Traditionally, salons faced their ‘dead’ time in January and would use this as an opportunity to discount their services, hoping to attract new clients and tempt existing customers to use their services in this period of low trade.

I think it would be fair to say that often this form of marketing was done with no more thought than “Let’s get some bums on seats to pay the bills.”

However, does discounting, specifically in the New Year, really work anymore? I have to say that, increasingly, I get the impression from salons that new year discounting has less and less impact on their business and I feel that there is one main reason for this: consumers have become immune to discounts!

Let’s think about this. Why are we immunized from ‘offers’ nowadays? Well if we are bombarded on a daily basis, with discount sites offering huge ‘savings’ on hair and beauty services, why are we going to take any more notice when we get offered the same level of discount for that service in January?

Without getting into the debate of how these sites have affected our industry, the fact remains that a heavily discounted service or ‘offer’ no longer has the same impact or attraction as it did a decade ago.

As an ex-salon owner and now business consultant in the hairdressing industry, I will always maintain that often a discount client will not become a loyal client. They are driven by cash, not culture. These clients have little interest in building relationships with a hair or beauty salon, rather moving from one to the other, constantly searching out the next offer, the next ‘bargain’.

There are countless reports out which validate that the foundation to a great hair and beauty business is one that is built from client loyalty, trust and recommendation above anything else. A recent report from marketingcharts.com shows:

  • 85% of consumers check out online reviews to decide whether a local business is good.
  • 73% of consumers said positive reviews inspire trust in a business (up from 58% the previous year)
  • 67% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them more likely to visit a local business.

So the next question, quite rightly, might be: “I knew this already, but what difference would a discount marketing campaign make to my reputation if I were to run with one in January?”

A report from Roger Dooley of Neuroscience Marketing makes an interesting case for not attracting discount driven clients to your business. In his report, he recounts a study which was carried out in Ohio between discount and full paying customers. The conclusion was that, in their minds, the discount customers had ‘devalued’ their experience to such a degree they no longer derived the same satisfaction from it as a full paying client.

In other words, if you pay more you are more determined to enjoy and appreciate!

If you consider how much we rely on great customer experience as a form of recommendation, is there not a concern being highlighted here that perhaps those discount-driven clients, whilst not actively complaining about your business, are not exactly singing your praises about their experience in your salon either?

It’s time to rethink those discount promotions in January; here are a few ideas for new year marketing campaigns that I have used in the past. These campaigns, I have to say, worked particularly well in gelling existing clients to our business and brought new clients on board too. Yes they involve some discounting, but discounting with a purpose to attract the right ‘type’ of client to your salon:

  • Many people are looking to build up their fitness regime in the New Year, so why not find out ways to team up with your local health club and offer an incentive bonus programme for a hair and body M.O.T?
  • Hold a ‘Client Awareness Evening’ in January/February. Invite talks from nutritionists, chiropractors, and NLP practitioners, as an example. Complement the evening with at home styling tips and on-the-spot makeover demonstrations from your team.
  • Hold a ‘Preview Morning’ at the salon, inviting regular clients to come and enjoy a complimentary fruit and bakery style breakfast with you and the team. Make up moodboards to share with your guests your salon’s vision for 2015. Discuss new products and the merits of new treatments. Send each guest away with a goody bag and a whole host of new ideas!

By offering a loyal client base rewards through an experience or gift, you are ensuring great recommendation and continued support for your business – all of which is acknowledged to be the safest foundation to maintaining a successful salon business.

This article was written by Penny for Professional Hairdresser Magazine: Say no to New Year disounts