What's your croissant?

When I had my own beauty salon in Saffron Walden over 15 years ago, I tried everything I could to entice both potential customers and existing ones to enter the salon.  From window display to newsletter, I struggled with what message to send out.

The question is - what to prioritise?  All too often the marketing side of the budget is swallowed up by operation and recruitment and I have to admit, marketing was not my biggest asset at the time.  I became tainted by a sense of desperation -  let’s try this! How about that? discount here, there, everywhere!

But there’s one thing I’ve always been good at - networking.   I visited every single business in the area and made sure they knew the salon had new owners. This created key connections within the community and played a huge part in expanding and opening up a whole new database. Social media, of course, did not play a part at the time since it barely existed.

But there was still something missing by way of attracting customers. I couldn’t understand why, how or where to start.

One day, a lovely business owner who’d been in the town for over a decade sat me down to talk. This turned out to be one of the most inspiring conversation I’ve ever had and changed the way I functioned forever.

“Valerie,” he asked me, “Which is your favourite shop?”

Well, being French and having a penchant for the lovely pastries that we have to offer, I said without thinking, “The baker!”

“Now think” he asked again, “What is the main reason you go to the baker?”

“Oh that is easy” I replied, “They do the best croissants and open really early in the morning so it’s perfect for my routine.”

“Ok, so you go to the baker to buy your croissant and whilst you are there, you might be tempted by the other cakes or sandwiches that they make?”

“That is usually the case, yes”…. Having to admit my weakness!...

“Well, every business has to have a croissant, a reason for their customers to come to them…. The price of the croissant always stays the same, it is never more than 99p. The point of the croissant is purely for the customer to enter the premises. It’s the experience you have once in the shop that encourages you to possibly buy more.

The croissant becomes your hero product, the one that attracts the customer. You might be the only baker in Saffron Walden that makes such great croissants and that is why the customer comes to you.

At the moment, what is your croissant?”

I guess, it took this analogy to realise I had no hero product, not even a hero treatment, that my salon was a mixture of everything you could find in a beauty salon but was not focused on that one powerful point of difference.

It is then I took a step back and defined my Unique Selling Point (USP).

The brand we had was a powerful one, but I didn’t want to rely on that.

Some salons have a hero product for the month, that’s great but do we create a buzz around it or do we leave it at reception in the hope that someone will ask you about it? Is the team incentivised to sell this product within a defined time? Are the customers able to sample the product in treatment by way of introduction?

Ideally you want to create a great buzz about it, with the us of your website, your window display and maybe a little PR with the local blogger.  For example, waxing season is here, do you have an ingrowing hair treatment that can support the hero product you stock? Have you found the USP that will bring customers come back to you?

My hairdresser is known for his amazing head massage on the chair (five minutes of heaven) after you’ve had your hair washed. The local beauty salon dry brush the skin before they begin waxing - it helps lift the hair and has better gripping. When you are being waxed, you are introduced to their hero product, the ingrowing hair miracle….

So, today, take a step back and ask yourself if you have a croissant - something that lures customers into the salon and something you become renowned for.

A croissant can be both treatment and/or retail, and you can build around that.

I never was able to look at my croissant the same again.  I now realised the impact that one product had on the rest of my spending in that lovely baker.  It’s fascinating once you start to think about it….

Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co

Judge, Key Note Speaker, Commercial Trainer & Coach for the Beauty Industry

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