COVID-19 and 2020 has dramatically (and maybe permanently) altered the landscape of the salon industry overall. Hairdressers, salon owners, salon professional manufacturers, wholesale beauty distributors, beauty educators – everyone in the industry has felt its impacts.
From closures to cancellations, you might be wondering how to create a new normal in 2021 that will support your salon business and enable you to connect with and better serve your clients. As you evaluate your 2021 salon marketing plan, there are ways to make your plan pandemic-proof so that you can safely serve clients and sell professional salon retail products.
10 Keys for a Pandemic-Proof Salon Marketing Plan
1. Reward and Recognize
Have you ever heard the phrase “reward behavior you want more of”? Nearly every aspect of salon sales, from gift cards to retail to pre-booking to referrals can be incentivized. There has never been a better time for you to recognize and reward your best clients. Some of the ways to do this include:
- Referral rewards
- Referral contests
- Gift card BOGOs (such as free retail product or $25 gift card with purchase of $____ in gift cards)
- Social media shout-outs tagging clients in before/after photos
- Social media contests and giveaways
- Pre-booking incentives (retail discounts, free add-ons like deep conditioning, brow waxes, etc.)
- Retail incentives (reward for every $______ spent on retail)
- Letting a VIP client (preferably one with a large social following) try a new product or service “on the house” in return for a Facetime Live or other video review
- Thank you notes to clients who leave reviews for your salon on Facebook, Yelp, Google, or some other review site
2. Promote Pre-Booking
Pre-booking clients 6-12 months in advance creates patterns and habits. Pre-booking puts clients with specific hair goals or whose styles are higher maintenance in the chair at the optimal frequency needed. It eliminates the possibility that your client may have to book with another stylist, and for the client, it ensures they will have services with the stylist of their choice! Pre-booking gives you more ability to control your schedule and to identify any slow times on the books.
There’s no downside! You can incentivize client pre-booking with a percentage discount on retail products or include add-ons at no cost, or at a reduced cost. You can also reward and recognize clients who made all their pre-booked appointments without cancelling or rescheduling after 6 months or 1 year for “perfect attendance.”
3. Touchless Payments
Make sure you have a contactless way that clients can purchase and pay for salon retail products. This could be especially important should your salon be subject to another temporary shutdown. Platforms like PayPal for Business, Square, or your own bank or financial institution may offer easy-to-use payment solutions which preclude the need for clients to come into the salon to buy salon retail, or which give them the ability to pay at the end of their appointment without using a communal touchpad or card processing machine.
4. Curbside Pickup
Offering curbside pickup is the perfect partner for touchless payments! Your clients can purchase the salon retail products they need safely and securely, and they can pick them up without having to enter your place of business.
This could be an invaluable service to offer vulnerable clients who have been self-isolating for the past several months to avoid exposure to COVID-19. It could also be an effective way to continue to sell retail should another temporary shutdown occur.
5. Embrace Email
Email is essential! Especially if you have clients who stopped going to the salon during the pandemic or greatly increased the amount of time between appointments. Email enables you to reach out to your clients to:
- keep your brand top of mind
- extend special offers to entice them back to regular appointments
- reassure them of their safety by telling them how your salon social distances, cleans and disinfects
- suggest retail products that can help them feel and look better for work meetings – whether those meetings happen at a worksite or virtually
- convey changes to operating hours and keep them up to date during any temporary closures
- send a thank-you email after their appointment expressing appreciation that they chose to do business with you, confirming their pre-booked next appointment, and reminding them of any products you recommended to them during their consultation or appointment
- birthday emails with a free add-on, retail product or some other special offer
6. Establish Hours for Vulnerable Clients
Many retail businesses have special hours set aside for seniors, why not special salon hours for vulnerable clients? During these hours, vulnerable clients can be reassured that:
- your salon was thoroughly cleaned and disinfected immediately before their arrival
- that you are (even further) limiting the number of people on premises, and
- that you are taking additional precautions (such as temperature checks for staff and clients) to help promote a safe and healthy salon experience
7. At-Home Kits
Offering at-home kits can help you sell more retail and support sales even during a temporary shutdown. Many salons and hairdressers are offering at home hair care kits with all of the products needed to maintain healthy hair and help clients with styling their hair for work, virtual meetings, and so on. While it’s not an ideal solution, some hairdressers are even offering at-home hair color kits along with video instruction and support so that clients can maintain basic haircoloring when they cannot have services in the salon.
8. Virtual Consultations
During the closures and limitations, some states even imposed time limits on the length of time a client can be in the salon for an appointment. This can constrict your ability to deliver the salon services the clients want. One way to get more time back for services is to conduct client consultations online via a video service like Zoom or Facetime. That way you will be ready to start the client’s service right away when they arrive.
This also gives you more time to prepare to recommend retail! You can introduce the idea of retail products the client needs during the virtual appointment. This will plant the idea so they may be more receptive to purchasing retail products at their appointments. You can also pre-package the recommended retail products to save additional time at checkout.
9. Video How-To
If you have a smartphone you have all the tools you need to connect with your clients virtually using video! Zoom, Skype, Facetime and other video platforms offer the ability to go live with your own video how-to sessions that might range from 30 seconds in length or 30 minutes, and record them for future playback.
Once recorded, you can download them for reuse in emails, on social media and on your salon website. Examples of video how-to that could help you book more appointments and sell salon retail products include:
- Seasonal haircare
- Salon professional product use
- At-home kits application and product use
10. Display Distancing, Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
Everyone – including your clients, vendors, staff, and co-workers – are concerned about health and safety to some extent right now! Establish protocols in line with local recommendations and requirements and communicate to your salon’s staff, vendors, and clients what you are doing to promote the safest environment you can in the salon.