Liz McKeon: Key strategies for promoting your business

Liz McKeonRunning a successful business is only have of the story when you are a business owner. You can have a great treatment menu, the best brands, a beautiful building and the most well-trained staff in the industry, but if no one knows about you, it's unlikely that you will have many customers, except perhaps passing trade.  

You are aiming to have a full appointment book so in order to fill your columns, customers need to know you exist, then they need to how to find you and they need to know what you do. 

Promotion, advertising and marketing are all essential elements for any business. 

The more marketing and promotion you do, the more successful your salon business will be - it is that simple. I suggest to salon owners that they allocate at least one hour a day, every day, to marketing and promotions to ensure they have a steady flow of clients.

Is it worth paying for promotion? How do you know it's worth the money?

This is a tough one and you could end up spending vast amounts of money. The old saying, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half,” is the most famous phrase used about advertising. The fact of the matter is, you don't know what works until you try. 

Here is a simple exercise. Everyday ask every new client and record how they heard about you. Track this and at the end of each month review your findings to find out which promotional activities generated the most new clients.
As a benchmark I suggest that you allocate no more than 10% of your turnover to advertising and marketing activities. Constantly review and monitor these to ensure that they are delivering clients to your door. 

If I'm on a small budget, how do I work out the best use if my money?

Focus on providing outstanding customer service. Do everything you can to ensure your clients leave: 

Feeling happy
Looking forward to returning
Happy to recommend you 

That way your clients become your sales people and you can limit your marketing spend. About 40% of salon business is generated through 'word of mouth' advertising, so do everything you can to get your clients talking about your salon.

What about existing customers?  How do I utilise my existing customer base to promote my business?

Ask them! It really is that simple. Tell your clients that you are looking for new clients and can they recommend you to two friends. Then give them two business cards to pass on to two friends that would like your services. 

Do the sums: if every client you met last week sent you one new client, that would double your client base very quickly. There are also incentives you could use to help this. You can also offer your current clients incentives. Keep it simple and easy to manage.  For example: Refer a friend and get 50% discount off your next service. Limit the number of clients you offer this to. While this is a big discount, it is a low-cost way to acquire new clients. 

women taking selfie in salon
About 40% of salon business is generated through 'word of mouth' advertising, so do everything you can to get your clients talking about your salon.
You can also incentivise your team - whoever gets the most re-bookings in the following week wins a half day off on Saturday! You could also use other alternative incentives for your staff; ask them what they would like to receive and use that as an incentive. 

Run a retail competition for your clients to increase sales; get a raffle ticket for every product they purchase within a set month and enter a draw for a prize, such as dinner for two in a local restaurant. Clients can then enter the competition as many times as she wants.

Is there a time of year that's best for promotions?

Promote various services, packages, new treatments, retail products and courses all year round, that way your pipeline of new clients never dries up and you are guaranteed a steady stream of new and existing clients. And you are promoting your entire range of amazing services, so clients won't ever get bored of your business. Naturally it's important to focus on key gifting periods, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas and pre and post summer holidays. 

Marketing is simply helping people to buy your products and services, so do everything you can to ensure your clients come back more often and spend more money!

Liz McKeon is a successful Business Coach, Trainer, Author and Mentor, whose expertise lies in growing small businesses from scratch and taking existing companies to profitability.