as the neighborhood salon.

Reach out to people who have just moved to your area. You can go to the local chamber of commerce and (for a fee) obtain the addresses of people who have recently moved in. Mail them a coupon if you can, because new movers are five times more likely to become regular customers of merchants they like. And 80% of new movers say they are willing to try out new merchants.

There are companies that do this service as well — www.movingtargets.com will show you an average of how many people move into your zip code every month, and for a fee they will provide you with mailing opportunities.

On the next page: Designing a Great Business Card

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Designing a Great Business Card

So you’re thinking of updating your business card or creating a new one? Before you order a batch of cards, read these tips.

• Do include the salon’s logo, icon, and image in every way possible.

• Do include an area code, website, and e-mail. Make the phone number stand out. You can use a larger or different-colored typeface.

• Do carry over the theme and ambiance of your salon into the card’s design. Include your specialty, if you have one.

• Don’t use a dark font on a dark color stock of paper. Use contrasting colors to make important information stand out.

• Do ask your product manufacturers if they would give you permission to use their images. If you are an educator or master for a company, you may be able to get permission to use their logo or their photos on your business cards.

• Do proof and re-proof carefully. If you find that your cards contain typos, toss them out, take the hit, and reprint new cards.

• Don’t make the typeface too small or too fancy. Remember, you want the client to be able to read the information on your card.

• Do use upgraded paper. Sense of touch is important and says a lot about your image.

• Do go to a professional printer and design firm if your budget allows. Get printing costs for various quantities. You may be surprised that a large quantity costs only a few dollars more than the smaller batch.

• Do use creative techniques to make your card a standout. Make the corners round, use multiple colors, bleed the colors off the edge, etc.

• Do include information about salon sanitation. A simple statement like “We follow state sanitation guidelines” lets clients know you care about their safety.

>Keep Your Salon’s Brand Consistent.

On the next page: What You Need to Know About Door Hangers, Exterior Signage, Direct Mail, TV Advertising, Radio Advertising, and More

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What You Need to Know About… Door Hangers:

The Lowdown: Door hangers are an inexpensive way to get the word out to a large group of potential clients. Distributed in areas around your salon, they allow you to target specific areas and demographics.

The Magic Number: 500 door hangers are a good start for your first try with this advertising medium. (PrintingForLess.com charges $327.50 for 500 four-color, 4.25 x 11 door hangers on #100 gloss text.)

Distribution Details: Ask your printer for recommendations for distribution services. To save money, use your salon staff to distribute the door hangers. An able-bodied person can typically distribute between 600 and 800 door hangers a day.

Design that Delivers: Door hangers come in two standard sizes: 4.25” x 11” and 3.5” x 8.5”. Most printers offer a line of predesigned templates you can choose from (starting from about $10 and up) or they can custom design a layout for you.

Jessica Cooper, marketing manager at PrintingForLess.com, offers these additional tips:

• Try transforming your door hanger into a flyer, business card, and coupon all in one by using perforation marks to allow recipients to neatly tear off important information.

• Consider an attention-grabbing headline and image on the front of your door hanger or design it in an unusual shape or color to stand out from the pack.

• The most important thing is to make it easy to respond to your offer and have a clear call to action.

Response Rate: Response rates typically vary from .5% to 15%. Some factors that affect the rate include the affluence of the area you’re targeting, the door hanger design, the message and offer, your call to action, and the local economy in general.

Source: Jessica Cooper, marketing manager, PrintingForLess.com

 

What You Need to Know About… Exterior Signage:

The Lowdown: Your salon must have a sign outside identifying it, so it’s in your best interest to make it work in your favor. A clear and catchy sign can bring in walk-in traffic as well as make you stand out from other local salons.

Perfect Placement: Visibility is key. Place the sign in the most visible, traffic-heavy area.

Size Matters: Build your sign as large as the city planning department will approve. Print your salon name as large as possible.

Design Details: Stick with your brand logo and colors to create a consistent look throughout all aspects of your marketing.

Cost and Other Considerations:  Exterior signage typically starts at several thousand dollars and up, depending on materials, intricacy of design, and other factors. Ensure you choose a reputable sign company by checking references and asking other nearby non-competing business about the signage provider they used.

Source: Robert Rivas, business development, TDI Signs (http://www.tdisigns.com)

 

What You Need to Know About… Direct Mail:

The Lowdown: A time-tested method, direct mail allows you to send your ad to targeted recipients, breaking it down by factors like zip code, age, and income level. You can mail your piece solo or include it as part of a coupon envelope, such as Valpak.

Know Your Audience: Direct mail offers pinpoint accuracy, so make sure you know the exact demographic you’re trying to reach; for example, homeowners with children in zip code 12345.

Get a List: Find a reputable direct marketing agency by asking other businesses in your area for a referral (or studying the direct mail that arrives in your own mailbox) or ask your local chamber of commerce if they have lists available for purchase.

Another Point of Impact: Many direct marketing agencies, such as Valpak, are linked up with websites that offer printable and e-mailable coupons to consumers 24/7. Consider enhancing your direct mail campaign with an online component.

Source: Valpak Media Kit (www.valpak.com), Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org)

 

What You Need to Know About…TV Advertising:

The Lowdown: TV advertising combines sound, motion, color, and emotion. It has the ability to convey a thorough, easily digestible message about your salon.

Station Specifics: Pick a TV station that carries the programming that is most watched by your salon’s target audience. Call the sales representatives for the stations you’re considering and invite them to make a pitch for your business, or hire a local ad agency to do the research for you.

Crunching the Numbers: A 30-second time slot will give you the maximum flexibility in choosing when you want your spot to run. (More than 75% of local TV spots fall into this category.) Other options include :15s (about 14% of local TV ads) and :60s (about 6%). The typical campaign runs for at least a month. The cost varies widely depending on market size and the time of day you want your spot to run.

Perfect Production: The station you choose will be able to help you produce your ad. Because of the economic recession, you may even be able to get a deal for use of the station’s production facilities. A local ad agency would also be a valuable resource, as is the Television Bureau of Advertising’s website (www.tvb.org). Visit the advertiser/agency resource channel on the site for helpful information for first-time advertisers.

Measuring the Impact: Aside from direct-response ads (which ask viewers to call a specific number or visit a website), it’s harder to measure the impact of a commercials. A local ad agency can help measure awareness of your salon before and after a TV campaign, which is a good supplement to your own findings of increased salon traffic.

Keep in Mind: Television stations maintain websites that are promoted by news anchors and receive heavy traffic. Ask about multiplatform packages that combine traditional on-air ads with a presence on the station’s website.

Source: Gary Belis, VP of communications, Television Bureau of Advertising (www.tvb.org)

 

What You Need to Know About…Radio Advertising:

The Lowdown: Radio attracts large, loyal audiences who enjoy unique relationships with their favorite on-air personalities and music formats. Leverage that association to target your ideal salon clients.

Selective Listening: Use radio’s lifestyle-specific formats to your advantage by choosing a station whose audience most closely resembles the clients you want to reach. For most nail salons, stations with strong female listenership work well, making adult contemporary, contemporary hits radio, and soft rock stations all smart choices. If you’re trying to reach men (such as to promote gift card purchases around Mother’s Day and other key holidays), then choose male-skewing stations like rock or sports radio.

Spot On: Some stations will create messages as short as three seconds or as long as three minutes, but the typical spot length is 60 seconds. (Other typical options are 30- and 10-second spots). Costs range based on a number of variables, including the size or economic status of the market, the popularity of a station within that market, and the time of day.

Writing & Development: Most radio stations offer advertisers complimentary copywriting support; if yours doesn’t, you can hire a local agency. Because radio production is inexpensive when compared to other media such as television, you can develop variations on your commercial message that reflect the lifestyle of a particular format’s listeners. Most radio stations offer full production facilities for free or at a nominal cost. The radio sales and production professionals typically handle all the technical aspects.

One Last Note: You can create targeted, integrated advertising plans that include not only on-air, but off-air elements such as coupons or web components like advertiser links, banner ads, streaming inserts, audio and video pre-rolls, and more.

Source: Mike Mahone, executive vice president of services, Radio Advertising Bureau (www.rab.com)

Have you ever thought about…

…grocery store carts or separators, taxi tops, bus benches and stops, billboards, windshield flyers, movie theater promos? Log on to www.nailsmag.com/forums and tell us what other interesting forms of advertising you’ve employed.

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