Whether they suggest new products, pass on the latest beauty trends or simply weigh in on a personal situation, most stylists routinely dish out advice along with the cuts and color they give their guests. Crescent LoMonaco, owner of Salon Monaco in Carpinteria, California, collected her clients' questions for years, and now she's turning them into a unique marketing opportunity.

The Dear Abby of Beauty
Crescent LoMonaco, Salon Monaco

Recently LoMonaco's longtime rep, Gary Colman, salon consultant with Beauty Systems Group West, suggested she read the book, Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. The book encourages small business owners to rely on time, energy and imagination, rather than big budgets, to accomplish their marketing goals. Reading the book inspired Monaco to develop and pitch a beauty column to local community newspapers. 

LoMonaco gathered a handful of the questions she's gotten from guests, such as: How old should my daughter be before getting her first highlight service? My son has autism; how can I make his first salon visit a success? My husband has had the same haircut since we were married in 1967? How can I make him change it? She listed the questions in a pitch letter' suggested she pen a beauty advice column titled, "Ask the Stylist," and she even wrote a sample column so editors could assess her writing skills. 

"I sent it off to four different community papers around the greater Santa Barbara area, and before I had the chance to call and follow up, one of them called me back and they were very interested," says LoMonaco. Although she originally pitched the idea of a monthly column, the Santa Barbara Independent asked if she would be willing to pen a weekly column for their online edition that reaches about 9,000 area readers. 

Although LoMonaco will not be compensated for her time, she seized the opportunity, knowing it will translate into valuable marketing exposure for her salon. "I have such a passion for our industry and for caring for our guests, and I love being able to educate and help people," she says. "Once I have a topic, the writing flows naturally, and I can do it on my own time, even taking my laptop to the local coffee shop. So far, it doesn't seem like work, and I'm finding a single column takes about 45 minutes if it doesn't require additional research."

So far, only LoMonaco's first few columns have been published, but she's already received several compliments from current guests and she's positive the exposure will bring in new guests as well. LoMonaco's also received quite a few questions from readers, such as: How can I tactfully break up with my stylist? My sister and I went to the same salon on the same day for the same service, but were charged different prices, why? And, what are salons doing to stay green?

The budding Dear Abby of Beauty looks forward to answering them all. 

Click here to check out LoMonaco's first column.

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