18 Feb The truth will set you free
How many times a day do you lie to a client? Really? Be honest!
Ever told someone their new colour looks incredible, when it’s really just so-so? Ever promised that the latest wand, straightener or gadget was easy to use, knowing full well your clients would have a better chance of cutting their own hair straight than of mastering this ridiculous new tool?
If you’re like many hairdressers, telling little white lies is something you do every day – it really doesn’t even rate a mention. Perhaps you do it because you’re under pressure to sell more product, you want to make bigger profits, or maybe you even do it out of sheet habit to make people feel special.
If you think being a little two-faced never hurt anyone – think again. Clients these days are more sophisticated than we give them credit for, and any trace of dishonesty will turn them away from your business faster than you can say “yes, those 80s-style curls looks great on you”.
Today’s clients are wary of the upsell; they know when you’re being fake and they can sniff out a lie a mile off, even if it is buried underneath your very best sales and upselling spin. Why? In the words of the eternally fabulous Coco Chanel, because hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.
With the GFC, the consumer mindset changed forever. Gone are the days when an over-exaggerated print ad in a couple of local magazines will draw in crowds of new clients. People are more savvy than ever, and even the most blasé client can spot deception a mile off.
Although we’ve come out relatively strong economically, the fact remains that the cost of living is higher than ever and consumers would rather buckle down and save their hard-earned cash, than be sucked in by cut-price offers and discounts on products and services that simply aren’t right for them.
It might have worked the first time around, but in serving up too many of these kinds of deals, we have created clients who are cautious about being ripped off. The necessity of penny-pinching during the tougher times has taught them a thing or two about trust – and this means one thing for your business: it’s time to get real.
Being upfront with your clients shouldn’t be daunting, and you shouldn’t need to dramatically change anything about the way you run your business. You don’t need to suddenly start telling them your profits are down this month, and begging them to help you out by buying more product. What you do have to do, is show them some authenticity.
To achieve this, you need to know yourself – who you are and what you do well. If you’re not the cheapest hairdresser on the block, stop pretending to be. If you offer an excellent product at a premium price, that’s your point of difference – so own it!
You’ll also need to be equipped with some strong insights about your clients and what makes them tick. Never make assumptions – that demure-looking 60-year-old might be a hip-hop fan; you’ll never know until you ask! Being in the know will help you have honest conversations and create compelling campaigns that will build your community and increase your profitability.
Once you know yourself and know your clients, you can start positioning yourself so that make a meaningful connection between what you can offer, and who they are. For example, you could create a special Set & Forget Marketing campaign just for the stressed-out mums in your database, for a quick one-hour pampering they can easily slot into their busy week.
You can even tailor your entire marketing approach around the common themes that keep coming up with your clients. If many of them are time-poor, offer tips on how to achieve a polished look in seconds. If the holidays are coming up and clients are buzzing with excitement about their plans, why not share yours? Give them some insights into what you’re looking forward to, and offer advice on how to achieve the perfect beach hair on their trip away.
Tricks like these show your clients you truly ‘get’ them, and will help you begin to build a true community who will invest emotionally, not just financially, in your brand. Once this transition starts to happen, you’ll notice the flow-on effects immediately – more happy customers, more trust, and ultimately more profits for you and your business.
This article first appeared in Instyle, March-April 2015.