Award-winning salon owner, and founder of Salon Owner Solutions, Kirsten Kennish, talks to Timely about keeping customers engaged during lockdown, the importance of having a good website, and why there is no such thing as over-communicating with clients.

Communication inspiration with Kirsten Kennish

Why did you launch Salon Owner Solutions?

To make life easier for other salon owners, so that their businesses can flourish in the same way that mine has. 

Absolute Hair, in Waikanae, New Zealand, is the third salon I’ve owned and the opening of it, 11 years ago, coincided with the start of the industry moving more things online and recognising the significant role of social media. 

This was a new landscape for me to navigate. I’ve been in the hair industry for over 30 years and digital hadn’t been a ‘thing’ at the previous salons I owned, in London and in Wellington. I had to really shift my mindset, to look at the ways in which my business communicated and marketed itself, and to think about the best ways to gain exposure and increase brand awareness in this, then new, online environment. I had to put my head down and learn all about digital marketing. And when I did that, my businesses just skyrocketed.  

That’s when I decided to create Salon Owner Solutions; a platform that essentially simplifies social media and digital communication for salon owners.  It’s very common to over-complicate social media, which just results in confusion and overwhelm. I want to make it as easy as possible for salons to succeed, especially in the current climate of uncertainty and lockdowns. 

What can salons do to safeguard their business during COVID-19 lockdowns, restrictions, and uncertainties?

Communicate with their customers.  The salons and businesses that are successfully navigating their way through COVID-19 are the ones that stay connected with their clients, who hold their customers’ attention, who keep them on the journey. Salons need to communicate with clients, and to react to their needs. 

How should salons communicate with their clients? 

You’ve got to meet people where they’re at.  You need to use the channels of communication that they feel most comfortable with.  Some people are really at home with Facebook, others like to have everything on email, some like video content, others prefer a phone call.  Think about the people you want to communicate to and with, the relationship you have with them, and the information that you want to impart. 

Use as many forms of communication, as many channels, as you need, and want, to reach out, create community, and stay connected to your customers. 

Should salons be careful not to over-communicate?

No, no, no, no, no! I don’t believe that you can over communicate. But you can mis-communicate.  You need to get the message right. 

To make communications effective, you need to stop trying to sell all the time, and to start repurposing your communication strategy.  Make sure you’re doing a bit of connection marketing, a bit of community marketing, a bit of brand awareness, and yes, a bit of sales marketing.  You need a balanced mix, and you need to connect in different ways, using different channels.  You really can’t overcommunicate, but you do need to keep your communications appropriate. 

How can salons and businesses use their communications to attract their ideal client? 

The first thing to do is to really define your brand.  Be absolutely clear about your business values, cultures, personality, aesthetics, and goals.  All of these things are part of your brand personality, and when your business begins to live and breathe this personality, your ideal clients will naturally be attracted to you because they will feel a genuine connection.  

Obviously, customers can only be attracted to your brand personality if they know about it. It needs to radiate through all your communications, and once it does, you’ll attract clients who are aligned with you. 

Are there any common communication mistakes that salons make?

Yes, many really underestimate the importance of a good website. A lot of salons invest all their time in social media, but don’t have a website.  

Your website is your online home, it backs up, and adds credibility to, your social media.  It allows you to extend the conversation, it adds weight to your brand personality, and it strengthens the client connection. Social media is super important, but a website is pivotal to your marketing and business growth.  Think of social media as your shop front.  Clients, and potential clients, need to be able to walk through the door of that shop front, into your website, and to feel connected to what they see on the other side.