Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How do you advertise?

One of my clients

A few months ago, I was certified to apply eyelash extensions. I've done a few clients since then, but not enough to cover the costs of becoming certified, and not nearly as much as I had hoped. I'm stumped when it comes to advertising for this sort of thing. It's not like a blog where your location doesn't matter. All that matters with blogging is what you say.

I tried Craigslist with no luck. Every time I'd list an ad, three people would list a better deal. I can only lower my prices so much before I'm losing money. Also, jerks would spam Craigslist and post ten identical ads in a row, all using my ad content word for word, but with better prices.

I considered making flyers and postcards and sending them to various neighborhoods. The post office lets you just pick a route and they'll send them for you. You don't need to address your stuff or anything. Just pay and send. Except it costs about $100 to have the postcards made, and I'd only get 80. There's also not a very high guarantee that I'd get a good return on my investment.

I even looked into our city's local Clipper magazine that has coupons and ads for lots of local businesses. The people who run the company can't seem to give me a straight answer when it comes to price. They've even asked for lots of personal info without giving me any information on the advertisements. Which seems super scammy to me.

So I thought I'd turn to you, oh mighty readers. If you have a locally based service business, how do you advertise? How do you gain customers? It has to be local, since I obviously can't apply eyelashes if I'm in San Diego and you're in New York. Or even two hours away. Services are pesky because you have to be physically nearby in order to deliver.

My goal is to have 1-2 clients per week, which isn't even that much, but finding unique customers is harder than it looks!

So what's your advice? Where and how should I advertise? What's a fairly priced method with a good return?


  1. Ive used and they are really inexpensive! You can probably even find an online promo code to use as well. Hope that helps!

  2. Try connecting with a salon close to you and offering the service to their clients at a reduced rate. You may even have to do the owner's eyes for free. I'm not sure were you live but in Atlanta there is a lot of competition for lash extension.

  3. maybe try a "groupon" or "living social" type deal? at least to get business off the ground :)

  4. I just so happen to be in marketing...and I've done loads of local advertising. Here are a couple of suggestions- sorry for the WICKED long post.

    Don't do postcards- you won't get a great return on that investment. You can sign up for a free mailchimp or constantcontact account and send professional-looking emails to your blog subscribers/friends/etc. letting them know about your services and asking them to forward the email to any friends. Leverage holidays and do holiday specials. Definitely try connecting with similar vendors- like hair salons, manicure/pedicure salons, local fashion bloggers, etc. and see if you can mutually refer patients. Make some flyers that look kicking (or have someone do them for you if you aren't graphically inclined- you want them to look awesome so they stand out) and pin them on every board around town you can think of (Sprouts, grocery stores, salons, etc.) Hit up social media hardcore, too. Set up a separate Twitter and Facebook for your eyelash business, do social-specific giveaways (like you do for this blog) to get more followers, follow all the hairdressers/manicure studios/fashion bloggers and engage with them. Make a separate blog with a couple of pages and load up the content with keywords people are searching for (you can use the Google keyword tool to help), that way when people search for what you're offering you'll show up in their search. You can also add yourself to Yelp and Google Places...those will both help.

    Hopefully some of those ideas will work!

    1. sorry- forgot a few. Pay Per Click is actually a really good option depending on your budget and how well you write the ads. I would look into that, as well. You can also offer to do free seminars/how-to's around town to get your name out there. Kind of like a pampered chef type of thing...except totally different. And network with your friends...networking is the key to life. Tell everyone you know you want to start doing eyelashes, and the word will get around.

  5. i've been doing hair since October of 2008. I didn't really start trying to get steady clientele (because i've either been in school, working somewhere else or, right after i first graduated, i was really sick of doing hair and had no interest in offering any services to anyone. ever) until i moved here to georgia. we've lived here for over 2 years and it wasn't until about 6 months-ish ago that my business really started to pick up. i'm not in a salon, and everything i've done has just been word of mouth. i also offer to travel to people's homes rather than have them come to mine and that has nailed down a lot of return clients. i offer good prices that are (i had to do a butt load of research to gather this information) on average $45 less than what a salon offers. but i still make them feel like they're getting a real salon service. i've offered "tell your friends and you'll get 10% off" sort of deals, holiday deals, and discounts for if the whole family is getting something done. but word of mouth is crucial. tell allison to tell everyone she knows. tell karen to tell everyone she knows. offer to go to someone's home and do a party. tell your RS president that you'll do a beauty tutorial. and don't get discouraged. it does get frustrating, but i have about 2-3 clients a week now and it definitely puts a dent in our monthly income. :)

  6. We have much the same issue with my husband's business. He is a massage therapist with his own office, and we needed to find a way to draw business in... I don't know what it is like in your area, but here, trivia nights are used as fundraisers for lots of local charitable groups and for organizational fundraisers. Lots of them also seem to incorporate a small silent auction with it. There is actually a local website that lists upcoming trivia nights, but you could also just carefully read local papers and/or local blogs, listen to the radio, etc.....I either contact via phone or email (I prefer email) the group putting on the event and ask them if they are still looking for donations, and say that we can offer a certificate for a one hour massage. 99% of the folks are elated that someone is contacting THEM and offering to donate. In our case, massage therapy doesn't really use any giving the massage only costs my husband the time....he is paying the rent on the room in the medical building anyway (it is so much per month no matter how much he uses it), so even if the person who ends up with the certificate tips $5 or $10, it is still money we wouldn't have had...and a few of these certificate users have become regular clients. He is really good at what he does...but I know that most people aren't just going to choose a massage therapist out of the blue, so I have to get them into that office somehow so they can see firsthand the relaxation and stress relief he can give them. If he gets a regular client out of it, great. If not, we have done a good work and helped groups raise money for good causes. Good luck!

  7. I teach piano. When trying to build up my client base I went to and made business cards (they don't cost much). I handed them out at church and the gym and anywhere else I talked with people. If they were willing, I'd give them extras and they'd spread the word. Networking and word of mouth have gotten me lots of business. Once you've given your service to people, ask them if they'd mind referring their friends. I've gotten lots of clients through referrals too.


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