Filling the Book: BY ERIN SNYDER DIXON

Old School: Willy nilly advertising efforts. Don’t even waste your time or money. There was a time when all you had to do was throw money at an ad and you could attract clients, but it’s not that easy anymore. So, unless you are supporting your niece who is selling ads in the yearbook—advertise, only strategically, if you must.

New Savvy: Knowing your target market and networking to attract your perfect clients. The most important part is still identifying your target market. So often, I’m approached by new nail technicians at shows—who just want to know how to get clients. My first question is, “What type of clients?” This is usually met by a look that indicates I’ve grown a third arm since getting dressed that morning.

So, what services do you do? Well? What types of people do you want to spend you days with? What price range is your service menu? And, finally, what will make you attractive to these people? Why you?

Personally, I like to cater to overly-picky, interesting clients, who can and will afford what they really want. I want to wait on them, one-on-one. Specialty coffees, late-night appointments, and personal touches. Why would I want this? I figure if my clients are really picky—even if they do go somewhere else, once—they will be back. Heck, I’ll even point out what to look for in great nails, sanitation, etc. It’s my goal to listen to them vent, or whatever… And, I get paid top dollar to do it.

Then to “why me?”

Clients want to be able to say their nail tech just went to this show or did that photo shoot or wrote some article. Whatever will give you street cred with the target market of your choice—find a way to do it. Even if you have to do it for free! Post to blogs, write for the local paper, and host a backstage nail affair at a local event. Find ways to get the word out. Press releases to the local fashion editor. Share tidbits about a recent trip on social networking sites and keep a photo album in the salon. Include detailed captions. Offer to get involved with local garden clubs, ladies’ groups, charities, etc. When you client is talking about a great event she has attended, ask about it. You may even offer to help her with a favorite charity or social event. In exchange, they will introduce you to other movers and shakers. You want to get introductions to folks you want to spend time with and who would be interested in your services. And, the best tip I ever got? Always have a waiting list and be willing to add clients referrals to it—even if you book is wide open. My book hasn’t been wide-open for a long time. A mentor was quick to point out early on that scarcity makes something more attractive. Use a few of these tips and your book will build to overflowing. You will save a tone of cash and be free to strategically use advertising for brand recognition and not just to get folks in the door.

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