When it comes to salon branding or marketing, Bryan Nunes, who owns Blo in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a bit of a rebel, comfortable pushing the envelope, raising an eyebrow here and there and asking, ‘Why not?’ For example, take his salon’s website justblo.com, which took two years and more money than Nunes cares to admit to build, but might change the way salons engage clients digitally and vice-versa.
The site took so long, because Nunes had a long list of high-priority goals and was content to wait until he and his team of web designer researched a solution and could tick off each one, including:
Responsiveness: “Our analytics showed us that 67% of people who visited our site did so from a mobile device, so it was important that our site was responsive, meaning it was coded to detect the user’s screen size and adjust the content to the most pleasing and effective format,” says Nunes. The new site will be able to optimize for 21”desktops, 13” laptops, iPads or Ipad minis, and Iphones, giving the user an enhanced experience no matter what they are using.
A User-Centric Focus: “I wanted to steer clear from telling users who WE are, how great WE are, what WE do, and why WE’RE the best,” Nunes says. “Instead, we wanted to focus more on using the word ‘YOU’ in the site’s dialogue.” So, Nunes incorporated industry endorsements rather than guest reviews, and focused dialogue on fostering a collaborative and empowered user experience. “It was a real challenge to break away from the ‘We’ mold, but I’m glad we did, it make a real difference to the user whether they are a potential guest or a future team member.”
Experiential Imagery: When users arrive on the home page of justblo.com, they are greeted not with the anticipated gorgeous model with flowing locks, but a clean landing page free of clutter with a single image that evokes an emotion, create intrigue and connects them to a ‘blo’ experience—such as a child blowing into a trumpet or a girl on the beach with her colorful skirt blowing in the wind. “I realize this is a risky move, but we love to zig where others zag, and I wanted to approach this project with a deeper level of awareness to the experience we are actually selling people,” says Nunes. “All of our images connect users to the word ‘Blo’ through humor, nostalgia and imagination and we’ll be changing them seasonally.”
User-Generated Content: Having done his research, Nunes knew that when it comes to SEO or search engine optimization, Google’s new hummingbird system gave priority to interactive sites with user-generated content, so he looked for ways to easily incorporate his community on his site. Using a program called Tint Up, Blo stylists, clients and fans can tag a photo with #justblo, and post it on their social media, and the image will automatically appear on the website, as well as flash on flat-screen TVs located throughout the salon. “It’s worth noting that we are able to moderate all content,” Nunes says. “Since our stylists also use this for before-and-after images we use this as a Look Book, but it’s also a really fun promotional tool. Last Saturday we did a promotion for the top five creative posts and got a great response.” (Experience it here.)
Transparent Menus: Nunes wanted to create a unique salon service menu that was completely transparent and avoided the dreaded ‘and-up’ price structure. “We wanted guests to have full access to all service prices, as well as those that vary based on the individual designer level,” he says. (Experience it here.)
Talent Search Options: “A big problem for salons to avoid is having receptionists tell new guests phoning in ‘Everyone here is good,’ when asked for a recommendation or having them make a recommendation based on stylist availability instead of guest need,” says Nunes. So, Blo designed an informative and visually appealing staff page that tapped technology implemented by Google, Amazon and Ebay, allowing for a deeper search option. Now, receptionists will guide guests to the team page on the site so they can take ownership over which designer they want to choose. (Experience it here.)
Appointment Consultation Tool: With more than 175 new guests walking through its door each month, Blow races the daunting task of scheduling color appointments for guests they’ve never actually seen. “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” Nunes explains. “A guest will call and say they need a single-process color and when they arrive we determine they really need a corrective service. Then one of two things happen: the hairdressers squeezes the service in and risks compromising the result and the guest’s experience, plus the price is higher than she was quoted. Or, we rebook the guest for the proper amount of time at a later date, then the guest walks away disappointed and we lose on that day’s appointment. Both of these results can lead to a disaster in the world of online reviews.”
While the salon has toyed with requiring first-time color guest to come in for a consultation before their appointment, this too leads to unhappy clients, especially those who live a distance away and only want to make one trip. Lately, the salon has been asking these clients to email the salon some selfies of their hair, so one of the team’s stylists can analyze the situation and recommend the right service, service time and technician.
To solve the dilemma, the new website has an Appointment Consultation Tool (ACT), (Experience it here) which is a simple step-by-step tutorial assisting new color guests in getting an accurate price quote and booking the right appointment with a qualified stylist. ACT invites the guest to write a simple statement about what she looking to get done, then helps her take and upload a selfie and an inspiration shot that shows her desired outcome. The site then send the images via email to a team of three master designers who are quickly are able to determine how much time is needed, how much it will cost, and who is suited for the job and they email their recommendations to a receptionist who then aids the guest with booking the appointment.