Oh, the good old days of marketing when you dreamed up a campaign, called the local newspaper to place an ad and backed it up with a little salon signage. Today, that’s only a piece of the action—now you want to take that info and also e-mail it, text it, Tweet it, and Facebook it—and that’s just the beginning. As our technological capabilities expand, marketing has gotten far more complex.
“Everything’s getting integrated,” says Paul Tate, CEO of Shortcuts North America. “This means it’s much easier to get more things done, faster. For example, point-of-sale database is now integrated with e-mail marketing systems so e-mails can be triggered by events in the salon, such as a new client in the salon or a client birthday. This sort of integration and automation makes it easy to send timely, relevant e-mail blasts or e-mail confirmations without spending hours coordinating these communications.”
“This sort of technology integration is also making the business much more accessible. For example, five years ago salons started allowing clients to book online, but now these online booking systems are making their way to social platforms where clients “hang out,” like Facebook, and these networks are becoming more commercial with shopping carts, booking engines and
e-commerce functions. ”
One integrated marketing and communication platform getting some strong play in the salon industry is Demandforce, a program that originally launched in the dental and automotive industries. Demandforce was introduced to the salon industry through a strategic alliance with SalonBiz, although the program can work with any salon software.
Basically, after downloading the salon’s client communication information into the system—a process that takes about 30 minutes—the program automates many of the mindless, tedious tasks that many front desks do by hand.
First, Demandforce sends out appointment reminders via text or e-mail, according to client preference. Clients are prompted to respond to keep the appointment as is or communicate to the salon if they need to reschedule. “Once a client comes into the salon for a service, she receives a follow-up thank you e-mail, with a message such as ‘Thanks for coming in today, it’s always great to see you,’” says John Cranston, Demandforce senior business development manager.
The e-mail finishes with a quick survey, inviting the client to provide info on their experience, rating the experience, and asking questions, such as “Would you come back to this salon? Would you refer a friend?” Reviews and comments are sent directly to Google.
“While we can’t filter reviews, there is a seven-day period before the review is posted publicly. In the meantime, the salon is notified once a review is sent to Google and they have the ability to make a comment. In the case of a bad review, the salon can contact the client to attempt to right a wrong and can express that sentiment in their follow-up public comment,” says Cranston.
Why would you want to encourage clients to ‘review’ your salon? There are a number of reasons, says Cranston. “First, an overwhelming number of these reviews will end up positive. Demandforce is also able to verify that the review came from an actual existing client, and they appear with a certification, which makes them more valuable. And reviews, both positive and negative, are good for search engine optimization—businesses with a higher number of reviews tend to top the list when an internet user searches for “salon” in a specific town,” he points out.
Demandforce also pushes notifications with incentives to clients who haven’t visited the salon in a certain period of time, helps salons to send customized e-mail newsletters, and encourages clients to post comments on their Facebook pages and refer their friends.