Many salon, spa, and mobile business owners ask us this question on a daily basis. They want to hear “the trick”, “the secret”. They want to be told that there is one special thing that a business owner can do that will double, triple, quadruple sales margins. Sadly, there is no magical marketing rainbow to take you to your pot of gold.
Marketing is not about uncovering the secret to making money, it’s about understanding your clients’ wants and needs. For instance: you probably wouldn’t want to offer a luxurious, “sunkissed” tan at the research facility in Antarctica. Obviously they are a great audience because they definitely need a tan, but how many scientists living on a continent made entirely of ice are going to feel natural in a “just got off the beach” tan? Probably that one crazy guy who is drilling for aliens and barking at yetis. On the other hand, how many of them might be interested in a treatment that would help their dry skin not look so bad? Probably a good number.
So the real trick is how to figure out what your clients want
I’ve come up with number of ideas that should help you get your regular clients coming back more and get new prospects coming to you, but first let’s go over the basics:
You don’t want to go overboard with advertising, but you also don’t want to get lost in the crowd. The trick is to find what works, and where it works. In my experience I would suggest that no more than 10% of your business’s annual income go to advertising.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram: these can be great for your company…if people can find them, or even know they are there. Each site is free, though with Instagram you do need a specific type of phone, and each can be great for creating a sense of community. Invite your clients to check out pictures of your business, to see before/after photos or learn about upcoming deals.
These can also be great sites to help spread the word of what a spray tan can do in the winter: show your clients that a spray tan has more benefits than just looking great. It can even out their skin tone, clear up acne, get rid of blackheads and other blemishes–and don’t forget to point out that they can get all this without looking like they went to the Caribbean: spray tans can be subtle.
Newspapers, radio, magazine articles, billboards: These are generally hit or miss. The problem that you will run into when you get to this “stage of the game” is that you are now advertising to vast groups of people that couldn’t care less about your business. Obviously, there will be some people that see/hear it and want to try it instantly. Awesome!
But there will be more people that will have to gather the initiative to look you up, then find out how to get to you, then decide if they like you, then decide if they like you enough to come back. If you read that then no doubt you see the problem: who wants to go through all that trouble for a service that 1. They may already be getting elsewhere 2. Requires all this extra work just to learn about.
The biggest problem I’ve found with mass advertising is that it is so easy to say no to. People love making excuses, and it’s harder to make excuses to a person than it is to a piece of paper or a radio station.
Banners, business cards, brochures, posters, flyers: These are a step down the totem pole of mass marketing, and they can be effective if used in the right way. The obvious benefit is that these are more targeted approaches, but they will also reach a smaller audience.
Is there a fitness competition coming up? Find out how to get your advertising in the building: a nice banner (and some flyers and brochures) would certainly help make your presence known.
Mobile businesses: how about going to a few local gyms and talking to the owners about offering spray tanning in-house? Mention that a spray tan not only adds definition to muscles, but it also keeps all your hard work looking even and healthy-looking during the winter.
The great thing about handing out brochures is that it creates a human connection between you and your clients. It shows that you are passionate enough to take time out of your day to spread the word of your business. Don’t just hand them a brochure and hope they look at it—start talking to them right there. Now I’m not saying launch into your sales pitch, but start building a connection.
People are more likely to read that pamphlet if they have a reason to; you need to help make them feel like they have a reason to.
If you find that your business has been hurting in the winter, it may be as easily fixed as adopting some of these techniques. Tell people about the subtle side of spray tanning, get the word out about your business through free sites and by making human connections, invest some time in visiting local gyms and fitness competitions, create a community and friendships that last. If you do these things, you may find that your business is growing simply by discovering new friends.
Marketing Idea: The “Tour”
This is a great idea for getting those new clients acquainted with everything that makes your business stand out. If you work out of a salon or spa, you can create a “new customer package” that samples what you offer: maybe at an introductory price you can offer: two different spray tans, a sampling of moisturizers or skincare products, a hair styling, a Mani/Pedi, and a facial.
The goal is to show that you are a grade above the rest, you want to show them that every experience is custom tailored to their needs. More importantly, this gives you a chance to lay the building blocks for a relationship with that person. Simply put, they are more likely to come back to you if they like you.