6 marketing mistakes to avoid in your salon’s first 12 months

Alice Kirby
Lockhart Meyer Salon Marketing
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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to dissuade you from setting up a salon or mobile hair and beauty business. Quite the contrary. I’m trying to equip you with some of the knowledge you need, and being aware of the failure rate is helpful for would-be salon entrepreneurs.

Why? Because you’re more likely to go into your new venture with your eyes wide open. How do you ensure your new hair or beauty business doesn’t become another statistic leaving your dreams shattered?

Over the years I’ve seen many new salon businesses succeed, and sadly, a few fall by the wayside. From what I’ve seen, these are the six most common marketing mistakes that start-up hair and beauty businesses fall prey to:

Not bothering to do your market research

Make sure you fully understand what you’re letting yourself in for. It’s all too tempting to look at your boss and think, “I could do that. Easy peasy.” But it’s not easy. There are many banana skins out there just waiting to slip you up.

The best advice I can give you is to do your homework. Get stuck into your market research before you sign on the dotted line for your new business. Research your prospective customers and competitors, and find out as much as you can about the local marketplace. Speak to anyone and everyone who may be able to help you – other salon owners, local business people, potential clients, and even family.

Don’t be shy or wary of looking foolish with your questions. You’ll look more foolish if your new salon business hits the buffers in the first 6 months and becomes yet another failure statistic. Keep asking those questions. Listen hard. Then act.

Failing to market your salon – why is it better?

In the excitement of setting up, it’s easy to forget what you’re selling. You’re absolutely not selling a haircut or a leg wax. No? You’re selling an experience.

If you’re doing and offering the same things as your competitors, why will clients come to you? Bluntly, they won’t. You need to give them something better. Resolve to stand out from your local rivals. Decide where your skill and passion lies, and then create a WOW experience for your clients.

Get stuck into your market research before you sign on the dotted line for your new business.

The mixed marketing messages gaffe

When it comes to marketing your new hair or beauty business, don’t try to be all things to all people. If you struggle to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one. That’s not good marketing. Instead, decide on your marketing message and stick to it. Potential new clients need to look at your social media, website, or premises, and immediately grasp what your marketing message is.

To get on track, first decide on your target audience. Are you aiming your new business at the affordable family market or the edgy fashion-forward crowd? Is your core market young professionals wanting express treatments in their lunch-break, or well-heeled older clients looking for languid pampering sessions?

Having settled on your target audience, you can now tailor your marketing messages to coax them into your new salon. Whatever you do, avoid mixed marketing messages – they confuse your potential customers and drive them towards your competitors.

When it comes to marketing your new hair or beauty business, don’t try to be all things to all people.

Not writing a marketing plan

With everything else going on, the thought of writing a Marketing Plan can seem daunting. But (cliché that it is), “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” There is plenty of sound advice out there on creating salon marketing plans. Read it. You don’t need to action everything you hear or read, but take it into consideration.

A common slip-up owners make with salon marketing plans is to think they are ‘writ in stone’.

A common slip-up owners make with salon marketing plans is to think they are ‘writ in stone’. To me, a good marketing plan should be flexible. It should gather your research and ideas so that you can make informed decisions. It should be easy to incorporate into your salon’s business plan, too.

Of course, you need to know where you’re heading and roughly how you intend to get there. But hiccups will happen, and great opportunities arise along the way, so don’t blindly stick to your plan. Re-assess. Re-write. Then carry on towards your marketing goals.

Getting your pricing wrong

Setting your prices too high or too low is an all too common marketing mistake with salon start-ups.

Finding the right price point is probably one of the hardest tasks you face in your new venture. Set your prices too high, and potential new customers will be put off. Set them too low, and you won’t be able to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Too many newbie owners fall into the trap of thinking clients only buy their services based on price. The result? They pitch their price list too low.

Try this two step approach to hair and beauty pricing:

Step one:

Do your initial marketing research. What are your competitors charging? What customer experience (technical skills and customer care) are they offering in return for this price?

Step two:

Clients may not be as price-sensitive as you fear-especially if you’re giving them a great customer experience. So set your prices a tad higher than your rivals to start with and see what happens.

If clients keep re-booking – whoopee. But, if your price levels are an issue you’ve got some leeway to reduce them. Lowering your prices is always easier than increasing them.

READ: The four essential steps to getting your salon prices right

No money left for marketing your new salon

I understand how tempting it is to get carried away with the décor and equipment. It’s the real fun part of setting up a new salon.

Your start-up needs to look the part, but if you overspend and leave little or no money for promoting your brand new business, you’re heading for a fall. No matter how gorgeous your salon looks, or how state-of-the-art your kit is, if you haven’t any cash left to promote it no-one will come.

Marketing is the life-blood of your new hair and beauty business

How much you can sensibly afford to spend on salon marketing depends entirely on your personal circumstances and budget. If I had a limited marketing launch budget I’d focus on these activities:

  • Build a strong online presence and use social media from day one.
  • Collect email addresses and use email marketing. Your database is one of the most valuable salon marketing tools you have.
  • Avoid local press advertising initially – it’s expensive.
  • A referral scheme is a good value, highly effective marketing tool.
  • Get to know like-minded local businesses and cross-sell to each other’s customers.

And one last word of advice…

Marketing is a lifetime occupation. If you want your start-up to grow into a successful profitable beauty business then you must keep promoting it. Learn from serial entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs. They put huge amounts of time, effort and money into constantly marketing their global empires.

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