May 2009

Elizabeth Brown

Three Months of Marketing | Elizabeth Brown


Take Back Control of Business and Create Your New Normal

It is inevitable that this has probably happened to you at one time:

You have been in a conversation with a client, co-worker or friend who presented you with a problem or even asked outright if you could help them think of a solution.

You begin to offer suggestions but they switch quickly into “nope, can’t do that” mode and within a few minutes you shut down, feeling almost bruised by the way your suggestions were dismissed.

You leave feeling as if they would rather wallow in their misery than do something to solve the problem.

It’s time to take a look at yourself. Are you wallowing? Are you in a place where you can identify the things that are holding you back, where your business needs to grow?

Is the prospect of doing something new, taking risks and changing the way you have “always” done things something that scares the jeepers out of you? Or do you welcome turbulence because of the corresponding opportunities for adventure, variety and trying new things?

If you are waiting for things to “get back to normal” you are in for a long wait. Gone are the days when consumers had the confidence to live paycheck to paycheck, spending freely and indulging themselves whenever they desired.

You have seen clients extend the time between services from six to eight to 10 weeks or more. And they are taking on their own color, purchasing more care and treatment products from retail outlets rather than the salon, and in the spa and non-essential services segment of the industry, the disparity between the old normal and the new normal is even greater. Many spa clients have stopped coming in altogether; others who used to visit weekly are now just coming once a month or once a quarter.

How much can you allow your business to slow before you have to take on a second job or leave the industry altogether? What are you doing to create your new normal? What are you doing to take back control of your business, growth of your client base, retail sales and income?

Salon and spas are natural candidates for strong event and themed promotions. You have the ability to tailor packages, products and incentives to the needs of nearly every holiday and major life event -- from new jobs to new babies to graduations to weddings to anniversaries to girls outings or dates. Summer is a great time to flex your creative marketing and styling muscles and create some buzz for your business.

June: Weddings (and anniversaries) and Graduations. No stylist who wants to be busy should be bored in June. Create bridal package offers and hold classes for a girls-day-out bridal brunch where you tutor the bridal party in keeping their look on the big day, applying makeup, and doing easy up-dos.

Invite a local party planner or caterer to hold a class in-salon for throwing great anniversary or graduation parties and teach clients how to create great mixed drinks, appetizers and other party fare for their summer get-togethers. Make sure clients receive great retail and service offers for the day of the wedding, graduation or summer party.

Father’s Day is June 14: If you have a strong male client base this is a great opportunity to feature services for Father’s Day gifts (begin promoting May 1). When possible, sell certificates in duos and book two clients upon redemption. Feature a Father-Daughter duo package with retail products for him and her.

Even if you service mainly women clientele, you can still create retail baskets with products for men including shaving, scalp, and skin care products. Partner with a local sports bar or sports facility and create gift certificate duos that include service at your salon and a round of golf, game of bowling, bucket of balls at the driving range or batting cage, etc.

July: A lot of towns have street fairs and community events that give you the chance to set up shop right on Main Street, sell retail, demonstrate your skills and promote your business. Take advantage of community events to do some street marketing. Hand out business cards. Sell salon-branded water bottles or chap sticks. Take a booth and do a blow out and styling, mini-makeovers, manicures, massages, demo treatment products and lotions, sell retail and take bookings. Be liberal with drawings and prizes, being sure that each one is an invitation redeemable in the salon or spa.

August: Reach out to family and school markets with group rates for families and special rates for educators, the PTA, and all school district personnel.

Elizabeth Brown is the founder of Be InPulse Marketing and Design in Auburn, Washington and the author of 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa. Email the author at