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5 Reasons Why Word of Mouth Marketing Isn’t Working for Your Salon and Spa


Like nearly all local businesses, salons and independent stylists have historically relied heavily on word- of-mouth to grow their clientele. This makes sense when you consider that nearly 80 percent of all U.S. consumers share local business recommendations with family members, friends, coworkers and other acquaintances.

For many small business owners in the beauty industry, generating referrals via word-of-mouth is their only form of marketing. Yet, these referrals often come by default and not via strategic efforts. Thanks to both the internet and fiercer competition, the days of simply hoping a client will tell a friend or two about your salon are officially over. Word-of-mouth marketing is now much more complex, and it has to be integrated into a larger marketing plan to enable your beauty business to thrive.

If you’re a stylist or salon owner who has been seeing fewer referrals and less success with your word-of-mouth marketing efforts, keep reading because you might be making one or more of the following mistakes. We’ve also included ways to make improvements, too.

Mistake #1 – You’re Hoping to Attract New Clients, but Doing Little to Generate Word-of-Mouth Client Referrals
You may be the most talented stylist in the world. Yet, your amazing work will never generate enough referrals to consistently grow your business. Because of ego or lack of knowing what to do, many salon owners and stylists simply don’t put any effort into marketing.

Instead of hoping for more business, you have to actually go out and get it. This begins with analyzing what you have to offer and strengthening your message to showcase your best selling points. Through every touch point, you can begin to share your message and better control what is being said and who it’s being said to.

Mistake #2 –You’re Asking Clients to Refer New Business to You without Offering Any Incentive
You have satisfied clients. They loves what you do and keep coming back again and again. That’s great! The next step is to encourage them to suggest your business to their friends and family. If you’re only asking for referrals, but not offering anything in return, you could be losing out on a lot of new business.

By establishing a simple referral program, you will immediately increase the number of referrals you receive from existing clients. It could be as simple as a postcard-sized flyer that offers a discount on their next service for each referral. You don’t need to break the bank with incentives, but you do have to offer something.

Mistake #3 – You’re Not Staying Top of Mind with Existing Clients
Once your clients walk out the salon door, they probably don’t think about your business again until it’s time for their next appointment. Staying top of mind with your clients is essential for generating new referrals. A simple email or note saying thank you along with a certificate for a free service or product during your client’s next visit can instantly bring your business back to the forefront of their mind. With consistent reminders and increased awareness comes the possibility of more referrals.

Mistake #4 – You Haven’t Taken Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Online
Word-of-mouth marketing was once limited to direct, person-to-person conversations. Thanks to social media, that has all changed. Each and every day, your clients are sharing their experiences, reviews and images on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, their blog and more. Receiving a single mention from one client can potentially influence thousands of others.

Imagine a happy client sharing a photo of their new hairstyle with their 500 Facebook friends. The possibility is high that at least one of these individuals will want to know who the stylist was that created the new look. The next step is getting this interested person to book an appointment. This is much more likely to happen if you have an online presence for them to take the next step. This means having active social media channels with client photos, as well as a website that provides up-to-date information about your services.

Creating a presence online for your business requires time and energy. However, the reality is that social media is where your clients and potential clients are talking and sharing with each other. By removing yourself from these conversations, you’re missing out on perhaps today’s biggest word-of-mouth opportunity.

Mistake #5 – You’re Not Integrating Word-of-Mouth with Your Other Marketing Efforts
Are you guilty of trying out a variety of marketing tools without a real plan of action that ties your efforts together? Word-of-mouth marketing is strengthened when you have your other marketing efforts in sync.

A comprehensive plan must have a strategy that builds consistency among every marketing channel you use including your website, direct mail pieces, deal-of-the-day promotions, social media and public relations. Having a defined look and message is essential. Staying current with everything from discounts to details on the products you use needs to be a priority.

To create a plan, take some time and write out what makes your business unique. Things to consider:

  • Customer experience
  • Location
  • Décor
  • Size
  • Scope of services
  • Price
  • Value
  • Rewards and promotions
  • Loyalty programs
  • Reputation and reviews
  • Product lines carried

Your brand message must include these details and be communicated consistently across each marketing channel. By doing so, you’re training your clients to share this information with others.

By providing great services along with a consistent message, you can begin to build a valuable team of brand loyalists who will evangelize on your salon’s behalf. However, you have to meet them halfway by giving them the tools and incentives to want to share your business with others. By doing so, you will discover that word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing just as it always has been. It just now requires a little more effort and attention than it once did.

Are you a salon owner or stylist who has an innovative word-of-mouth strategy that has helped bring in new clients? We’d love to hear your tip. Share it with us in the comment section below.


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