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Marketing: Award-winning Marketing and PR Secrets

By Sally Robb Haims
Posted: February 1, 2008, from the February 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor’s note: Spa Radiance was the winner of Skin Inc. magazine’s 2007 Best of the Best Award for Best Marketing Campaign. In this article, the spa’s public relations representative, Sally Robb-Haims, shares the secrets behind its marketing success.

Lack of time, budget and know-how are often the reasons given by spa owners who forgo investing in public relations. However, even a small, positive mention in your local newspaper, a celebrity endorsement or a well-planned community event can significantly boost your spa’s bottom line. The benefits of a successful, strategic PR and marketing program include not only media visibility and increased sales, but also enhanced team morale, community and client goodwill, a recruiting edge and consistent brand-building.

Tell your story 
       Your spa’s particular story is one of your most important public relations assets. As the old proverb states, “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” With the spa industry’s rapid growth, it’s likely that you are not the only game in town. It’s vital to decide how you would like for your spa to be perceived by the public, and to communicate your key messages consistently and authentically throughout the year to your target audience.
       During the past decade, hotel spas and day spas have opened up left and right in San Francisco and throughout the United States. Although Spa Radiance had been one of the city’s oldest and most respected day spas for advanced skin care, having opened well before the spa boom, the owners needed to pinpoint two or three key messages that would focus their image for the media, community and their clientele.

Citizen Spa Radiance
From the
San Francisco Chronicle.
  Spa Radiance’s mother-daughter co-owners, Galina Rovner and Angelina Umansky, have always been committed to several local

Dear Jean-Louis,
Thanks for the stunning Kate Hudson-style highlights. And for passing along Brigitte’s number; the brows are beyond fab.
       Was hoping you wouldn’t mind a teeny favor: Might you share your services—and your Rolodex—with Radiant Renewal Spa-to-Go?
       It’s for the best kind of cause: Once a month, Spa Radiance donates its time at UCSF offering free pick-me-up treatments—massages, facials, mani-pedis, and makeup applications—to terminally ill teens, women on bed rest, and the families of seriously ill children.
  Inspired by a client who felt guilty leaving her child’s side for a much-needed massage, Spa Radiance set up a mini-spa at the hospital to help relieve the stress of coping with illness.
       With a wait-list ten deep, they could use a few good estheticians to join them. Couldn’t you please open up your book?
       Imagine all the good you could do with just one facial or massage. After all, you know what they say.
       A friend who kneads is a friend indeed.
community charities, but had not publicized their involvement, nor focused on helping a particular organization. Since deciding to clearly communicate their community work, the spa has enjoyed enhanced team morale, client goodwill and continuing media coverage, including a broadcast television segment, two national Daily Candy.com features, a story in the San Francisco Chronicle and a two-page, full-color feature in Benefit magazine.
       Click here to read the entire feature article from Benefit magazine about the Radiant Renewal Spa-to-Go program at UCSF Children’s Hospital.
     “The reason I’m here in America is due to charity,” says Umansky. Her story dates back to Russia in the early 1940s, where she developed her skin care expertise under the watchful eye of her mother, Rovner, and grandmother, Rose. “We came to America with help from concerned organizations who brought Russian Jews to America, so I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for someone else’s charity. My feeling is that if you have the time and resources—and everyone can make the time to give back—focus on what touches you,” says Umansky. 
      Inspired by her own good fortune and by a spa team member’s idea to donate spa services to seriously ill, hospitalized patients, Spa Radiance launched their award-winning community relations program, Radiant Renewal Spa-to-Go.  
      The idea to take spa services into the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Children’s Hospital setting was the brainchild of spa employee, Marissa Ryan. She had treated an anxious mom who felt guilty leaving her hospitalized child’s bedside to visit the spa for an hour. So Ryan thought that it would be great if the spa could bring its healing services into the hospital.

       Leverage your liasons. Additionally, Spa Radiance reached out to one of its skin care and nail suppliers that kindly donated its vegan nail polishes for the teens’ goody bags. Then, they drafted a concise media advisory, distributed it to the local media and made follow-up calls, which generated press coverage and photos that were highlighted on the spa’s Web site press room and in the reception area’s brag book.
       “I’ve never seen a group that pulled something like this together so quickly,” says Kimberly Scurr, the director of pediatric heart center and perinatal services at UCSF Children’s Hospital. “We have so many families in crisis here that need some help, and this group is so committed and determined to make a difference. They’re an amazing gift to us, our patients and their families.”
     
     Communicate with clients. Finally, during the holidays, they wrote a genuinely heartfelt thank-you letter to clients informing them that, because of their patronage, the spa was able to give back to the community through the Radiant Renewal program. Cultivating a mailing and e-mail list of every person who has visited your spa is vital to your marketing success. Used thoughtfully, this list is as good as gold because it allows your spa toshare new menu items, promotions and gratitude.

Launch a trend
       With the increased pace of life in the high-tech, high-stress San Francisco Bay area, many of Spa Radiance’s clients simply no longer had the time for a full 90-minute, or even 60-minute, facial, let alone an entire day of relaxation. Yet clients still wanted and expected their skin to look glowing and flawless after a spa visit. So Spa Radiance created its all-natural Facials-in-a-Flash Baran efficacious menu of 30-minute mini-facials in a variety of “flavors” with no downtime.
       Ranging from light to medium to deep, the catchy, cocktail-inspired monikers include Purify the Pometini of peels: a pomegranate enzyme-packed wonder with splashes of pure vitamin A to thoroughly cleanse congested skin; and the neither frou frou nor frappé French Peel: as decadent as a three-hour dejeuner with 100% milk enzymes imported from France for a porcelain-like finish.
      
     Media sneak previews. After inviting select local media to experience a sneak preview of the new facial bar, Spa Radiance earned a “Best of the Best in San Francisco” annual award from 7x7 magazine, a glossy, local lifestyle magazine read by the spa’s target audience. It posted the award on its Web site and framed the coverage for their wall of fame, thereby lauding well-deserved team members and building credibility with clients.  
  
      Details, details. Before the media party, all team members were prepared by receiving a detailed itinerary regarding the visiting media, as well as key messages to communicate to the visiting journalists. Most members of the press are very observant and naturally curious, so it’s vital to be prepared, pay attention to every detail and enjoy being gracefulhosts. Each attendee was treated to their choice of one of the fifteen new facials while enjoying organic cocktails donated by an eco-chic, sustainably handcrafted vodka. Also, every attendee went home with a beautiful goody bag filled with seasonal product samples, facial bar menus and a branded spa press kit, complete with fact sheet, bios and new releases.

Education
       Ultimately, a well-planned, strategic PR and marketing program goes hand in hand with your role as a spa to educate the public about ways to live better, more balanced lives. Take the time and resources to employ a range of creative communications tools and tactics, such as the following:
 


Community relations
Launch parties
Strategic partnerships
Press releases
Client communications
One-on-one media visits
Media advisories
New treatments
Brag books
Web site press rooms
Walls of fame
 
       Soon you’ll be enjoying the benefits of higher visibility, increased credibility, high team morale and, last but certainly not least, happier, healthier, more loyal clients.