we are the media passion squared blog nina kovner

We Are The Media

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.” Abraham Lincoln (lol!)

Long before the election, fake news existed. Long before the internet, fake news existed. Long before social media, fake news existed.

Propaganda- One of the only things I remember from history class

One of the few things I remember from my early schooling was a term called propaganda. It is defined as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. Do you remember The War of The Worlds? If not, Google it. There is also something called “satire”, like The Onion, while not fake news, for those who do not understand it, it too can become a type of fake news.

Fake news is not news we do not like or agree with, it is actually FAKE, it’s fiction, it’s propaganda, it is simply untrue.

Remember The Infamous Facebook Hoax?

I continue to see many get angry with the media. Blame the media. Finger point at the media. Loves, WE ARE THE MEDIA now. With that, comes great responsibility. And sadly, this is no longer about that lame “Facebook disclaimer” hoax, god, I wish it was as simple as it was back then. But it’s not.

The Responsibility of Research

Doing your research takes but a moment. A moment of Googling, cross checking, and most important, thinking. Thinking of the implications and impact of your voice. Thinking of your sources. Thinking of the bias of those sources. Thinking of the credibility of those sources. Just fucking thinking.

Here are a few steps I take before hitting the share button;
1. Check Twitter for insight on “all sides” and sources
2. Check major publications (Crazy as it sounds, TMZ has proven to be a very reliable source for celebrity news)
3. Google it and again, check the sources behind the story
4. Snopes (I know Snopes is known as a “liberal” site, but whatever, they are usually right on)
5. Wait… This may be a tough one, but particularly with breaking news, I do my best to wait until I can get a more clear picture before commenting or sharing)

Every Action Counts

Every like, comment and share matters. Each time you take an action, you are publishing. You are influencing. You are spreading truth or you are spreading fiction. And as a business, you must remember your content is your marketing. Every action you take on behalf of your business is telling a story about your brand. Every single action.

No matter your views, beliefs, or politics, you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. As long as you are honest about your intentions.

Please, I beg you, take a step back and consider the implications of your actions. They all matter. And so do you.

With love, always- Nina ❤

Education and Change in the salon industry blog Passion Squared

So Much Education So Little Change

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Robert Frost

(This post was originally written on June 3, 2013. It has been updated, but the issue, sadly, is still real for many.)

When will you decide to take action on all that education you are consuming? Because the truth is, until you do, please do not expect any changes to occur. Change the system, change the result.

So many professionals arrive to education classes each day with the hopes of getting info on the latest and greatest products, tools, programs, and being inspired and motivated. And of course, grab a selfie with their hair heroes and sheroes. We’ve all been there. And it can be some of the best experiences of our lives.

My career began when I first attended the International Beauty Show in New York. The moment I stepped foot into the door, I knew my life would never be the same. Many of us have stories like that, and I never tire of hearing them.

Everyday in the pro beauty biz, there are shows, classes, workshops, academies, webinars, DVD’s and books to purchase. And everyday, beauty professionals from around the globe consume these educational opportunities.

But here is the dilemma. Not much has changed. After 30 years, I still see and hear so much of the same narrative, the same struggles, the same resentment.

Why are you investing so much in education and not seeing significant changes consistently? Why do hairdressers still struggle to make a living? Why do salons open with fanfare and close in silence and shame? It breaks my heart. But it is also why Passion Squared exists.

While the answers are not as simple as a blog post, here are some of the reasons I believe this cycle continues and what we can do to change it…

1. You Have A Taking Action Problem

As one that has worked in this beautiful biz my entire adult life, 30 years, is see a huge problem with owners and hairdressers actually taking action and following through. Yep, I said it. It’s quite common for us creative types, to be addicted to the inspiration and info, but not taking action on much of what we learn.

You have become addicted to obtaining knowledge, not to executing on the knowledge you are receiving. In order to change that, you must begin to fall in love with taking action. Or finding a partner in your biz that is in love with taking action. There is no way around it. Awesome businesses execute. They are consistent. They are in love with the fundamentals of what makes a business awesome. Period.

2. The Truth Is Technical Skills Include Business

Speaking of addictions, many are addicted to learning how to be better cutters, colorists and stylists and almost adverse to being better leaders, managers, business owners and brand developers. Being an awesome haircutter does not automatically make you an awesome biz owner (have you read the E Myth?). Having a big Instagram following does not mean you can build and grow a team, or coach others on how to build and grow. And if you are an independent artist, you are a business owner too. Drop the ego, stop thinking you know it all, and commit to learning what it takes to build and grow a business. If you are not into improving your business skills, don’t own a business.

3. Don’t Buy Into The Hype 

Many are in love and enamored with our product lines, manufacturers, distributors and those with big social media followings. You worship them. You spend thousands of dollars supporting them. How are they supporting you? How are they helping you increase traffic to grow your business? And let me remind you, just because someone can collect followers on social platforms does not mean they are a good business person, or have a good business. It simply means they have learned how to build followers. It’s not the same. Some actually do have an awesome business, but many do not. Don’t buy into the hype.

4. Get Focused AF

As a group, we are a fairly unfocused bunch. I include myself in all of this as I will only speak from my own experiences. We are so addicted to what’s next, we miss the opportunity to actually learn something, implement it, measure it, learn from it, and adjust it.

We move towards what we focus on and we can only focus on one thing at a time. Something to think about next time you sign up for a class, workshop and webinar. What is your plan for taking action on the ideas you learned? To measure the results? To adjust as you measure?

There is no getting around doing the work. And if you want to see a change, a real change in the results of your business, your skills and your life, there’s gotta be some type of plan and commitment to get focused. The first step to this is taking a shit ton of meaningless stuff off your to-do list. Just let it go. It’s not helping you.

5. Real Education Empowers

Education should empower the educated. It should awaken the student. It should create real change. Both the educator and the educated share responsibility for this.

This is why I created membership programs like A School and Social Beauty Intelligence.

I understand that all the problems above exist, and my solution it to not just inspire you for an hour or a day, but for the lifetime of your career.

You see, the more we can stay connected, the better chance you have of staying on track and reaching your goals. It’s really that simple. Each day I am so proud of the decisions my clients are making, because they have simply decided they want to make an impact by focusing on what matters and investing in long term growth.

My purpose is to empower the people that I love. That is the also the purpose of Passion Squared. I have a dream that one day, in my lifetime, beauty professionals will be awakened and empowered to make good decisions about their career and business, and earn a good living, consistently. Sadly, if we get honest with ourselves, this is just not the reality of our biz. It’s time to change that.

With love + truth- Nina @passionsquared

how to create a fundraiser passion squared

How To Create A Fundraiser + Give Back

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Like many of you, my heart has been breaking since the news of Hurricane Harvey began rolling in. The images of so much suffering, pain, helplessness and loss. Images that most likely will stay with us forever.

But here is what I know to be true. There is way more good in our world than we realize. And it’s in times like this that we get to see it more than ever. Let us all remember that next time we feel like giving up on humanity.

Since I have been getting so many questions about how to create a fundraiser to help, I decided to create this blog, in hopes that it will give you some framework to create your event.

How To Set Up and Host A Fundraiser

Step 1- Purpose
Choose a cause/s to support and how you will support them. This can range from raising money through service and product sales, to tip collection or collecting items needed for a specific cause. Be sure to do your research on the cause as many are skeptical of charities focus and intentions.

Step 2- Enlist 
Enlist local businesses and community members to get their support. This can be asking for a location host, a refreshment donation, products, supplies and help getting the word out which will be a BIG part of a successful event

Step 3- Budget/Goal
Create some type of budget for the event and a goal of how much you want to raise or how many items you want to collect

Step 4- Communications + Social Media 
Gather all the details; cause, location, date, time, how to RSVP, contact info, etc. and create a graphic and share that with the group who has agreed to support promoting the event. For free events Eventbrite is a good tool to use to get an idea of how much interest there is.

Tap into the power of social media, as we have been reminded of this past week, it has the power to do many things, including saving lives. Use local hashtags and tag local businesses. This can create energy and discovery around your event. Be sure that everyone involved is using the hashtags.

Step 5- Responsibilities
Determine what you will need for the event including supplies, support staff, communications, marketing, payment processing, information on the causes, refreshment delivery, set up, clean up, etc. and who will be responsible. Make a list, and communicate!

Step 6- Delivering The Donation 
Determine how you will deliver the donations. This is really important when it comes to collecting items, think shipping, shipping costs, etc. If it is a monetary donation, decide the date the donation will be made and who will be making it

Step 7- Thanking Your Supporters 
Post event, tally up your donations and create a graphic/thank you’s to share your gratitude with all involved with your fundraiser and how they made a difference

Step 8- Gratitude
Be grateful AF that you have the means and desire to make a difference + have fun!

A big shout out to Sara, @prettycutanddry who lit this fire for us and to @cooperativesalon for creating space for us in So Cal to do something awesome for the people in need. I am so grateful to be part of a community that has such a passion for lifting up those around us.

Love + Gratitude-

If you are still looking for ways to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey, here are some causes I have researched and support.

And if you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed by all of this tragedy, click here to read a message I shared about that on Instagram.

11 Steps To Take Before Discounting Your Salon Services Passion Squared (1)

11 Steps To Take Before Discounting Your Services

 “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.” Philip Kotler

This post was originally written in February 2015, but is oh so relevant to the questions I still get asked, so I did a little update! 

Daily deals and excessive discounting tells me two things: you are desperate and do not have a clear plan or point of difference for growing your business.

Discounting your services can be so tempting and can drive a ton of traffic and short term sales. But my question to you is at what cost?

Discounting erodes brand equity aka value
Discounting attracts discount shoppers, which is only awesome if you are a discount brand. And if you are, you can stop reading this
Discounting tells me your only point of difference is price
Discounting trains people to ask for discounts
Discounting tells me the value of the service is actually the discounted price, not the actual price
Discounting tells me you do not have a clear understanding of how to build your business or the value that you offer your clients
Depending on your business model, your brand purpose, promise and people and how you generate revenue, discounting can permanently damage your business.

Instead of discounting, here are some simple strategies (not easy!) that can help you grow a business for the long term…

1. Implementing a referral/rewards program, communicating about it and executing on it consistently
This rewards loyal clients for sharing their experience

2. Getting your pre-book % to at least 80%, using consistent dialogue and systems
This ensures existing clients are happy by getting their preferred day/time

3. Training your entire team to ask clients to share their experience on YELP, and ensure they are doing it consistently
Yelp is a BIG referral driver, love it or not. If you struggle with how to get the most out of online referral programs, sign up for my coaching program

4. Ensuring your team is delivering a quality experience that is aligned with your brand promise, consistently
This is the most important really. If you experience sucks, nothing else will help you

5. Working with each team member individually to devise a plan for how they are going to grow their business including referrals, pre-booking, upgrading (only with the clients true needs are in mind), and recommending the products necessary for clients to care for their hair at home
We focus on what we value. Is your team aligned with your brand promise?

6. Getting serious about a social strategy; content creation, curation, consistent engagement which is proven to increase word of mouth if done well
If you struggle with social, sign up for my social coaching program

7. Committing to an email marketing strategy, consistently, which delivers value as well as calls to action
Email is not dead, in fact, it’s one of the best ways to stay engaged with existing clients

8. Creating a system for client check in’s to see how their experience was
Let’s bring back thank you note, or at least, post experience check in’s

9. Creating a system to connect with clients who have not been back in a while. You can learn a ton and most likely will get some of your clients back into the salon
Where did they go? Why did they leave?

10. Are you delivering more value than the price you are charging? Or less value for the price? Is your pricing strategy consistent with your brand promise and people?
If your promise is to deliver a luxury experience but you are marketing to discount shoppers, that right there is a disconnect. If you prices are high, but your experience is low, that is a disconnect too!

11. Taking a look at your retention rate. How many new clients are you seeing? More importantly, how many are you actually keeping?
This will tell you a lot about your experience and if it is valued. If your retention rate is low, something is broken. The good news, you have resources to help you fix it.

All of the above actions will contribute to long term, sustainable, healthy growth.

Deals and excessive discounting will contribute to short-term sales, brand erosion and unsustainable growth.

Your choice. Choose wisely.

Love + Awesomeness-

PS: As with anything, pricing strategies are NOT black and white and one size does not fit all. You must decide what is best for you and the outcome you are seeking.

Influencer Marketing blog Passion Squared (1)

The Price of Influence

The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority. Ken Blanchard

So here we are, another game, changed. As a former VP of Marketing in beauty, I can tell you I never saw this coming, not like this, not back in the early to mid 2000’s. Did you?

But what I did see was a shift happening, into the world of social + digital. I saw biz models change, I saw behaviors changing and I knew big changes were coming, in fact, I was so inspired the social + digital revolution and how it empowered creatives that it inspired me to create Passion Squared.

So here we are, in the age of the influencer. Before we dive in deeper, let’s create some context. What does the word influence mean?

Influence (noun)
the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Now let’s define social influencer.
A social influencer is a real person who has a loyal following and strong presence on social + digital media platforms who share stories with their followers that can inspire actions such as clicking, booking, buying, subscribing, etc.

Influencer marketing as defined by social@Ogilvy
Influencer marketing identifies those which have the most influence over potential buyers, and orientates marketing activity around these influencers.

Here’s the thing loves, influence has been around for a very long time, it’s nothing new; endorsement deals, celebrity spokespeople, etc have always been a common way to market, as has traditional advertising which is a brand saying “look at our awesome new product, buy it!”… but what is new is this social influencer movement which is still very misunderstood in the professional beauty space.

Why is this even a thing now? It’s been long understood that word of mouth and referrals many times have a greater impact on sales than traditional advertising. With the rise of social, there is an opportunity for brands to tap into their evangelists storytelling and use that as a way of marketing and advertising.

In addition, with the rise of social, comes a big need for content, and it’s no secret that some brands struggle with creating valuable content that resonates with their intended audience, thus the need for influencers to create content for them. Your content is your marketing. Content and storytelling can inspire action, actions create customers.

What Some Brands Are Looking At When Engaging Influencers

Large Followings
Content Creators
Highly engaged on social platforms

What Brands Need To Be Looking At Too

Engagement (# of likes, comments, shares, views compared to total followers)
Reach (#of unique accounts that have seen a post)
Types of Followers (do they align with the brands target audience?)
Relationships with Followers
Content Quality + Creativity
Integrity + Ethics
How their personal brand aligns with brand seeking a relationship

In a very short time, we have already seen a shift begin with the micro influencer(under 50K followers) …
Some people are catching on to the fact that a handful of larger accounts may actually not have the the most qualified audience that the brand is looking for. This could be because of purchased followers, third party comment bots, liking bots, comment pods and more.

How Do Influencers Get Paid?

That depends on the type of relationship with the brand but here are some ways…
Free product
Per Post
Per Piece of Content
Per Hashtag Use
Brand Ambassador contracts
Collabs (NinaXDougThePug) Lol!
(Collabs can be co creating a product with a % royalty paid to the influencer based on sales)
Promo Codes
(this is where a brand issues a promo code and influencer gets a % of sales every time the code is used)

How Much Do Influencers Get Paid?

Well, this may shock you, piss you off, excite you or at least, make you think.
Note: I did not create these numbers but they are consistent with what I have researched over the last couple years.

This is from Bloglovin for bundled content, not a la carte content. For a la carte, Bloglovin’s research shows $100 per 10K followers as a place to begin your pricing. My two cents, for video content, the price goes up, as does the effort, creativity and work.
Bloglovin Influencer pay rates


How Are These Rates Determined?

Here is one way, again, from Bloglovin.

Bloglovin Influencer Rates

What I am seeing in the pro beauty space for the most part is not aligned with what I am seeing in the larger influencer space. Why? The pro beauty influencers may not know how to price themselves and the brands may not know how to value their contributions. But that is no excuse to not educate yourself on how the world of influencers work if you want to be part of this space.

At the end of the day, what matters most, is the integrity and trust influencers have with their audience. Cause if that is hurt, tarnished or destroyed, then there is simply no more influence.

Influencers, know your value and worth and get your money. Brands, invest wisely into your influencer marketing programs and focus on building meaningful relationships with influencers that are aligned with your objectives.

Influencers, only do business with and promote the brands you love, stay true to your values and be honest with your community.

And lastly, disclose, disclose, disclose. Nothing is worth losing the trust of your community and customers. Nothing.
Example: This product was given to me free for my fair and unbiased review. Thank you for the free gifts brand x. #ad #partner #sponsored #unboxing 

To learn more about influencers, and all things social + digital, sign up for my NEW program Social Beauty Intelligence On Demand. To get on the early notification list, click here.

With love, integrity and trust, always-
Nina ❤