10 marketing ideas your salon probably isn’t doing (but should!)
Every so often it happens that I'm chatting with a salon owner on the phone, and she or he will tell me: "Stephanie, I've tried EVERYTHING for marketing and NOTHING is working. I'm out of ideas!"
I usually smile inwardly to myself, because I know what they're really saying. What they're saying is that they're frustrated and feel like marketing "doesn't work" because they've tried a few things and failed.
I think what I love most about marketing is that it's endless, boundless and limitless.
What I mean is, whenever you think you're out of ideas, there are always more. Different ways of explaining something. Different photos or videos to show something. Different words to express something.
If you're here looking for ideas to promote your salon because you're in need of inspiration, you're in the right place.
But one thing I want to say before we get to the ideas is this: marketing is a mindset, and those who have an open mind succeed. Try something, and if it doesn't work try again. Don't get down on yourself. Just pick yourself up again.
Also, don't think that just because you've never done marketing, sales, or promotion before, it means you're "no good" at it. Be confident that the salons you see who are "killing it on Instagram" or seem to always have the best promotions aren't "something special". They don't have something that you'll never have.
You know what those salons probably did? They probably were really bad at marketing at the beginning, and then slowly over time they got better because they kept trying.
So that said, I want to share with you 10 marketing ideas for your salon that I hope will inspire you and excite you to get started on today!
Idea #1: Hire local Instagram celebrities as an influencer or brand ambassador
This one was asked to me by a salon owner on our Facebook page. She was approached by a local influencer and wanted to know if hiring this person was a good idea to promote her salon.
I thought it was such a good question that I wanted to include it in this blog post.
Instagram influencers are everywhere, and they are a huge industry (influencers will make more than $1.6 billion this year - source). It's no wonder that so many salons want to know how they can use local influencers to brand themselves in their city and make waves on Instagram.
Here’s how one salon owner does it (I chat with her about sunless tanning marketing in my blog post):
Shonna Dexter is the owner of Recreating Rays sunless tanning salon. She works with women in her target audience as models and influencers to grow her business.
Shonna defines her target audience as “female professionals and stay-at-home moms in their 30’s and 40’s”. Here's how she works with them:
She hires social media brand ambassadors who are influencers to her ideal clients
She hires models in her target audience and they do photoshoots that focus around “real life” things like coffee shops, charity events and kids soccer games
She is currently seeking out a local blogger who engages with stay-at-home moms in her area
She's partnered up with a local salon and a family photographer that serve the same type of client as she does
As you can see, Shonna went beyond just Instagram influencers to find other people in her city that can help grow her business.
If you're wondering how you can do the same for your salon, here are a few tips:
1) Do your research about any "influencer" who approaches you or that you'd like to work with. I would want to be sure that their Instagram followers are legit, and that you can look at other campaigns they've done with other local businesses and then do some research by speaking with those businesses.
2) Make sure this person matches up with your ideal clientele. You want to make sure that these influencers are the right type of person. Do they have the same values, style, and overall "ethos" that you do? Are they well connected with your ideal clientele in person and online?
3) Be skeptical of "influencers" who promote their services to all business. Be wary of someone that is willing to reach out to any and all businesses just for some quick cash as an "influencer". You want to make sure they legitimately love your business and are not just trying to make a quick buck (they won't be much of an influencer if they promote every single business in your city as long as they get paid).
If you find the right person that fits perfectly into your business, it's worth investing some money (or possibly free products or services) in hiring them.
Idea #2: Update your salon interior to have a cute place to take pictures (or even just a corner!)
Investing in a beautiful salon interior helps her to stand out on social media, and it’s great for taking pictures and videos of her clients.
Creating a lovely salon interior is not only about creating a pampered experience when clients come in, it helps you to gain attention online as well.
And in case you're thinking "I don't have a ton of money to invest in renovations!" - you're 100% right. But there are some small changes you can make that can have a huge impact, too. For example:
Represent your brand colors on a wall, either through paint or an accent wall with colorful wallpaper
Find some sort of theme and make it stand out - that might be flowers, sunsets, geometric patterns. However you design your "look" online, make that represented in your studio as well.
Have really good lighting. This not only creates mood but your photos will turn out better, too.
If redoing your whole space is hard, try just starting with a small area where you can take pics. Look at all of the beautiful (and not expensive) wall decorations Etsy has here.
Idea #3: Get your salon featured in the news
Getting press coverage for your salon just might be the holy grail of promotion. Press coverage...
Gives you social proof to share on your website which increases trust
It's an awesome promotion piece to share with your current fans on social media and email newsletter
It's the perfect way to have new clients learn about your business
Provides a link back to your website from an “authoritative” news site which helps majorly with your Google search ranking.
Online news websites are excellent sources for backlinks, which is essentially just a link to your website from another (Google looks for these when ranking your website). News sites are perfect because they’re usually considered an “authority”.
And believe it or not, news sites are always looking for experts to comment on beauty and health trends, new products, celebrity hairstyles and more.
Here is how your salon can get in the news, beyond just local newspapers:
Help A Reporter Out connects news sites looking for experts with actual experts. All you have to do is respond to their request for help, and if they like your response they’ll include you in their article (often with a link to your website).
Here is an example of a “beauty request” I’ve gotten through Help a Reporter Out:
If you’re a hair stylist specializing in wedding hair, being profiled in this magazine would be perfect. But nomatter your beauty niche, there are journalists looking for experts in your field. Just subscribe to HARO’s email updates and keep an eye out for inquiries in your field.
Idea #4: Launch a salon chatbot
Chatbots are awesome, and they are such an underestimated but super useful tool for salons!
People tend to think that they’re really techie and complicated, but they’re actually simple to use, and free too.
Having a chatbot can help your salon in these ways:
If your Facebook page is overrun with commonly asked questions on messenger, a chatbot can answer those questions without the help of a staff member ("What time are you open until? How much does xyz cost?”)
If people want to book an appointment over Facebook, you can either set up a chatbot to book an appointment directly with them, or you can direct them to your online booking page
If you do Facebook ads and want to turn your Facebook fans into people who want to claim your offer, connect your Facebook ad to a chatbot! You can automatically start a friendly conversation with people who comment on your ad, and then turn that into an appointment.
I personally use ManyChat for Facebook chatbots, which is free for most functionalities.
To learn how to set up the perfect Facebook ad campaign, download the guide here (plus, it has three more Facebook ad hacks!)
Download the guide to Facebook ads for salons
Idea #5: Track who visits your website, and then show them a Facebook ad
When I run Facebook ads, I pay for each person that clicks on my ad that goes my website.
Want to know how I can get that cost from 60 cents per click to 3 cents per click?
I show my ads to anyone who visited my website in the past 6 months. And it works extremely well!
Think about how this could work for your salon…
1) Someone finds your salon on Google.
2) They visit your website, look around and then get distracted and jump off without contacting you or booking an appointment.
3) The next week they see a Facebook ad from you, which is perfect because:
They already know about you from Google
They’re in your target audience
They’ve expressed interest in your services
When you show Facebook ads to your website visitors, they’re much more likely to claim your offer or book an appointment than anyone else on Facebook.
Idea #6: Send out monthly (non-sales) newsletters
I know what you’re probably thinking about email newsletters: they suck.
Not so fast! Actually, if done right, regular emails sent to your client list can have a huge impact on your branding and sales.
However, they have to be...
Beautiful and easy to read
Non-sales oriented (meaning the main goal is not to sell or book appointments)
Friendly, educational, fun to read and interesting.
Imagine showing up monthly in a place where your clients actually read EVERYTHING that's going on in your life and in your salon, they get inspired with beauty tips, and they see you as a source of important information.
Email is the perfect place to tell people about yourself, to share useful tips and ideas, to be an inspiration and an educator.
Going for a branding/educational approach in your emails instead of a sales approach takes some time and thought, but once you see the results, I promise you’ll never go back.
And if you send out these emails on a regular basis, I promise you your email list will flourish and you will have a thriving community of fans who can’t wait for your next newsletter.
If you’re thinking "I have nooo idea what to write about in my emails", here are 3 easy ideas:
Include a photo of yourself and tell a story of the most interesting or exciting thing that happened to you in the past month/li>
Share a beauty tip or “hack” including pictures that you took yourself
Spotlight on 3 products that you love and why
Just remember to write in an informal way, like you would to a friend, and let your sense of humour and personality shine through!
Idea #7: Use 3-5 colors consistently in everything you do
When I say use consistent colors in everything, I mean everything:
The inspiration quotes you post on Instagram
Your Facebook cover photo
The emails you send out
Your client loyalty cards
Using a consistent color palette is crucial for creating a strong and instantly recognizable brand, both online and offline.
You want people to associate certain colors with your salon, as soon as they see them. And you want to make sure that the colours you use are saying the right thing about your brand.
Is your salon young fresh and minimal?
Are you classic, elegant, and upscale?
Are you bright, flirty, and feminine?
Understanding your salon personality, choosing the right colour palette, and then using it consistently will do wonders for your brand and it brings the right clientele to you.
Idea #8: Experiment with new Instagram hashtags (at least) once a month
Studies say that posts with 9 hashtags or more perform 2.5 times better than posts without hashtags (source). So yes, in case you didn't know, hashtags are super important on Instagram.
Here’s what you really need to know about using hashtags for your salon:
They’re a way to “tag” your posts into categories
They’re the best way to get new people to see your posts on Instagram
You can use max 30 of them – and you should use as many as you can
Using the right hashtags you’ve discovered through research is the right way to make them work for you. Don’t just use random hashtags!
So, long story short, you should be using as many hashtags as you can (to a maximum of 30) to get the right people to find your salon on Instagram.
The best hashtags that should be considered gold are relevant LOCAL hashtags to your city. And the best way to find these is to do some deep research into which hashtags people are using near you, and narrow those down into hashtags that your target audience is using.
But the truth is, it’s hard to find the right mix of local hashtags, beauty hashtags, trending hashtags etc.
So here is something to try: don’t use the same hashtags all the time (some research even shows that Instagram penalizes copy/paste hashtags).
Try coming up with new hashtag ideas at least once a month, try them out, and track your results to see which hashtags help you get more engagement and followers.
OR, if you'd like to get to work right away on your salon's hashtag research, download my free Excel workbook below that will help you choose the right ones!
Idea #9: Send out an email or text after appointments to ask for reviews
Sometimes it feels like getting reviews is like pulling teeth.
People come in for an appointment and you’ll never hear from them again, like they completely disappeared.
They’ll say they loved your work, they promise to give you a review… then crickets.
Sometimes it feels like maybe they don’t like you enough to review you…
But don’t worry, the reason is simple: people are lazy and they don’t realize how important reviews are to your business.
Reviews are an amazing way to instil trust in people researching you online.
Google also loves reviews and sees them as a way to understand if you’re a high quality local business. The more positive reviews you have, the higher you’ll appear on Google Maps recommendations.
But how can you get more of them?
As I said, even if your clients love their new hair/nails/lashes, human beings are lazy and often don’t realize how important the reviews are for you.
A great way to tackle both these things is to send out an email or text (you can automate this with your booking software or just do them manually) after an appointment saying something like:
Was so great having you in this week. I hope you’re loving your new style!
I have a favour to ask you:
Would you mind leaving me a quick review? Reviews are an important way for me to grow my business, and I’d love to get your recommendation.
You can review me on Google here, Facebook here, and Yelp here (whichever you prefer).
And as always, if you have any questions or concerns about your service, please give me a call at 123-444-5678
Thank you so much!
Make it easy for them, and let them know how important it is to you.
Idea #10: Post fun videos of you and your staff on Facebook and Instagram
As much as people DO want to see pictures of your work, after a while these pictures can get pretty monotonous. Especially if you’re looking at lots of different salons on Instagram and everyone is posting the same before and after photos.
But you know what is the thing that sets you apart, that no one else can do?
What people REALLY want to see when they creep your social media?
They want to see who’s behind the chair! They want to understand your style, personality, sense of humour.
They want to know who they’re trusting with their hair or nails, and they want to connect with you as a human.
One of the best ways to do this is through videos of you and your staff. I know you probably feel like you have nothing interesting going on, and no one cares… but TRUST me they do care.
So start showing yourself and your staff. If you’re intimidated, just start with photos. Then do a Boomerang video. Then experiment with quick 30 second “interview” videos where you ask each staff member a silly question about themselves.
I know video can be awkward (trust me, I’m still getting used to it), but people really want to see you.
I know how promoting your salon business can be… marketing can be frustrating, confusing and sometimes demotivating if you feel like you can’t get it right.
In general, I try to remember three main things about marketing:
1. If you found something that works, double down on it. Don’t feel like you have to find that “magic marketing idea” if it’s already right in front of you. Keep it simple.
2. If you’re out of ideas and are looking around, don’t be afraid to try new things (such as some of the marketing ideas above). Learning some basic marketing and sales skills can be crucial for growing your beauty business.
3. If you try something new and it doesn’t work out, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes experimentation can be your best friend. Facebook ads for example: I’ve heard so many salon owners say they don’t work. But they do. Sometimes it just takes many different ideas and time before you learn what works for you.
Keep your chin up and always keep learning!