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Ten Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Bottom Line
By William J. Lynott
Posted: August 30, 2006, from the September 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Many spa owners are so busy dealing with day-to-day problems that they never get around to putting together a business-building marketing program. This is a serious mistake. Marketing is an essential ingredient in a service business’ recipe for growth—and even survival. Yet, a number of spa owners shy away from all but the most obvious ways to promote their businesses. Many consider an expensive ad in the Yellow Pages a complete marketing program.
Following are 10 proven marketing strategies that will help improve your profits by bringing in new and repeat clients.
1. Adopt a marketing attitude. Operating a personal service business requires implementing an ongoing marketing program. There is no other way. Good prices and good service alone won’t do it. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” As a number of inventors have learned, this may be a clever and catchy adage, but it has little to do with reality. After inventing better mousetraps, it soon was discovered that, without marketing, these creations sat languishing on store shelves.
2. Understand that marketing is more than just advertising. Although advertising is an essential part of marketing, it is only that—a part. An effective marketing program embraces all facets of your spa’s operation. In order to be an effective marketer, you must nurture and promote your business’ image, sell yourself—as well as your business, and concentrate on making your offerings the best choice for today’s demanding clients.
3. Set your business apart. Whether their companies are gigantic or tiny, America’s most successful entrepreneurs are those who have carefully developed a unique identity. Evaluate your strengths, and then combine them to create a marketable image for you and your spa. Perhaps you’ve been in business longer than your nearest competitors, or maybe you or your employees have the professional skills, technical expertise and desire to make clients feel comfortable and satisfied after an appointment. Or possibly you possess a long and impressive list of loyal clientele. Whatever your marketable strengths, write them all down, study them and determine how to separate yourself from your competitors. Also, find out how to motivate potential clients—even those who live and work outside of your primary area—to seek you out. Once you’ve sold yourself and your employees on why you are the best choice, focus your marketing efforts on ways to promote this image to your clients.
4. Decide never to lose a client to a competitor. Experts agree: On average, it costs five times as much for a business to find a new client than to retain an existing one. Focus on the significance of that statement because it is one of the most powerful concepts in the business world.
Once a new client visits for the first time, the hard part is over. Now you need to instill the notion that doing business with your spa always will be a satisfying experience. You and your employees must never lose sight of the fact that developing a new client is a costly and difficult job. Once a stranger crosses your threshold, that first experience will determine whether they ever will visit you again. When you convert a prospect into a client, a good part of your overall marketing program must be built around techniques designed to ensure that they never have a reason to leave you for a competitor.
5. Treasure your most valuable asset: your client list. Most people prefer to do business with companies they know—that’s why your list of clients is a priceless commodity. Be sure to capture the name and mailing address of every client into a flexible computer database. If you don’t do this currently, begin today. In time, you will come to appreciate the value of your efforts. Once these records are in order, keep in regular contact with your top clients. When the time comes to send out new promotions or just a direct mail reminder of how much you appreciate their business, your database will provide the best return for your advertising dollar.
6. Keep house like the big boys. The next time you visit a chain department store, such as Sears, Target or Macy’s, examine the housekeeping. Notice the clean and shiny floors, the neatly organized shelves, and the sparkling windows and glass. That is no accident. It’s likely that the maintenance crew was busy polishing floors and tidying up before you even got out of bed that morning. Companies that have the resources to approach business as a science have long since discovered an important truth: People get in a buying mood more easily when the shopping environment is neat and clean.
The physical appearance of your spa will say more about you than all of your paid advertising. A shabby or disorganized atmosphere may seem harmless to some spa owners, but if you want to distinguish yourself from your competition, you will become a better housekeeper than your competitors. An inviting interior and exterior are easy to accomplish, and they provide a simple way to reinforce your professional image. The physical appearances of your facility and your team members serve as built-in advertisements. They say either good things or bad things about your dependability and trustworthiness. The image that they convey is up to you.
7. Make client satisfaction your hallmark. Client satisfaction is the most powerful advertising and marketing medium available to you. Nothing will build your business faster than clients bragging to their friends about your spa. And nothing will diminish your profit more relentlessly than unhappy clients complaining about it. It can take money and time to resolve a client complaint, and it can be especially trying when you believe that it is not justified. However, the money you spend to resolve the situation should be considered marketing dollars—arguably the most effective investment in marketing that you can make. Never allow yourself to forget that the most powerful and least costly source of new business is a personal referral, and that those are provided only by satisfied clients.
8. Measure the results of every advertising dollar. Larger businesses may be able afford to waste revenue on advertising that doesn’t pay off, but you must make certain that every advertising dollar generates bottom-line profits. The only way to do this is to track the source of every new client. Many spa owners are under the impression that their Yellow Page ads are producing far more business than they actually are. Perhaps an ad such as this is cost-effective, but the only way to determine that for sure is to ask all new clients how they chose your spa. Many spa owners make use of local media, such as neighborhood newspapers, radio, cable television, newsletters and targeted direct mail campaigns, along with phone book advertising. Whatever media you use, you must take the time and trouble to track the results.
9. Consider cross promotion. You pick up a pizza at the local pizzeria. When you get home, you find a coupon in the bag that is good for a discount at the local carwash. What’s the connection? What does a pizza restaurant have to do with a carwash? You get the answer to that question when you visit the carwash to take advantage of your discount. As you pull up to the entrance, you spot a large sign advertising that same restaurant. This is cross promotion.
These two noncompeting businesses are promoting each other. Each is benefiting from advertising at no cost, except for nominal printing expense. Cross promotion is inexpensive and effective. How many businesses in your community are cross promotion candidates for your spa? There probably are many. Take the initiative, and suggest a cross promotion program with the best candidates.
10. Take action now. The order of the steps you take to improve your marketing plan doesn’t matter. What is most important is that you achieve something new and creative in order to overcome the inertia that keeps many spas from ever reaching their full potential. Originality is the key to a great marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to try something new, no matter how unorthodox it may seem at first thought. If it doesn’t work, move on and try something else. Although marketing is work, it’s a different kind of work that will be challenging, exciting and rewarding. Try it—you may be pleasantly surprised.