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Surviving the Economic Crisis

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: January 7, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 5 of 7

In order for marketing and advertising to have its desired effect, it is important to make sure it benefits clients as well as your business. A good way of doing this is understanding that clients are experiencing the stresses that come with a bad economy just as much, if not more, than you are. Because of this, it is crucial to consider the language you are using when conveying your message.

“We are using more empathetic verbiage in our marketing pieces,” says Bernens, and Morrell-Dean has found that a simple change from percentages to prices has made a difference, as well. “Typically, I’ll say I have 15% off and instead, I’m currently showing dollar amounts. I think people are more responsive to that. It eases the pain, allowing them to go to the spa and get pampered,” she says. In the end, the understanding that clients need a visit to the spa more than ever in these stressful times is what will lead to your business’ survival.

Clients are key

As always, clients and their satisfaction are the lifeblood of your spa’s business—economic downturn or not—and it is important to remember this moving forward. “Be frugal without your clients knowing you are,” advises LaCour. “You need to let them know that the spa industry benefits their health during these difficult times. If you make it a sanctuary they want to come back to, you’ll have a stable business.” LaCour believes that enticing new clients right now is a difficult task, but if you take care of your current clients, he notes, referrals will help add new names to your database.

In fact, taking care of current clients is the main focus of many spas looking to survive the economic crisis. “Treasure your old clients. Don’t assume because they are old clients that you don’t have to pamper them anymore,” says Friedman. “My clients have supported me for years, so now I’m going to support them. They’ve been clients when times are good, so I’m going to give discounts, special prices … you have to have the right approach. I need to show kindness to clients who have always sustained my business.” This case-by-case approach is exactly what clients expect from a small business and will endear your most loyal clients to you even more.

Consider enhancing the stress-relieving and wellness offerings available at your spa. “We’re going to add a nutritionist, acupuncturist and offer colonics. My clients are all stressed out and want wellness services as much as beauty treatments, so we are concentrating on this,” says Friedman. Cal-a-Vie is also recognizing the importance of wellness programs during this intense time. “We’ll be focusing more on inviting outside speakers who discuss wellness topics. I have a psychologist who is talking about weight loss and stress reduction, our own dietician is addressing how hormone and stress-related factors affect weight, and we will be discussing sleep therapy because people are having more difficulty getting a good night’s sleep,” says Zie.