This is an expanded version of a question I answered at LinkedIn. The question was essentially this. “If you had $1,000.00 to promote your health and beauty spa business, how would you spend it?  This answer will be of particular interest to those in the health and beauty industry but is applicable to any local service providers looking to expand their business. 

First of all $1,000.00 is not a big budget so you need to consider how you can leverage that money. By leverage I mean that you need to ask yourself “how can I invest my money so that it works the hardest?” One way to leverage advertising dollars is through co-op advertising. An example of co-op advertising might be an ad that offers a free bottle of “Lady Lovely Skin Softening Lotion” to everyone who books a spa treatment in the month of June. In this scenario “Lady Lovely” picks up some portion of the ad and/or supplies the free product. If “Lady Lovely” pays half the cost you just doubled your advertising budget. 

Another way to leverage your marketing budget is to get others to help you spread the word. The objective of most advertising, marketing or promotional efforts is to get someone, who you do not know, to take action by using your product or service. What if you were to change that a little and make the objective – – to get people, who you do know, to introduce your service to other people they know. Now you are leveraging your investment by using your minimal funds to mobilize a free or nearly free sales force of happy clients. This approach has the additional benefit of target marketing because you know who your clients are, so marketing to them should be rather simple. Presumably you see them periodically; you have their email address, home addresses and phone numbers; and they are following you on twitter and facebook. So you have a number of low cost ways to communicate with them

 

Relaxing at the spa
Relaxing at the spa

So the plan here is to create a promotion whereby current clients and known prospects are encouraged to bring a friend, recommend a friend, or in some way get someone else that they know to take action. In return both she and her friend derive some benefit from taking action. The bulk of your $1,000.00 marketing budget should be used to communicate with your clients and motivate them to take action. You can further leverage your budget by getting a supplier to co-op the promotion. providing all or part of the reward or promotional bonus.

The Internet is an important part of the marketing mix but when promoting a local business such as a spa I prefer to see efforts that include face-to-face marketing and building word-of-mouth. These efforts have the most direct and immediate impact. A key element to the success of a low cost local promotion is to leverage the efforts of your employees, partners, family, and other people who are stakeholders in the success of your business. These individuals should be marketing this promotional effort through face-to-face efforts on a daily basis. They must explain the benefits of the promotion to every client they work with or person they meet in the weeks leading up to the promotion and also make an effort to market the promotion to interested non-clients they encounter.

 In the case of a health and beauty spa nearly everyone you meet would love to take advantage of your services. So how come everyone you have met and everyone you know in your community has not sampled your service?  What holds them back are things like fear of the unknown. What are you going to do to me when I get in there?  Is this going to be expensive? I don’t have time. I am not deserving of special treatment. I don’t want to do this alone. I only want to do this alone. In don’t know what to wear. I am too fat, too skinny, too tall too short. This is only for rich beautiful people. It is the purpose of your promotion to overcome these fears and objectives and get people to sample what you have to offer. In this way they have the potential to become regular customers but more importantly they have the ability to spread the word and help others overcome their fear and anxiety.

Tell everyone you meet. What you have to offer.
Tell everyone you meet. What you have to offer.

 Are you so busy every hour of the day every day of the week that you cannot offer some kind of sample service to the next ten people you meet who have never been in your spa? I have a friend that owns a carwash. Without fail whenever he meets a new person he mentions his carwash and gives them a business card good for one free carwash. By the way everyone thinks he is the nicest guy. Some people use it, some don’t. Some people use it and never come back and others become regular customers. That’s the cost of doing business and in the long run he is a winner. You might say, “Well that’s fine for a car wash but my services are much more expensive.” No matter what you have to sell, your sample is in direct proportion to what you stand to gain. So your sample service may be worth $100.00 but you have the potential to earn hundreds of dollars if that person becomes a customer. Also in the case of services, you are selling your time. If you don’t use that time productively you cannot get it back. Therefore if you have one free hour a day that is not being paid for by a client why not invest that hour in your business and make it part of your marketing budget? Think about it. If you have a free hour worth $100.00 you might think, “I don’t want to give away an hour of my time.” On the other hand to spend $1,000.00 in advertising you will need to work more than 10 hours so that you have that money to spend on an ad campaign that may or may not work. I met a cardiologist at meeting who was a partner in a heath club not too far from my home. When he learned where I lived he pulled four business cards out of his wallet and handed them to me. Each card was a one day pass at his facility that I could use at any time. Let me tell you I was grateful to receive them and happily used them. Though I did not become a full time member I often recommend that facility. It is a beautiful place and they specialize in cardio rehab. I believe my recommendation has more value because I can say I have used the facility. I know what it is like inside and often tell people how much I like their running track and fitness machines. In this way for the price of four visits Dr. Cardio converted me into a salesperson for his facility.

 In addition to being an advocate of word of mouth advertising and the author of “Turn Your Business Card Into Business,” I also produce web videos. In my downtime I will often prepare, for a prospective client, a voice-over that has the potential to be the basis of a short 30 second or one minute video. I record these voice-overs using a few minutes of downtime while I am in my studio. I can tell you that the percentage of people who purchase a production after hearing the sample voice-over is in excess of 50%. This is becoming one of my standard marketing approaches.

 The first most important step of any promotional effort is to know what outcome you are looking for. In this scenario I want to achieve an outcome of 50 new prospective clients. I suggest that a spa owner use that $1,000.00 budget to motivate current clients to bring a friend or to encourage people within a 5 – 10 mile radius of the spa to experience the facility. Leverage your investment by getting product suppliers to help in your promotion. Encourage your employees and/or contractors to invest some portion of their downtime to provide free introductory services in return for receiving their share of new customers.

 Whether the prospects become regular customers is not as important as whether they can tell other people that they have been to the spa and would recommend it. Make them part of the ongoing effort by rewarding them for bringing a friend. I would use email, social media, posters, flyers and business cards to encourage word-of-mouth. If you have the goal of brining in 50 people to sample the spa or attend a special event, that gives you a budget of $20 per person to get them there. If you can get each new visitor to spend $20 while they are there you can break even on your effort. Then “rinse and repeat” monthly until it stops working.

Promote Your Health and Beauty Spa (or other local service business)
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