Spread the Word…to About 100 People

Playing telephone game

Word of mouth is more than a game of telephone (Photo credit: iStockphoto)

Many salon hair-nistas tell me that word of mouth has been key to their businesses. I always respond, “that’s great…now you can take your word of mouth online.” The response is usually somewhere in between Arnold’s trademark, “Whatcha you talkin’ about, Willis” and an encouraging “can you explain more.”

Think about it. It’s nice when your client tells her sister about your great work but wouldn’t it be better if they could also tell 100 people immediately.

Back in the day (about five years ago), people lived their lives without rushing to see their BFF’s Facebook status update. And, they really did have a relationship with all the people who they claimed as “friends.” Back then, word of mouth literally meant passing information from one person to the next through conversation. Today, it also includes passing information via email, text message, and throughout the Internet.

Your positive reviews can reach farther than you think (Photo credit: iStockphoto.com)

So, all businesses have the ability to take word of mouth farther in 2010. Let me explain by showing two scenarios with different word-of-mouth results.

Imagine that one of your best clients, Tanya, leaves your salon after another fabulous service.

Scenario 1: You give Tanya a handful of business cards to pass out to her friends.

Tanya, gladly puts the cards in her purse and smiles. Two days later, one of her co-workers, Raven, pays Tanya a compliment about her hair. Tanya tells Raven that she would recommend you. However, Tanya draws a blank on the name of your new salon—as an aside, creating a cute yet odd hair salon name can hurt your business. She remembers that the salon business cards that you gave her are in her other purse. Later that week, Tanya brings in a card. Raven does book one appointment but never returns.

Scenario 2: You tell Tanya to review your services online.

Pumped up from admiring her image in the mirror for two more hours after she leaves your salon, she goes directly to the Web site you suggested and posts a glowing review. Over the next week, 100 people find your salon after searching Google for a hair salon in your area. Six people who read Tanya’s review book an appointment. Three people become faithful customers who spend $100 on average with you a month.

This comparison reveals a few lessons:

1) You need to make it easy for your clients to help you. Yes, you may keep your business cards and flyers in your back pocket at all times but it is hard to expect your clients to do the same. Even when your clients really want to help you, they may struggle to do so if it feels like too much work. It is unrealistic to think that the average client with a hectic schedule is going to stop and call 10 friends about your business (unless it’s your cousin). It may be easier to ask them to spend five minutes to post a review for you.

2) You can improve your odds at getting regular clients by spreading the word out farther. Every head that you touch is not going to turn into an “every two week” client. That’s no disrespect to your service, it just reality. The wider net that you can cast to find new clients the better.

Using the math in the second scenario, 3 out of the 100 people that read about your salon became regular clients. However 0 out of 1 became a faithful client in the 1st scenario.

3) One good visit can pay you over and over quickly. As you can see, just one glowing review can now be viewed over and over again on the Internet. The written word is powerful, especially when it is more than a generic “she is good” that a client may say on the fly when asked to sum up your services. You can reap the benefits of one great appointment for months when the goodness is captured on a review site.  Review sites (like MySalonScoop.com) enable you to maximize the good will of a single positive experience in your chair with minimal effort and cost.

The word of mouth concept has been remixed in this decade. You can hear the original melody but now there are a few more tracks blended. My advice to is to expand your thinking from the traditional way of your mother’s salon and make sure you leave room in your budget to embrace the new.

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