Wondering whether it’s worth advertising your hair or beauty business in the local press? Are you missing out on a great marketing opportunity? Or should you be spending your salon marketing and PR budget elsewhere?

I believe all hair and beauty businesses need to advertise locally – even in these days of social media. However, approach with caution. It can eat up your marketing budget.

Follow these proven salon advertising tips and ideas to get the most bang for your buck:

1. Advertising your salon in the right publication?

Sounds obvious I know. But you’d be surprised how many salon owners get talked into placing advertising in magazines, websites and newspapers that aren’t really relevant to them. Unless you’re trying to build a name for your salon nationally (in which case you’ll be using a salon PR agency) stick with local publications.

If you’re thinking of dipping your toe in the local advertising waters then first grab a copy of all the local press. And read it from cover to cover. As you read ask yourself – is this the type of publication my salon’s target audience will be reading? Next check out their Distribution Area and their Readership Profile – you’ll usually find it on their website.

Once you’ve narrowed the field down, contact the publishers and ask for their Features Schedule. This is a list of the planned features over the next year. Look for ones on hair and beauty or your town/village/shopping area. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often salons advertise in the oddest of places.

2. Negotiate the best advertising deal for your salon

Advertising just once is probably wasted. If you book a series of advertisements it will not only reinforce your marketing message, but you’ll be able to drive a harder bargain.

Don’t forget it isn’t all about the cheapest cost. You want a great position in the publication and some guaranteed free salon editorial. More of which later…

3. Where is the best spot to get my salon advert noticed?

Always ask for a right-hand page advertisement space. Why? Because research shows our eyes look at the right page more than the left. Try flicking through a magazine now and you’ll see what I mean.

Now, as you’d expect, publishers are wise to this so always ask for a right-hand page and don’t get fobbed off. You may have to pay a little more, but it really is worth it.

But there is more to advertising placement than just the right-hand page. If you’re advertising because of a hair and beauty feature then clearly you want to be in that section of the publication. Insist on this or you may find yourself relegated to the business pages. Advertising managers are paid to get punters to sign up and are therefore hard negotiators. Stand your ground – especially if booking a series of ads.

You also want to bargain for some free editorial to go with your salon advert. Editorial about your business carries more weight than an advert so do ask. I’d also go for editorial over an advertorial any day. Either way, make sure you write it or, at the very least, supply bullet points and ask to see the final copy for approval. After all, you’re effectively paying for it as part of your salon advert.

4. Golden rules for getting your salon advert layout right

The best way to get a feel for what works is to browse through some good-quality magazines. See what jumps out and grabs your attention. And which adverts are bland, unreadable or just don’t get their marketing message across.

Follow these salon advertising rules and you won’t go far wrong:

  • Keep your advert layout simple with plenty of white space.
  • Avoid the temptation to over-clutter just because the advert is expensive. Tempting I know. Filling it with loads of bullet points and calls to action just doesn’t work. Readers get confused with too many messages.
  • Ensure you use high resolution image otherwise your advert may be blurred. If you’re not using a designer or agency then specifically ask the publication to check your photograph.
  • Spelling, clumsy copy writing and grammatical errors let your salon down. If your advert is slapdash then readers will assume your hair or beauty services are too. You’ve invested money in buying the advert – don’t waste this investment with a shoddy end product.
  • Use your salon branding to reinforce and increase recognition. This is not the time to introduce a new colour or fiddle with your logo.
  • Think about your content. Readers are most interested in ‘What’s in it for me’. Use the words ‘You’ and ‘Your’ often. Stress the benefits to the reader.
  • Include a voucher or promotional code so you can track the response to the advert.
  • Don’t forget your ‘phone number, email, salon website address and social media. Easily done!
  • And last, but certainly not least – put the visual focus on your headline.

5. Are you squeezing the most from your advert headline?

This expert advice from iconic advertising guru David Ogilvy sums it up.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Your headline is the most important part of your salon advertisement. Make it big and bold. And don’t detract from it with lots of minor marketing messages.

6. Should your advert include a salon offer?

A salon advert may be just to raise awareness of your hair or beauty business. However, a salon offer will boost the response rate to your advert and 9 times out of 10 I’d go with an offer.

If you use a promotional offer then look carefully at the wording – is it clear and unambiguous? If there isn’t room to include terms and conditions try adding “*Terms and Conditions apply, see website”. And make sure they are on your salon website before the advert is published.

7. Don’t forget a Call To Action (CTA)

This is something I often see overlooked. Yet it is crucial to getting a good return on your salon advertising investment.

Make it obvious what do you want readers to do when they see your advert. Call to book, visit our salon website, Like us on Facebook, enter our competition here…

Keep to just one call to action in your advert. It’s not the time or place for options.

8. Did your salon advertising work?

You’ve signed off the proof. Now relax.

Not quite. Tracking the response to your advert is vital. You must monitor whether the publication, content and design decisions you took are the right ones. You can then tweak your salon advertising next time, if necessary, for a better result.

And finally, if advertising your salon business in the local press isn’t for you don’t overlook the free advertising opportunity every salon owner has. Your salon.