In the wake of COVID-19 lockdown, there was a tsunami of appointments in the first few weeks and then a sharp drop in bookings after the initial flurry of committed clients caught up on their beauty needs.

The cycle of clients has started to regulate; however, it is likely that client numbers will drop away by those who have been impacted financially by the pandemic and /or those who have re-evaluated their spending due to uncertainty about the future.

Many salon owners are now considering how to future-proof their business and protect themselves from a ripple-effect in the economy or the emergence of a new crisis that would cause a significant impact to trading.

Marketing plays a key role in protecting your business so that it can withstand a crisis or the peaks and troughs of seasonal and economic fluctuations.

A Salon Marketing Plan is a fundamental pillar of your business strategy.

Ultimately, your success at developing an effective marketing plan comes down to five steps that you need to understand and master for your salon marketing to work.

Here’s an overview of each step:

  1. Define your target market – who you will serve.
  2. Connect with your audience – understand their pains and frustrations and the challenges they face.
  3. Stand out in the crowd – define the point of difference that sets you apart from your competition.
  4. Build it and they will come.
  5. Marketing outreach – tell your target market about your products and services.
  1. Define Your Target Market

Your target market is comprised of your ideal client and one way to figure out who they are is to consider their characteristics. Is the person you want to help old or young? Male or female? A corporate mum, stay at home mum or self-employed entrepreneur? What do they value? What is their disposable income? What beauty challenges are they facing? Be specific, and once you have a picture of this person in your mind, give them a name. Make it personal and use this mental image to frame your marketing messages and images.

  1. Connect

In this step you are connecting with your ideal client (target market) to find out what their beauty challenges and needs are. You’re looking to discover what they are looking for from your salon and how you can best deliver that to them. The most effective way to connect with your target market is to carry out some market research. For example:

  • Interview your target market: Write up a short questionnaire for them to complete either on the phone, in person, or via email. You might even want to offer them an incentive in the form of a free gift or service in exchange.
  • Get involved in the conversation: Find out what websites your clients visit for advice. Go to those forums, social media sites and blogs and read what they are saying (or writing). Contribute by providing answers that will help them solve their problems. By doing this, you are connecting and providing credibility!
  • Write a blog post that asks your clients and prospects what their concerns or frustrations are with their current beauty regime.
  • Assess what your competition is doing, saying and offering. Note how clients on competitors’ social media are reacting to various strategies. Adapt those that are relevant to your unique offerings.
  • Read industry and trade magazines that cater to clientele that is similar to yours. There is a wealth of information to be found in these publications. By reading them you can keep up with the latest trends and advice.
  • Attend industry and trade seminars and networking groups to connect with your target market and learn more about both the industry and its consumers. Remember, potential clients also attend these conferences – these are great places to meet them and find out what they are looking for.
  1. Stand Out in The Crowd

Once you know who your target market is and you understand their needs and wants, you can determine your point of difference. This tells your clients and prospects what’s special about you, why you are different, and why they should buy from you.

Ask yourself what’s unique to you and your salon when compared to your competition.

  • It might be your approach to customer service that exceeds your client’s expectations and something they truly value.
  • It might be your innovative loyalty program, referral program or membership program that keeps your clients coming back to you.
  • It might be that you are known as the specialist in a certain treatment and are therefore the only salon to get the job done right.
  1. Build It and They will Come

Once you’ve reached this step then you’ve done most of the heavy lifting and you’re in the perfect position to ‘build it and they will come’ rather than hoping you can deliver what will attract people. You are now ready to offer products and services that your clients and prospects want and you will stand out in the crowd.

Consider the following questions:

  • Are your clients and prospects looking for a particular skin or body care treatment? Do they prefer a particular brand or range of products?
  • Is there a specific type of customer service you can provide (perhaps one that is not commonly found) that will make it natural for customers to be comfortable when they visit you, or that will encourage visits on an ad hoc basis?
  • Are your clients looking for new ideas, tips and practical solutions that will help them understand and promote their health and beauty goals?
  • Which is preferable – personalised packages or off-the shelf treatments and services?
  • Are there products and services that complement your offerings that you could provide through a relationship with some well-chosen referral partners?
  • Do your clients always have to come into the salon to get their skin care products? Would they prefer to have them delivered to their home or office? Perhaps they would like to be able to order online when they are between visits and in danger of running out of product.

The opportunities here are limitless so be creative when brainstorming how you can provide what your clients and prospective clients are looking for and how you can set yourself apart from your competition.

  1. Marketing Outreach

By the time you’ve reached this step you’re in a very strong position to reach out to your clients and prospects with a high degree of success. You have done the work necessary to give you the greatest chance of marketing success while eliminating any need to spend extra time or money on marketing strategies and promotional tactics that simply cannot work.

There are eight essential elements to developing a promotional plan.

  1. Objective – the purpose of your campaign.
  2. Target audience – the intended recipients of your outreach.
  3. Promotional offer – the “deal’ you will offer.
  4. Promotional tactics – how you will reach your audience.
  5. Key messages – what you want your audience to know.
  6. Call to action – what you want your audience to do.
  7. Critical Path – step-by-step actions to implement your campaign.
  8. Monitor and measure – keeping your campaign on tract and analysing your success.
Some Final Thoughts

Developing a marketing plan for your salon can be a fun exercise and is certainly rewarding for your bottom line. Whatever your business goals, whether to grow, expand, multiply or even sell; marketing is a cornerstone pillar that if done right, will garner great results. Good luck in the creation of your marketing plan.

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