Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Madness: a grassroots marketing story

I love being a spa marketer, and cooking up wonderful new ways to promote spas. But more and more, I love other people's ideas (OPI.)

This idea comes from Preston Wynne, but more precisely, from a Preston Wynne employee, one of our newest.

We had a team retreat in February and created "three commitments" for the first half of the year. One of these commitments was, "Do something you've NEVER done to market the spa in a new way."

Where do the best new ideas come from? Your new people.

Our newest esthetician came to me and asked me if she could have permission to send out her own "March Madness Special." She wanted to send an invitation to any client who had not yet rescheduled with her to come in and enjoy another facial treatment, and, as her gift, she would lavish them additional thirty minutes of upgrades.

She didn't want or expect to be paid for this time. It was her gift to them.

Employees often forget that spas are making a contribution too, when a service is given away using time that could otherwise be sold. But Jennifer "got" that. She knew this was an equal contribution. Our mutual unsold time could be invested, at no cash expense, to bring her customers back in. She thought that was a pretty good deal. She was more interested in generating activity than in being compensated for every minute of her time. She knew that she was sowing the seeds to grow her clientele. And she was delighted that we were willing to go along with her plan.

Fussy marketing maven that I am, I had to control my impulse to refine Jennifer's offer. "March Madness" isn't a phrase you'll find in my copywriting. Was it too shrill? Was it incongruent with our brand? But I controlled my impulse to control, because I didn't want to squelch her radiant enthusiasm. This was a fantastic idea, and it was totally aligned with our team Commitment. These are moments that managers dream about.

Jennifer told a few of her co workers about her idea. Two others joined the "March Madness" promotion. Others pooh-poohed the idea of "working for free." The Madwomen busily prepared their personal offers, and put them in the mail. Jennifer herself mailed out 70 cards. Their energy was contagious. Even the skeptics were curious about what was going on.

We ended up crafting an offer for the estheticians and for the body therapists, so we'd have a SKU in the system for each of the unpaid "Madness" treatments. Other than that, this was grassroots marketing all the way. Into the mail their cards went, and we waited for the response.

It was swift and enthusiastic. Jennifer's book began to fill. So did Elena's, the first massage therapist to get on board. Word traveled quickly, and the "Madness" spread.

In fact, this offer has garnered the best response of any we've done this year. Why?

1. It's personal. It came from their service provider, not from the "business."
2. It's timely. It touched them at the moment they were ready for another treatment, and leveraged the fresh memory of their great spa experience.
2. It was sent via snail mail. Say what you will, but internet marketing fatigue has set in. A hand addressed card is a real attention grabber these days. If you're finding that your e mail blasts are generating fewer returns than they used to, mix it up!
3. It's a great value. Full stop.

This offer is also one of the best business builders we've done. Why?

1. It is focused on creating the behavior that we need most from our clients: repeat visits. It cements the relationship.
2. It showcases us at our best, in a longer-format treatment that will deliver more benefits to the client. It's not our "base sticker price" treatment. It introduces clients to irresistible upgrades they might not otherwise have sampled, and they'll be back for more.
3. It shows our staff that they have influence over their clients, and builds their confidence. Think the "Madwomen" will be shy about inviting these clients back? Probably not.

Have a great grassroots marketing story? Share it with me!

1 comment: said...

Wonderful, let your staff shine! (and what a great lesson it taught the others).