Get a website
Unlike beauty salons or hairdressers, which are visible to shoppers and attract customers through footfall, no one will know about your home-based beauty business unless you put yourself out there. And the best way to do this in the digital age is to get a website and ensure that it ranks highly on Google.
While your website should look attractive and professional, it is also important that potential customers can find it. If you are a Brighton-based nail technician, you need to make sure that when people go online and type words into search engines such as ‘manicure, Brighton’ or ‘nail treatment, Brighton city centre’, your website appears. One of the best ways to achieve this kind of visibility (known as search engine optimisation) is to add a blog section to your site packed full of local and nail related content so that search engines register that your site is relevant to these types of searches.
Word of mouth
Arguable, the most effective form of marketing is word of mouth. People are more likely to trust a recommendation for a business from a close friend or family member than a testimonial from any other source. That’s why one of the most effective ways you can market your business is to encourage your clients to recommend you to people they know. And the best way of doing this? Reward them.
Try starting a rewards scheme for referrals so if one of your existing customers refers a new client to you, offer them a discount on their next treatment. Of if they refer three new clients to you, offer them a whole treatment completely free. It a win-win situation for both of you and before you know it, you could be giving beauty treatments to someone’s entire family!
It may seem like an outdated way of marketing in today’s tech-savvy world but dropping flyers through letterboxes in your local community can be an affordable and effective way to reach new clients. You can get flyers designed cheaply using freelance graphic designers on websites such as PeoplePerHour (www.peopleperhour.com) and most towns will have a local printing company which will be able to produce hundreds of flyers for you without breaking the bank.
Although dropping flyers door to door can prove a tedious and time-consuming task, if you manage to attract just a handful of new customers who you can then turn into loyal clients, it will have been worthwhile. It’s also worth visiting local cafes, shops, community centres, spas and salons to ask if it’s possible to put your flyer on the wall or in the window as this is another great way of reaching potential customers. Keep some of your flyers in your handbag at all times, as you never know when you might spot an opportunity for some free promotion!
Register your business in directories
A fantastic and free way to promote your home-based beauty business is to ensure that you are listed in online business directories.
Linking you to huge pools of potential customers, online business directories such as Yell.com receive more than 17.8 million visitors per month. It’s free to set up a listing for your business, which you can add photos to as well as contact details, opening times, payment methods, customer reviews and more. Other online directories that are free to join include Freeindex.co.uk, Thompson Local and Business Magnet.
Joining such directories and including a link to your website will not only help you reach customers searching directly on each site but including a link to your own website on your listing page will also help you achieve higher search engine rankings, boosting your visibility.
But beware, while directories can be a great way to reach new customers, many people will choose whether or not to use your business based on the reviews that customers leave beneath your listing, so if you are willing to open yourself up to this kind of feedback, it’s essential that your customer service is on point.
One great way to gain exposure for your home-based beauty business is to target the local press. But it’s important to realise that journalists won’t just run a story on your business for the sake of it. If you’re looking for editorial coverage, you need to make sure there is a newsworthy or unusual angle to what you’re doing.
Did you become a masseuse after spending three months mastering the art of Thai massage at a retreat in Bangkok? Or perhaps you are donating half of your profits to a local charity and want to promote your campaign? If you can give a journalist an exciting story or one that has value and relevance to local people, you may be able to wrangle some free coverage. However, if you want to secure those column inches, you must be prepared to cooperate with journalists and be able to quickly provide photographs and interviews upon request.
If, on the other hand, your business isn’t particularly newsworthy, you could consider paying for an advertorial (a paid-for promotional news story) or buying an advert. It is worth contacting your local paper and asking them to send you their media pack to see whether such advertising is within your budget.
As the most image-based social networking site around, Instagram can be a great way of showing off your beauty business, whether that involves sharing a snap of a manicure or haircut or photographing the ambience of your treatment room. But while Instagram is a brilliant platform for promotion, it is wise to approach it with caution.
As a home-based business, your primary concern should be tapping into the local market, whereas with Instagram you are putting yourself before a global audience. You can try to zone into local communities by tagging you posts with hashtags such as #london, #londonSE1 #southbank, for example. But nevertheless, the likelihood of reaching a decent number of local customers on such a large and over-saturated platform is slim.
Instagram is best used to give customers a point of reference about you. So, for example, if they hear about your business through word of mouth or see a directory listing, they can then look at your Instagram page to get a better feel for what you do. The trick with Instagram is to make sure that your page gives a good impression of your business and is updated fairly regularly, but if you start spending too much time on the site, you may find you have thousands of followers and no actual clients.
Visit the career hub for more advice on going self employed