Strategy is for chess players and big-time CEOs, right? Wrong.

A strong marketing strategy is as important to the success of your salon or spa as the quality of your service. Perhaps more so.

Without an effective marketing strategy in place, chances are you swing from promotion to promotion without seeing a consistent return on investment, and marketing seems like an expensive and confusing waste of time.

The truth is — without a well-planned marketing strategy underpinning your promotional activities — it is.

But there’s a better way. You can cut through the confusion, drive customers through your doors and start seeing results for every dollar invested with a strong marketing strategy based on a few key principles.

What is a marketing strategy?

First and foremost, don’t be scared off by the marketing jargon and corporate speak.

Think of your marketing strategy simply as a blueprint that sets out your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. Just as an architect designs plans for a builder to construct your dream house, so you design the marketing strategy that will build the business you’ve imagined.

Creating a good marketing strategy is actually an excellent excuse to spend some time really getting to know your business. Many therapists are so busy working in their business that they neglect working on their business. But finding time to work on your big-picture strategy is just as important as managing the day-to-day running of your spa or salon.

Planning your marketing strategy provides one such opportunity, and it should describe your service; define your target market; separate you from your competition; and identify how you will communicate these ideas to potential customers in order to convert them into paying clients.

Why is it important?

Just as the key to raising a well-rounded child is clarity and consistency, making an impact in your market requires a clear message communicated with a similar commitment to consistency.

Without a marketing strategy in place, your promotional message is likely to be complicated and confused with no real plan or end goal to work towards.

And if you don’t understand your brand identity and how you’re different from your competitors, your customers certainly won’t.

The result? A confused market that doesn’t understand the value you can offer them.

How do I develop one?

The good news is that you can win market share like never before.

Developing an effective marketing strategy begins with the five ‘Ps’ — prepare, position, package, promote and prosper.

First, consider what you want to achieve and set the goals that will underpin your marketing blueprint. Then identify the challenges your target market faces and your point of difference.

Next comes package — how the physical design of your products and services, and the location and ambience of your spa or salon can set you apart from the competition — and the extra customer service value your employees can offer that others can’t.

Now, and only now, you can start to plan your promotional activities.

So what now?

Now that you know your unique selling points, who your target market is, and the value you can offer them that others can’t, it’s time to start planning your promotional tactics.

In other words, think about how you’re going to communicate with the market to make them aware of your now well-defined value proposition.

This might take the form of advertising, telemarketing, publicity, sales promotions, direct marketing such as brochures or e-newsletters, or any number of other promotional techniques.

And while you may have employed some of these techniques in the past, using your marketing strategy to keep your message clear, consistent and relevant to your target market will draw infinitely better results.