This post in one in a series, where I take a break from my usual rantings, to consider the marketing lessons which lurk right under our noses.
Other random observations can be found here - dog breeders, cinemas, children and even Father Christmas - enjoy.
Hairdressers in various forms have been around for centuries, perfecting a customer service model which most online brands could benefit from replicating. Bear with me and all will be made clear.
1. It's not about you
Steven Covey famously said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” In other words, I don't really care about your business, I want to know what's in it for me. Hairdressers get this. You show up, take the chair and the first thing the stylist typically asks is 'what are we doing today?' Instantly you (the customer) are in the driving seat, talking about your wants and needs, not listening to what the salon has to sell.
Once you've told them what prompted your visit they'll begin to make suggestions, which either stretch your comfort zone (how about a restyle) or reassure you that they can solve your problem (your frizz will be returned to glory in no time). Stylists know what they're capable of, but they want their customers to feel in control of the process. They make it personal. Do you?
2. Think beyond your main product
Sure you'll get your haircut, but to keep that feel good factor high, what about a drink, free wifi, a glossy magazine and possibly even a head massage. Hairdressers want their customers to be continually reassured that they've made the right choice and these little extras all help with our self talk (yes I am worth it, maybe I should also get a manicure, they care about me and I like this experience, so I should book my next session now.)
Customers may set out to address a specific problem, through that oh so important keyword search, but ultimately we're easily distracted by things we find along the way. What about a free ebook, sign up to the newsletter, buy your ticket now? Customers decide what's valuable to them and it's probably not your main service that keeps them coming back for more.
3. Build a relationship
Hairdressers often find themselves as confidants. Their loyal clientele share the minutia of everyday life, revelling in an honesty which can only come from looking your worst in a mirror filled room. Over time, we take advice on not just hair related matters, but on what to watch and read, the restaurants to book, holidays to take - you get the idea.
It's that all important trust factor, which turns passing trade into repeat customers. It makes you the 'go to'. It keeps you top of mind, so you're the first person to be recommended. Seth Godin wrote a whole book around the concept of permission marketing which is well worth a read.
Do you manage your customers to the point of sale and then skip into the sunset, or do you have a relationship which creates a loyal following? Social media has made it easier than ever to engage with customers - ignore it at your peril.
4. Inspire your customers
Hairdressers change their hair on a regular basis. Between visits my stylist goes from short to long, blonde to pink and throws in a perm, just to show what's possible. While I suspect myself and 99% of her customers get 'the usual' every time they visit, it doesn't mean we don't appreciate the variety.
Sometimes we just want to know that someone is keeping on top of the latest trends so we don't have to. Could you curate third party posts or produce a regular top 10 list of what's hot for your industry? Also think about how your brand is currently perceived and what you could be doing to show you're at the cutting edge (every pun intended).
5. Have some check out extra's
Running low on shampoo? Have you tried this fabulous new ...? Wallet in hand to pay for the main event, it's very easy to add a little extra to the bill. In our minds we prolong the joy by taking something tangible home and we trust the recommendations of those who've just brought our tired locks back to life. Hairdressers use our feel good high, to raise their revenues, while we interpret it as extra attention to our needs.
When your customers check out, do you send them a boring old thank you page, or do you return a list of further reading links, downloads, surprise discounts etc. The last impression is often as important as the first, especially when you want customers to bookmark your site. Make it memorable.
Hairdressers build experiences, (Osadia take this to new limits). The most successful ones entertain, inform and inspire in equal measure. Let's stop sharing information and create businesses which touch our customers and keep them coming back for more.
Don't know how? Ask me.