Every year, MODERN SALON Media pays tribute to great work being done by leading cosmetology schools via its Excellence in Education recognition program. Hundreds of applications are submitted by individual and multi-unit schools across the country, and for 2015, 38 schools were named honorees in eight categories ranging from Community Service to Placement to Technology.

MODERN SALON Media Vice President/Group Publisher Steve Reiss announced the 2015 Excellence in Education top honorees on Saturday, October 24, 2015, at the AACS Annual Convention & Expo in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Excellence in Education was created in conjunction with a partnership between Modern Salon Media and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS); the program helps the school community collect and share examples of great work being done across the country.

Two top honorees—one individual school location, and a multi-location school organization—were recognized in each of the eight categories. 

In the Marketing Innovation category, technology is up-and-coming as a new form of word-of-mouth marketing. Facebook, Google, Yelp and other sites with review features allow both students and clients receiving services at the schools to weigh in on their experience.

The top Marketing Innovation honorees this year were Penrose Academy in Scottsdale, AZ for individual locations; and a tie between Aveda Institutes South in Hammond, LA, and Tricoci University of Beauty Culture in Oak Brook, IL, for multi-unit schools. However, all of the 2015 honorees had inspiring ideas to share.

Social media marketing ruled in 2015 with schools becoming very purposeful with their message and how it’s delivered. Tech-savvy students follow hashtag campaigns their schools create, and video commercials, how-tos and inspirational messages are flooding YouTube. Periscope, one of the newest platforms in social media, is being utilized for Q&As and live events. Video testimonials are hot right now, too. These testimonials feature alumni authentically speaking about their beauty school experience, and they’re a powerful marketing tool for recruiting new students. 

One of top honoree's Tricoci University of Beauty Culture's marketing promos. 

Here are just a few of the forward-thinking marketing campaigns and tools found in the 2015 Excellence in Education entries:

Marketing in individual locations

  • Content creation at Ogle School, Arlington, TX: First Ladies of Style infographic went viral and was featured on the Huffington Post. 
  • Lead generation campaign at Toni&Guy Hairdressing Academy, Plano, TX: Consists of a mix of Google pay-per-click, beauty schools directory and Facebook ads. A referral campaign gives $100 to shoptoniguy.com to anyone who refers a lead who becomes a student.
  • Daily postings at State College of Beauty Culture, Wausau, WI: Students have to do a certain amount of postings every day of trends and their work using hashtags. 
  • Video know-how at Eric Fisher Academy, Wichita, KS: The Academy added a videographer to its marketing department to produce videos and commercials to promote the school. EFA releases a how-to beauty tip video on social media and on its site once a week. Once a month, a student of the month is showcased in a video where she provides testimonial about EFA. These videos promote enrollment. 
  • Radio raves at DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology, West Springfield, MA: In a collaboration with a local radio station to promote a full scholarship opportunity, the ad ran multiple times daily over several months and resulted in increased inquiries about the program and entries into the scholarship.
  • Marketing new recruits at Altoona Beauty School, Altoona, PA: The school does this through open houses twice a year, a career counselor, facility tours, and a Beauty Boot Camp twice a year for teenage girls. 
  • Online upgrades at Penrose Academy, Scottsdale, AZ: Launched a new website in 2015 with a new, penrose.edu address in order to optimize searches with the “edu.” New site is interactive for users and features an intranet called myPA for all students and alumni to access information. Targeted e-mail blasts are used to promote specials, events, news and more.
  • Curb appeal at Paul Mitchell the School Chicago: Every year the school gets re-branded with new window panes. This year the theme is “Be Amazing,” and features student work chosen in various competitions.

Revamped website for Penrose Academy in Scottsdale, AZ.

Marketing in multi-unit schools

  • SEO strategy at Nurtur Aveda Institutes, Columbus, OH: The Institute engages in organic SEO and pay-per-click advertising strategies to improve search results for major search engines. 
  • Scholarship campaign at Aveda Institutes South, Hammond, LA: Live streaming conversations, e-blasts, a dedicated event page online with written and video submissions, and full-ride scholarships awarded during a fashion show all raised awareness for the school and scholarships.
  • Purposeful partnerships at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, Oak Brook, IL: Partnerships with Velocify, FAME and Google help extract data needed to create meaningful reports and pair it up with financial information.

To view the entire list of finalists, click here. 

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