Build Buzz to Turn Your Salon into the Talk of the Town
By Elizabeth Kraus
Many salon owners will quickly tell you that word of mouth is their “best marketing.” Dig deeper and you may find that they believe word of mouth to be their best marketing, because they are not actively promoting their salon using other marketing tactics, so word of mouth is their only source of new clients (but not enough new clients to actually keep the books full!)
One reason that word of mouth marketing is so powerful is because it is so credible. A “real person’s” word of mouth recommendation carries more weight than paid advertising and marketing, because the person making the recommendation has little or nothing to gain personally, and puts their own reputation at risk by – essentially – personally endorsing a salon or hair stylist.
Why a Passive Marketing Approach Won’t Work
Let’s assume your salon provides a friendly, professional, and truly enjoyable experience that nearly always produces client satisfaction. Having done so, you hope it’s enough to motivate your clients to go out there and proactively recommend your salon to their friends, family, and co-workers, and to take the time to leave positive reviews and social status updates about your salon online.
Unfortunately, merely meeting expectations by providing a “satisfactory” client experience is not usually enough to garner the kind of proactive, “I can’t wait to talk about it!” motivated sharing that you need to build your salon’s book of business.
Your clients might recommend your salon to co-workers or friends if asked, but they aren’t likely to bring it up otherwise; nor are they likely to remember to go onto online review and rating sites like Google+ pages, Yelp, CitySearch, and others to leave positive reviews about your salon.
What is Word of Mouth Marketing?
Without a deeper understanding of the real meaning of “word of mouth marketing”, it’s difficult to develop and implement an effective strategy that will result in more salon word of mouth marketing referrals.
Wikipedia defines word-of-mouth marketing as:
“An unpaid form of (oral or written) promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product, service, or event.”
It’s unfortunate that this definition uses the term “satisfied customers,” because isn’t client satisfaction the norm at your salon? Clients expect to be satisfied – to have their expectations met – no matter what salon they visit.
Satisfaction is not sufficient to motivate clients to proactively tell their friends, family, and colleagues about your salon, nor will it be enough for them to leave 5-star ratings on your Facebook page, Google+ business page, Yelp, and other review sites. If you want your salon to be the talk of the town, meeting expectations isn’t enough; you must exceed them!
Clients Control Word of Mouth Marketing, But You Can Make it Happen
Since word of mouth marketing is unpaid marketing, it stands to reason that you cannot control whether, when, or how it will occur – which is probably why so many salon owners leave word of mouth marketing entirely up to chance; but, even though you can’t force your clients to refer their co-workers, friends or family members to your salon, there are strategic marketing tactics you can employ to increase the likelihood that your salon’s word of mouth buzz will build.
There Will Be No Buzz without a Buzz-Worthy Experience
As stated previously, every client who walks in the door of a salon expects to receive a services that produce the desired results.
Meeting expectations is not buzz-worthy, it’s average! Your salon has to do more than satisfy its clients.satisfactory experience overall, including personal, professional, and friendly stylists and
Your clients aren’t going to talk about your salon unless – and until – you give them something to talk about. The experience must be better than what they expected it to be in some way; they must perceive that they received better treatment or results than they could have received anywhere else.
Only by surpassing expectations in ways your clients notice and appreciate, will their experiences memorable enough to motivate them to follow through on their own time and risk their own credibility by making personal recommendations and leaving positive ratings and reviews for your salon online.
Facilitate the Process if You Want Buzz to Build Faster
Though it might seem contradictory to assert that you can strategically facilitate word of mouth marketing after pointing out that your clients really control whether, how or when it occurs, the truth is that there are marketing tactics you can employ to increase word of mouth referrals.
For instance, 8 out of 10 US consumers say that online reviews are just as influential to them as recommendations from people they know personally (BrightLocal.com). Are you actually asking your clients to leave online reviews for your salon?
- Follow up after every appointment with an email asking whether your client has feedback, questions or concerns, remind them when their next appointment is and provide a link where they can go online and leave a review or rating for your salon. Easy, right?
- Recognize and thank clients by “tagging” or messaging them on social networks and invite them to tell you what they like most about your salon, services or products in social status updates.
- Instead of being upset with clients that use cell phones during appointments, install Wi-Fi so that their smartphones and other mobile devices set for automatic check in will register social status updates noting their patronage of your salon!
While you cannot control whether your clients tell colleagues, friends and family about your salon, you can provide a buzz-worthy experience, let them know you value their feedback, and make it really, really easy for them to provide you with more word of mouth referrals so you can grow your business more quickly.
Marketing consultant Elizabeth Kraus is the author of amazon-published marketing books for salons including “By the Numbers: The 2014 Salon and Spa Marketing Calendar” and “12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa.”