Coming up with fun events at your salon can be an excellent way to welcome back clients after a long year of quarantine and lockdowns. It can also be a fabulous way to invite new folks into your salon to learn what you're all about.

Of course, having a solid event strategy makes smart business sense in general and not just because of the pandemic. So add this task to your yearly marketing plan. Need inspiration? Below you'll find salon event ideas that'll create the buzz you've been looking for.

Offer special retail "events" throughout the year.

Holding retail events can be a fantastic way to encourage people to drop into your salon. You get to boost revenue while rejuvenating the existing relationship. Some suggestions . . .

  • Hold "liter" months where you offer clients discounts on liters of their favorite product during a specific timeframe.
  • Collect client birthdays and give them a special coupon during their birthday month.
  • Offer two-for-one deals. Example, "Buy your favorite shampoo and get the conditioner at half price."

PRO TIP: Get the word out through your electronic newsletter. (You have one, right?) And do a post at the beginning of the month on places like Instagram and Facebook to let people know about your promotions. You should also have signage in the salon promoting the retail extravaganza.

Hold events that garner good will and that do good at the same time.

Lots of nonprofits are struggling due to the pandemic. Many of their signature fundraiser events were either cancelled or had to move online, resulting in fewer donations overall for many organizations. Collaborating with a nonprofit/charitable organization can be a great way to garner good will in the community while introducing folks to your salon.

Some quick-hitting ideas:

Toys for Tots. This is a great one to do during the holiday season. Ask clients to bring in an unwrapped toy, and, in return, they get 15% off a service that day.

Food drives. This is another good one for the holidays, but don't underestimate the importance of summertime food drives. Food insecurity increases for school-aged children during summer break since they're not in school and might not have access to breakfast and lunch. Not to mention, donations to foodbanks tend to decline during spring and summer as well.

Holding an "off-season" food drive can be an excellent way to help out while standing out. The process is similar to a toy drive: Ask people to bring in non-perishable food items. Clients receive a specific discount based on how many items they bring in or the weight of their overall foodstuffs.

Blood drives. If your salon is in a strip mall or plaza and you're friendly with some of the other shop owners, you could host a blood drive. (You can also do it on your own.) Currently, there's a severe blood shortage in the U.S. Hosting a blood drive will bring visibility to your business while also supporting a worthwhile—and much needed—endeavor. The American Red Cross has a turnkey process for small businesses to hold local blood drives in their communities.

Health awareness months. Tying in events to various health "awareness" months is another excellent approach. A good one for barbers and stylists to focus on is Movember. Every November—or "Movember"—guys around the world are encouraged to grow their beards and mustaches to raise awareness about important men's health issues, specifically testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and suicide risks.

What better way to honor someone's commitment to the cause than to give them a discount on their first haircut and beard trimming the first week in December? Plus, you could say that a portion of sales raised during the first week of December will go to Movember.

Plenty of other health awareness months exist, from Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) to World AIDS Day (December 1). Find a cause that you and your employees are passionate about and build an event around it. For example, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you could invite cancer patients to bring in their wigs and hair pieces for a free tutorial on how to style them.

Collaborate with other small businesses and brands.

There's strength in numbers, as the saying goes. And collaborating with fellow business owners is a great way to introduce your clients to other local businesses—and vice versa.

Candice Rios is a cosmetologist and tattoo artist based in New York who enjoys partnering with other businesses. In addition to working in a couple of salons, Candice also works as a makeup artist for personal clients and as a brand ambassador for amika haircare.

In her experience, Candice says the most successful events include partnering with other businesses or brands, such as a makeup brand or skin care line, and having their team of experts come into your salon to consult with clients. She recommends giving it a true event feel by offering light bites and having music. "I've always liked to incorporate a local DJ and eatery. I've even partnered with independent jewelers."

The event benefits everyone involved, which is the point. "This attracts new clients to the salon you may have never met otherwise and new clients to the other brands," Candice explains. "Partnering also creates a community buzz. It gets everyone's name out into various social and social media circles as well. It's a win-win for everyone!"

PRO TIP: If you hold an event like this, make sure everyone involved promotes it through their marketing channels—think electronic newsletters, websites, and social media. This will extend the reach even further.

Celebrate current clients.

Remind clients how much you value their business by hosting a customer appreciation event once or twice a year. These events garner goodwill and simply remind folks you're there. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to highlight what's new in your salon.

Jenaé Davis—a licensed stylist, certified trichologist, and owner of Salon Jenaé in Bloomington, Illinois—is a big fan of client celebrations. "We love having customer appreciation days," she says. "It allows our current clients to invite friends and 'show off' their stylist/salon. We provide some complimentary fun services that make people say, 'I didn't know you did that,' like colorful pops of tape in extensions, funky/exotic lashes, and airbrush makeup."

Develop holiday-themed events that can become annual traditions.

A successful holiday-themed event can also be something that's very turnkey and easy to plan every year. (Because once you've been through one or two of them, you'll know what to do—and not do—the following year.)

For example, on Halloween, you could invite clients to come in with their kids in costumes. You could have candy for the kiddos and special goody bags for the adults (filled with samples, tchotchkes, and coupons for services). And/or you can give awards every hour for the best costume.

For Thanksgiving, you could have a "Be thankful for your friends" promotion where you ask clients to bring in a friend for a free, no-obligation consultation or perhaps something like a complimentary deep conditioner.

Don't underestimate the power of virtual events.

Thanks to Facebook Live and Instagram TV, you can hold live events on your Facebook and IG accounts. For beauty salons, tutorials are always crowd-pleasers. Perhaps you do a Facebook Live event on up-do tips for proms or weddings. Or maybe you do an IG TV makeup series.

A big bonus with virtual events is that they never end, meaning people can watch them on-demand whenever it's convenient for them—even months or years from now. Plus, virtual events are shareable. (People can tag their friends.) And don't forget, not everyone has time to attend in-person events. So virtual events are excellent for reaching this crowd.

PRO TIP: Make sure you check out our guide to Instagram marketing.

Think outside the box.

When it comes to developing fun events, let your imagination run wild. And don't think you always need to tie your event into a theme or holiday.

Showcase sidewalk stylists. Slow day in the salon? Is your salon in a place (like a strip mall) with built-in foot traffic? Set up a table outside with some staff doing demonstrations. You'll capture the attention of people walking by and you can engage them in conversation.

Hold free or low-cost clinics at your salon. For example, June is a big month for kids’ dance recitals. In May, you could hold a clinic on how to do up-dos for the upcoming dance-recital season. Or you could hold a blow-dry clinic that teaches people how to properly blow dry their hair. Again, these can be free, or you could charge a nominal fee, like $25. Videotape the clinic and share it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and your beauty salon's website to reach even more people.

Participate in festivals and other local community events. As we emerge from the pandemic, many towns and communities are holding local festivals and events. Participate whenever you can. This will usually involve having a table and an employee or two to manage it.

Presentation is everything. Have a nice set-up with a tablecloth, signage, collateral (like a glossy oversized postcard or brochure about your salon), relevant promotional items (e.g., a compact with your salon's name on the front), sample products, and demonstrations (hair, makeup) if allowed. The beauty industry is all about developing relationships. Simply meeting and talking to people is the single best way to score a new client.

Jenaé Davis from Salon Jenaé says she loves to co-sponsor events in town. "It allows new potential clients to come to the salon to participate in the event. We might host the hospitality check-in, or be a pick-up location for prizes, or gifts. When the guest arrives, we give a tour of the salon, and have featured stylists working on models providing services that spark questions and conversation."

PRO TIP: Be mindful about what you have planned at your salon on event days. Jenaé says, "I've learned that when hosting an event, try not to schedule like a normal salon day. You want to be able to speak to guests and answer questions. I also like staging model clients to work on that day. It's great for creating content to post later. That way, you are not rushed, and it's intriguing to the guests."

Most of all, have fun!

If you and your staff aren't having fun at the events, your clients probably aren't either. While event planning does take some effort, everyone should enjoy the process, at least most of the time—and particularly during the event itself. Focus on what gives you and your staff joy and the rest will fall into place. Good luck. You got this!

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