Marketing & Promotions

The Big Bang: Surefire Ideas for a Successful Launch

If you’re ready to introduce a new product or service, you’ll want to do all you can to make sure it explodes onto the scene and into your clients’ consciousness. Keep reading to learn how your peers successfully launched a new product line or service offering.

Aqua Nail Bar and Boutique, Goleta and Santa Barbara, Calif.
When Claudia Papa opened the Aqua Nail Bar and Boutique, she was clear and deliberate about the mission of her salon. Her vision was reflected in the services she offered, and how she marketed those services. When she was ready to launch a new mani/pedi special, Papa partnered with a company she knew shared her passion for excellence, offered products that would complement her business, and provided retail items that would allow her clients to bring the salon experience home with them. She chose a local bath and body company, Jaqua Beauty, and then Papa built a service around their scrumptious and popular peach-scented lotions.

She attributes the success of the launch to good planning and marketing, but also to her partnership with Jaqua Beauty. “Manufacturers are not always helpful,” says Papa. However, she found the owners of this local business, who already enjoyed coming to Papa’s salon, to be just what she was looking for. Together, they marketed the mani/pedi special, created splashy advertisements, and alerted the press to their plans to introduce a “decadent” peach and butter cream manicure and pedicure.

At her launch event, Papa served refreshments to her guests, offered discounts on services, and raffled off gift baskets full of Jaqua Beauty products as well as items from the Aqua Boutique. Clients loved the hype and the mani/pedi special, and they responded by buying product and booking more appointments. “It was so successful,” says Papa, “that a service that started off as a seasonal special quickly became part of our regular menu.”


M&M Nails and Wellness Center, Silver Spring, Md.
“You would be surprised by the number of people who don’t read signs,” says salon owner Maisie Dunbar. Knowing it would take more than good signage to launch her new private-label cosmetics line, Dunbar planned an extravagant open house.

Dunbar’s planning began two months ahead of time. She alerted the media, including Heart and Soul magazine and Black Enterprise magazine, The Washington Post, and NBC. One month before the big day, Dunbar sent an e-mail to clients, inviting them to her Makeup Line Extravaganza Launch, where she promised guests would receive makeovers, makeup tips, music, and refreshments. Dunbar passed out business cards and flyers, signed up to participate in a bridal show so she could meet (and invite!) brides, and talked it up with her clients. “In addition to talking it up,” says Dunbar, “you need to follow it up.” So, as the day got closer, clients continued to receive reminders about her open house.

The day of the event was huge. Dunbar transformed the salon into a black and red party room, with decorations, balloons, clothing, retail bags — everything — decorated with the colors Dunbar had chosen for the Extravaganza. Clients were thrilled with Dunbar’s efforts, and the media showed up to her event. Reporters from The Washington Post, NBC, and Heart and Soul all responded to Dunbar’s press release. “Our local paper didn’t show up,” says Dunbar. “But that’s OK. All day long we did makeovers. The clients were here, and they loved it.”


Artistic Trends Salon, Sellersville, Pa.
“Light candles,” says nail tech and cyber communications director, Deb Blowars. “People don’t read signs, but they will come in and say, ‘Wow. What’s that smell?’” That, says Blowars, is how she introduces clients to a new service being offered on the menu. Candles aren’t the only way she advertises, but she says it’s the smell of the candle that gets the most attention.

Six weeks before the launch of a new service, Blowars begins to advertise. She places signs around the salon, promotes the new service in her salon newsletter, and lights a candle with a themed scent: strawberry daiquiri, mocha mint, pineapple, or citrus. Blowars knows the smells are a powerful motivator. She creates her strongly scented, feel-good manicure and pedicure products by using common food ingredients. Special care is given to small details, and clients notice. Mocha Mint uses real chocolate and mint, and ripe fruit chunks are found in her lotions. While Blowars performs the service on one client, the aroma causes other clients to ask what smells so delicious — and how can they get some!

Blowars says another reason she’s been able to successfully promote new services is that the owner of her salon gives her freedom to develop and promote them. “Some owners don’t like to give that kind of control to a nail tech, says Blowars, “but the truth is nail techs are creative people. Give your nail tech creative control, and you’ll have a successful launch.”


Shear Advantage Design Team, Somerset, Pa.
When owner Susie McLarney hired a new nail tech, she knew she needed to generate business for her employee. After six months with no steady clientele, McLarney realized she had to offer — and launch — a service that would attract new clients. With the help of coach Lisa Arnold, owner of Gibsonia, Pa.-based Salon and Spa Solutions, McLarney began to plan an exotic mango pedicure service that would help her nail tech grow her clientele. Within a few short months of the launch, she’s seen a 22% increase in her business.

McLarney did a small advertising blitz with clients to promote this new service. Six weeks before the launch, she sent out e-mail advertisements and postcard mailers. She also created flyers to hang around the salon. “I also stuffed a postcard into a client’s retail bag when she made a purchase, which means some people probably received three announcements! But I didn’t care,” she says. McLarney said she and her staff promoted the pedicures in the salon, building excitement with the clientele.

The pedicure incorporates scented creams, washes, and scrubs from Qtica, and the same sweet-smelling products were made available to clients in gift bags she had purchased from the company to retail. “The gift bags sold for $12; even clients who didn’t book a pedicure wanted the gift bags,” says McLarney.

McLarney said she also created excitement by going to the Dollar Store and picking up unique glasses and decorative plates. “Clients who booked a mango pedicure received a mango/peach cooler and a plate of fresh fruit during their service,” says McLarney. Susie McLarney sent promotional e-mails introducing her new pedicures. She offered a 20% discount on the treatments and a 25% discount on home-care products.


Lisa Thomas Salon, Tinley Park and Orland Park, Ill.
“Two weeks prior to a kickoff, we have a meeting with our techs, and they participate with ideas of how to promote a launch,” says salon manager Sue Kmak. Kmak remembers promotions where the management team was excited about a service and the products that went with that service, but the staff at the front desk wasn’t excited. “They didn’t feel it and touch it,” says Kmak, “so when a client asked about the service, it was hard for them to talk it up.”

For the launch of their latest service, the Margarita Pedicure, Kmak’s team didn’t make the same mistake. “We had a meeting with the staff. Those who work the front desk experienced the salt scrub — they felt it; they smelled it; they loved it,” says Kmak. The enthusiasm of the staff is contagious, and prompts them to brainstorm ways to market the service throughout the salon in a variety of ways to include all the senses. The staff chose different music, set out margarita glasses with nail polish inside, and changed their outfits to reflect the Mexican motif. The salon served guests chips and salsa. Clients would walk in and ask what everyone was celebrating, giving staff the opportunity to sell the service.

It sparked some healthy competition. “One Saturday we booked 10 pedicures,” says Kmak. “The girls were competing with each other; one would say, ‘I booked three pedicures!’ Then another would say, ‘I booked four!’ And when the employees get excited, they pass it on,” says Kmak.

The promotion of the service ran three days a week for three weeks. If clients didn’t ask about the service when they saw the displays, the costumes, or the salsa and chips, they’d know about it from the sample-sized, virgin margarita that was brought to them during their appointment. “The secret to our success?” asks Kmak. “Get the whole team on board — and launch a celebration.”


Industry coach Lisa Arnold offers these tips to consider when launching a new product or service:
• Survey your current clients to see what new product or service they desire.
• Find a manufacturer that wants to work with you to teach you ways to promote the service or product.
• Make sure your budget can accommodate your launch plans.
• Stock retail for clients to buy for at-home care.
• Set up a database so you can send clients e-mail or direct mail.


“Instead of thinking of how to launch a product, think of how to throw a party,” says Kristi Valenzuela, founder and president of Crystal Focus, a success coaching company located in Michigan. Valenzuela says techs may be intimidated about launching a product or service, but they intuitively know how to organize and plan a successful party. So ask yourself the same questions you would to ensure a party is a success.
• What’s the theme of the party?
• Who will you invite?
• How will you invite them?
• What favors will you give out?
• What prizes will you give away?
• What food will complement your party theme?
• What graphics/decorations will complement the theme?
• What senses can you stimulate through sounds, scents, and visuals to make the theme unified?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re on your way to a successful launch. Choose a date for the event to begin (and, if it’s seasonal, a date for it to end), send out invitations, decorate the salon, and throw a party for your guests.

See Welcome New Neighbors with Gift Certificate Mailers (NAILS Magazine, June, 2007) for information on direct mail service ideas.


KEYWORDS: business, building your clientele, salon marketing, retailing, clientele building, private labeling, salon consultant
Originally published in NAILS Magazine, June, 2007.

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