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Saving Client's Skin--And Your Own

By: Jane Wurwand
Posted: September 25, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
woman getting green facial mask

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Many of your clients don’t have the heart to tell you the truth, so they start shopping for bargains. They may try hunting down professional skin care treatments that cost less than those you offer, but more than likely they’ll be taking a DIY attitude and head off to the beauty supply store to buy the cleansers, exfoliants, masks, moisturizers and other products that have been the basis of your care.

Why would they do that, you may ask yourself, when you offer the same products, perhaps even at the same price point? Why do they avoid coming in, even just to shop? It’s because they feel guilty. They are embarrassed to admit that currently, they just aren’t as affluent as they may have been a year ago.

Help clients help themselves

The key to keeping your clients—who now should be identified primarily as retail customers—is to proactively intercept this cycle of guilt, which, left unchecked, will lead to separation from your invaluable database. You have to let your customers know it’s really OK for them to change the rules of engagement, and that you’re willing to change the parameters and focus of your business to keep them in your active file.

Two steps are crucial to this shift. The first is that you have to let your customers know there’s no shame in simply coming to you for products, sans treatments. The second part is a rewrite of advertising legend Marshall McLuhan’s classic observation: Today, the medium is more than the message—it’s the market, too.

Reach out to your retail customer, who may be younger than the traditional treatment customer, via new media. This means having a Web site, which consumers consider to be as essential as having a telephone. There are low-cost services that let you register your URL and build a basic Web site for less than $300. It’s a small investment considering that, when everything else is equal, prospective clients will choose to invest their time and money with a business with a Web site as opposed to a business without one. It’s really non-negotiable in today’s consumer-driven economy.