If there is any business that seems to hearken to the good old days, it’s the local barber shop. There’s a culture and nostalgia that goes with barber shops — a kind of (mainly) male retreat and social scene that made certain barber shops a local place to gather.
This lent itself wonderfully to marketing. Men simply knew where to go to get a haircut. Sam, Joe or (of course) Floyd were the best — and often only — barbers in town.
Times have changed. Today there is a much greater range of potential clients, many as interested in working with a stylist as an old school barber. To reach broader audiences and compete against both local and chain barbershops, new businesses need a wider range of marketing tactics than just the Yellow Pages and word of mouth.
Here are seven ideas to help you market your barbershop in 2020. Follow them to fill your chairs with new clients and keep them full with loyal regulars.
#1: Build a great website
Today, the internet is where consumers live. You need a broad internet presence, and that starts with your barber shop website design.
Think of your website as a digital entryway into your shop. This is the most likely place you’ll make a first impression, so you need it to be enticing and persuasive.
Much of this has to do with images. Haircuts are visual, and your website needs to reflect this. For example:
When you design your website, strongly consider what potential clients want to see: photos of recent haircuts and popular styles, a sense of what your shop looks like and who your staff is.
New clients will be comparison shopping. List your prices, and make sure it’s clear the level of service you’re providing. Is there anything unique about your approach? Your website is the place to stand out.
Do you have special offers for new clients, seniors, kids or regulars? Use them to entice people to schedule an appointment.
Also, make sure your hours, location and contact info are clear and easy to find. Don’t hide this on a back-page. Make it front and center above the fold on all your pages, including your homepage.
Important idea: Ensure your website looks great on mobile devices by using a mobile responsive design. You can expect more than half of all searches to come through phones.
#2: Dominate search marketing
To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to show up for barber-related searches in your area. There are three ways to dominate search results.
The first is pay-per-click advertising. These ads are run through auction-based systems, like Google Adwords and Bing Ads. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads), and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. For example, you might want to run an advertisement offering a discount to veterans. Your ad and the page it goes to on your website can match that offer.
Next, you need to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and by getting customer reviews (see # 4).
Then you have the organic website listings. These are also free clicks, with ranking gained by optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic and adding content to your blog.
Here is the breakdown:
Important idea: In many markets, no barbers are using PPC advertising. This gives you a golden opportunity to appear at the top of the search results page with nobody competing on bids. PPC is particularly vital on mobile searches. Take advantage of it.
Important Idea: Yelp dominates organic results for barbers in many markets. Work hard on your website optimization, social media and blog to try and outrank them in your area.
#3: Master social media marketing
Social media marketing lends itself very well to barbering and hairstyles, yet few barbershops take advantage of it.
There are multiple ways you can use social media to effectively market your barbershop. First, take advantage of the visual appeal of social media to create an ongoing gallery of haircuts and styles. Instagram works beautifully for this:
Also, you can get your clients to create content and spread the word across their networks, such as on this Facebook post:
Few services are better suited to the “selfie” culture of social media than styling hair. When you have clients proud of their new cut, ask them to share a selfie and mention your shop. It’s free, effective marketing.
Important idea: There are many, increasingly effective paid advertising tactics you can use on social media to target new clients, existing clients and people ready to schedule a haircut now. Test the available methods within budgets to see if they’re effective for you.
#4: Manage reviews and reputation
In today’s digital world, advertising centers as much — if not more — on what your clients say about you. Every great haircut you give helps your marketing. Every long wait or uneven sideburn hurts it.
When someone looks you up on Google, they’ll check out your review summary:
Barber shops are a local business that tend to get a lot of reviews. You can do several things to help with your review profile.
First, ask happy clients to write you a review. It’s a simple, often overlooked step. Make sure to do this right when they are in your shop, happy with their haircut. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to do this for you.
Second, monitor and respond to negative reviews. You’ll likely get a few. If there is a legit complaint, reach out and offer to rectify things. Most people will change their tune when they see you respect their opinion.
Third, don’t dwell on rants and tirades. Some people use the anonymity of the internet to fly off the handle. Ignore these and move on unless you think the review is a competitor or fake, in which case you can flag it.
Be sure to claim, optimize and manage your profiles on Yelp and Top Rated Local. You’ll get reviews on these platforms even if you don’t claim your profile, so it’s better to own it.
Also, you can elect to allow reviews on Facebook. If you manage these and keep your profile positive, this will help you.
Again, the best thing you can do is offer great service, do great work and actively ask your best clients to leave you some reviews. If you do those three things you’ll be in good shape.
#5: Create a unique experience
In Mayberry, Floyd’s was more than just a place to get a haircut. It was a kind of social club where people could get together to catch up on the latest gossip and news.
Similarly, you want to do things to turn getting a haircut into an experience.
For example, this Austin barber started offering a free beer with afternoon cuts. Other shops have themes that target interests around sports, music or movies. Often, the atmosphere of the shop turns waiting for a chair into a fun experience. Also, these unique experiences are the type of thing that gets shared on social media.
An example that doesn’t pull any punches is The Crossover in Brisbane, Australia. Their clients can hardly wait for their next haircut:
This bawdy style is an attention grabber, but it’s interesting to note that a popular theme with barbershops is old-school retro. Men still like the classic barber shop. You don’t necessarily have to do something over the top. Find a unique niche that will go over well in your area.
Ask yourself why someone should choose you instead of GreatClips. You’re probably not going to beat them on price. Unique styling is a must. But the real attention grabber might be the unique barbershop atmosphere you create.
Important idea: Create some atmosphere with a short video commercial. Use it on your website, optimize for search on Youtube and share it on social media. For example:https://www.youtube.com/embed/2ZFhL96Dsxg
#6: Work on Client Retention
Make this assumption: a hungry, new competitor and/or an aggressive, low-priced chain wants to steal your best clients. Don’t let it happen.
Too few barbershops market to their most valuable audience: their existing clients. They let great clients forget about them, and surprise surprise, they do.
Get customer emails and send a periodic newsletter with updates and specials. Repurpose this content on your blog and social media.
Encourage people to follow you on social to keep up with the latest styles, trends and news.
You can also target your email list directly on Facebook by creating a custom advertising list. Offer periodic specials exclusively through Facebook.
Also, create a loyalty program where every 10th cut is free or you get a free shave with every 3rd cut. Some barbershops also use SMS text marketing to send reminders to clients who opt in.
Consider offering specials for events, like weddings, graduations or anniversaries. Discounts for seniors, students or vets will keep them coming back.
Just remember, you’re not the only choice in town. Don’t assume your regulars will stay with you. Let them know you really care about their business.
#7: Get some professional marketing help
If you’re thinking that all this online marketing stuff sounds complicated and time-consuming, you’re right. All the tactics and constant changes can get overwhelming.
The good news is, for less than it would have cost you to run a half-page ad in the Yellow Pages, you can have most of your marketing managed by Marketing 360®. We specialize in helping small businesses, like local barber shops, effectively market and advertise.
Talk to one of our consultants today. We’ll help you outline an effective plan that keeps your chairs busy, even if CostCutters moves in down the street.
The barber shop is alive and well. It’s a great business to be in, and it can be lucrative when you target the right audience. For many, it remains an experience where personal touches are an important value.
Get found by new customers, build a positive reputation and earn the loyalty of your best clients. When people look forward to coming in for a haircut, you’ll know you’re doing it right.