Stage 1 - Website presence
Bloomtools created a modern and funky website design for Sarah's business to show that her salon had all the latest products and trends, while still being friendly and local. The site design features a flash header with rotating images of fashionable hairstyles and young women to attract the right target market and reinforce the brand.
In order to make it easy for her time-poor clients to make appointments with her business, Sarah set up a simple online booking form on her website. Clients just needed to fill out their details and preferred time and it would be emailed through to the hairdresser. She could then check it against her current bookings and if the time was available, send an SMS message and email to the client confirming their appointment. She also set up automated SMS reminders to go to clients the day before their appointment to help minimise no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
Sarah knew that the key to creating a community around her business was to get people returning to her website regularly and talking about it with their friends. To achieve this, she created a gallery of 'before and after' photos of her clients and then encouraged her clients to share this with their friends and family. As well as building the community aspect of her business, the gallery had the added bonus of showcasing the hairdressing skills of her team.
Stage 2 - Driving traffic to the website
As well as implementing a search engine optimisation program, creating a page on Facebook and using Twitter, Sarah knew she needed some creative strategies to get people to her business.
She decided to keep her website relatively simple and instead invest in a site with her local business alliances - a beauty salon, a masseuse, a fashion retailer, a shoe shop, a photographer, a homewares shop and a cafe. These businesses created a VIP card to give all their clients discounts at all of the businesses and then each contributed to build a local community website. Sarah used competitions, the forum and advertising on this site to drive traffic to her own website, in particular the online appointments functionality.
Sarah's alliances soon became her main source of leads, so she decided to maximise on this by running joint events with the other businesses. Once a quarter, one of the businesses would host a party and each alliance invited their own clients. Each business would contribute their services to the event - for example, a fashion parade with outfits supplied by the fashion retailer and the shoe shop, and hair and make-up from the hairdresser and beauty salon. Also, the photographer took photos at all these events and put them in a gallery on the website for attendees to view the next day. A small fee was charged to cover the cost of alcohol and food, but it was very reasonable so the attendance was always high. Clients were emailed an invitation a few weeks in advance and could book and pay for their ticket on the VIP website. After these events, Sarah always got lots of hits on her website and new clients booking appointments.
Stage 3 - Direct people back to the website
Sarah wanted to keep her clients loyal to her business by communicating with them regularly so she sent a monthly email newsletter to them. The newsletter was written in a very casual style and featured a light-hearted greeting from the hairdresser covering everything from celebrity gossip to business news to congratulations on her client's weddings and babies - which really helped to reinforce the community feel of the business. The newsletter also included articles with haircare tips and advice and information on the latest styles and products available. Also, as part of the deal with her alliances, one of them provided an article for her each month and she also wrote articles for their newsletters as a strategy for generating leads.
The hairdresser also set up a series of automated emails to go out to clients once they had booked an appointment. The day before they would get a short reminder email of their appointment then the day after, clients would get an email saying "thanks for coming in today, it was great to see you" plus their before and after pictures to send on to their friends. Then 3 months after their appointment they would get a reminder telling them it's time for another cut or colour. This increased Sarah's bookings and clients commented that they liked being reminded about making an appointments.