As you see the results of your grassroots campaign build, fuel its success by developing and communicating a brand message that clients and the community will remember. Sally Hogshead, author, speaker and marketing expert, calls your unique branding points “fascination badges.” These badges include such components as your product (how you’re different or better than the competition), core beliefs, actions, culture, heritage or “back story,” the benefits of working with you, and the purpose or mission of your business. Need help determining what makes you fascinating in work and business? Take Hogshead’s F Score test at FScoreTest.com. “Use your answers to create messages that demonstrate what makes you different, better and more fascinating, than your competition,” says Hogshead.
Once you figure out what makes you fascinating, play it up as much as you can. Do you have a cutting-edge color department? Your city’s best therapeutic massage? Unparalleled customer service? Then enter contests or participate in polls to garner top honors and free publicity. For example, apply to next year’s Salon Today 200 Competition (view past honorees at salontoday.com), or campaign for your city’s “Best Of” award by rallying your team and client base. Then make sure you get the word out about your accolades.
Hiatus Spa + Retreat in Dallas, Texas, has won numerous awards for their massage and spa services from places like AOL City’s Best and Citysearch, reports managing partner Kristin Heaton Peabody. “Most of these websites create their own list of nominees and they alert us when we have been nominated,” she says. “We let our staff know, who alert our guests, and we kindly ask for their support on Facebook and Twitter.” The salon has also sent out e-mails to their guest database to garner support. When they win, they publicize it on Facebook where news spreads virally. It’s also posted on their website’s homepage for SEO purposes. “If someone wants to search Google for ‘Best Spa in Dallas,’ it will almost inevitably direct them to our site since we make reference to having received the award,” explains Peabody. Never underestimate the power of social media: According to IM Marketing Group, Facebook accounts for 35 percent of U.S. web traffic, and a Harvard Business Review study showed that after liking you on Facebook, fans give more referrals, visit you more and spend more money.
Why? Because they are constantly hearing good things about you!
Finally, let the press in on how great you are. Make note of your awards on press releases in the “About You” section and invite local editors and reporters in for services so they can judge for themselves. “It always pays off,” says Peabody, who says a writer for a widely read publication described her mani-pedi at Hiatus as “the most relaxing” she’s ever had. “We couldn’t have asked for better editorial!”
|Plan the Event
William George, owner of James Joseph Salon in Boston, Massachusetts, is a veteran of coordinating events for charitable causes. “It’s great to work with a group and be part of something special,” he says. “There’s no good reason not to do it.” Fortunately, you don’t need a big budget to pull it off—just smart planning and lots of energy. Here are George’s tips to ensure it all goes smoothly:
1. Choose your charity wisely. Consider what is important to your clients—that’s what will get them excited to come in and help raise money. Make sure the charity resonates within your community, too. For example, if you’re a salon in New Jersey and your charity is in Latvia, it’s not a good fit unless you have Latvian clients!
2. Outline the details of the event. Plan how you can meet the needs of the charity, and how to make it fun for your guests. Break down steps into tasks and designate who is responsible for them. Do all the footwork in the beginning to ensure you’re not scrambling at the end.
3. Create a timetable. A common mistake is that people get too involved in the details of planning and don’t give themselves enough time for marketing. No marketing means no attendees. The media works months in advance, so think three-month lead time, not three weeks.
4. Build a concise message. A sound bite is in an important part of marketing, so find a way to make your point in a few seconds. Create five bullet points to put on your press releases and client postcards, and use as talking points to the press. The simpler it is, the faster people will get it.
5. Put together an outreach package. Create marketing materials that include a printed info sheet on your charity and a detail card on your event. Bring these to neighboring businesses when you solicit sponsorship and/or donations for door prizes, a silent auction or food. Remember, everything you can get donated frees up another dollar to go to your charity.
6. Expand your marketing. Send your outreach package to the press (and call to follow up) and community organizations, such as Rotary International or the fire department, which may want to assist your efforts. These partnerships mean more helping hands and more exposure. Continue to build excitement among your staff and clients, and encourage them to get the message out.
7. Make it great on a tight budget. It’s easy to overspend on unnecessary items. All you really need is food and spirits (which you should be able to get donated), some decorations and a good crowd. Energy and fun is more important than expensive decor, and your clients will feel the same way.
8. Consider growing it the next year. You can always make it bigger the second time around and add a fashion show. The planning will be easier since the groundwork has already been laid. As long as you have made it memorable, guests will come back for your second annual!