Management Practices

The Fine Line In Marketing

Stacey Soble | July 10, 2011 | 2:14 PM

As my plane wound its way west from Cosmoprof, the flight attendants came up the aisle offering beverages. In preparation, I lowered my tray table, only to find it entirely covered in a bright purple image that turned out to be an advertisement for granola nut clusters. I admit I was hungry, and my first thought was of excitement that we’d be getting a snack of some kind, but I soon learned my Diet Coke wouldn’t even have a measly peanut or pretzel accompaniment.

As my stomach grumbled, I sat there studying the ad, discovering I could text a six-digit number for a sample of granola goodies. Now, keep in mind, my flight was in mid-air, so texting actually would be in violation of FAA regulation, but it was an option. In the small confines of my row, I grew more uncomfortable as I realized I couldn’t escape the ad—actually, six of them if you counted the whole row of tray tables.           

Now, my parents have been publishers of a community newspaper for nearly 40 years, and I followed them into journalism, eventually combining passions for writing and beauty in my own career. It’s a fact that my entire life has been dependent on advertising. I get that, I respect it and, on a daily basis, I even fight for it.

Michael Baker, educational director for Neill Corporation, describes the salon station as a 5’x5’ stage on which a stylist performs in front of the audience—the clients. For those of us who spend our days balancing caretaker roles with professional lives, this stage also becomes a sanctuary. There is a way to market to customers within this personal space, without being too intrusive. In fact, PBA's Business of Beauty study revealed that not only do 88 percent of clients not mind being educated about retail products, they expect it as part of the experience. If done well, marketing is not only educational, it’s helpful and appreciated by the audience.

On the second morning of Cosmoprof Symposium, a panel of eight industry experts delved deeper into the eight steps of retailing that came out of the study. While discussing how to offer strategic solutions, Regis’ Norma Knudsen described bookstores that feature displays of reading recommendations from their employees. She suggested that stylists, in a similar fashion, could select a personal product pick, and feature it on their station with some simple signage saying, “Ask me why this is my favorite product.”

Bonnie Conte, owner of Avalon Salon and Day Spa in Deer Park, Illinois, also was on the panel and added that she turns the personal product pick into an impromptu activity at staff meetings. She gives the staff about 90 seconds to run to the shelves and pick out their current favorite product. She then asks the stylists to come back to the group and describe the product as if describing it to a client—a little roleplaying that reinforces product features and benefits. Conte then encourages her staff members to place their pick at their stations—if they can sell six of their favorite pick during the day, they get to take home the bottle displayed at their stations at the end of the day. It's an easy, fun and clever approach to retail that delivers results without being intrusive.

Speaking of personal product picks, have you voted yet for MODERN SALON’s Professional Picks? Be part of the process in determining the hottest products of the year. Vote by visiting




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