Building Your Marketing Foundation

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Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: All Career Stages

Expert Career AdviceBuilding a Client Base ➜ Building Your Marketing Foundation

This guide focuses on the basics of marketing: branding, strategizing, and planning. Regardless of where or how you are performing your services (a salon, spa, shop, booth renting, mobile, etc.) marketing is what promotes your business and helps you build your book.

Building Your Personal Brand

What is a brand and why is it so important to have your own personal identity? A brand is the perception the world has of you. It involves action and requires marketing. Your brand identity is the sum total of all the elements that define who you are: your values, your messaging, and the fonts, colors, and graphics you use on your marketing materials such as your website and social media accounts.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hairstylist, an esthetician, nail tech, or a barber; creating your own personal brand identity is an important component when building your business. You may find yourself merging into the brand of the salon, spa, or shop you work in or the manufacturer you represent- that’s normal and it’s important to do, but, it is equally important to start establishing your own unique brand.

How do you create your personal brand?

You are creating your personal brand every day, either by default or with intent. Every time you post on social media, the look, the feel, the colors, and the tone of your posts represent who you are. Every comment, every post, every video is defining your personal brand. When you walk into the salon, how you show up, greet clients, interact with coworkers is defining your personal brand. As you embark on your career, be mindful of the brand identity you are creating for yourself. Start paying attention to the way you share information and interact with clients.

Questions To Ask Yourself When Forming Your Brand

What makes me different?

What is unique about you and what you offer clients? If there is something you specialize in? Create a niche for yourself. If you're particularly skilled in color, post great images of your work to social media with catchy captions that reflect your personal brand.

What pricing tier do your services fall?

Just like any other brand you follow, the way you come across on social media is incredibly important to how your clients see your personal brand. Look at how your posts appear to the average person. This is how many of your clients will get to know you. Is this the message you want to convey?

Promoting Your Business with Marketing

Once you have established the image you want to express to your clients and to the world, you will then need to create buzz and awareness around your brand and the services you offer through marketing.

If branding is the “who,” then marketing is how you build awareness. It takes time to build a business and every business needs a marketing plan, even if you are a business of one person.

Simply put, the purpose of your marketing plan is to grow your business. It gives you the blueprint of how you are going to grow your client base, your referral business, your service dollars, and your retail dollars.

When creating your marketing plan, think about what you specialize in. Is it color, short cuts, nail art, micro-needling, or incredible shaves? Promote that service(s) 80% of the time and the other services you offer the remaining 20%.

The best way to start developing a marketing plan is to create a twelve-month marketing calendar.

How To Build A Twelve-Month Marketing Calendar

Creating a marketing calendar is a practice that needs to happen every year. Create the following year’s marketing calendar in October, after back to school and before the rush of the holidays. Try to plan for the entire calendar year in one planning session and then make edits along the way if needed. Once it’s been planned and in place, schedule time to review your marketing calendar in July for the remainder of the year. Are you good with what you planned, do you have everything you need to implement your plan successfully? This gives you enough time to reassess your plans and make adjustments to make sure you hit your business goals.

When creating a marketing calendar, you want to start with the following themes: seasonal, monthly holidays, community events, charities, manufacturer driven, new services and standard promotions. 

Let’s break each one down and in the order by which you will build your calendar.

Standard Promotions

Always have a referral promotion and a rebooking promotion in place. You can always add a contest a few times a year at specific times to support peak months and periods where you need to drive client traffic.

Monthly Holidays

Go through the calendar and look for holidays you can create marketing themes around. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day and so on.


As we move through spring, summer, fall, and winter there are plenty of services and products designed to support your clients. For example, if you are a nail technician, during the winter you can focus on marketing winter nail art with a free paraffin hand or foot treatment. If you are a hairstylist, you can drive your color business in the summer with a promotion that packages the service with color shampoo and conditioner. Make a list of what services and accompanying products you can put together for each season. Then position the promotion to start at the beginning of each season and have it run for 8 weeks to cover the length of the season.

Seasons will also include the following: wedding season, graduation season, back to school, proms, etc. Based on the services you provide, you can take advantage of any or all these seasons to drive your business.

Community Events

Look at events or celebrations that happen locally like town fairs or parades. Creating promotions during these celebrations lets you piggyback off growing excitement in your community.


What are they offering from a promotional standpoint that you can take advantage of? Usually these programs are turnkey, easy-to-use and provide a boost. You can also check out any new product launches they announce and put a promotion in your calendar to coincide with it.


Can you connect with the planners of a walk-a-thon or launch a cut-a-thon? You can create a special where a portion of sales proceeds go towards a charity. This benefits the organization, your community ties, and your branding.

New Services

Any time you make a choice to add a new service to your menu you have an opportunity to put a promotion in place. Make sure you spread the word not only on social media, email, and on your website, but in the salon.

Elements to Consider When Creating Your Marketing Plan

After you’ve outlined key events, seasons, and holidays that you’d like to offer something special during, use these parameters to build your promotions.

Run promotions in 6-8-week cycles

The longer they run, the less impact they have. Therefore, you want to add some punch to your referral and rebooking promotions throughout the year.

You can run more than one promotion at the same time if they differ

For example, if you are offering a retail driven promotion for St. Patrick Day, it doesn’t make sense to offer another special that includes retail during the same time period. Instead, alternate the deals or offer one retail specific and one service specific on a consistent basis, like every month.

Meet with your team and distributor and manufacturer representatives

Gather support during your calendar building process to generate ideas. If you work in or rent a space in a salon, spa, or shop, meet with the rest of the team. Share ideas, help each other cross promote with different departments. Their involvement is up to them, but unity can provide balance to a marketing promotion. Depending on the temperament of the salon owner or manager, they should appreciate the ideas and support.

Keep your budget in mind

As a rule, spend 2-4% of total sales each month on marketing efforts. This knowledge can help you make decisions on what you offer and when. For example, marketing a client event in your salon during a slower time of year may not help you financially due to a lower income stream during those periods. Use your budget percentage wisely and spread your money as far and wide as you need.

Increase Traffic Right Now

You might be thinking, “Great. Putting together a 12-month marketing plan might help me next year or a few months down the road, but what can I do right now to get more clients?” Whether you're new to the game or 20 years in, there is always room for growth. Here are some ideas to diversify your marketing strategies and execute some out-of-the-box marketing tactics now.

Host Client Workshops

Take advantage of any lull in the salon, spa or shop. Invite clients to come for free education. An example would be hosting a BYOB “bring your own blow-dryer” or skincare to educate customers on how to properly style their hair, wash their face, etc. Not only will you create movement and excitement in the salon/spa/shop, you’ll have an opportunity to retail take-home care products and recommend additional services to meet your clients’ needs and wants.

Send Gift Certificate Invitations

More than likely, your salon, spa, or shop sold its fair share of gift cards during the holiday season. Why not personally invite those clients who made the purchase of a gift card come in for their own complimentary gift, like a 10% discount or free blow out? Marketing to the purchaser of the gift card is a great way to say thanks for their loyalty. To do this, just make sure to obtain both the buyer’s and the recipient's contact information, otherwise, you are missing an opportunity to do additional marketing to those who not only purchased the gift card but those who receive it as well. It’s an effective marketing strategy to help you grow your business, generate new salon/ spa/shop clients, and bring in traffic ASAP.

Focus On Your Reviews

With more and more people doing their research on whom to give their business to, review sites are a fast and easy way to take the temperature. Review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Demand Force are a huge opportunity to grow your business with minimum effort. Encourage your most loyal clients to leave reviews on their experience with you. People looking for a new stylist might scroll through and find just what they're looking for in you! If you want to take it a step further, upload pictures of your work. Business pages with pictures are more likely to keep potential visitors on longer than those with no pictures at all. And of course, make sure to link directly to your salon or studios business line. This helps people searching on their phone connect with you quickly and easily.

Offer Multiple Rebooking Incentives

This works best after busy seasons during slower months. Hold random drawings for each pre-booked appointment. Pick as many winners and give whatever you feel comfortable with, people like free swag. Maybe it's a gift card, maybe it's just more time. A longer shampoo, a hand massage, shave, or a quick updo are just a few ways to grow your business and keep up appearances by spending more time doing what you actually love.

Get Social

Lastly, but certainly not least, make use of your social media accounts. You don’t need to be lectured on how social media is a great marketing tool. To start, make sure all of your accounts have updated location and contact information. This includes your phone number, address, and a link to book online. What’s the use in posting great before-and-after pictures or doing a live video of a cut if potential clients can’t book with you right then and there? Make a few tweaks to your profiles to make it user-friendly and easy for clients to connect with you first. Then you can get all kinds of creative with your digital marketing.

As with anything else, consistency with your marketing is key. The goal is to make sure that every interaction with clients, every social post, and every banner, billboard, and flyer matches the brand you’ve built. With some careful consideration and plenty of organization and planning, you’ll have a marketing plan that matches your business goals and drives results.

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