In this article, we’ll look at how companies like Alli Webb’s DryBar and Elon Musk’s Tesla intentionally use contagiously sharable brand experiences that you can use to spread the word, grow your salon, and get more salon clients.
Neilsen, the ad research group, found 83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family and 60% trust online reviews. Square, the point of sale company, found that 92% of people say personal recommendation is important. That’s huge.
Word of mouth, be it online or in person, is the #1 reason new clients end up in your chair and the best way to get more client referrals.
1. Start your Referral Engines
Less than 1% of salons have a strategy for achieving viral word of mouth growth. Sure, they have digital referral systems that reward clients for sharing. However, today, far more referrals happen casually through normal conversation rather than by pointed, intentional referral codes and links.
Social media is certainly half of the word of mouth equation, but what about the other half? In-person word of mouth will always happen, but the difference between word of mouth, and word of mouth marketing, is creating an intentional plan and strategy.
The first step to harnessing the power of viral storytelling is to sit down and make a plan. Pull out a pen and paper and start taking notes. Trust me, just try it.
“...so unique, so unexpected, so remarkable, that you can’t help but point it out, talk about it, and tell others.”
2. Create a Talk Trigger
You didn’t pull out a pen and paper yet, did you? I’m serious! Give it a try. Studies show that putting your plans to paper can make them significantly more achievable.
Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin, authors of Talk Triggers, use the example of The Cheesecake Factory. If you’ve been to one, you might recall their menu. Their menu is likely the longest, most comprehensive menu known to the food world. At over 5,900 words long, like their dishes, it’s unlikely you’ll finish the whole thing.
What the menu does is get people talking. It’s what the best-selling author Seth Godin would call a “Purple Cow”. A Purple Cow is something that when seen is so unique, so unexpected, so remarkable, that you can’t help but point it out, talk about it, and tell others.
When asked, 50% of Cheesecake Factory customers who mentioned their visit to others mentioned the remarkable length and variety of the menu. The sheer size of the menu itself is a Talk Trigger. It’s an experience that customers feel compelled to share.
Alli Webb used Talk Triggers to create DryBar, the successful chain of blowout salons. First, guests are greeted with a plate of cookies. Soon after, guests are escorted to an actual bar where they’re offered a menu of cocktails, champagne, wine, or beer. Their on-theme hair service menu has services named after drinks like the “Manhattan”, a sleek and modern style, or the “Mai Tai”, a more textured, beachy style.
While being styled, guests can relax watching fun, girly movies. After styling, guests are spun around toward the mirror for the grand finale. The reveal.
Talk about a remarkable experience! 😉If we’ve learned anything from watching Queer Eye, it’s that the reveal is everything. It’s the peak of the client's emotional experience, which how strong memories are made.
3. Dare to be Different. Same = Lame.
Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin point out that your talk trigger must be unique. Having great service, great products, and a great team are all important aspects to your business, and they may even be unique in your market, but they’re not a story.
People rarely discuss adequate experiences. Great products and services are frankly, kinda boring. We experience them almost daily. They’re important to stay competitive, but they’re not inherently remarkable.
Remarkable simply means worthy of remarking upon. DoubleTree hotel got famous for putting a warm chocolate chip cookie on guest's pillows before they arrived. Something as simple as an unexpected warm cookie can be the difference between adequate and remarkable.
Tesla, the electric vehicle company owned by Elon Musk, is all about reimagining the future of vehicles. Last year Tesla demonstrated a masterstroke of marketing when they announced one of the most virally talked about vehicle designs of all time - the CyberTruck.
CyberTruck’s shocking design sent the internet into a frenzy creating memes, videos, and other content earning Tesla millions of dollars of what marketers call “earned media”. Earned media is basically free advertising, simply from people discussing, and sharing.
What part of your client experience creates a remarkable story that begs to be shared?
4. Your Talk Trigger should reflect your mission
The Cyber Truck perfectly aligns with Tesla’s mission, reimagining the future of vehicles. The CyberTruck looks like a futuristic space truck straight out of the movie Martian. It’s an intentional reflection of their brand DNA and exemplifies their very purpose as a company.
A company’s core mission should be reflected in its Talk Triggers. DryBar’s first line in their mission statement says:
“The single most important part of the Drybar experience is the way we make people feel. We are committed to making our clients feel like a million bucks.”
DoubleTree is all about making guests feel at home. Their brand promise is:
“To provide exceptionally warm and caring service where guests feel welcome and appreciated.”
The Cheesecake Factory is all about their culinary experience. Experiencing food from around the world one and dish at a time. Their remarkably long menu comes from a deep place of purpose within their company.
Talk triggers aren’t just marketing stunts or gimmicks. They communicate your salon's mission in meaningful ways. Talk Triggers don’t just tell your story, they help clients tell your story by giving providing a remarkably unique experience to share with others, all the while, endorsing your salon.
Here’s your homework:
1. Start with your salon's mission statement
Review your salon's mission statement. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect opportunity to create one.
Consider your clients and their particular needs. Explore the “whys” for your salon. Whether your goals are to make them feel like a million bucks, lead the future in style and fashion trends, or deeply serve your particular niche, write down a prioritized list of your business’ mission and commitments to your clients.
2. Brainstorm ideas
Take your primary, core mission and write down five ways that you’re already working to achieve it.
Now write down 10 new ideas for how you could achieve it even better. Explore ideas from other industries or other sectors. Consider twists or additions to what you already do. Consider new techniques, technologies, and experiences.
Give yourself and your team creative space to explore ideas. The best ideas will defy the status quo, dare to be different, and take your salon to the next level.
3. Select your first Talk Trigger
Select the idea that tells your salon’s story and best helps achieve your core mission. Your Talk Trigger should be a purple cow: something unique, unexpected, and worthy of talking about. If you find one that matches up with all of this, you have a winner.
4. Commit to a Talk Trigger
Here’s the fun (and scary 🙀) part! Make a commitment, as a company, to your new way of doing business. Fully commit that every single client that walks in the door will experience this new Talk Trigger. Write down a plan on how you’ll roll it out and how it will become part of your new client experience. Be brave, and be bold, and create client experiences worth sharing.
In order to be remarkable, you have to dare to be different. By deepening your salon's commitment to providing an incredible client experience, you’ll create contagious stories that clients want to share.
Refusing to be average takes guts, but your clients are worth it, and so is your salon. After all, you’re already a part of your client's story. You may as well give them the reason to share it.
- Neilsen - Recommendations From Friends Remain Most Credible Form of Advertising Among Consumers
- Square - How Consumers Look For and Discover Salons
- Seth Godin - Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
- Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin - Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth