Once upon a time, brands visited salons seeking the salon professional’s attention. Salesmen (there were very few women back then) hung out in breakrooms and listened to us praise or complain about a product; they brought cookies, attended the Christmas party, and flirted with Deb, Suzy, Brenda, and Gary when sales were meager. A salesperson could see for themselves when a product was not moving off the salon shelf and why, which is not so apparent today.
Today, we professionals visit the distribution house for our products. Despite the role reversal, the art of selling continues to be convincing someone to give you their money for something you have. The benefits of a product today must bridge the in‐person divide with messaging inclusive of both the salon professional and their client. A product’s tagline must reflect the brand’s awareness that the professional still needs to resell the product to their client.
Consider these guidelines before pitching a new product to a stylist:
- Observe a busy hairdresser’s day before your next product launch. Notice how I try to make every second count. I’ve probably not had lunch nor visited the restroom‐‐no wonder I won’t add extra steps to my job. It’s not that I don’t get it—there’s just no time for it.
- Speak to me directly. I don’t care how great your company is. Tell me what the product will do for me (timesavers consistently score high, even above price).
- Fill In these blanks as an opener, “No more_____now you can____with our product____and never worry about____ .”
- Be quick and get to the point. So, your product has the serum of the gods and pure dragon fruit juice, but I am still waiting for you to fill in the blanks of #3 above. When your product isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, I can’t run and watch the video with the client already in my chair.
- Put words in my mouth. What should I say to my clients about your product? Speak to me about that. I must resell the product to my clients. How do I do this? Teach me about that. Otherwise, I am just carrying your inventory.
Finally, here is the litmus test for your product launch: Is it reasonably simple to incorporate in a busy day, or are you further complicating my workday?
Carlos Valenzuela is a veteran salon professional and author of the award-winning novella Letters to Young Carlos, a coming-of-age tale about a gay boy along the US/Mexico border in the '60s. Visit his writings at carlos-valenzuela.com.
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