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Industry • Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Salon Marketing

With the right salon marketing strategies, you can attract new clients and build a thriving business.

You’ve attended cosmetology school, found a great location, and assembled a team of experienced beauty specialists. There’s just one thing left: customers! To increase salon clientele, you’ll need marketing that grabs attention and keeps you top-of-mind. Unfortunately, marketing is a unique skill set — where should you start?

At this point, it’s important to note the difference between marketing, promotions, and advertising. Though often used interchangeably, these terms actually refer to specific techniques that apply to different goals.

Marketing is your overall strategy for getting the word out about your salon. It accounts for:

  • Researching your target audience

  • Plans for reaching customers

  • Campaigns to engage with customers

Promotions are details that enhance the value of your salon. The term refers equally to:

  • Limited-time discounts or bundle deals

  • Unique features of your product or service

Advertising is the marketing component your customers will actually see. Advertising encompasses a broad range of formats, including:

  • Magazine ads

  • Social media posts

  • Billboard ads

  • Storefront signs

A comprehensive salon marketing strategy should incorporate all of these components: a plan for reaching customers, promotions to entice them, and advertisements that deliver clear brand messaging. Let’s explore each element in more detail:

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Salon marketing strategies for 2020

Establish a consistent digital presence

It doesn’t matter whether you run a single salon location or an entire chain — it’s vital to think digital when crafting your marketing strategy. Most new clients learn about your business through web searches or social media, so you should curate a digital presence that reflects your goals and values.

1. Confirm your business details on Google

What comes up when Googling your salon? At a minimum, customers should be able to see contact details, hours of operation, and salon location. What’s more, these records should correspond with listings on Google Maps.

To register your salon, create a free profile on Google My Business and include the relevant information. 

2. Create social media profiles

Google is just one hub that people can use to find out about your salon — social media is another. By creating profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, you will increase visibility and attract new clients to your salon.

3. Develop a website and blog

It might seem obvious, but websites and blogs are the primary vehicles to reach and engage customers online. When creating a website, you can include more details than social media typically allows, such as profiles for each of your stylists. Blogs, meanwhile, can be used to share announcements or beauty tips.

Showing off your expertise with regular blog posts will improve search rankings for your website over time. Just don’t forget to optimize your website for mobile as well! Over one-third of appointments are booked from smartphones and mobile devices.

4. Encourage online reviews

Finally, you’ll want to conduct an audit of your digital presence on business directories and consumer review websites. Start by ensuring the contact information is accurate — clients might read these reviews, but go to the wrong place! From there, encourage customers to leave reviews and spread salon awareness by digital “word-of-mouth.”

Don’t forget about local salon marketing

While digital marketing is necessary, that doesn’t mean salons should overlook local promotions. Most of your regular clients come from the surrounding community, which means they can be reached using local strategies.

  • Networking: Business networks in your area can absolutely create opportunities for new clients. Make sure to bring business cards and coupons that members can use or hand out at their workplaces.

  • Local business partnerships: Other salons in your area might offer services that you do not, and vice versa. Don’t compete with them — partner with them! See if there are opportunities to refer clients to each other or create joint promotions.

  • Charitable partnerships: Working with local charities can help serve a noble cause and endear clients to your business. Consider offering free or heavily discounted services for single mothers, new job applicants, or other groups in need. You’ll be surprised by the impact it can have on your business if publicized effectively — and it’ll feel great!

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Treat photos of your work as marketing opportunities

Whatever marketing opportunity you pursue, remember one goal: To make your salon look its best! One easy method is to take pictures of your work (with the permission of clients, of course). These images are perfect for social media posts, your website or blog, or a salon billboard of valued clients. Your talent is what got you into this business — highlighting it is the best way to make your salon stand out.

Pro tip to help build your brand on social media: Create a dedicated selfie wall in the salon. Find a spot with great lighting and a pleasing backdrop, and clients will gladly take their own pictures to share online. To incentivize this content creation, create a monthly hashtag contest for clients who snap themselves at the selfie wall for a complimentary add-on or product sample.

For more tips and inspiration, check out 5 Salon Marketing Ideas for Building A Clientele Fast.

Choosing the right salon promotions

Focus on popular seasonal promotions

The most straightforward promotions for salons are seasonal deals and discounts. Holidays are a prime example — most clients want to look their best before Christmas dinner or a romantic Valentine’s Day outing. Promoting your offerings during these seasonal windows helps customers remember you when it’s time to book an appointment.

You don’t need to limit seasonal promotions to holidays. Students need new hairstyles before their first day of school, and engaged couples might have elaborate requests leading into the wedding season. If your salon specializes in these services, be sure to detail what you can do in advertisements.

Promote retail products with samples, bundles, and deals

Clients attend your salon for expert styling services, but some will appreciate products to maintain their look at home. That’s why hairspray, shampoo, and hair masks can be excellent promotional products. Salons have no shortage of opportunities to consider:

  • Sales and discounts: The simplest option is to offer direct discounts for hair and beauty products. This promotion could be a limited-time price cut or a “buy-one-get-one-free” deal of complementary items.

  • Free samples: Many manufacturers offer small and travel-sized products that are perfect for promotional giveaways. For example, you could offer a sample hair gel to new clients when they attend their first follow-up booking.

  • Bonus product: If your salon offers an expensive-but-complete beauty treatment, throwing in a full-sized beauty product will add value to the package.

  • Beauty bundles: Finally, beauty packages of different items make great raffle giveaways or gift packages for your clients.

Earn referrals with group discounts

Wherever possible, your salon should leverage word-of-mouth marketing. Outside of client reviews, one way to accomplish this is by using a referral program. If managed effectively, your existing clients will recommend new customers without any additional marketing effort on your part.

A buy-one-get-one-free promotion lets your client bring a friend to the hairdresser for a social styling session — and you benefit from turning appointments into social occasions. Other referral options might include 50% discounts for a second visitor, or product giveaways when existing customers refer new clients.

Want more salon promotion advice? Take a look at 5 Hair Salon Promotions that Bring in Clients.

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Creating effective salon advertisements

Use ads that reflect your salon “vibe”

One crucial detail to keep in mind with ads is that you aren’t just promoting services — you’re promoting an experience. Any brand messaging relating to your salon must reflect the vibe of your business. What kind of personality can they expect from stylists? Do you specialize in high glamour or natural beauty? Striking the right tone helps clients set expectations that can help them feel more welcome when they arrive.

Your clients need beauty solutions — show off your chops!

As a beauty expert, clients will visit your salon to solve particular problems. The most memorable and engaging salon advertisements speak to real needs. Perhaps clients need to manage curly hair, touch up their roots, or dust off split ends. Whatever the scenario, your ads should provide an answer, much like this Instagram post from Lupita Nyong’o’s stylist Vernon François.

Cast a wide net with varied advertisements

According to the Rule of 7, potential clients need to see an ad seven times before they finally book an appointment (and some even say that in today’s social media drenched zeitgeist that 7 isn’t even enough!). That’s why it’s essential to have as many possible contact points where people can view your brand. To maximize this impact, consider:

  • Ad formats: People who browse social media on the bus are unlikely to come across flyer ads in the newspaper. Salon owners should consider where their target audience consumes media and produce ad formats to match.

  • Ad variants: One size of salon ad will not fit every audience member. Some might be browsing for promotions on a desktop computer, while others are quickly scrolling through a mobile feed. Make sure to create variant ads that will suit each user and device type.

  • Local ads: Never underestimate the power of local advertising. Window ads, sidewalk boards, and even billboards are prime opportunities to reach potential clients in the surrounding community.

Be sure to read 7 Super Easy Tips for Hair Salon Advertising in 2020 for more ad creation advice.

We’ve covered a lot of ground with this salon marketing guide, but don’t feel like you need to do everything at once. Successful marketing takes time, and you’ll need to adapt these strategies to suit your specific location and clientele. And once an ad campaign launches, you might not see any traction for two weeks. Maybe even longer depending on the ad type and external factors like audience size, geographic location, and budget. That said, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to test different advertising types and channels. Maybe allocate a set budget each month to test a new type of ad or channel for traction over the course of 90 days and review the results.

Be patient and stick with it. Keep an eye on ad engagement using SEO tools and figure out what messages resonate with clients. Eventually your marketing, promotional, and advertising strategies will click, and new clients will arrive excited to see what you offer.