How to Merge Old-School & New-School Marketing Techniques

When it comes to building a personal brand, a careful balance of classic skills and new platforms are the keys to your success.

Some things simply never go out of style—a sleek chignon, a great blazer, red lipstick. They’re classics for a reason, and they transcend the test of time by being endlessly useful and versatile.


In the branding world, some efforts go as far today as when your grandparents were networking and building brands and businesses. Arguably, the heavy saturation of social media, cell phones and email is making the desire for face-to-face interactions and physical—not digital—information even more valued now than in recent years.

Why Old-School Marketing Still Works

Business cards, networking, a strong portfolio and a good first impression are a few age-old ways to market yourself that still remain relevant today.


Ivan Zoot, AKA ClipperGuy, is an educator, barber and contributor for who values traditional self-promotion.


“I will state the belief that all this Instagram-ing, tweeting and Facebooking is not as powerful as classic, old-school marketing,” Zoot says. “The personal referral needs to be just that personal. Not cold, flat and one-dimensional as seen on a screen. Shake a hand. Pass a business card.”


Zoot often encourages attendees at his classes to participate in the 500 Business Card Challenge. The goal is to distribute 500 personal business cards in one month. That’s 17 cards per day.


“You can buy a box for less than $9—less than the cost of a single haircut,” Zoot says. “Buy cards. and make them a bit different from your everyday card so you can tell them apart.”


Zoot suggests giving cards to an individual whenever possible; shake their hand and ask them to come in for a haircut. But he also says that it can be difficult to make that mark depending on what you’re doing that day. You probably see mostly the same people every day, so it’s not totally against the rules to, say, put a card in the mirror at a restaurant’s bathroom.


Not afraid to practice what he preaches, Zoot did the challenge in an attempt to drive traffic to his website, He ended up passing out not 500, but 836 cards in one month, which averages about 27 per day, and saw 20% increase in general visits and site traffic last month, plus several sales that came from a specific coupon code on the cards he distributed.


“The bottom line is old-school still works,” Zoot says. “I like the juxtaposition of using high-touch tactics to build business in a high-tech marketplace. If you use some of the modern web tools and social media technologies and blend them with some high-touch in our very high-touch business, I am sure you will report real, measurable progress as well.”

Build The Best Portfolio

Showcase your creativity and work with an eye-popping portfolio that’s going to grab the attention of potential employers. Pulling up your Instagram profile in an interview isn’t always the most professional or appropriate way to give potential employers an idea of your capabilities.


Show three to 10 photos of your best work—not every picture you’ve ever taken. If you’re talented in one specific area, such as color, texture or updos, make sure you show this. 

3 Gs for Success

“Have a good handshake, have a great smile and always have your business cards with you no matter where you are going,” says Peter G’Loef, stylist at Augusta Ranch Hair Studio in Mesa, Arizona. “Introduce yourself to people everywhere you go, and get yourself noticed. You are in the best industry in the world—an industry where we are rewarded on many levels for helping people look and feel great.”

  1. Get up. You can’t build your business sitting in the break room.
  2. Get out. Meet people. Pass out your cards while dining out, at the gym or at the mall.
  3. Get involved. When you get involved with the community, the community will get involved with you. Volunteer your time, do cut-a-thons, help out or teach others.

Social Butterfly

Having vibrant Facebook and Instagram accounts is just about as important as having business cards in the beauty industry. These online platforms will serve as digital portfolios for potential clients, brands and employers to view your work—even if you haven’t met them yet.


But proceed with caution: The way you present yourself on social networks speaks volumes, and it stays forever. Even what you delete can stick around through screen captures or otherwise.


Whether you’re in a traditional salon interview setting, networking at a tradeshow or consulting with a new client, your first impression is likely going to follow you—whether you want it to or not.


“We’re all well aware of the importance of first impressions, particularly because you only have one shot to make a good one,” says Ali Davidson, director of membership for Associated Hair Professionals. “But have you stopped to consider the fact that in 2016 there’s a very real possibility that your first impression will not be through a face-to-face meeting? It’s no secret that more and more employees and clients are finding beauty professionals through social media.”


Davidson says to take a second glance at things like your profile picture, statuses, posts and comments to make sure they’re the best representation of who you are.


“Don’t assume you’re invincible because your profile is set to private,” Davidson says. “Instead of making sure your social media presence is ironclad, take the time to make it a first impression you can be proud of so you can take advantage of the client-generating and networking powers of social media.”

Making Social Work For You

Because having an online presence can be a game-changer for your career, get out ahead of learning how to promote your work and brand yourself and your content.


“The best stylists, colorists, barbers and educators in the industry are delivering high-quality content to their social channels day in and day out,” says Kelly Ehlers, founder of marketing group Ideas That Evoke. “Is that an extra time commitment to the work you’re doing on hair? You bet it is. However, look at the time you’re investing in content on your social channels as an investment in yourself and your career.”


Ehlers suggest thinking of social media as your real-time portfolio. Brand development on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat will help you stay relevant in the beauty and salon space, so make sure you’re demonstrating your expertise in trends and techniques by posting well-composed imagery and videos of the work you’re doing.


What it comes down to is this: social channels provide free marketing for you that anyone with a phone or computer can access. If you utilize the platforms to your advantage, you really could see a jump in new clients.


But don’t forget—no matter what, making real, personal connections with people will never go out of style. It’s hard to predict the next hot app of the moment, but it’s safe to say that a smile and a handshake will always go a long way.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.