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Customer Marketing, Marketing, Professional Services

5 Discount-Free Salon Marketing Strategies for 2015

Many salon owners automatically think that offering discounts is the only way to get new clients in the door. Find out why trying to jump-start growth with a strategy that reduces profits could be a risky proposition.
From coupons and social media offers to deep-discount programs like Groupon, many salon owners automatically revert to offering discounts when it comes to attracting the new clients they need to grow; but discounting presents risks, and could even backfire.

On the one hand, offering discounts of 50 percent (or even more) in order to bring new prospective clients in the door can help you reach a significant number of people in your locale; on the other hand, you need an awful lot of these clients to convert to repeat buyers in order to compensate for the profit losses you incurred to bring them in. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the vast majority of people who visit your salon to redeem a big discount won’t come back, and probably aren’t the type of clients that you would describe as your salon’s “ideal client type” in the first place.

No question about it, daily deal sites can bring new clients in to your salon. However, there’s also no question that leveraging deep discounts for client attraction means less money in your pocket and a much longer time before the customers acquired via discounts and promotions become profitable for your salon. To help you figure out a way around discounting your services, we’ve created a list of five salon marketing ideas that can do the job without discounting.

Groupon-Free Marketing Zone: 5 Ways to Grow a Salon in 2015 Without Cutting Profits

Add New Service Options

Adding new service options or expanding retail inventory can open up entirely new market segments for your salon and allow you to fill more of your existing clients’ needs. Even changing up your current service menu and adding new combinations can give clients the perception that you have something new and interesting to offer.

Whether you need some creative ideas for expanding your salon’s service menu or you need help narrowing down your choices, here are some questions that you can use to determine which services have the most potential for helping you grow your business:

  • What do your competitors have that you don’t?
  • Do you want to reach a new market segment or increase sales to existing clients?
  • What type of trends or fads do your customers (or callers) seem most interested in?
  • Do you or your staff have untapped areas of expertise?
  • Do you have easy access to the necessary equipment, supplies, and retail?

One great way to generate interest in new services is to invite existing customers in for an exclusive event that gives them first-crack at trying out, reviewing, or signing on for a membership or package deal. By inviting existing clients to be part of the development process, you will also gain a lot of insight that can help you mold service options and pricing. You will also be getting tacit buy-in for future purchases from the individuals who participate in focus groups or introductory feedback events.

Incentivize, Recognize, and Reward

Like most small businesses, salon owners often cite word-of-mouth as their best marketing tool. If you believe that client referrals are a gold mine when it comes to growing your salon, your marketing strategy should reflect that! From incentives such as social sharing contests and drawings to recognizing and thanking clients who refer family or friends to your salon, nothing shapes future behavior better than rewarding people for behavior you want more of!

Adopt a Cause

Consumers take more than products, services, and prices into account when deciding whom they want to do business with. By creating a personal connection with your clients, you’ll gain long-term, loyal clients who will refer their family members, friends, and co-workers to your salon as well.

Charity is one way to establish a connection with your clients. Cause-adoption can come from donating a portion of proceeds from an event or specific sales to a charity. These activities can generate a lot of local brand recognition for your salon and can even provide your business with earned media coverage.

Many businesses are even positioning their brands based on full-scale “corporate social responsibility,” or CSR marketing tactics. Chances are, your salon is already participating in some community and charitable causes and events on a regular basis. Be sure that you are taking advantage of the opportunity to educate and engage local consumers by publishing press releases, website content, social media status updates, and submitting content to local reporters about your salon’s give-back and social responsibility activities.

Be Amazing and Buzz-Worthy

If you are not getting growth from word-of-mouth marketing, it might be time to re-energize your business model. There has to be something about your business that stands out and creates a buzz.

Not sure whether you’ve done enough to set your salon apart from the rest of the pack? Client surveys and focus groups can provide you with insight about what your salon is doing well, where it needs to improve, and what you can do to make your client experience more buzz-worthy. You can also increase the chance that clients will talk about their experience by encouraging them to leave online reviews of your salon and inviting them to share questions, comments, and kudos on your social networks.

Optimize Everything

At first glance, the word ‘optimize’ might bring SEO (search engine optimization) to mind, but it’s really much more than that. To optimize is simply to make the most out of something. For instance, if you take a customer survey, don’t stop at just gathering and assessing information, or fixing a problem or two. Go the extra mile and optimize this exercise by posting signage, sending direct mail or emails, posting information on your website, and posting status updates on your social networks that tell clients and prospects what you learned, what you did about it, and what the result was. Likewise, if you participate in a community activity, publicize this with a press release, web content, email, or direct mail to contact lists, social media updates, etc., both before and after the event.

Many salon marketing tactics fail to deliver maximum results simply because the opportunities are not optimized from beginning to end, and afterward. Take social network status updates, for example. If you post a promotional update and include keywords that help optimize your post for local search, such as adding the name of a city or neighborhood (e.g., “Seattle <Your Salon’s Name> introduces new lunchtime manicure options,” then people searching online for Seattle salons are much more likely to have your social status update served up in their online search results.

From new marketing ideas to getting the most out of the marketing tactics you put into action, there are many ways to grow your salon without sacrificing revenue and profits. Boost your bottom line and build for the future with these discount-free salon marketing tips for 2015!

Ready to grow? Kabbage can help you grow your salon in 2015! Get financing to expand or rebrand your salon to make it the business that you have always dreamed it could be from the #1 online provider of small business loans.


Kabbage Team

Kabbage is here not only to provide access to the small business funding you need, but to also help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at