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10 Ways to make your 2021 Salon Marketing Plan Pandemic-Proof

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:

  • Styling
  • 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.

4 Ways to Reinvent Salon Holiday Marketing in 2020

Salon holiday marketing success will hinge on your ability to effectively reach and persuade people to spend some of their shopping budget with you.

4 retail holiday trends that could influence salon holiday marketing success: 

COVID-19 has not stopped impacting business in 2020. Retailers are scrambling to reboot retail holiday marketing and promotions both in response to the pandemic and one another. At the same time, consumers are planning to spend less this year and plan to spend more money with brands demonstrating a commitment to health, safety and hygiene.

Four retail holiday trends emerging due to competitor behavior and consumer sentiment 

1. Starting earlier

Walmart, Target and other major brands were spurred to push up their holiday timetables by Amazon’s decision to move Prime Day, which is usually in July, to October.”  Whether intentionally or unwittingly, Amazon’s rescheduling of their “Prime Day” shopping specials from July to October effectively kicked off the 2020 holiday season. Many retailers are already in full holiday mode – and will be throughout the rest of 2020.

2. Making it safer

Most large retailers are going dark on Thanksgiving Day, reversing a years-long tradition of kicking off the holiday shopping season with a rush of ‘doorbuster’ deals.” This will enable retailers to better accommodate social distancing, adhere to new safety protocols, and minimize long lines and crowded stores.

3. Displaying it online

Many retailers have implemented new virtual ‘try on’ apps and online tools since the pandemic hit. Shoppers can stay safe at home while still getting a sense of how an item would fit into their world.

4. Making it more meaningful

Consumers are planning to spend $100 less this year on holiday purchases than last year (CNBC.com). “This holiday season, shoppers aren’t planning on glitzy and gift-oriented celebrations. Instead, many are preparing for smaller gatherings, reining in spending and directing more of their dollars toward retailers that share similar values during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey by Accenture.”

  • 61% – plan to minimize in-store shopping
  • 61% – more likely to make purchases at companies showing commitment to health and safety
  • 40% – will not shop with brands that laid off workers or reduced benefits
  • 75% – want stores closed on Thanksgiving Day

4 Salon Holiday Marketing Takeaways from 2020 Retail Trends

1. START NOW!

Reinvent your salon holiday marketing schedule. Like it or not, you are competing with off and online retailers – both big and small – for your clients’ holiday shopping budget. It is not too soon for you to be using social media, email marketing, and signage in your salon to promote holiday products and gift-able items.

2. MAKE IT SAFER

Your clients may now be averse to using communal “try me” products in the salon, even if you have strict cleaning protocols.

Reinvent the way that you help clients experience products in the salon by bringing “try me” products to the client, handling products with gloves on to dispense it personally and safely. This gives you an additional advantage in being able to tell the client what the product does, what problems it solves and why it is such a must-have.

You can also reinvent the way you help clients sample the products you want them to love by giving away single-use manufacturer samples and travel sized products.

3. TAKE IT ONLINE

Your clients are doing more and more AND MORE shopping from home! Use digital technology to reinvent how your salon showcases holiday promotions and special offers.

Add a dedicated promotions page to your website where clients can return during the holidays (and throughout the year) to see special offers and seasonal promotions.

Use social media to feature holiday promotions and drive traffic back to your website where they can either shop online or contact you to purchase. The most common reasons people will follow a brand on social media are:

    • 57% – to learn about new products and services
    • 47% – stay up to date on company news
    • 40% – to learn about promotions or discounts
    • 40% – to be educated
    • 32% – to be inspired

Reasons why people follow brands on social media

 

Did you know? Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those who do not receive email offers. Use email marketing to “push” information about salon holiday marketing offers to your clients on a regular basis:

    • 56% of brands using emojis in their email lines have a higher open rate
    • adding the word “New” to your subject line can increase open rates by 23%
    • 28% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails more than once per week

4. MAKE IT MEANINGFUL!

Don’t assume that clients know the precautions you are taking and the new protocols you have in place to make the salon safer and cleaner. Tell them!

  • List salon cleaning and safety-related protocols and rules on the home page or contact page of your website
  • Periodically post about the way you are making your salon cleaner and safer on social media
  • Include cleaning and safety information in the footer area of your emails
  • Post signage at the entry of your salon and at the guest check out area (or at stylist stations) to let them know what you are doing because you care about their health and safety, and the health and safety of the salon’s employees

Additionally, recognizing that some of your clients may be experiencing reduced income or financial insecurity because of the pandemic, make sure that you convey the value of holiday promotions, such as percentage saved, or greater longevity of a product compared to others, etc.

Clients may be even more willing to purchase salon products and gift cards for themselves and others this year because they are looking for practical, meaningful gifts.

  • Promote sales of gift cards right alongside products and giftsets.
  • Remind people to tell their significant others that a ______________ (your salon name) gift card would be an ideal stocking stuffer!
  • Add value with a “free gift with purchase” in the form of a retail, travel-sized or manufacturer’s sample product
  • Include a holiday greeting card or holiday-themed envelope or box with purchase of gift card to make it gift-ready – make sure it “looks” like a true gift!

And don’t forget there are a lot of self-gifting holiday shoppers out there! Last year, more than half (53.2 percent) of shoppers planned to buy gifts for themselves and nearly three quarters of consumers with a budget of more than $500 expected to buy gifts for themselves. Salon holiday marketing can also be tailored with “indulge yourself!” style messages.