I can tell you from experience it is absolutely possible. There are ways to make things happen. I have been there. I have done it.
I used to laugh when I meet someone new, and they asked what I did for a living. “I own and operate a spa.” I would say. Then I'd wait for it. “Oh! That must be such a relaxing job!” they would reply, eyes bright and imagining working in a candle-lit room, listening to spa music and giving a facial. Yes, that sounds like it would be an amazing career! LOL. Nothing could be further than the truth though.
Last weekend, the Esthetique Spa International held in Vancouver BC, was jam packed with all sorts of education, inspiration and cool new goodies and gadgets for the spa industry. However, when there is mega information coming at you for two days it can feel downright overwhelming when you arrive home and wonder what to do with it all.
In this week’s post, I’m focusing on what to do with all those cool new finds you’re thinking about bringing into your business.
1. First, find yourself a big table + a few hours to go through brochures and samples to weed out what products were hype and which is truly the right fit for your business. It’s easy to get caught up in fancy gadgets and flashy products…but is it really in line with your salon vision? Once you’ve chosen the products you want to bring into your spa, use your marketing calendar to plan a thorough launch.
2. In your excitement, are you tempted to make a quick product order and pop it on your shelf? This is the time for critical thinking. You might get more bang for your buck if this new find can be launched at a specific time of year with a strong marketing strategy to back it up. Or not. But just think about it first.
3. Speaking of planning…Does any of these purchases need to be budgeted for? Just because it is THE coolest thing you’ve ever come across and you know your clients will LOVE it, doesn’t mean you should buy it. If you don’t have the cash flow to purchase, create a plan for when you can. The bloom of a big new purchase starts to stink when you can't pay it off.
4. If you are unsure if your market will bear this new product, test it out. Before you invest hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars, if it's possible, why not purchase a few and ask a select group of your best clientele to test it out and give their honest feedback? To test strategically, I would suggest you create a ‘before’ baseline with each client and follow up with the ‘after’ results. You can then use this data to create a strong marketing campaign. Plus, the testimonials will act as your own social proof the product does work. If it turns out the product was a dud, you just saved yourself boxes of money from sitting on your shelf collecting dust.
Trade shows are a fantastic opportunity to discover new trends in the industry. My hope is you are making clear and strategic decisions when bringing on new products into your salon or spa.
How do you deal with all the fun products you found at trade shows? Do they get forgotten or do you tend to over-purchase because of the excitement? Or somewhere in between? I'm curious...leave a comment below!
I’m usually a pretty extroverted person when it comes to meeting new people, but when I’m at a conference where I don’t know anyone, I feel awkward when I try to make new connections. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to create and nurture new professional relationships in person if I was truly introverted. Just this last weekend I attended Serious Business in New Orleans and had this exact experience. I was able to introduce myself and network with less than a handful of people (most of whom I was sitting beside in different classes). I really felt like I was missing out on a whole lot of interacting because most attendees were there with their salon team and it felt difficult to respectfully break into a conversation.
So instead of missing out on all the networking I could be having, I used social media, particularly Instagram, to connect and engage with presenters and other participants.
I’ve made you a short list of how to use Instagram to break into a new professional social circle without feeling awkward, plus use it to create awareness for your business.
Before The Event:
1) Take a look at your favourite companies attending the conference & follow as many of the speakers & vendors as you can. This saves you time trying to find their Instagram accounts while your at the show.
2) If you know you will be using certain hashtags throughout the event, use the NOTES app on your phone, enter those hashtags and save. When you are ready to post, simply copy & past from your notes into your caption and you’re ready to post on the fly with lots of relevant hashtags!
3) If you are an employee, ask your salon or spa owner if they have a hashtag they would like you to use to help bring awareness to the business. You can also create your own hashtag to brand yourself as a service provider.
4) If you are a salon owner, and you don’t have a brand hashtag…start figuring that out now. Be sure to research before making a final decicion…some hashtags could be darn-right embarrassing!
5) A few weeks before the show, begin telling your clientele that you will be live-posting from the conference and ask them for a follow. You should already have your social media information posted around the salon at stations, change rooms/bathrooms, reception and in your newsletters.
At The Event:
6) Post images that is consistent with your brand, your personal interests and images that inspire you. Use a photo app like WordSwag to create your own quotes when you are in between classes.
7) Leverage your Instagram reach by connecting your account to your Facebook and Twitter account and share your post with both.
8) Search Instagram using the conference hashtag to find other participants using Instagram (and other social media). By following their account, liking or commenting on their posts, it is probable to get a ‘follow back’. This is a great way to network if you are shy!
9) Use Instagram video to capture the real feel of the show.
10) "Thank you’s" are always appreciated! When you are taking a class, post a pic of some of your notes, a shot of the room or an image of a slide that really resonates with you and include a “Thanks @______!”. The presenter will probably be checking their social media afterwards and you may be able to make a personal connection to a thought leader in your industry by tagging their handle!
Bonus Tip: Another great social media platform to use during a conference is LinkedIn. If you don’t have your LinkedIn address on a business card, be sure to post it in your social media profiles for attendees and new colleagues to find you on a business-to-business platform.
I had a fantastic time while at Serious Business and I didn’t let my shyness and lack of previous connections keep me from meeting new contemporaries. Now, I have a whole year to nurture these new relationships online and will have a much easier time networking in person at next years event.
The boring definition of networking means “interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career”. I prefer to think of it as creating and nurturing my professional relationships…and as a beauty service provider, we are great at that!
Will I see you in Vancouver, BC Canada for the ESI Spa Show on February 15th & 16th? Let's connect before the conference!