You vs. Your Competition Pt.2 - What Works and What Doesn't

Lisa Starr
Client retention for spas and salons

A steady stream of new customers is the ultimate goal for spa owners – as spa owners, we can never get enough of them. But how do you create that stream and turn those prospects into loyal clients? 

Spa marketing is a topic that is always ripe for discussion. Who’s doing what? What’s working and what isn’t? What’s the secret? In the last five years, marketing has become more complex due to the proliferation of available channels. Spa owners are finding it difficult to stand out in the crowded marketplace. There’s no quick and easy answer to “what is my best marketing channel.” It differs by business, region, neighborhood, and even target market. Before you start marketing, you need a clear brand identity so you know what you’re marketing. We addressed this challenge last week in our blog post.

So now that you have a clear vision and target audience, how do you let them know your spa is the right one for them? Here are a few tips on what’s currently working and what’s not. Results may vary!

What Works?

Website – This has become the gold standard in marketing, as most clients, even if they drive or walk by your spa, will check your website before venturing into your location. Is your website working for you? According to this article from Razor Edge Media, you have exactly eight seconds to grab a prospect’s attention when they find your webpage. Make sure your homepage effectively communicates the basics – name, address, phone number, hours of operation – conveys a sense of your brand, and invites further exploration.

SEO – There’s no need to put any effort into your website if clients can’t find it in the first place. When is the last time you Googled your spa to see where you came up in the search results? If you’re not in the first page, you’re dead in the water. Work with your web designer or host to ensure that your site is optimized for all of the words someone might type: spa, massage, relaxation, name of town, wellness, etc.

Events – Lectures, seminars, workshops, fashion shows, community-benefits…these are all great ways to get your spa in front of prospects. The more targeted the event, the more targeted the prospects will be. Everyone wants to “go do” today, so a strong community spirit goes a long way.

Social Media – We could write many pages on this topic alone, but for now, let’s just say avoiding social media is not an option. Having a business Facebook page is essential for clients to interact with you. Instagram and Pinterest are delivering more than you might think. This is especially interesting as the results of most spa treatments are not visible. But spa facilities are well-suited for visuals, and waiting areas and lounges also lend themselves to these channels.

Direct Mail – Here’s a surprise. Given the inundation of all email inboxes, some spas have returned to this ancient method. But no envelopes please! Oversized postcards with an offer and attractive images are attention-grabbers among the mail pile. Make sure there is an expiration date on any offer. You can still buy or rent mailing lists by zip code, which makes this an excellent prospecting method that isn’t available online. 

What Might Work?

Radio – This can be expensive, but can also deliver good results, especially for gift marketing during gift card events. Radio stations can help you write the copy and provide the voiceover, and the demographics can be quite targeted.

Spokesperson – In small markets, or specific segments like sports radio, having a spokesperson or celebrity testimonial can be effective, but most of the time those efforts get lost in the crowd. 

Coupon/Value Pak – These offers can be effective in rural locations, but they rarely get attention in the city or suburbs. Plus, they’re often viewed with a “discount” or “budget” connotation, which you want to avoid unless that’s your market position.

What Doesn’t Work?

Print Ads – Unless you’re in a resort area with transient guests who rely on a printed guide, the value of this medium is difficult to quantify.

Email Blasts – Yes, you can tell me you’ve had success with this in the past, but it’s really just a method of communicating with existing clients, not new ones. If you’re sending out more than one blast per month, it is probably not getting read.

In summation this is a quick synopsis of a very complicated subject. There are exceptions to each rule, but in general, consider your brand and target market, and tailor a program that reaches those people. Remember, the most powerful delivery system for new clients is positive word-of-mouth, so investing time and effort into the daily delivery of top-notch service and client care will be the most positive thing you can do.


About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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