Haylee Benton is founder of online beauty professional search platfrom PamperPad.com
Starting a new business in any sector is always a daunting prospect. For professionals in the hair and beauty industries however, where 70 per cent of workers are self employed and rely heavily on word of mouth marketing, many are finding it difficult to compete with the likes of Groupon and Wowcher who will market your services purely by driving down the price. But what happens to those bargain-hungry customers afterwards?
The reality is that the majority of these ‘voucher’ customers do not return, as they do not deem the services worthy of the full price tag. Ultimately, the business or individual ends up making very little or no money at. Although providing good value is important, so is reputation and the need to grow a satisfied, loyal customer base for sustainability. I know personally how hard it can be to get your name out there, especially when the industry is so saturated!
When I began to research the habits of consumers who buy hair and beauty services, the importance of social media really stood out. I discovered more people were using Google + and Facebook as community discussion hubs than ever, as well as Twitter and Pinterest to share more visual day to day content. It soon became apparent that not only was word of mouth important, but in our current “selfie” crazed state, audience-generated content is actually proving to be a fantastic sales generator.
So how can you harness the impact of content created by your clients, and essentially customers that advertise your business for you? For me, this presented an opportunity to create a service that bridged the gap between expensive voucher sites such as Groupon and Wowcher and the organic power of social reviews. Businesses need the initial customer drive, however once these people are in their hands, they need to harness their potential.
This was the basis of creating Pamperpad, which allows businesses to list their regionalised services, alongside their current special offers and customer reviews that can be linked to personal social media profiles, without having to pay any hefty association fees. Regardless of whether you are based at permanent premises, or offer mobile services where you travel out to the customer, I wanted to generate a culture of help for businesses to find new, and retain existing clients through quality of service.
The truth is, many businesses are actually being ruined by the notion that they have to drive down prices to get more customers. I would encourage any professional in the hair and beauty to steer clear of this approach, and establish a business based on quality of service, rewarding customers and encouraging social endorsement. This is where the staying power is, for your customer base and your business.