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It’s no secret that going to the salon and focusing on how one looks and feels can be an incredible experience. But with the rise of do-it-yourself (DIY) hair trends and the increase in competitors, showcasing how your salon stands out may be a bit challenging. As a result, zeroing in on your marketing efforts will be more important than ever. With close to a million salons throughout the U.S. as of 2023, thinking beyond the haircut and leaning into the experience will be key to growth in the years ahead.
Here are a few ways you can use your marketing to stay ahead.
Bring on the perks.
How you treat your clients can have a notable impact on your word-of-mouth marketing, which, in turn, can have a significant impact on your business. McKinsey & Co. reported that word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions. Tactics like rewards and freebies can help turn clients into walking billboards, attract new clients, and keep your existing clients coming back.
For example, local San Francisco business Cocoon Day Spa offers customers their drink of choice while they’re getting pampered, and customers love it. In fact, over 233 of their Yelp reviews mention the word “champagne.” Consider ways you can rethink the experience you provide customers from the moment they walk through your door. Once you’ve settled on a unique and premier experience to attract clients, retain them with a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs with built-in perks, like a free haircut after five visits, encourage customers to return to your business. Square data shows that businesses enrolled in a Square Loyalty program return 40% more often. With this in mind, be strategic about the perks you offer to new and existing clients to show customers the value of investing in your business long-term.
Embrace marketing software.
Email marketing continues to be a powerful tool to keep clients in the loop about new offers and incentives. According to the 2024 Square Future of Customers report, email is the most preferred marketing channel across generations, including Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and Boomers.
Square Marketing allows you to collect customer information right at your register. And if you use salon booking software, it can also help you capture clients’ email addresses. With the ability to create lists of loyal, casual, or lapsed customers, you can target your emails appropriately. Let regular clients know about a new service you’re offering, or give lapsed customers an incentive (like a free deep-conditioning treatment) if they book a service within two weeks.
In an image-driven business, photos almost always speak louder than words. Square data showed that 19% of customers would avoid a beauty business if it had no social media site to view photos or reviews.
Before and after photos can emphasize the difference a service makes. Post photos of services that set your business apart, such as unique styles and offerings, and photos of the salon that emphasize the experience.
Regardless of what photos you post, remember that popular hashtags like local hashtags, style-based hashtags, and trending hashtags are your friends and can attract more customers. According to Search Logistics, posts that include 11+ hashtags have the highest interactions, with a 79.5% increase for accounts with less than 1,000 followers.
The hashtag #cutandcolor has over 360,00 posts on Instagram. On the other hand, the hashtag #chicagohair has over 1.6 million posts on Instagram. When you blend the aforementioned style and location-based hashtag into #cutandcolorchicago, Instagram shows 100+ posts. Mixing and matching different categories of hashtags will help you maximize your reach and help your brand become known for specific services. With this in mind, be strategic about the hashtags you choose and decide which ones align most with your target audience.
Make your website a one-stop shop.
A great haircut makes a strong first impression — and so does a modern, cleanly designed website. It’s the key to making a good first impression online with prospective clients and piquing their interest in your business. Square data showed that 25% of customers would avoid a beauty business if there was no website to view services, prices, and customer photos. Similarly, 19% would avoid a beauty business with no online booking option.
A website showcases your work, the range of styles you have to offer, and builds trust with prospective clients. An online booking site, on the other hand, lets customers book with you at their own convenience rather than waiting for business hours to call your shop. To create a seamless experience, consider adding your booking link to your website so customers can have everything they need in one place.
Square Appointments can help provide everything your customers — and your business — need. With features that support staff management, retail and inventory options, and point-of-sale needs, Square Appointments works to keep your business organized and helps you expand as you grow.
Tap into influencers.
Influencers hold a special place in the world of hair and beauty. Believe it or not, research shows that there are over 40,000 beauty influencers and, subsequently, several hundred thousand influencer posts across social channels. From highlighting local stylists in the area to introducing new trends, influencers can help broaden your reach in your neighborhood and help your brand establish credibility.
Having clear goals is key to tapping into influencer marketing. Influencers with a demonstrated knowledge and history of hair care products are big targets for any salon trying to launch a new product line. Influencers who are known for exploring new hairstyles and hair trends might align better with those looking to widen their customer base. Still, it’s important to remember the primary social channels customers use. With influencers spread out across TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, be strategic about the platforms you use to maximize impact.
It’s also important to note that the heart of influencer marketing is engaging and connecting with an audience, not just growing your follower count. In fact, some microinfluencers tend to have stronger engagement rates than macroinfluencers. Do your research and understand how and where influencers can benefit your business.
Embedding yourself in your community can help widen your reach and deepen your footprint, giving your word-of-mouth marketing a notable boost. After all, McKinsey & Company reported that word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of purchasing decisions. For example, salons that offer special-occasion hair services might book a booth at a local bridal show or offer to style models for a prom fashion show. Others might tap into wedding planners in their area to discuss a referral system.
Host an event.
Events can also raise awareness about your salon and build your client base. They can help diversify revenue streams, build personal and professional brands, and establish trust with customers.
In 2023, Dove held a Love Your Hair event to help celebrate the launch of its new collection of the same name. The collection was made for six hair types. But there was an emphasis on silver hair. Approximately 50% of women make the transition to silver or gray hair at home on their own due to a shortage of stylists caring for the hair type. Held in a salon in Brooklyn, the event featured notable panelists who embraced and cared for their gray hair.
This event demonstrated the power of a targeted audience experience and helped raise awareness of Dove’s emphasis on hair care products. It also showed that hosting an event to help market salons or products comes down to understanding the gap you’re trying to fill, how you can stand out, and the power of the audience you’re trying to reach.
Reaching your audience for events, in particular, is key, and the good news is that customers want to know about them. The 2024 Square Future of Customers report found that 23% of global customers want alerts about special promotions for events. Strategically use marketing channels such as email marketing, your website, and social media to ensure customers never miss out.
Expand your online footprint.
Your online marketing should extend beyond your website. It’s important to create a Yelp profile, adding photos and relevant keywords, so prospective clients can find you and feel confident picking up the phone to make an appointment. Why stop there? Once you’ve finished your Yelp profile, do the same on Google Places and Yahoo Local.
Be sure to regularly monitor review sites and respond to customers who post critical reviews, doing what you can to make it right. For example, if someone writes that they are unhappy with the color of their dye job, you can empathize with their frustration and invite them to come back within the next week for a complimentary touch-up. Excellent customer service oils a squeaky wheel and you’re also showing prospective customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile.
Launch a comarketing campaign.
Partnering with other brands with similar audiences is a natural way to enhance your marketing efforts. It allows you to tap into another brand’s customer base and create a unique opportunity or offering for your business.
Take KVD Beauty, for example, a vegan makeup brand. In 2023, they hosted a Reckless Pink Mobile Pop-Up event in New York City in front of the Sephora store. Along with a host of free makeup goodies, visitors at the truck also received a treat from Chloe’s Popsicles, a health-conscious dessert brand.
This effort seamlessly targeted customers of KVD Beauty and Sephora and introduced this audience to a sweet brand, keeping in mind the warm temperature and the health-conscious nature of their target customers. It was a lesson in the importance of location, seasonality, and customer base as it relates to comarketing, and an exercise salon brands can learn from.
You’re in the business of making people look good and feel their best. You know the transformative power of a great hairstyle, so it could be a natural fit to support a group who organizes haircuts for people donating their locks to cancer patients and others in need.
CUT IT OUT is a program that trains salon professionals to spot signs of domestic abuse and safely refer clients to local resources. Hairdressers are in a unique position to help fight domestic violence because of the intimate nature of your relationship with their clients. CUT IT OUT has great resources to help train you and your staff to identify possible signs of abuse and to know how to help.
Did you know your salon can help clean up after an oil spill? We shampoo our hair because our natural scalp oils stick to it. Hair is excellent at soaking up crude oil too. You can donate hair clippings to Matter of Trust, an organization that forms it into hair mats and emergency hair booms, used to clean oil spills as part of their former Clean Wave program.
When you give back, your hair salon is acting as a source of good. When you let your clients know about your programs, your efforts will also act as good marketing for your salon. Win-win!