We used to make fun of Gen X with their brick phones, then we moved on to poking fun at Gen Y who were addicted to their beepers, then the millenials who could text faster than most people speak. Whatever generation we’re talking about nowadays, we’re all glued to our phones. And these phones are getting smarter and more effective in helping us in our day-to-day lives. In fact, there are more than 1 million apps in the App store. And more than 20% of all online searches are now being completed on a mobile device (USA Today 2012). Which is why you cannot afford to ignore the importance of this device in your overall marketing plan.
We’re not just talking about your promotional plan; I’m talking about how you interface with your clients. Consumers now expect to be able to do business with you on their mobile phone beyond calling you. People use their mobile phones to find you, to bump into you when they need a last minute fix in a new neighborhood, or when they need to make an appointment when they can’t necessarily call you but they can certainly jump on their phone quickly. Think about it – the harder it is to book with you, the longer their visit frequency extends and the less revenue you can push into the year and the more it impacts the clients overall satisfaction with their relationship with you.
Alongside mobile browsing and communications, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about geo-location social networks as well. You may have also dismissed them as not your target audience. And you may have been accurate to do so, but you won’t be in the future. Experts now estimate the number of people to use these types of services to reach 1.4 billion users by 2014. Guaranteed these include your clients, so you better start paying attention now so you don’t get too far behind the curve.
Another big trend everyone is talking about is mobile commerce, which has received a lot of coverage towards the end of last year with updates made to Facebook and some interesting partnerships including one between Facebook and eBay that will make purchasing from your social accounts easier in 2012. And guess where the majority of social networking is happening? That’s right, on smartphones. Before you write this off as a trend that impacts other types of retailers, remember that you do sell your main item online – time. And it’s not just about selling your time online in the form of online booking, but 2012 will also be about looking for ways to make it easier for your clients to manage this time while adding efficiencies on your side. For example by offering conveniences like ‘checking in’ at your salon, booking appointments on mobile devices, confirming appointments, rebooking appointments, tap and pay systems (like Google Wallet) or even checking out your clients at the chair. These efficiencies not only make the client experience more pleasurable, it makes it easier to spend money with you and be a consistent fixture in your salon or spa.
Let us not forget your employees in this equation. They are one of your major ‘clients’ in a way and they certainly love their mobile phones, right? Giving them access to drive their own individual tasks, benchmarks and business will help drive your overall business in the long run. Things like goal setting, stats reporting, schedule availability, online scheduling and other conveniences will help them be a more accountable employee to you and it will also prevent the dreaded front desk bottleneck.
So what do you do about this?
- You need to think about how to attract new clients using location based services. For more info on this, we’ve got a few blogs that can help you get started, like this one covering claiming your venue on Foursquare and how to claim your Facebook Place.
- Think about what apps are available to become easier to do business with. These may be right in front of your face, or at least at your front desk. Contact your point of sale provider to find out what they have available to help you get your systems mobile. Also contact your other providers, like your merchant service providers your distributors and other companies that may have something that could boost your business efficiency and your convenience factor with mobile apps.
- Make sure you are are on top of your local search listings. With so many searches happening on-the-go nowadays your new client acquisition numbers will take a nosedive if you ignore this. See the first salon marketing 2012 blog for tips on boosting your local search rankings as it’s a hot one this year!
- You have to have a mobile-friendly website. That doesn’t mean a mobile-site, it means a site that is browse-able on a mobile device. So, if you have a flash website you are behind the game. Contact your linkup coach for more information on how to make the switch; it may be easier and less costly than you think. And it will definitely be less costly than losing clients.