Shear Madness

Sent by Jonathan Stark on May 24th, 2020

In response to a reader question, I’ve been thinking about how a hair salon owner could transform their business to respond to pricing objections from clients. 

Given the specific nature of hair salons and how they have been impacted by COVID-19, I split my thoughts into “pandemic” and “non-pandemic” sections. I shared seven “pandemic” ideas in the last message.

Today, I’ll share three “non-pandemic” ideas.

Some ways a hair salon owner might be able to innovate their products and services under normal (non-pandemic) circumstances:

The very first thing I would recommend would be for the salon owner to hyper specialize. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone (e.g., “Unisex haircuts for children and adults!”), pick a very specific target audience who would see you as the go-to person for a particular thing. Once you are seen as the obvious choice, it will be much easier to justify premium rates for your high end services.

Here are three hyper-specializations I dreamed up for a hair stylist:

The Steampunk Barber
Historically accurate mens grooming for film actors.
Tagline: “When wigs and glue just won’t cut it.”

The Hurricane Hairstylist
Haircuts and styling for TV reporters who need to be on-camera in inclement weather conditions.
Tagline: “Look incredibly good when the weather is incredibly bad”

The Makeover Maven
Transformational makeovers for women who have recently gone through a major life change.
Tagline: “When you know it’s time for a big change, but don’t know what to do.”

These might sound almost comically specific, but that’s exactly the point. It makes them more memorable, which is the point of positioning. Any one of these would be way more effective than boring pablum like “Shear Perfection” or “Curl Up & Dye”.

NOTE: A side-benefit of laser focused positioning is that you could absolutely OWN the Google search results for any one of these identities within six months. And I checked... the domain names are all available. If you adopted one of these - say, “The Makeover Maven” - and then someone heard about you from a friend, they might not remember your personal name but they’ll almost certainly remember “The Makeover Maven”. And what would they do next? They’d search for “The Makeover Maven” on Google and you’d be the entire first page of results. Hits like: your website, your “makeover tips” podcast, your “before and after” YouTube channel, you being interviewed by Tim Gunn or Stacy London or Nick Arrojo, etc.

Are these markets big enough?

You might be wondering if a hair stylist could find enough clients if they were just serving “male actors” or “TV reporters” or “women going through a major life change”?

Heck yeah, they could.

From Google:

In 2017, there were around 135,600 actors in the U.S. of which roughly 55% were male.
Number of Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts, 2018: 49,700
There is 1 divorce approximately every 36 seconds. That’s about 876,000 divorces a year.

The smallest of these segments is roughly 50,000 people. If you only captured 1% of the smallest market, you’d have 500 clients. That’s a lot of hair to cut. Even if they only came to see you every other month on average, that’d be 20 appointments per week. If appointments were $500 per visit, that’d be $10,000 per week. And oh yeah, they’d be buying your premium products, too. A fifty week year could round out to $500,000 in revenue, plus whatever you do in product sales.

(Does $500 sound like more than anyone would ever pay for a haircut? It’s not.)

Is positioning really that important?

Let’s say you meet someone at a cocktail party or a wedding reception or a backyard BBQ. You strike up a conversation and ask, “So, what do you do?” Which of the following replies would be more memorable, interesting, or intriguing to you...

These?

Or these?

Or maybe even these?

From a pricing standpoint, it’s dramatically more effective to be positioned as “the one and only” instead of “just one of many”. When people from your target market come to you, they’ll expect to pay top dollar. As far as they’ll be concerned, you’re the only real option.

Once you’ve nailed down a position like one of these, innovative and unique ideas for branding, marketing, sales, products, and services become almost obvious.

But just in case they’re not obvious...

In my next message, I’ll dive deep into my favorite of these three positions to elaborate on how I’d attract my ideal buyers and build out a range of offerings to serve them.

Stay tuned!

Yours,

—J