Ready, set, market! It’s not always quite that easy. Marketing tools and promotions you’ve used through the years can start to feel a little stale, to you, your staff and your clients. On the following pages, you’ll find 30 ideas in six different categories on smart solutions to tough marketing challenges. Borrow a few for your own business and watch your profits soar.

 

NEW CLIENTS

 

1. The Salon: Avalon Salons, with four locations in Dallas, Texas

The Owner: Ric Bowden

The Marketing Challenge: With the rapid expansion of the salon chain and the growing number of clients, salon management found it more and more difficult to communicate to clients through traditional channels, such as promotional fliers and personal phone calls.

The Solution: The salon contracted with the e-mail marketing firm Constant Contact to help it develop a series of monthly e-mails that could either be directed at the salon’s entire database, or target specific populations of clients. “To gather and update client e-mail addresses, we had a drawing that offered two one-night gift certificates to the W Hotel. Clients could enter the contest simply by filling out a card with their current address, phone number and e-mail address,” says Jonné Tomeo, marketing director.

Using the firm’s templates, Tomeo develops monthly e-mail newsletters that inform clients of salon open houses, special product and service promotions and changes in staffing. “The best part of the program is all the statistical data it provides—it tells us who opened the e-mail, who clicked on the connection to the website, what time of day most people open their e-mail. All that information helps us improve our future communication.”

The program costs about $30 a month, providing an efficient, easy and inexpensive method for reaching clients with salon information. It also allows receivers to forward the newsletter to friends, resulting in new client contacts for the salon.

The Results: “We saw a great response when we sent out an e-mail promotion for our holiday sale—product sales increased 15 percent, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of sales,” says Tomeo. The salon currently has 3,700 client e-mail addresses in the database, and Tomeo says she gets about 20 new potential clients who visit the website and sign up for the newsletter each week.

 

2. The Salon: Avantgarde Salon Inc. in Destin, Florida

The Owner: Joseph Rogers

The Challenge: The salon’s original location primarily operated on appointments booked months in advance. When the salon recently opened a second location in a shopping center, it needed to broaden its marketing strategy to include a very different target market, including walk-in clientele. “Our new strategies needed to expand to encompass our growing staff, clientele, and new hours while keeping true to our name and original atmosphere,” says manager Sami Jones.

The Marketing Solution: Avantgarde worked closely with a marketing company to develop a new logo, as well as new menus, business cards, mailers, and print ads that captured the spirit of the new business. “Previously, all of our advertising focused on our accomplishments, such as making the SALON TODAY 200 and being named as the ‘best’ by Emerald Coast Magazine,” says Jones. “This was great for new clients, but they often had to wait for an appointment far in advance. With the new location, we increased our staff, as well as our hours. We refocused our marketing to make potential clients aware that we had more trained, talented staff available at multiple price brackets.”

In order to put the new marketing campaign to use, the salon broadened its advertising venues from two local magazine publications to include the local newspaper to reach more of the walk-in clientele. “We also didn’t want to forget about our existing clientele, so we formatted a mailer to let them know how much we appreciated them by offering them a slight discount and encouraging them to invite in one of their friends. We were able to solidify their loyalty and gain new clients at the same time.”

The Results: Avantgarde recently held the grand opening of its new location and had an outstanding turnout of existing, new and future clients. “Our new stylists are booking out at a good pace and the appointment volume is high. Our original staff has maintained their high retention rates, and our new staff members are at approximately 40 percent retention.”

 

3. The Salon: Renaissance Salon in Dover, Ohio

The Owners: Tod and Diane Carper

The Challenge: Building the clientele of two new stylists during one of the slowest times of the year.

The Marketing Solution: With January as a typically slow month, it was a bad time to be bringing two new talent stylists onto the floor. To help them stay busy, the owners launched a promotion for January and February where any client who purchases a color service gets a complimentary cut and style from one of the new stylists. They got the word out through direct e-mail, within the salon and on their website.

The Results: “It’s gone well,” says Diane. “Better than I expected. Some people don’t want a brand new stylist, but some do, especially when it’s a good deal and right after the holidays.”

 

4. The Salon: Choices Hair and Nail Salon in Greenwood, Indiana

The Owners: Jane Harper and Tammy Gibson

The Challenge: Getting clients for new stylists.

The Marketing Solution: To build the clientele of two new stylists, they sent out a mailer to all existing clients and the local Chamber of Commerce members—as a chamber member, they could send out. Information to all other members free of charge. The mailer urged clients to send in a potential new client. Any person who sent in a client received an entry for a drawing held at the end of three months. The winning prize was a year’s worth of free services, capped at $750.

The Results: “We got 75 new clients, with a revenue of $3,750 in services and retail dollars,” says Harper. “And that doesn’t include continued revenue. Our new client retention for that year is 63 percent, so it was well worth the promo.”

 

5. The Salon: Innovations Hair Design in Elkhart, Indiana

The Owner: Gretchen Reverman

The Challenge: Getting new clients, while keeping the current ones.

The Marketing Solution: An informal referral card program that rewards new clients, as well as the ones that referred them. When clients refer a friend or family member, the stylist, who hands out the referral cards, rewards them with a thank-you gift customized for the individual client and what they need or want. That can
include such incentives as a few highlights, a brow wax, a new product or a discount on their hair cut. New clients are also given $5 off their next appointment.

The Results: “I think it’s about appreciating the clients you have,” says Reverman. “We keep pretty much everyone, and even most of the walk-ins seem to stay.”

 

6. The Salon: A New Technique in Simi Valley, California

The Owners: Lynda, Wes, John and Candace Miller

The Challenge: Getting new clients.

The Marketing Solution: The salon teamed up with a radio station to give away 20 free $100 gift
certificates as prizes for one of the station’s contests during the 2007 holiday season. “It’s one of the best advertisements you can get,” says Lynda. The advertisement is virtually free; the $2,000 in gift certificates actually only costs the salon $1,000 if every person redeems their certificate.

The Results: At the beginning of January, 10 people had come in to redeem their certificates, and all were brand new customers. “We thought it was a really good promotion and we’re going to continue to do promotions with that radio station,” says Lynda.

 

7. The Salon: Headlines for Hair in Encinitas, California

The Owner: Gayle Fulbright

The Challenge: To get clients to refer their friends and family.

The Marketing Solution: “We run an annual promotion at Headlines in the beginning of every new year. Simply, the client who sends in the most new referrals to the salon in the first eight weeks is our “Client of the Year.” She is entitled to $1,000 worth of services—facials, manicures and hair services—for free.”

The Results: “Our results have been more than 80 new clients in the first eight weeks of the year. It is especially great because we run her story in our local paper to announce her gift and she tells the world how happy she is, even after the promotion is over.”

 

8. The Salon: Tiffany’s Salon and Spa in Barrington, Rhode Island

The Owner: Raymond Hennessey

The Challenge: To recruit new clients.

The Marketing Solution: “We recently ran a promotion in Rhode Island Monthly that offered a 25-percent discount on either a hair or nail service,” says Hennessey. “Rhode Island Monthly is a monthly lifestyle magazine that reaches an upscale audience in the 15-mile radius surrounding our salon. Its rates are usually pretty high, but I was fortunate enough to be able to bid on an advertising package at a charitable auction.”

The Results: While the publication had only been in circulation for two weeks, Hennessey already had 75 coupons redeemed, and he expects more in the coming weeks. “While some were redeemed by existing clients, I figured this was a nice way to reward their loyalty. But at least a third of the coupons came from new clients.”

 

9. The Salon: LaBarberia Salon & Spa in Cleveland, Ohio

The Marketing Manager: Kristen Scharfeld

The Challenge: To guarantee clients come back.

The Marketing Solution: “LaBarberia’s exclusive Charter Membership Program allows our guests to receive the absolute best value for their money. By choosing from one of our four packages, (Student, Gold, Silver and Platinum), guests will receive advance notice of any new products and services, discounts on retail purchases, the ability to share their membership with family and friends, an invitation and complimentary admission to all of our parties, special events and charitable events throughout the year and much more. Best of all, there is no expiration date to worry about. Charter Memberships continue until the completion of the full account spending.”

The Results: “The program more than pays for itself with the services clients receive for joining.”

 

10. The Salon: James Joseph Salon and Studio, Boston, Massachusetts

Owner: William George

The Challenge: To increase the number of referrals.

The Marketing Solution: “We launched our 20/20 Referral Program, where both the regular client and the friend get a 20-percent discount on their next visit.”

The Results: “Referrals have traditionally accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all of our client visits in a given month. When we instituted the 20/20 program, 8 percent became our average, accounting for a 20 percent average increase in the number of referrals per month.”

 

HOLIDAYS

 

11. The Salon: A New Technique in Simi Valley, California

The Owners: Lynda, Wes, John and Candace Miller

The Challenge: Winter retail woes.

The Marketing Solution: During January and February, leading up to Valentine’s Day, the salon supplements their usual monthly retail promotion with Spin the Wheel. Each person who purchases a retail product is given a chance to spin the wheel, landing on things like two travel-size products, a free eyebrow wax, a full-size hairspray, and the grand prize—a makeover and dinner for two for Valentine’s Day.

The Results: “It really perks up interest and everyone gets to wins something,” says Lynda.

 

12. The Spa: Chelsea Salon and Day Spa in Tallahassee, Florida

The Owner: Mary Fannin

The Challenge: Keeping the spa busy during the holidays.

The Marketing Solution: To keep clients flowing into the spa, Fannin catered to the time crunch by designing a special Mini-Cure menu of services. The special menu of half-the-time services includes a $15 Mini-Manicure; a $30 Mini-Pedicure; and a 30-minute Mini-Massage for $35. Or, a client can purchase the entire Mini-Cure package for $75.

“As a secondary marketing strategy, we are hoping to condition our clients into thinking of getting these Mini-Manicures while their color services are processing,” adds Fannin.

The Results: At the time of the interview, Fannin had only been offering the promotion for a week, but reports she’s happy with the way the spa books are filling up. “Also clients are responding well to the concept of having dual services,” she adds.

 

13. The Salon: Artistic Trends Salon in Sellersville, Pennsylvania

The Owner: Barb Berberich

The Challenge: Promoting Valentine’s Day spa services.

The Marketing Solution: To promote the spa, plus gift cards and the Valentine’s Day holiday, the staff put together the Champagne and Roses Spa Package—a one-hour aromatherapy massage and 30-minute custom facial. They are promoting it as a great Valentine’s gift or as a gift the clients can give themselves.

The Results: “This is something that has worked for us in the past,” says Berberich. “It helps keep the excitement and focus going in the salon for both staff and clients.”

 

14. The Salon: Headlines for Hair in Encinitas, California

The Owner: Gayle Fulbright

The Challenge: Getting gift certificate sales.

The Marketing Solution: “During holidays, my salon manager instructs all of our salon coordinators to say this script during the reminder calls: ‘We would like to remind you that we have gift certificates available, and when you come in, we can have them already made up for you. If you choose to purchase in advance, you can receive $10 off. Shall I reserve one for you?’ She has them rehearse and they do it every call.”

The Results: “Our results have been more than $3,000 in gift certificates.”

 

15. The Salon: Fabrizio Salon and Spa in Wilmington, Delaware

The Owners: Fabrizio and Angela Galieti

The Challenge: To encourage clients to purchase holiday gift certificates and products early for the holidays.

The Marketing Solution: Two years ago, Angela initiated The Black Friday Sales Event, a two-day sale following Thanksgiving Day that offers discounts on retail and gift certificates. During the special event, gift certificates are offered with a special sliding-scale discount. For example, a client receives 5-percent off a $50 gift card; 10-percent off a $100 gift card; 15-percent off a $200 gift card and 20-percent off a $500 or more gift card. A mailer is sent to all clients and they are encouraged to pre-order, as early as November 1, if they can’t make the event.

While Galieti knows some clients purchased the discounted gift cards to use for themselves, she thinks it’s worth it. “In today’s economy where clients are stretching their appointments, we know we’re locking some in for the next year—we had clients who bought themselves $1,000 gift cards last year return to buy $2,000 gift cards this year.”

The Results: The Galietis and staff deemed the event a huge success. “During the two-week period that included the event our sales totaled $188,000 and our winning top seller sold $36,000 in retail and gift certificates. Not only does the event boost our November sales, but we find people still buy gift cards in December, and our Januarys are strong because people start redeeming their certificates.”