You’ve got all the education under your belt, your kit packed and ready to go—even your lashing speed is spot on. So, what’s next? Figuring out how to get clients. In this digital age, what’s the best way to build your book? We asked The Lashpreneur, Tara Walsh, to weigh in on how to market your lashing services.
With everyone on Instagram these days, is Yelp is still relevant?
“One thousand percent, Yelp is still relevant! It’s social media just like Instagram, Facebook, Google reviews, etc. While each city has its own public perception of Yelp’s usefulness or impact on a business, most major metropolitan businesses should focus on having a presence on all social platforms, including reviews sites like Yelp. That being said, I don’t recommend playing Yelp’s game of “hide the review” and losing sleep because of it. I’m also not a fan of paying for Yelp ads—where your lash or brow business shows up where it doesn’t belong (like on a children’s dentistry Yelp account!). But I do recommend that you use Yelp as one of the many marketing channels you have in place, as it can be incredibly valuable in getting you free traffic to your website—and who doesn’t like free marketing?”
What about Facebook or Instagram ads? Are they worth the money?
“Without a doubt, there is no better or cheaper paid advertising than Facebook ads. The algorithm is scary smart, and the No. 1 benefit to Facebook ads is the audience targeting. Ninety- ve percent of potential lash clients have a Facebook account (less so for Instagram, but not by much), and Facebook tracks every single behavior both on the app and on websites that have the Facebook pixel installed (and most websites do these days). While some see this as an invasion of privacy, savvy marketers see this as an opportunity. With this feature, I can get my business in front of a complete stranger who I know makes $100,000 annually, loves CrossFit and escape rooms, and got engaged last month. And more often than not, it’s only going to cost me a couple bucks—or even less than a dollar—to do that. That is the power of Facebook and Instagram ads.
That being said, the ad software is not user friendly, and there’s definitely a strategic learning curve. As someone who’s been running Facebook ads for the last three years, I can tell you that all of the fancy features do not make it easier. I recommend that most small business owners start by adding an “Engagement” objective to an existing post on your business page that already has some organic traffic. This is the easiest way to get momentum going with your ads. And do not boost a post! Use the “Ads Manager.” There’s a big difference in the opportunities you have in audience targeting and functionality with that compared to the limited boost post option.”
Do tried-and-true approaches (think: dropping cards off at local businesses or posting sandwich-board-sign specials outside your salon) still work in this digital age?
“Due to the impersonal nature of everything online, I think people are craving connection with real people. If you start to build a relationship with other local business owners before asking them for a favor (i.e., sharing your business cards with their customers) then you’ll likely have a much better conversion from them marketing your services. Most solo lash/brow artists can’t really take walk-ins, so a sandwich board just serves to disrupt the current paying client who’s trying to relax. But if you have a receptionist who can schedule a walk-in or answer any questions for a passer-by, then by all means, go ahead with your sandwich board!
Ultimately, though, most “old school” styles of marketing (yellow pages, direct mail, posting flyers in a mall parking lot or sponsoring the local high school’s football team) are generally too costly, too time consuming and ineffective compared to online marketing platforms. They simply cannot provide the instant value for the price point. Think of how much a single piece of marketing collateral costs. But don’t take my word for it. Conduct your own experiment with your own business and nd what works for you!”
From Lasher to Franchiser
For many an artist, the dream of becoming a business owner is alluring, but taking the plunge can be scary. As lash extension services continue to soar, there are more opportunities than ever before to start a business through buying into a franchise. The difference between creating your own business and purchasing a franchise?
All of the guesswork has already been done for you. With a franchise, you’re essentially buying a business that’s all set up, from menu to decor to financials; all you have to do is bring in the customers to keep it profitable.
Burgeoning lash artist Nicolette Ventura was an established lash artist and salon manager at Lash Spa Studio in the Green Tree suburb of Pittsburgh when the opportunity arose for her to take her career to the next level. Owners of the salon and founders of the Deka Lash franchise concept Michael and Jennifer Blair offered Ventura the chance to make the salon she managed her own. She jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back since. Here, we chat with Ventura about her foray into the franchise world.
How long did you work as a lash artist before starting your own franchise?
“I was a lash artist/manager for a little over four years before taking ownership of the studio.”
What made you decide to take over the studio? How did you know you were ready?
“The Deka Lash concept was growing and I knew that the concept was going to take so much of Jennifer’s and Michael’s time and energy. They had sold their Wexford area studio already, and they were looking to sell the Green Tree studio. I really didn’t want to work for anyone else if ‘my’ studio was going to be sold. Then, they approached me about the idea [of buying the location] and I said yes right away. A part of me just knew that this was right. This studio has always been my baby.”
How did you finance the decision?
“This was the tricky part. Banks aren’t too friendly with business loans anymore, but we made it work! There are ways to attain business financing, you just need to be determined.”
What differences did you notice running your own studio compared to being the manager?
“Honestly, for me, not a whole lot—it’s just that now the bills are coming out of my account! I’ve always had pride in being the manager, and I’ve always treated this studio like it was my own.”
What was the biggest challenge that you faced when becoming a franchise owner?
“Emails! I’m not the best at checking my emails. Corporate likes to make fun about it, but I’m getting better!”
If you could offer advice to other lash artists interested in buying a franchise, what would you tell them?
“You have to really want it. You’re responsible for so much, and you’re responsible for the people who work for you. They matter; your guests matter; and your sanity matters. My cheesy advice: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. When you’re ready, you’ll know, and the Deka Lash family is always there to help.”
[Image: Getty Images]