The DOs and DON'Ts of Consumer Communication- Tips for the New Economy from CEO, Pierce Mattie

Stop throwing away money on messages that don’t reflect your spa!

#1 Stay Niche
Wanting to be all things to all people is a dangerous trap into which many business owners fall. Stay focused on your target. If the bread and butter of your business is the mom who comes in while her kids are in school, then craft your message to speak to her. Don’t try to cast too broad a net.  Successful communications campaigns are built on targeted messaging.

#2 To Green or Not to Green
If your brand is chock full of science and eschews natural, don’t add a couple of essential oils and position it as “green.” With the increased availability of information, consumers invest time and energy in researching the brands that most closely mirror their own personal values.  If natural and organic is a priority, you can bet that the consumer will know every facet of what makes a brand green. The good news is that not every brand has to be green—many people feel that natural is not as effective. Keep your product true to its core and your customers will flock to it.

#3 Be Proud of Buff & Fluff
Admit it—people come to your spa because the massages are magnificent and the facials are heavenly. If that’s you, then own it. The biggest mistake a spa owner can make is to go in another direction radically away from a revenue stream that has always paid the bills. If your money is in massages, then build that business. Your customers will return and send new ones your way. It’s a much better investment than that expensive microdermabrasion machine that will only collect dust.

#4 Don’t Launch Social Media Unless…
You can do it well! Have you logged onto a spa’s twitter page to see that they only have a few dozen friends or haven’t updated their blog in over a week? If you don’t have the time, staff or resources to write a blog entry every day, then don’t launch this effort. Think of your social media as a garden—you have to water it, feed it, weed it and give it sunlight every week. If you don’t spend the time updating and maintaining your network, it detracts from your website and leaves customers with a negative impression of your brand.

#5 Stay Away From Events without Measurable ROI
I often visit spas that have made major cuts to their operating expenses, but continue to host exorbitant events. With the advent of social media, online coupons and blog and texting promotions, in-spa events have died off. While these luxurious galas may have been entertaining, there are better ways to promote your spa and brands. Use personal consultations, bring-a-friend promotions and the new landscape of digital media, whether it be a discount promotion on a targeted blog or an alert to your customer base through your Facebook page, to communicate effectively and drive the message home.

#6 Don’t Hire a PR Firm Unless You Have Something to Say
I meet with hundreds of spas and beauty brands each year and they all think they need a PR firm because everyone else has one. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean its right you’re your brand. A PR firm serves to communicate news to the press; if you have something to tell the press, it needs to be relevant, timely and compelling. Ask yourself, would Allure really cover this story? Read the latest issue, look at the content and see if your story fits. If the answer is yes, then call us.

#7 Don’t Build Your Business on a Trend
In my decade plus of experience, I have always told brands to avoid building their company on a trend. Current hot topics ranging from paraben-free products to mineral makeup and organic ingredients will become the new standard. Good trends go mainstream, but businesses built on nebulous concepts often find themselves out of business as the trend fades. Remember in times of economic uncertainly, consumers save their disposable income for what they know and love.

#8 Get Rid of Luxury
This is not the year for over-the-top luxuries. With last year’s recession not so distant in everyone’s memory, consumers demand value with results no matter what their income. Keeping this in mind, consumers now evaluate purchases based on a new decision matrix—price plus results equals perceived value. As the economy rebounds, consumers will spend more, but purchases will be thoroughly evaluated against the consumer’s lifestyle, disposable income and relevance to determine whether it is worth buying. The net-net—stick to products that deliver at a price that won’t empty consumer’s wallets.

#9 FaceBook is Only Part of the Solution
First, yes my PR firm has a FaceBook page. We use it religiously and it garners tons of new business.  However, it is only one of the many things we do to increase our social media presence online.  We have several blogs, online articles, news feeds, flickr pictures and YouTube videos. If you plan on using FaceBook, you must commit to posting every day, recruiting new customers and offering promotions that will drive traffic to your site and increase your bookings.  Simply building a FaceBook page will not bring people flocking to it.  FaceBook is a communication tool. It requires daily use to effectively benefit your brand.

#10 Shop Your Spa Competitors
A little bit of sleuthing does a brand good. Competitive analysis is an inexpensive tool to understanding your brand’s position within the marketplace. I often meet with spa directors who have preconceived notions about their competitors; when asked if they have personally gone and had a service, the answer is usually a resounding no. The insights you will gain experiencing your competitor’s services can help you effectively develop your brand’s point of differentiation, fine tune your messaging and keep you competitive.

Bio: Pierce Mattie travels the world extensively representing the industry’s best spas, resorts and beauty products. He is a licensed esthetician, published author and lives in Manhattan. His firm, Pierce Mattie PR, has been named one of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. Magazine. You may email him directly for more information at [email protected]

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