I’d really love a gorgeous professional tan this spring. Have I got one? No.

Can I afford one? Yes.

Have I the time to get it done? Most definitely.

So what’s the problem? Quite simple really. As someone past their 40th milestone I shudder at the thought of stripping off in front of a skinny young therapist. Having confessed to this however, I do feel well qualified to talk about a highly profitable yet untapped salon marketing opportunity. The ‘over-40 and overlooked’ audience.

Are you neglecting this successful salon marketing niche?

So why should you be interested in this over-40 audience? Because it is one of the fastest growing segments of the population, me-focused with a higher level of disposable income and more leisure time than any other demographic.

  • Women over 45 currently represent nearly 50% of the female population in the UK
  • UK women aged 50-69 buy more luxury goods and designer fashion than any other group
  • Many are newly single, actively seeking a new relationship and want to look and feel their best.

Targeting this group is a successful marketing strategy for profitable growth for any salon or spa.

Just because I’m over 60 nobody wants to sell me anything anymore.
– Germaine Greer

Target your audience + Tailor your marketing message = Success

It’s essential to send the right marketing message to the right audience.

My tan (or rather the lack of it) shows the value of tailoring your salon marketing messages to appeal to this particular audience.

Your goal is to build both their self-confidence and their trust in you. And this is easily damaged if you choose patronising words as this Daily Mail article demonstrates. Headlined “Ageing punks rule Britannia at Jean Paul Gaultier Paris Fashion Week show”, it talks about “elderly models” and “ageing beauties” as though these 50-something models were freaks to be ridiculed.

So how do you craft successful marketing messages for this target audience? Easy. Visualise a salon client you know well and get inside her head.

  • What does she wear and like to do?
  • What are her favourite hair or beauty treatments?
  • When does she visit your salon
  • And, most importantly, what are her hair or beauty concerns?

Armed with this information, you can now start to write a set of successful salon marketing messages.

# Salon Marketing Tip: filter your salon database to identify everyone who falls into this age bracket and create a separate marketing list for these clients.

Finding a successful marketing angle for your salon

The secret here is to find the right slant. Think outside the box. It really doesn’t have to be all about anti-ageing skin care.

How about lash extensions for instance? Are your clients concerned about thinning lashes but think extensions aren’t for them? A little too TOWIE or youthful perhaps?

Try couching it in terms of “lash extensions are enhancing, yet natural looking, for every day wear. And for those glamorous evenings try something a little bolder.”

This is a different salon marketing message to the one for your twenty-something clients yet the product is essentially the same one. And it’s likely to be just as successful.

Marketing success depends on choosing the right image

Invest in some age-friendly photography. Bombarding this sensitive group with images of pubescent models or grey-haired grannies certainly isn’t going to be successful. Instead, choose imagery to reflect their looks and life-style. Avoid anything which could be seen as condescending.

Any of the online libraries, such as iStock and Shutterstock, offer inexpensive options for your salon marketing materials.

#Salon Marketing Tip: Remember to invest in the larger more expensive image sizes if you’re going to use the stock photos in print rather than just online. The small images will be blurred and fuzzy if you use them for printed salon marketing materials.

Winning salon offers

We’re talking savvy buyers here, with a ‘you get what you pay for’ attitude to beauty and hair products. Not the type to be swayed by the latest fad.

More brand loyal than younger clients they are, nevertheless, more than happy to experiment when given the opportunity. Capitalise on this with salon offers to encourage trial rather than giving discounts.

Get them experimenting and make the most of their me-focus. A complimentary pedicure promotion when they book a facial doesn’t cost you much, but will open their eyes to the delights of beautiful feet in summer sandals.

The ladies-who-lunch set with time on their hands can fill your quieter days early in the week. This is the occasion to offer a discount. To maximise salon profit, restrict it to selected (for which read your least busy) therapists/stylists only and in a tight time frame – appointments starting between 9am and noon, for example.

A personal approach works best

Salon consultations are always important, but never more so than here.

  • Remind your team of the value of building rapport and the social niceties – don’t become too familiar too fast.
  • Gently probe to uncover client concerns. When your therapist is younger than your daughter you don’t always want to admit to your beauty/age insecurities.
  • These clients want a beauty therapist they can trust and feel comfortable with. We’re back to my tan again…

Achieve this and they’ll be a fruitful source of recommendations. Introduce a Friend schemes are an absolute must for this crowd. Hand them out like confetti and the referrals will come rolling in.

#Salon Marketing Tip: I do believe in giving both parties a generous discount for referral schemes – you don’t want to look mean when someone has recommended your salon.

Use all your salon marketing tools

Foster trust and build client relationships by communicating often. SMS and email marketing are cost effective tools here allowing you to successfully segment clients. Combine these online salon marketing tools with a blog on your website to give targeted and send age-appropriate exclusive offers and advice.

I find this audience respond well to highly personalised direct mail. A handwritten invitation to a specialised salon event or a birthday card with a complimentary upgrade gift will work perfectly.

Whilst social media is growing fast amongst the over-40s it has the Marmite factor – this group either love it or hate. Do use it to forge relationships, but not to the exclusion of the other tools in your salon marketing armoury.

Adopt this marketing approach and here’s one 40+ who may just dare to bare for that tan after all.