Ultimate Salon Marketing Guide

The Ultimate SalonMarketing Guide

If you operate a hair, nail, or other type of beauty salon, you know you need to incorporate sound salon marketing strategies to achieve success – whether you’re in the startup stage or you’re ready to grow an established business. The salon industry is booming, accounting for $54 billion in annual revenues and growing at a clip of 2.6 percent each year. That means there’s plenty of opportunity, but with more than 1.2 million salons nationwide, there’s plenty of competition as well.

Here, you’ll find everything you need to know to develop your own salon marketing strategy.

A happy hairstylist styling a smiling customer’s hair.

1Salon startup information

Are you starting a salon? Rebranding an existing business? Reviving a salon that’s seen better days? This information will help you launch a beautiful beauty salon.

Types of salons

Some salons focus on specific services; others are one-stop shops. Before you can create a marketing plan for your salon business, you need to determine what type of salon you’ll be. Examples include:

  • Hair salon
  • Hair treatments
  • Nail salon
  • Facials and
    skin care services
  • Spa treatments
  • Tanning salon
  • Massage business
  • Waxing salons
How much does it cost to open a salon?

Every business requires investment (unfortunately, there’s no satisfactory answer to the question of how to start a salon with no money – you need a good pair of scissors at the very least!). Your costs will depend on the type of salon you’re opening, the equipment you need, and your location – to name a few factors.

Thinking Capital states it will cost between $40,000 and $250,000 to rent or purchase an existing salon, $100,000 to $500,000 to build a new salon, and $145,000 to $317,000 to open a franchised salon such as Fantastic Sam’s .

According to How to Start an LLC, a nail salon typically costs between $75 and $125 per square foot ; thus, a 1,000-square-foot salon would run between $75,000 and $125,000.

Salon Startup Costs

  • Mobile
    hairdresser
  • Rent/buy
    existing salon
  • Salon
    franchise
  • New build
    salon

Some salons could cost more to start; others, considerably less, especially if you can find cheap rent and used equipment. After all, a mobile hairdresser or salon started from home could go into business with little more than a pair of scissors, a business card, and a Facebook page.

The only way to know exactly how much it will cost to start your salon is to create a salon business plan, which serves as a comprehensive planner and checklist for opening your salon.

The following free resources will show you how to make a business plan for your salon:

Did You Know?
  • 93% of beauty businesses employ less than 10 people
  • 48% of people working in hairdressing and 57% of people working in beauty businesses are self-employed
Source: How much money do salons make?

The amount of money you make as a salon owner can vary significantly. Some salons fail and make no money; salon franchises can make millions. Use your business plan to project your income, expenses, and profits.

That said, according to BFS Capital the median annual salary for salon owners ranges between $57,000 and $62,000. Salon managers earn an average of $35,000.

However, since many “salon owners” are self-employed solo entrepreneurs, your income might be closer to the median salon salaries published on Payscale : $27,567 for a hairstylist and $24,452 for a cosmetologist.

How Much Do Salons Make?A comparison of each bullet point

2Salon branding and design

A great salon brand differentiates you from the competition and represents what you stand for, who you serve, and what benefits your customers can expect. Salons are largely about image, health, and self-improvement, so it stands to reason your brand should incorporate similar elements – yet retain the unique characteristics that make your business ultra-attractive to your audience.

Importance of a branded image

People need to trust in your ability to deliver a desired outcome; in the case of salons, that’s usually a beautiful appearance or sense of well-being. Your branded image is a symbol your audience instantly recognizes – a powerful symbol that separates you from competitors.

That differentiation is critical to success; you don’t want to be perceived as just another salon, but THE salon your customers need to go to if they want to look and feel beautiful. That’s why a branded image is important.

How to identify your salon’s branded image

Maybe you’re a one-stop shop. You might be a world-class salon. You might offer fast and inexpensive haircuts for men. Or, you might be the best prom hairstylist in town. Whatever it is that sets you apart should be at the core of your brand.

Identify your branded image by asking:
  • What, exactly, do you offer?
  • Who are your customers, and what do they desire?
  • What benefits do you give your customers?
  • What is your mission and company culture?
  • How are you different from other salons?
  • What are your unique selling propositions?
Branding through design

Visual symbolism plays a major role in your branding. From your company colors and font choices to your logo and layout conventions, graphic design represents who are, who you serve, and why you’re the best.

Work with a graphic designer to select brand colors, develop a logo, and create a style guide that must be followed on all your marketing and communications materials, both print and online. The goal is for your audience to be able to immediately recognize your brand. When you achieve that, you’ve developed a powerful salon brand identity.

Don’t want to hire a graphic designer? Try these online logo maker tools!

3Salon marketing tools

The right marketing tools will put your salon on the map and in front of customers who will respond by booking appointments. Consider the following marketing tools for your salon.

Must-have salon marketing materials:
Business cards

Business cards are versatile salon marketing tools. You can hand them out to everyone you meet and at networking events. You can leave them on countertops and attach them to mailers and brochures. Or, turn them into coupon cards or customer rewards/loyalty cards, wherein you stamp them each visit and offer customers an incentive for visiting a certain number of times in a given timeframe. Business cards can also double as appointment cards. For greater visual impact, consider printing ultra business cards for your salon.

Brochures

Print brochures online that showcase your salon’s products and services. Give them to existing customers to introduce additional services, send them via direct-mail to a well-targeted audience, and leave them places your customers are known to frequent.

Posters

Posters are excellent salon marketing tools because they help you showcase the results of booking with you: great hairstyles, beautiful complexions, and more. Strategically place posters where your target audience will see them, and be sure they’re well-branded.

Flyers

Flyers are good marketing tools for salons because they are ultra-versatile: leave them behind, hand them out, stuff them in mailers and in with products, insert them into local newspapers, and tack them to public bulletin boards and anywhere else your audience will see them.

Booklets/guides

A rather unique yet extremely effective approach to salon marketing is to print booklets about specific hairstyles, hair care, skin care, and other health and beauty tips and tricks your audience will be interested in. A good booklet or guide can help you establish credibility and foster trust in your salon.

Postcards

The most cost-effective direct-mailer, postcards make it easy to reach a well-defined audience and motivate response. Print salon postcards that promote time-limited exclusive offers, complete with coupons or coupon codes that can be used to measure response and ROI. Pack more punch with ultra postcard printing – postcards that are triple-thick and feature an attractive band of edge color.

Catalogs

Many salons sell hair care products on site, but few distribute printed catalogs. This is an area in which you can generate some serious business, Avon-style. Send catalogs home with your customers, and mail them directly to those who share your best customer demographics.

Calendars

Everyone loves (and uses) free calendars. Showcase a different hairstyle, tan, or other image for each month – and make sure your branding is evident on every page. You can also include monthly specials to motivate appointment bookings.

Greeting cards

Many people maintain personal relationships with their hairstylists and other salon employees, so sending greeting cards unannounced can foster those relationships and lead to long-term loyalty.

Stickers

If you sell products in your salon, make sure a branded sticker is affixed to each product. You can also print stickers to market your salon just about anywhere – on walls, doors, windows, floors, mirrors, cars, and more.

Window clings

Promote your current specials with window clings to draw in passers-by, especially if you’re located in an area that has a lot of foot traffic.

Banners

Vinyl banners can be placed outside your store, near your competitors’ locations, and in targeted, high-traffic areas to promote your salon en masse for minimal investment.

Newsletters

Newsletters are perfect for staying in touch with your customers, sharing salon tips, tricks, and advice, and promoting your products, services, and exclusive offers.

Other materials you should consider producing include a website, door hangers and a corporate identity package (complete with professionally printed letterhead, envelopes, brochure, flyer, business card, and pocket folder).

4Salon marketing: copywriting

Branding and design are only part of the equation. The 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing states that 40 percent of your success is based on the quality of your mailing list, another 40 percent is contingent on the perceived value of your offer, and the remaining 20 percent is everything else.

You need to properly communicate your offer and speak to your customers’ desires to win the game of marketing.

That’s why harnessing the power of copywriting is critical to salon success.

Four steps for writing winning salon copy
Craft a powerful headline

Strong headlines command attention and motivate recipients to read the rest of your marketing copy. Write headlines that play on customers’ desires, fears, and emotions. Include a major benefit, unique selling point, and exclusive offer in your headline to create a sense of urgency.

Highlight your benefits

What in it for your customer? What will they get if they respond to your marketing materials? It’s important to spell out customer benefits to create desire.

Develop an incredible offer

Free haircuts, tanning sessions, manicures; discount services and contests; and other offers such as these can bring customers in droves, both regulars and new customers.

Motivate with a call to action

A call to action tells your customers exactly what they need to do next to take you up on your offer. Be very specific and provide several ways to respond (call a phone number, visit a website, visit your salon, etc.).

Example salon postcard copy:

5Salon marketing: distribution

You know what marketing tools you need to promote your salon; now, you need to get them in front of a targeted audience to motivate response. The following offers salon marketing distribution tips you can consider for your business.

Direct-mail

Direct-mail allows you to reach a well-targeted audience and maximize your return on investment. Repetition can make your direct-mail salon marketing initiatives even more powerful.

Here's a sample direct-mail marketing campaign for your salon:
Week 1:

Send a professionally printed brochure introducing potential customers to your salon. Offer a discount and add value by including a panel with hairstyle tips.

Week 6:

Send a flyer or newsletter that highlights recent news about your salon. Include before and after photos. A "Meet the Stylists" section, complete with photos and qualifications, can lend trust and confidence.

Week 12:

Send a booklet that covers all the services you offer as well as tips and tricks for specific goals. One page, for example, might cover hairstyles while another covers manicures. Yet another could detail the ins and outs of successful tanning and safety.

Week 18:

Send a calendar with awesome hairstyle images. Don't forget to feature your brand and an exclusive offer every month!

Week 24:

Send a direct-mail postcard inviting potential clients to an open house or free makeover event. Include a special time-limited discount to anyone who attends.

Week 30:

Send a follow-up greeting card and include a voucher or gift coupon to express your appreciation, and offer to personally answer any questions potential customers might have.

Advertisements

Place posters, flyers, business cards, and banners in prominent areas your customer base is likely to notice them. Consider a door hanger marketing campaign that promotes your salon to targeted neighborhoods.

You can additionally take out advertisements online and off: on websites, PPC services, local newspapers, local blogs, social media such as Facebook and Instagram, and social hotspots.

The more you blanket your audience with your brand and specials, the more recognition your salon will achieve – and the more business you’ll earn.

Following up

Develop winning salon marketing campaigns using the three T’s: test, track, and tweak.

6Salon marketing creative ideas and resources

Creative marketing generates buzz, delivers value to your customers, and increases profits for you. Try these creative salon marketing ideas and resources to boost your business this year:

Creative Ideas
Host an event

A free makeover contest or other event can be just what you need to draw crowds and stir interest in your salon.

Partner with others

Partner with hotels, restaurants, grocers, and other complementary but non-competing businesses to spread the message about your salon. You can place professionally printed flyers, rack cards, brochures, and business cards on partner countertops; or, you can go in together on a romance and beauty package, for example.

Bundle services

Create service packages that combine hairstyles, facials, massages, tanning, manicures, pedicures, body wraps and other skin treatments, and other services into a single package.

Buddy packages

Create special spa day packages for girlfriends, couples, and special events such as weddings and proms.

Start a loyalty/rewards program

Print loyalty/rewards cards that offer discounts or freebies whenever customers schedule a certain amount of appointments within a given timeframe – for example, six hairstyles in 12 months nets a free hairstyle or upgraded mani-pedi package.

Before-and-after

Post before-and-after shots of your customers in your newsletter, emails, on your website, and on social media.

Resources

Here are a few links to salon marketing resources you can use to bolster business.

Full-service printing, direct mailing and mailing list generation.

Helpful guides, forms and sample marketing plans for small businesses. The SBA also supports Small Business Development Centers throughout the United States.

The Service Corps Of Retired Executives provides free advice in the form of online information and business counseling. Simply contact one of SCORE's volunteer members for business mentoring.

A useful website for multi-unit salon owners.

A place for the beauty industry to learn and share.

Marketing resources, community resources, and more for salon owners.