One of the best things about barbershops is that they’re the center of the neighborhood.

People come by, stay awhile, maybe share a beer or whiskey (or two) with you and the other regulars…

The dream.

As much as you love your diehard customers, if you’re looking to grow your business and your barbershop’s client list, you know that you also need to get the word out to strangers.

Whether it’s email marketing, paid Instagram ads, or sandwich boards, you know that marketing for barbers comes with its own set of unique challenges. That’s why our team reached out to a bunch of marketing experts, then dug through all the jargon, to find some grassroots marketing tips you can actually use. More importantly, these tips won’t suck up your time. You’re busy enough. Let’s get you back to cutting.

The Best Marketing Strategies for Barbers and Barbershops

1. Befriend Your Business Listings

Here’s the thing: you “own” your business listings online. Facebook. Yelp. Google. Yours.

Still, we see a lot of barbers who don’t set their online business listings up fully or don’t regularly update their profiles with their latest hours or information (which is maybe even worse than not using them at all).  

If you don’t update your business profiles regularly, now’s the time. Scott Hamula, a professor of communications at Ithaca College in New York, tells us that after spending several hours every Saturday at his local shop (shot out to Short’s Barbershop in Ithaca!), he immediately recommended that they clean up their Facebook page and start an Instagram business account. Dr. Hamula also recommends posting new content at least once a day to your social channels one you have them. 

Pro tip: Schedulicity offers a built-in Book button for Instagram that links directly to your Schedulicity calendar. We also offer booking widgets for easy embedding into your shop’s website.

2. Go Old School with Flashy Signage 

People still use them ’cause they work. Just make sure to check your local codes to see what you can get away with. Says Dr. Hamula, “A well-placed sandwich board sign on a high traffic street can raise awareness and direct customers to your shop.”

Professional copywriter Amanda Kostro Miller agrees and suggests doubling your impact by trying some “Instagram-worthy” signage as well. “Make it something that shows off your name but also can be used as a great photo-op for Millennials and Gen Z. Your shop gets interest on the street and online!”

3. Build Out a Loyalty or Referral Programs

Want more word-of-mouth traffic? Ask for it. Offer a loyalty program or referral discount to your current clients. You don’t need to get too complicated for these to pay off. Referral programs can be as simple as adding a note to a referring clients’ profile to give them 10% off the next time they come in (this is easy with Schedulicity) whenever someone tells you who recommended you.

4. Get Online (We See You Chalkboard Fans)

Almost everyone we talked to said the same thing: Not enough barbers use online booking and marketing tools. We’ve always loved the vibe of walk-in shops, but more and more people want to do everything online, including scheduling their shaves or fades.

When you use an all-in-one platform for scheduling, booking, and payment, you can tackle all sorts of creative marketing including offering package discounts for referrals or seasonal package deals without much work. Walk-ins still welcome, of course. One great platform if you’re just starting out? Yeah, us. Try Schedulicity for free today. 

5. Go Hog-Wild on Videos

At least five industry experts suggested that barbers try their hands at either YouTube or Instagram Stories. Jessica Dennehy, a former Wall Street regulator who built a brand of luxury barbershops in Long Island called MadMen, says that she saw her business grow even through the pandemic because her team created and shared topical video content on all their channels.

Before and afters, tutorials, “hot takes” from your chair — don’t be afraid to show a little personality and keep in mind that it doesn’t need to look perfect. In fact, getting a little messy usually feels more authentic. If you need examples, look no further than our friends at City Image Barber for inspiration — or “inspo,” if you’re looking for the technical marketing term.

6. Pay Attention to Search Results

If you’ve heard the term “search engine optimization,” or “SEO,” thrown around, it’s for good reason. Now more than ever, how high you turn up in search results online matters. That’s especially true if you want people to find you when they Google “barber near me.”

“First and foremost, as clients begin to go about their normal lives again, there is a greater chance that they will take this opportunity to look for new barbers,” says Joe Agnello of City Image Barbers, “It’s important to make sure that your business can be found when someone is searching.”

Here’s our explainer on exactly how to get found in local search results, AKA “improve your local SEO,” in just a few minutes.

7. Partner Up

Barbershops are all about community, right? Use that to your advantage by partnering with other local businesses to co-promote each other’s products or services.

“Hosting events and cross-promoting on each other’s social media is a great way to spread out to a larger audience,” says Joe. “You can even do a collaborative giveaway that each of you offer to your customers to bring awareness to each other’s businesses.”

8. Leverage Giveaways

Just to put a line under it: Beyond partnerships, giveaways, in general, can instantly amp up your online following — and your online bookings. Our resident hair and beauty consultant, Nina Tulio swears by them to grow a social media following. (Just don’t forget to add a book button to your Instagram, so new followers can easily get in to see you.)

You can amplify your results even more by getting savvy about the winner’s pot. Offload some product that just isn’t moving or, better yet, give the winner a free cut or package deal for both themselves and a friend. Then, both people are likely to refer some more people who… Behold! The snowball effect.

9. Attend (or Even Sponsor) Live Events

We know you’ve heard of BarberCon. The perks of attending live events are endless — and we don’t just mean the killer parties. They’re also the ideal chance to meet other people in the industry who you could partner with in the future.

But beyond barbering events, you should consider sponsoring local events, too. That could mean holiday fairs, charity fundraisers (a cutting booth at a local fundraiser could be pretty freakin’ rad), or offering matching fades for your local high school soccer team ahead of their final match. Fun to think outside the box, right?

Pro tip: Here’s our list of the top barbering and hair events to attend in 2021 (yep, they’re backkkk).

10. Ask for Reviews

A bad review can make your skin crawl, but a great review can change everything. It also happens to be great SEO (see tip #6). One way to make sure you’re in that high 4.5-5.0 rating range is to get proactive about them.

“When people decide to visit a certain barbershop for the first time, chances are that they’ll want to make sure they’ve made the right choice,” says Greta Simeonova of PAN Digital Marketing. “One of the easiest ways to do this is by looking at online reviews. Encourage your existing clients to leave reviews about the experience as this will help you attract more clients.”

We recommend that you ask for reviews on both Yelp and Google. You can do this easily by sending an email to your client list and, if you’re feeling generous, offering them a discount on their next service in exchange.

11. Go in on Swagger-worthy Swag

Beanies, beer koozies, Carhartt branded sweatshirts — these days, the sky is the limit. Feel free to sell ’em, but use them for those giveaways we mentioned as well. Any time someone sees one of your customers in your beanie, it’s free advertising.

And don’t underestimate the power of a simple business card. Says Joe of City Image Barbers, “One thing that is being overlooked lately is the power of handing people your business card. I know that you may think it is insignificant becuase everyting is electronic nowadays, but a business card acts as a first impression (so make sure the quality is good and the design fits your style) and it also shows that you want them to personally be your client.”