While promotion may sound costly, Derek Crowe, director of operations at William & Associates, a marketing firm in Tucson, Ariz., says that budget is the last aspect of a campaign salon owners should address. Crowe says “You can always find an item that will accomplish your goals regardless of the size of your budget.”

Crowe says another important consideration is what’s called the advertiser’s real cost. “If you spend 50c each on 500 cheap key tags that are going to be mailed and thrown away, and you only get a 1% response rate, that’s a very expensive promotion,” he says. “But if you spend $1 or more on a more practical, useful item that is going to be used over and over again for months maybe years, you’re going to get a much better return on your money. That’s because an advertiser’s real cost is the cost of an item over the frequency of use.”

For salon owners who prefer hunting for their own freebies, nail shows, manufacturers, and gift conventions can spark many ideas for one-of-a-kind giveaways. For those who prefer the advice of experts, simply flip through the yellow pages under “Advertising Specialties” for a list of marketing and promotional companies in your area that can assist you. “We work with salons in all aspects of marketing from A to Z,” Crowe says. “We can help them come up with all sorts of ideas, and help them locate any item they can think of.”

Still another resource is the Promotional Products Association on International in Irving, Texas.

“We can send salon owners a list of distributors in their area who can sell them products or work with them to develop an entire campaign,” says Tanya Baugus, a marketing communications secretary for the association. “We can also send them a booklet that explains what promotional products are and how they can be used.”

Salon owners interested in receiving this free information can contact Baugus at (214) 252-0404, ext.123 or 116.

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