Guest Blogger: Community Involvement Drives Profit

Whether your salon is on a busy main street or in a rural idyll, I’ll bet one of your key strategies is building a loyal, long-standing clientele around your brand. Successful salons have always immersed themselves in their local community; it’s in our industry’s DNA.  We love people!
Recent years have seen the concept of the online community gain traction, but it all boils down to the same thing: people spend money with businesses they feel they belong to and ‘like.’
Recent research* confirms what we all knew from experience. The report’s authors surveyed 200 adults in a large Midwestern city to see how connected they felt to their chosen retailer. And guess what? The researchers found that practices which revealed empathy for the values and norms of the target audience influenced loyalty and increased willingness to pay a premium for the same service. Translation: If they felt like your business had the same moral compass as they do, they’d pay more for your services.
Even the big chains were building communities on a local level and benefiting from it. Even relatively low-key activity such as sponsoring a Little League team or supporting a community-wide event helped. But in our industry, salons are going even further and making sure all their community involvement happens online as much as offline.

Charity Events
Rather than just handing over a free service as a raffle prize, clever salons are running their own charity events to raise money for worthy causes. This might mean a few weeks of extra work, but showing you care scores high on the empathy scale and will attract a lot of engagement on your social networks. Be as meticulous in planning your calendar of posts as you are about the rest of the event and you’ll be rewarded with lots of online activity.

Sponsor a Charity
Getting active outside of the salon is a not only great way to boost morale with your staff, but also to expose your brand to the community.  Doing a 5k walk for your favorite charity or volunteering at a senior home or a soup kitchen are easy things to do to give back to your community.  Not only will it warm your hearts, sharing your experiences online and putting it out there that you care is going to tug at the heartstrings of your clients too.

Get Your Clients Involved
Often your clients will want to get involved in what you do. There's nothing better than getting your VIP crew promoting you to their friends and family. Isn’t this what you try to do year ‘round? Get referrals?  Recruit some of your top clients to help you run an event, raise money for a cause or connect you with the right people. Trust us, they’ll want to help and it only strengthens the bond between client and salon.

Don’t Be Shy
Plan social media campaigns around your charitable cause.  Many salons shy away from too much publicity thinking it’s cheap to glorify your efforts, however when done tastefully it only helps to further your efforts. Approach your marketing efforts pre and post the campaign from the angle of storytelling. Tell the story of the charity, why you support them and what you’ll be up to.  Afterwards, tell the story of what you learned, how it has impacted you and your team and what you plan to do in the future. Your local press will love your stories as much as your clients and it will be received with love.  

The clear message from the research was that the more effort you make to create that sense of community, the more your salon will thrive. So now we have scientific proof of something we always knew.R

-Valorie Reavis

Valorie Reavis is part of Linkup Marketing, an online and social media marketing specialist focusing on search engine marketing, salon email marketing programs and social media marketing for salons and spas.

*"The Development of Core Retailer Community Functions"; Todd J. Arnold, Elten Briggs, Timothy D. Landry, Tracy Suter; Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Vol. 21, No. 3, Summer 2013

[Image courtesy of Linkup Marketing]

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