A marketing buzz must be directed at different types of people—current, prospective, and new clients. Promotional specials can be the key to long-term sustainability in your salon business. Experienced and successful salon owners have been using salon promotions and loyalty programs for years to keep salon traffic flowing, increase sales, and attract new clientele.

The objective of any promotion and loyalty program is to:

• Keep your salon on the minds of your clients
• Get them to book more visits
• Reward them for spending more on services and products in the salon
• Make sure they have such a wonderful experience that they refer you to friends and Family. The main goal of these special promotions is to improve client retention through repeat and increased business and growth by referrals. These special offerings should be simple, easy to understand, and not a financial burden to the salon and staff.

Getting Started

The key to a successful promotion should always start with current clients. Dedicating your energy to your best customers is smart business. Twenty percent of your customers will end up providing 80 percent of your business. These promotions should always take into consideration what services and products your top clients use when visiting your salon.

Create a Loyalty Path

Customers take loyalty programs very seriously. These programs should make them feel special by you rewarding them for their loyalty and spending their time and money in your salon. When developing these programs, you should always keep in mind that whatever you offer should help them feel important to your business and as though the promotions you offer are geared specifically toward them.

Loyalty Programs Are Long-Term Projects

Loyalty programs have to put be in place for the long-term. You must have the system in place to monitor and keep track of your customers. The worst thing you can do is put a program in place and not give your clients the ability to redeem the promotion you offered. We recommend having a time frame or expiration date for whatever offering you provide. Doing so will enable you to monitor the promotion. It will also give you the benefit of changing it for the next time or never offering it again. Open-ended promotions are very dangerous and could be extremely expensive.

Action Promotions

The best promotion you can offer in the salon is one that creates such a buzz that it prompts the client to do something the minute they walk in the salon. We call these “action promotions.”

Don’t Spend a Lot of Money

The best promotions do not have to cost you a ton of money. A simple promotion can start with your staff. While clients are having services done, let them know what promotions are offering in the salon. The offer of the promotion can start with the receptionist, shampoo assistant, or anyone else who touches your client in the salon. Creating a salon buzz about upcoming promotions is a very inexpensive way to roll out an exciting offering.

Product Promotions

You may find that your manufacturer is offering a promotion. Taking advantage of it could be a very cost-effective way to roll out the same promotion in your salon. You should be able to arrange free samples and advertisements (signs, flyers, promotional samples) from the manufacturer for a special event in your salon.

Create Promotional Collateral

Running a promotion should be fun and engaging for your salon, clients, and staff. Creating flyers, signage, and posts on your website, blog, and social channels should all be part of the promotion. A comprehensive effort will create a message to everyone that you are serious about your promotion and your business.

Promotions That Work

Salons have tried many different programs over the years. What works in one area of the country may not work in another. Demographics play an important role in what you promote in your salon. A salon in a college town may need to offer inexpensive haircuts for students. A small town may not warrant expensive color promotions. A salon in a metropolitan area may need to offer a quicker haircut promotion for the business person who is on the go. We have explored many different promotions from across the country. Here are some ideas that you may use to help grow your business through a successful promotional campaign.

Ten Ideas That Work

1. Referral Card: “Refer a friend promotion” is when the existing client and the new client get something for acting on the referral. The existing client gets 20 percent off the total price of services on their next visit. The new client gets $20 off the first $50 they spend or a free bottle of shampoo or conditioner. The dollar amounts and offerings can change. You set the guidelines. Referrals are a great way to get new business and help your staff members to grow their clientele.

2. 25% Off First-Timers: It’s not easy to take away clients from a good competitor, but in these tough times, discounting may be just enough to get them to give your salon a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

3. Buy One, Get One Free: Speak to your product supplier to see if they can help you with a “buy one, get one free” promotion. They may look to move a particular product. It’s a no-brainer when it comes to giving something away. It should help you move some overstocked items or get some people window shopping to come into your salon to buy some product. Once they step inside your salon, it’s up to you to introduce them to your services by giving them a salon tour and making sure that they get a salon menu.

4. $10 Off Your Next Service Cards: Save these cards for the special client or a new client. Give out the card on their birthday, for a special event, or to brighten up their day. Ten dollars may not seem like a lot, but it will make them feel special and remember your salon and staff.

5. 10% Off Pre-Booking Discount: It’s great when your client leaves your salon with a smile and loves the way she looks, but sometimes it is not enough to ensure that they will come back. Make sure they return by giving them 10 percent off by pre-booking their next appointment.

6. $25 Off on Your Birthday: Birthdays are a special event, but sometimes overlooked. Why not give your client a birthday to remember? Offer a discount of $25—that will surely put a smile on their face. They will be on the phone or texting their friends about how nice your salon and staff treated them or remembered them on their birthday.

7. Girls’ Night Out: Pick your slowest night at the salon and offer free services or product promotions. Give out invitations to your clients and tell them they can bring as many people as they want. Have some wine and cheese and make some nice product packages that are not too expensive, all for about $20 and under. People will feel obligated to make a purchase. What a great way to increase business on a slow night! Offer a special discount to those who book an appointment that night.

8. 20% Off Any Additional Services: When a client is sitting in your chair and they say they have time to kill, offer 20 percent off any additional services that they normally would not have booked. They will be happy with the additional service and feel good about the discount on something they may not have thought about having done.

9. Local Business Gathering: Use your salon as a meeting place for professionals or other businesses in your area. Have a once-a-month social gathering to meet the business owners next door or around the corner. What a great way for you and your staff to meet potential new clients and help spread the word about your salon. Don’t let them leave empty-handed. Always give an inexpensive gift or product with your name and number or at least your business card or a first-time discount coupon.

10. Free Haircut or Color With Fifth Visit: You must have a system to keep track of this, but what a nice thing to keep your clients loyal. You can also allow them to bank the free haircut and use it for product or a more expensive service as they continue to visit the salon.