metronome Melbourne

September 8, 2015



Why good hairdressers make great marketers

Some would think the analogy that hairdressers are excellent marketers is a little out there. And while this is a market where necessity is a major influence, it’s also a space where the price and experiences are wide and varied.

Experience first is a term we hear a lot about in marketing today. It is often used when marketers talk about their products and services, and the fact that they consider their audience one person at a time. On that basis, and to do this article some justice, I have decided to write this introduction the night before I visit my hairdresser tomorrow for my regular cut. At 10am, I will continue my loyalty to the one salon I have visited for over 6 years now. Please note, the business has also moved during this period and their current location, of the last 3 years, is slightly out of my way.

So I am back from the hairdresser, smelling some hair product and satisfied. I had a little more taken off than usual. I had a scalp massage, shampoo and condition, all while sitting in the comfort of the reclined and relaxing massage chair. They spend at least 10 minutes on this part of the process, but that’s as much about stalling a little here and there for time management reasons. No stress or clock watching for me – feeling fine, comfortable and relaxed.

Susan, the salon owner, sits me in the chair as she’s done many times before, and we start discussing my family, her family, business and how much to cut this time. I am offered a range of beverages and choose herbal tea. 20 or so minutes later, we are nearing the end and a warm face towel arrives. I am asked if I’d like some product in my hair to finish off with. I don’t say no. Once that’s done, we take care of my eyebrows and some other touch ups. The warm towel to wipe my face feels great while Susan reflects on her handy work in the mirror. I walk out $50 lighter for close to 40 minutes and my early lunch break is an experience I have come to expect time and again.

For the profit margin on men’s cuts, there wouldn’t be many marketers in the world who would or could afford to lay on the personal attention and hospitality as much as Susan does. But where I am heading is that brands and services would often expect the same amount of loyalty for literally zero the experience. Now, I am not saying you should hire a hairdresser to market your products, but you could hire someone who has run a successful salon to drive your customer service and experience to meet the rising levels required in today’s consumer-led landscape.

Loyalty lives in the heartland of customer service. No matter how good your products are, customer service is the key to driving brands to the ultimate level. Telstra currently appear to be spending more money marketing their customer service than their products. There is a hint of Apple and other uber retailers about it as well. No surprises here and this all coincides with the prolific rise of social media and ‘reviews’ which tell it like it is from the first experience. If you’ve struggled to understand the value of Social for your brand, put simply it is the ‘economy of personal experience’.

‘Experience first’ is a basic fundamental for survival in a personalised business like hairdressing salons. Today, more than ever, marketers are striving to ensure their brands and services feel more and more personal. That is why I recommend taking a leaf out of the hairdressing book. They understand loyalty is the only barometer of success. Random sales come and go, but their business will only survive with this approach.

Loyalty is a simple formula for success – it equals the value of the transactional experience plus the value that the product delivers. Some call it the end-to-end consumer journey. The anticipation of the experience began before they came to you – when they understood how good the type of product needed to be, they just needed to experience the difference of dealing with you. That’s what experience first ultimately means. More focus on the customer than relying on the product itself. In a world where so many options and influences are just a search phrase away, getting the experience to a personal level is only the first hurdle.

Next time you’re at the hairdresser, think of this. Would you be happy with a decent haircut if you were kept waiting, made to feel uncomfortable, and the conversation was mind numbing? Hairdressers deal with these challenges at an intimate level on a daily basis. That’s why I take my hat off to anyone doing this well. Truly preaching ‘experience first’. That’s why I believe good hairdressers make great marketers.