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II live in Boise, ID where we are experiencing a very bad economy (like a lot of places), but I would like to know what marketing ideas you have for getting new clients. What is your opinion on discounting your prices, Living Social type deals, etc? ANY ideas that have worked for you would be appreciated!
I normally dislike living social and groupon but when you don't have much coming in something is better than nothing. Make sure you set a limit if you can. See if you can get them to have an add-on to their service once they come in or try and sell them something.
Living social was a nightmare for me. I started the offer last February and most of them called in June. I had over 200 people that did this and i had to extend the coupon. YOu do only get half of whatever the deal is.
Good luck
You should look at the Nails Magazine website. There is an entire section for marketing ideas. I've done Living Social. My only complaint about it is that I figured it would be a way to get long term clients and most of them were just one time clients for the deal. There's a manicure and pedicure deal on all of those sites every week now.
OK - you didn't get many replies, so let's see if I can help. I don't know anything about Boise and have never run a salon in a hard economic area - but I have helped start salons and been in business a fair old time.

From my experience today - most customers come through the salon website, Facebook or referrals. I assume you have a professionally designed website that includes:
- About You (your experience, your passion for nails etc. Show photo of your diploma or licence for credibility. Include a nice headshot of yourself)
- Service menu (heading of each item, what you will do description, time to do and price)
- Gallery (before and after photo's, nail art photo's. Make sure photo's are good quality and with small watermark to stop theft)
- Contact info (address, phone, cell, email and Google map)

Regarding referrals - several things you can do. Do a deal with the local hairstylists - if they send a customer then you give them commission. Print a business card but on the back have a space to put hair salon / stylist name. They give to customer, customer gives to you so you know who to pay commission.

Similarly, do a deal with existing customers so they get discount, extra service (spa manicure etc) for each new client they refer. Give them same cards as above. If your customer are willing, get them to make statements about your work and put this on your website (like comments on Amazon - this is really powerful)

I don't like discounting services - better to give something free. Have theme offers every few weeks - say on Monday's when trade is light.

Are there any womens business clubs - try doing some networking there. Business women are the best customers. Or do you know anyone who plays golf who can give out some cards for you?

Even the most economically strapped town has people with money - even in the poorest countries there are rich people. You need to figure out how to get the people who are not affected by the economy to come to you - I am sure they are there somewhere.

Are there other services you could offer? Perhaps something that appears less of a luxury?

The problem when business is tough, is that people spend their time worrying and not thinking like an entrepreneur. There is always a solution if you tackle the problem soon enough, just give your self some time to think of some solutions.

Good luck.
Bob is a very smart business man. You should do those things he mentioned. i have done those things over the years everytime my husband had to move with his job. I had to start over from scratch!
I don't know what your skill level is. But, If you are confident in your work and you offer quality like no other, they will come. If you are not confident in your skill level at this moment. I would take a class and practice your butt of during alll your down time. Then when a customer comes in,offer her one free nail design or a one hand hot stone massage,or a wax dip on one hand. This will tell her she needs something fun on her nails or her other hand needs your great products! Let people try the great things you do there for free. The key is to intice not to give specials. Clients just see that you look like a discount salon! The thing that always worked for me was the 5.00 off to anyone who sends you a client. You are not out anything. But you have gained a new client for the normal fee,and you have given a loyal happy customer a thank you.
I would like to invite you to read my blog. It is on my website in the left sidebar. I write it for inspiration. I never want to forget any of my mistakes or how I turned it into a positive. And that is a lot of what i share and write about.
I hope you will do those things that Bob suggested. Check them off one at a time. You will succeed!
Thanks Tess. Good ideas from you too.

One other thing that I forgot to mention - is that sometimes it's worth to look in your own shop window;-). What I mean by this is for you to act like a customer - what do you see, what impression do you get, how does that compare with the competition, how could you look different, how will the customer find you?

Funny story for you. We started a new salon in Kiev in December. This is the ground floor offices of some expensive 20 story apartments. There are 6 apartment blocks and because our salon could be hard to find, we had some super signs made to direct people to the salon from all different estate entrances. The signs were in color and screwed to walls.

Well, it seems our competitors are afraid of us (which they should be!), because I heard yesterday that someone stole all of our signs in the middle of the night! And because it's Orthodox Christmas there, the sign shop is closed for 2 weeks.

It's worth to pay to replace the signs just to know our competitors fear us ;-). But next time, I'l make darn sure those signs are fixed with 20 screws on the top and 20 screws on the bottom! LOL!