This is a story about how I was wrong about marketing.
I know, it seems crazy. I write blog posts about beauty business marketing, I studied it in university, and my whole professional life has been the pursuit of all things “marketing”.
But last year, something clicked for me.
It was around the time that I was pushing with all my force to find clients for my company, Sunnystorm.
You’ve probably had one of those moments when you’re pushing with all your strength to make something happen. Whether that’s launching your business, setting up a storefront, finding the perfect team…
For me it was all about getting a client base. And I was trying every sales tactic to grow my clientele: Cold email. Warm email. Calling. Surveys. Mail. LinkedIn messages. I read books and did online courses about sales.
And my results were depressingly meagre. I had a sales mentality and that mentality was to push, push, push.
But do you know what happens when you push too hard? People push back. So even when you do have a potential client in front of you, they’re skeptical, hard to read, and not very receptive.
So I breathed and took a step back. I decided to throw everything I thought I knew about marketing out the window, and try something completely different.
What I did next completely turned around my business and is the reason you’re reading this blog post today.
I asked myself four simple but powerful questions.
This blog post will show you these four most important questions every beauty professional needs to ask themselves in order to grow. I’ll also show you the number 1 personal branding tool that will help you to create an excited and loyal community.
At the base of every other marketing you’ll ever do, are these four simple but powerful questions:
1) Who are you reaching?
2) How can you help them?
3) Who are you to them when money isn’t involved?
4) Where will you build a community?
The marketing tactics you use will come and go. There are a million different marketing “shiny objects” out there, whether it’s a new social network, ways of communicating, design trends, or places to advertise.
But the answers to these four questions will be your foundation and will give you a clear direction every time.
As a beauty professional, have you clearly defined who is your target market?
I know the easiest answer is often “whoever will have me”. It’s easy because it seems larger, which means more clients, more money and less competition.
But in reality, it’s not so simple. By focussing your efforts on “everyone and anyone”, you’re diluting the power of speaking the right words to the right people in the right place.
Going niche and choosing precisely who your “perfect client” is has so many benefits:
Your time, energy and marketing budget is limited. You only have a certain amount of time and space to attract your real tribe. So send your message to the people who will love it most.
But how exactly do you determine who you’ll focus on? Who do you know who will love and connect with you best?
Here are some questions worth asking:
This is probably my favourite question and answer, because for me, this was the real turning point in my business. I had chosen beauty businesses as my niche, but the real lightbulb was when I understood the value I could provide to them.
I looked at the biggest marketing problems that salons and beauty professionals were having, and I dedicated myself entirely to creating free and valuable content for them (people like you!) I write free blog posts and ebooks because I know they’re needed and appreciated.
Now I know you’re probably not going to write a 70 page eBook for your target market, but there are so many ways that you can provide value.
It’s all about identifying who you’re talking to and understanding what they need help, advice, and inspiration on.
Here are just some of the ways you can provide value and help to people’s lives:
You might be thinking: “I don’t actually know what people find funny, interesting, or what they struggle with.” It might seem like a shot in the dark.
But if you’ve narrowed down a client profile that resonates with you and is specific enough, you will find that people are attracted to what you have to share.
Once you’ve thought about some of the ways you can bring value, joy and inspiration into your clients’ lives, it’s time to step back and ask the next super important question.
If you’re thinking to yourself: “This is a lot of trouble to go through, educating people about things that have nothing to do with what I’m selling. I prefer to spend my time finding clients that will pay me, thank you very much.”
Let’s look at the other side of the coin.
If all you’re doing as a beauty professional is providing a quick, cheap and no strings attached service, with no emotional connection and no value added to your clients’ lives… Do you know what you’re selling?
You’re selling a commodity. And in a commodity market the winner is the one who provides the cheapest service at a standard quality. It’s a race to the bottom in terms of pricing.
But do you know the one thing that can make all the difference? The thing that will completely change the game for your business?
Your personal brand.
Ironically enough, what will help you succeed in your beauty business is the value you can provide outside to people outside of your paid services. And that’s why the biggest question to ask yourself is:
“Who do I want to be when I’m not getting paid?”
Outside of your salon services, what do your clients think of you? Do they even think of you at all?
I know it might sound strange, but as a business owner, you’re actually a form of leader. Humans are social creatures. We all crave connection. And believe it or not, people want to feel a human connection with their “nail lady”, their hairdresser, their spray tanner or their waxer. And they don’t just want to feel that connection when they’re in your salon or studio.
You have value and importance beyond your beauty services. And that should shine through in what you share with your clients.
So just take a minute right now, and think about who that person is. Who do you want to be to your clients? What kind of leadership, expertise, or inspiration can you provide?
Maybe it’s about a healthy lifestyle, organic and cruelty free products, women’s rights issues, Work/life and family balance, veganism, how to be a powerful female entrepreneur?
The answer you have in mind is your personal brand. And it’s going to help you understand the final question.
When most of us hear “community”, we instantly think of social networks. But my definition is broader than that:
Your community =
Your perfect clients,
that you’re providing continual value and help to,
while you brand yourself,
without money changing hands.
Where you choose to build this community is up to you, and certainly Facebook and Instagram are important. But my absolute favourite place to build a thriving, loyal community where you can brand yourself… is through email.
If you’ve scrolled or skimmed through this blog post to discover my favourite branding tool, only to be disappointed with the answer (“email marketing… seriously?”), I get it.
I used to have the same objections as you:
I used to think the same thing. I thought that email was spammy and boring and no one read it. And honestly, with the rise of social networks, I thought it was on its way out.
Not even close.
One of the the best ways to explain the difference why email wins over social media is to look at these numbers:
These percentages are the average reach for each platform. Only 6% of your Facebook fans will see your posts – and with recent changes, expect that number to slip lower. Only slightly more of your Instagram followers will see your photos.
And let’s not forget that you don’t own your followers. Facebook and Instagram control how people see and interact with what you put out there.
But email has an average open rate of 22%, and that can go much much higher. And those are people that are opening your email to read what’s inside, not to simply skim past and possibly give a “like”.
On top of that, according to US companies, emails help them get 40x more customers than Facebook does. That’s huge!
So I want to encourage you to think about email differently. Because this is a way for you to consistently get in front of the right people, when they’re on their way to work, at the gym, watching netflix on the couch.
Show up, provide value, and be there for them, whether money is exchanged or not. Show them you understand them, that you want to help them, that you’re on their side. And they won’t forget about you.
As you’ve seen, email is 100% my number one education and branding tool. But you’re right in wondering exactly how to do it:
How do you get email addresses?
What should you write about?
How do you know if you’re doing it right?
I’m glad you asked! This is the first part of my “Personal Branding for Beauty Professionals” blog series. I’ll be writing more about how to use email to build you presence and provide incredible value and inspiration to your ideal clients. Keep an eye out for part two!