Whether you are a solo esthetician, stylist or massage therapist - going it on your own has its benefits and challenges. Without a retail location, you may feel that you are at a marketing disadvantage to salons or day spas. Little do you know, most of those day spas and retails paying a pretty penny for retail space are thinking YOU are a smart cookie--- because you have very little overhead and no employees. Just like most things in life, the grass is always greener on the other side. As for building your solo practice, here are must-do marketing actions to take to bring new clients.
1. Get a marketing plan. If you are a rabid Friends fan like me, you might remember the first season episode when Phoebe laments "Get a plan?! I don't even have a pluh." And while it may seem overwhelming to create one, it is can actually make your life easier once you have one. The beauty of a marketing plan is that you know what you are going to spend, do (and NOT do) for marketing month by month. If you don't know where to start, drop me a note or call me. With a few phone calls and emails, I'll get to know your goals, budget, background and help you craft a plan that will put you in control.
2. Set up a client contact system. This can be paper-based or using a client database on your computer. The goal here is to remind you to reach out to clients you have seen before. Some occasions to do this are:
*Two days post treatment to see if they have any questions. Inquire about how they feel about their skin (any flare-ups?), their neck/back/etc. that they mentioned prior to their massage or if they have any styling questions about their new cut.
*Birthdays. You may be the only person to send them a card!
*If you have seen them in six weeks - or whatever would be your recommended interval for the next service.
*Three weeks after purchasing a product - do they need more?
*Client anniversary thank you - every year they have been a client, send them a little thank you note. Hand written cards are so very special these days, but email greeting cards are just as effective as getting the point across that you appreciate their loyalty.
You can see that tracking client activities and creating a system to remind you of these things is essential.
3. Reward for referrals. Review my No Cost Referrals tips and create a system that works for you. Building your business by word of mouth is the most inexpensive marketing around... don't be afraid to be generous to clients you refer you. A $25 Starbucks card for one client can save you from a $800 newspaper ad that brings in the same number of new clients (you got... just one.) No need for a fancy points system... your business cards (yes you need 'em) will do the trick. Give your clients extras when they book an appointment and list on your cards: "I build my business through referrals and would be delighted to help your friends or relatives."
4. Leverage the Internet. Having a website is, in my humble opinion, absolutely critical for any business. Use lower cost hosted solutions like Inspirational Web Hosting or SpaBoom - businesses that understand yours and provide low cost and easy to use solutions. On your site, be sure to collect emails and allow instant gift certificate purchase. Online sales is a nice perk, but not for everyone because you have to then ship out products very quickly after receiving the online order. If you are in a treatment room all day, this might be cause a delay... just be careful to correctly set customer expectations.
While there are several more marketing activities I'd recommend like a professional venture logo, or printing a brochure, there are also things you should not waste money on. Avoid advertisements and direct mail. The cost will most certainly outweigh the benefit you'd receive as a single practitioner.
Be sure to track your marketing pennies well. It is important to be conscious about how much (and where) you are spending your marketing dollars so you can decide whether to continue or not.