If you treat yourself to manicures or pedicures, then you know the sacred zone-out time when the vibra-chair massage takes over, the world washes away and your mind wanders to serene escapes. This week, in preparation for the holidays, I took my salon throne and unleashed my mind. But today, I could not escape. Call it pre-holiday “get-it-all-done” mania you can’t shut off. I was focused on business and writing this blog, and found myself suddenly intrigued by the swirl of influences around me that I had never noticed before… how the salon marketed itself. Some good, some bad. Let’s start with the good.GOOD

They are always smiling. No matter what. Good attitude in plenitude.

They KNOW you. When you call. When you walk in the door. They remember the details. Your kids’ names. Vacations. Funny stories. Your favorite shades. And not just your go-to-nail artist remembers, but all the shop regulars and the owner, too. It’s like the Cheers of nail salons and I’m Norm, but with red nails. Bottom line… they value your relationship.

Their follow-up is superb. No matter when you call, they call you back within 30 minutes… usually within five. You’re a priority to them.

They upsell without going crazy. They show you new treatments, new products. They focus on new ways to pamper you. Some I have tried, some not. But they usually ask, unless they know I am rushed, or just want “the usual.” Nothing ever pushy. Suggestive selling at its best.

They always ask for the next appointment. There’s not a time I’ve left without committing to our next session. They ask for repeat business. And get it.

They market in local shopper’s guide coupon packs. They focus on developing new local business with vehicles that reach homes in the area. I hear many redemptions on the phone and in person. It’s working. And they don’t even mind regular customers taking advantage of specials. It brings them back.

They use a frequent customer reward plan. I have a loyalty rewards card which they stamp at every visit for free services when I’ve earned 5 full services. Don’t you love getting a freebie at every fifth visit?

They focus on YOU, the customer, and limit their between-employee banter. At other salons I have used in the past, their technicians talk amongst themselves constantly – and often in their native language that I don’t speak. I appreciate being the focal point. (And not paranoid that they’re talking ABOUT me.)

They use point-of-purchase posters that are obviously samples. OK, the local product rep dropped off some sample posters to show them how they could market. Who would think they’d actually hang them up with the blaring “your text here” headline still on them? But they did, all throughout the store. It’s actually quite funny.

No proofreading by an English-speaking native.  Signs have misspellings. Bad grammar. Obviously written by someone without a command of the English language. Easy-to-fix.

They don’t update their website. It’s been the same for years. New services aren’t added. New hours not added. Your website is your new calling card for everyone looking you up with their mobile device. Has to be accurate, fresh!

They don’t complete their free listings in search engines. Ever try to look up a business online, and they have not “claimed their listing” online? No details? Most of those search engines provide free listings that actually push you up in search engine results… the more search engines you appear in, the higher your appearance in the ranking. And I don’t just mean Google. There are probably over 20 search engines you can be a part of in your area, for free.

They don’t use social media. Speaking of free, I am surprised my salon doesn’t even have an official Facebook page.  It’s free! They could list the same new products, services and specials they present to me in person. And engage with their bevy of current customers, showcasing their beautiful nails and spa services. (Perhaps it’s a language thing. Or a lack of education, or time to do it. Or maybe they just don’t know of someone who could do it FOR them. <WINK!>)

They don’t have a customer referral program. Hmmm… every happy client could be a source of new business.

They don’t use promotional products. No little gifts for the holidays, or every days. No emery boards. No calendars. Or pens. Or magnets. Perhaps it’s a budget issue, but I bet there’s unused co-op dollars from some of their vendors that could be used to sponsor creative giveaways and business builders that could keep clients coming back.
OK, so now back to pampering… and then doing my marketing job two ways:
1. Telling THEM about MY services to promote their business!
2. In thanking all of you for inspiring me this year and every year with your best marketing practices and ideas. I wish you a refreshing holiday season pampering yourself in some way, and a truly Happy New Year of stand-out marketing excellence.

Mary Ellen
(AKA Scarlet)