20 cheap (or free) ways to market your salon

Think budget marketing is just for start-up salons or bootstrapping hair and beauty businesses?

You’re very much mistaken.

In this post I’ll show you 20 practical ways to make your salon marketing budget s.t.r.e.t.c.h. without looking a cheapskate.

Implement these thrifty ideas and plough back the money you save into yet more marketing to grow your salon biz in these challenging financial times.


Free salon marketing ideas

Let’s start with some free ones:


#1. Promote your salon 24/7 for zilch

Dead easy but often overlooked. Record a punchy promotional message on your voice mail and your on-hold service.


#2. Make a splash locally online

Every business is entitled to its own Google Business Profile listing. Best of all it costs zero, is simple to set up and essential if you want your salon or clinic to be found when someone looks for ‘salons near me’.

Remember to optimise it with your salon’s services, opening hours and images.


#3. Penny-wise salon advertising

Promote your salon offer at the bottom of your till receipt. Just call your salon software provider to ask how.


#4. Freebie online salon marketing

Ask your clients to post online reviews on Google, Facebook and other online directories.

Did you know…

👉🏻72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

👉🏻 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Why not ask two clients right now to review you. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.


#5. Free marketing research

We all think we know what our clients want, but do you really?

Nothing beats sitting down for an honest chat. Choose a two or three of your ‘ideal’ target clients and ask them what they like about your business, how you could improve their journey and what new services or retail products they would use. Don’t forget to thank them with a little ‘something’.


#6. Start a salon blog

Start your own monthly salon blog packed with news, tips and trends. You’ll find ideas and advice here. And it doesn’t have to cost a thing.

Make brilliant blogging a breeze

My (very affordable 😊) Salon Social Club helps you power through your monthly marketing.

Each month you get a monthly fill-in-the-gaps blog written by me. PLUS industry specific daily social captions as well as a host of other benefits including ready-to-go Canva templates, ready-to-roll stories and videos, plug and play marketing campaigns and a detailed day-by-day marketing plan. And, of course, the chance to pick my marketing brain.


#7. Easy on the pocket (salon) promotions

Don’t be shy. If you’re running a salon event ask your suppliers to donate raffle prizes, lucky dips and sample testers.

Ask them to send their team along too for free to help with demonstrations and mini treatments on the day.


#8. Cost effective media relations

Write your own press release – see my step-by-step guide here.


#9. Email marketing on the house

I know I rattle on about email marketing but it’s such a cracking marketing tool for salons and clinics. I can’t see why any business owner wouldn’t use it, especially when you can sign up for free with the likes of MailChimp (just remember to check the limits on numbers).

Collect emails from your clients and send them regular updates, special offers, professional tips and advice.

An easy shortcut: Most of my Salon Social Club daily post captions can be used ‘as is’ in your email marketing and e-newsletters. Marketing your salon doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming 🤩


#10. Your windows: Free salon advertising

Don’t overlook your windows. How much would it cost you for a billboard that size in a prominent location? Think how many people drive or walk past your salon or clinic every day.

Your window is your salon’s first impression to potential and existing clients so lavish some marketing care on it. Use it to showcase your brand and promote any offers or new service/product launches. And change it regularly so it doesn’t become stale and faded in the sun.


#11. ‘Thank you’ costs nothing

As cheap as chips and a game-changer. A personalised email shows clients you value them.

I look at the psychology behind ‘thank you’ and suggest five ways to use these two magic words in this post.

Or create a regular ‘client appreciation day’ to thank your clients with free add-ons, bonus loyalty points or different refreshments.


#12. Get the most from salon social

Review your current social activity. Posting high-quality content consistently on a couple of social media sites is better than spreading yourself too thinly.

Overwhelmed by social media marketing? Time is money. Take a peek at my very affordable Salon Social Club and save hours each month marketing your biz.


Thrifty marketing ideas for salons & spas

And here are some more budget-friendly salon marketing ideas…


#13. Influencer marketing needn’t break the bank

Reach out to local nano and micro influencers for collaborations.

You could offer free services in exchange for a review or post about their experience at your salon. Just make sure you agree in advance what YOU are getting in return for their freebie visit.


#14. Inexpensive in-salon marketing

Buy picture frames to suit your branding. Hang these around the salon advertising new services, current offers and promotions and late-night opening hours.

Obvious. Yes. But it works.


#15. Enter local & industry awards

Awards and competitions are often seen as an expensive marketing tool. Yet they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Look around for local awards and keep your eyes peeled for industry awards that don’t need expensive photo shoots or professionally written entries.

If you reach the finals, start shouting about your success immediately – don’t wait to see if you’re the winner otherwise the moment will pass. Of course, if you go on to win then it’s another marketing opportunity.


#16. Partnership salon marketing saves money

Get chatting to local businesses about piggybacking on each other’s advertising, promotions and customer base. Looking for specific ideas? Try this post.


#17. Effective charitable support for less.

Hair and beauty salons are often besieged by requests from local charities. Donating to all of them gets expensive and is also an ineffective scattergun approach to marketing.

Instead of random acts of giving, choose one charity close to your heart and throw a big event. You’ll get more bang for your marketing buck this way and raise funds for your favourite cause.

Squeeze your suppliers for goodies, write your own press release, partner with local businesses and promote the event on your salon social media, website, in-salon and in your e-newsletter. And that’s just for starters.


#18. Inexpensive word of mouth marketing

Dust down your referral programme cards too. Recommend a Friend schemes may seem old hat. But they work. Yes, you give a discount but compared to the life-time value of this new client you’ve just acquired it’s well worth it.


#19. Cost-effective loyalty programmes

Avoid giving a discount as the ‘reward’ as this directly impacts on your bottom line.

Instead create a menu of ‘treats’ clients can choose from. This is less expensive for you, encourages clients to try new services and treatments and stops a discount culture.


#20. Low cost advertising on salon social

It’s possible to advertise your salon to a highly targeted local audience using Meta (Facebook and Instagram) on a tight budget.

The marketing trick is to be very selective and keep your budget to just a few pounds a day to start with. This way you can test what works and what doesn’t without breaking the bank.


So there you have it. 20 ways to reduce your marketing spend and still grow your hair and beauty salon.

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