SHOW AND TELL: WHY EVERY STYLIST SHOULD BLOG Aby Tracey Middlekauff
Stylists, it´s time to get your blog on. Blogging is a perfect — not to mention inexpensive — way to increase your name recognition, get your message out there, and communicate with both current and potential clients. Simply put, it´s one of the best bang-for-the-buck marketing techniques around. Go the extra mile and incorporate vlogs — video blogs — into your strategy, and you´ll reach an even wider audience.
Dr. Scott Testa, professor of marketing at St. Joseph´s University in Phila-delphia, points out that the end product in the hair business is visual: “So ultimately the idea is to effectively communicate these visuals to your audience.” And what better way to do that than with a blog that´s peppered with great photos and interesting vlogs?
Elline Surianello is the founder and CEO of LeMetric Hair Center, Inc.,a New York-based salon and affiliate network that focuses solely on women suffering from hair thinning or hair loss. She initially began blogging and vlogging (www.lemetric.com & www.youtube.com/le-metrichaircenter) because she wanted to share the story of her own struggles with alopecia with other women, but it turns out it´s helped her business as well.
“I wouldn´t say that my vlogs result in a direct conversion of clients, but they have certainly contributed to and enhanced my brand´s reputa-tion,” she explains. “These videos support what I do, what I´m promoting next, and they legitimize me. Women see the real me and know who I am before they walk through my door. … How do I talk about something like women´s hair loss, and women´s hair loss replacement, without showing the women what I mean?”
And the best part is, it doesn´t have to seem like work at all. “The videos are so much fun,” she says. “I love it because I am a total ham! Vlogging gives me a platform to speak out on something that may be a hot topic on any particular day, and that is just so me!”
Another reason to blog is to get a higher search engine placement for your salon. Cookie Cutters and Haircuts for Kids is a chain with over 40 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Before they began their company-wide blog (http://blog.haircutsarefun.com/blog/cookie-cutters), they showed up on the third or fourth page in online searches us-ing relevant keywords. But according to company VP Larry Shelton, that´s all changed now.
“Blogging with Compendium Blogware (compendiumblogware.com) has been very helpful in moving our brand up in search queries without having to redo our site in an expensive search engine optimization scheme,” Shelton says. “Blogging basically got the same or better results.”
And sometimes it´s just nice to blog to help educate and inform. Ava Gardner began her blog, coiffedchaos.blogspot.com, because she wanted to share her “experience and expertise with fellow colleagues as well as women looking for an honest and open conversation about their hair,” she explains. “What blogging does for me as a 22 year veteran in the business is that it allows me to express my feelings on different aspects of being a hair stylist from a behind-the-chair perspective. … It is imperative that women have access to informa-tion that can help them make the best decisions for their hair if they care for their hair at home and don´t have access to a professional hair stylist. My goal is to provide comprehensive information about caring for your hair with a twist, by providing topics that are cool and interesting that are meant to spark open and honest conversa-tions about hair care.”
And getting started is pretty low stress, thanks to blogware (blog software) such as Wordpress and Blogger. Shelton doesn´t recom-mend embedding photos and videos until you´re comfortable with the basics, and if it gets too technical for you, you should definitely hire someone to show you the ropes.
Surianello — by her own admission initially very tech-shy — says, “My advice is to find someone who you can trust, to be a part of your team, and to handle the admin, tech, and maintenance side of this, so that everyone is being most efficient at what they do best. If you´re scared to get started, find someone who knows what they´re doing and can walk you through this one step at a time. Gradually the lingo and the methods become clear, and over time, as you adapt, there is more and more you can take over on your own. Eventually, it be-comes fun to log on and see who´s doing and saying what. The reach and return is just so vast.”
Just as in real life, there are rules and etiquette in cyberspace — at least if you want your blog to be effective. Dr. Testa says, “You want to represent yourself in a professional fashion. Don´t write something you wouldn´t want Mom and Dad to see!”
If you´re an employee and you want to start blogging, Dr. Testa recommends running it by your boss first, or at least putting a dis-claimer on your site. And it (hopefully) goes without saying that you need to spell check your text, and whatever you do, don´t neglect your blog. “You need to either be in or out,” Testa says. “You should update 2-3 times week.”
Don´t worry about how you´ll generate enough content: Your inspira-tion is all around you in the form of your clients. Post before and after hair photos. Talk about interesting articles you´ve read and new styl-ing techniques. Share the scoop on products that you´re passionate about. “Questions that your customers are asking you are starting points for what you should talk about,” Testa says.
And Surianello offers this advice: “If you talk about what you know and what you love, your message will flow naturally and you´ll be fine.”