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. 

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

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.


Two Ingredients of An Awesome Client Experience

Focus on the shit that matters.

When was the last time going to the vet was an awesome experience? For me, it’s been way too long. And while this story is about a vet visit, my experience applies beautifully to small businesses of many kinds, salons included.

When it comes to client experience in the social + digital age, there are several opportunities which allow us to engage our clients and make them feel special and cared for. And in doing this, we can also capture their experience and turn that into stories to share online and off.

Going to the vets office (and the salon) sometimes comes with a bit of anxiety. Knowing that, it’s clear that Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital made it a priority to make their experience less stressful and more joyful.

The Photo Booth
The first thing I noticed when entering Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital on Courage Jude’s first visit was a photo booth. What? A photo booth at the vets office? Yep. A photo booth at a vets office.

For all the pet parents out there we know that capturing photos with our babies is a big part of our daily existence. Mohawk knows this too. We were immediately put at ease, because #selfiesession

Simple Booth Photo App + iPad at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital in Echo Park, California

The name says it all. Simple Booth. And based on their website, it truly is that simple to create a space where clients can capture their experiences to share with their friends and create content for you to share on your social platforms. They have three different packages to choose from for different sized business and needs. Then just add an iPad and you are in business. Just as we share creating a space to capture your work, this takes up very little space and it so worth it. #yourcontentisyourmarketing

Business Is Personal
The next thing that captured my eye, and heart, was also incredibly simple. A personalized welcome. That’s it. And you know it only took a few seconds to make such a huge impact. So much so that I have dedicated an entire blog to it. Good Morning Courage.

Both of these “little things” are two ways to make your client experience even more awesome. These two “little things” along with a system to execute on them consistently, can turn an average visit to your business into an awesome visit.

Two simple ways to make your clients experience even more awesome, memorable and special. Two ways to encourage word of mouth. Two ways to deepen the relationship between you and your clients. Two ways to create more awesome. What are you waiting for?

Love + Awesomeness-
Nina xo

PS: A big shout out of love and gratitude to the awesome humans at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital for making Courage Jude’s first visit one that brought smiles to our hearts and faces. And to Courage’s new vet Dr. Lena Braham, we love you!

dr-lena-braham                                                 Dr. Lena Braham and Courage Jude Louis Kovner


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Periscope vs. Facebook LIVE

“Be where your clients are.”

UPDATE: Facebook LIVE is now available for Facebook business pages as of April 5, 2016. Yay!

With the influx of LIVE streaming platforms and apps, I have been getting several questions on this topic and while LIVE streaming and broadcasting is nothing new, with the launch of Periscope, it seems to have been gaining momentum in some business categories.

So here are my thoughts….

As with any social platform, I always recommend starting with a clear objective of why you are engaging, how you are engaging, who are you engaging with, a content plan and a commitment to consistency. If you can only commit to one platform, then do that, and do it awesomely.

And with all of that, comes the last, and maybe most important thing, be mindful of how and when you choose to broadcast. Too much noise? You lose people. Too much TMI? You lose people. Too much sharing of events where people paid to attend, well, you know the answer to that one. #notcool

App based (Periscope)
Links to Twitter
Lots of trolls
Save video option (but be mindful, context is key, so saving them and posting to YouTube may simply be out of context for the viewer)
Potentially high engagement
User can set notifications of broadcasts
Disappears from page in 24 hours
Sometimes poor quality
Comments feed for engagement
Hearts as likes
Light analytics in app

Facebook LIVE
App based (Facebook)
Available to verified pages and personal pages only, not business pages (yet)
More qualified audience (if you have been using your personal page for business as well)
Save and share video option (can share to biz page, if relevant, as well as embed on your website, but again, be mindful of the context when sharing to other platforms)
Stays on your timeline as long as you want it to
Can be edited post broadcast (Go to videos, select video, select edit)
Users can “subscribe” to get notifications of future broadcasts
Potential high engagement, depending on your personal page following and sharing plan
High quality
Comments feed for engagement
Likes as likes and comments as comments
No analytics per se (since its done via your personal page) but as with any Facebook native video, you can measure views and of course, measure likes, comments and shares.

At the end of the day, I will go back to be where your clients are. Are they on Periscope? Go there. Are they on Facebook? Go there. But always be mindful of your intention for broadcasting and the value you are bringing to the conversation.

My take? Facebook LIVE could be a game-changer, as there are a billion more people on Facebook than Periscope. I love the “no trolls” aspect, as well as the quality of experience for the broadcaster and the viewer. And at the end of the day, quality is what our audience wants, quality of content and experience.

Time will tell. And with all that is happening on the social web, it will change in a blink. Again.

Love + Awesomeness-

PS: Do you want to catch my Facebook LIVE chats? You can follow me by searching Nina L. Kovner or click here to follow. Thank you!

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7 Gotta Do’s To Up Your Instagram Game

“You are what you share.” Unknown

So you wanna up your Insta game? Here are 7 gotta do’s that I promise will help make your Insta game strong…

1. Determine Your Theme
All good social pages tell a story. What will yours be? Your look, feel, and story are the foundation of creating awesome on Instagram. And on the topic of look and feel, please post quality photos, quality, I mean quality!

2. Up Your About Section
I want to know your biz name, your location, your “short” story, and please, how do I contact you? An online booking link is the awesome if you have that.

3. Use Hashtags Consistently
PLEASE. Without these, you cannot be found. My three rules for hashtags;
Use popular hashtags for your subject matter. Not sure, search for them and see what’s popular.

Use your branded hashtag always.
Why? So people can see your stuff and it keeps your content super organized, and allows others to use your hashtag so you can see when people are posting about you and you can say THANK YOU!

Use your local hashtags.
Like where the heck are you? By using local hashtags, people in your area can find you. Yay!

BONUS time saving tip- Put all your hashtags in your notes section of your mobile device and just copy and paste them in the comments section of your post. #yourwelcome

4. Add Your Location
Please add your business location to your posts. Why? So people can find your business and you can also search people who are in the area. And while you can no longer do custom locations on Insta, your business should be on there. And that is the location you want to use so peeps can find you.

5. Engage, Deliver Value, Engage, Deliver Value
Please spend more time listening then talking. Like, comment and share content as it relevant to your business, authentically, not randomly, but with intention and purpose.

6. Be Insanely Consistent
Yep, nothing can replace your consistent presence of posting and engaging with others on Instagram.

7. Measure, Learn, Adjust 
I love Iconosquare.com but please remember, this is not about lost or gained followers or popularity, it is about engagement, relationships, and two-way communication. If your work is on point and you focus on that, the referrals and revenue will follow. #promise

Happy Instagramming!

Love + Awesomeness-


PS: Are we connected on Insta yet? If not, you can follow me @passionsquared I promise to deliver consistent and awesome value to help you create a more awesome biz + life, plus a few goat videos, cause I mean, goats! Right?

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4 Steps To Creating + Curating Awesome Content

Purpose driven marketing begins (and ends) with a story. – Me

The daily dilemma is seems for so many marketers today, (and if you are reading this and you own a business or work in one, you are a marketer) is what to share on social platforms. And my answer is always the same, which is with questions back, which I know is so frustrating to many. Why do I ask questions? Because I do not know the answer until I know more about the story you want to tell. And how do you figure that out? Start here…

What is your purpose and promise as a business?
What do your clients and future clients value?
What is your objective for engaging on social platforms?

When you know the answers to the above questions, then go here…

1. Create content that communicates your purpose and promise.

2. Create content that tells authentic stories.

3. Create content that your clients and future clients value.

4. Use hashtags (Instagram) and search tools (Google, Pinterest) to curate content that your clients and future clients value and help you tell your story.

BONUS: Make the client the hero of your story. It’s not about us. It’s always about them. And be human. Human always works.

Here is an example for Passion Squared…

My purpose and promise is empowerment, clarity, truth, authenticity…

My clients are creative small business owners and the people who work in them who are seeking love, inspiration, support, clarity, guidance, comfort, reassurance, stress relief, authenticity + truth.

My content communicates the above through quotes, blogs, newsletters, videos and broadcasts.

The content I curate is from sources that fit my promise, purpose and my story. I would not curate (share) from sources, which I would call off brand; content that is dis-empowering, shaming, bullying, negative, self centered or demeaning.

My objective for engaging is to listen, build relationships, share and connect with humans who need my services.

Yes, you can continue to randomly post content a few days and week and wonder why you have little to no engagement, and why you are having so much trouble building a community of followers, or you can do the work. By the way, this is the same process for creating awesome offline content. So either way, its best to start here.

Want to learn how to create more awesome in your career, life + biz? If you are a creative small biz owner, check out A School for Owners. In A School, you get a ton of love, support + brain food, all in a safe, sacred space.

Love + Awesomeness-