Clients live for a spa day because it feels like no other form of self-care.

So, unsurprisingly, the way you brand, market, and advertise a salon or spa will look very different from branding, say, a local cafe or accounting firm. 

Before I joined Schedulicity‘s Marketing team as (former) Head of Content, I already spent 15 years of my career working on marketing teams and consulting with businesses seeking to build their brands.

The main takeaway?

The hardest part is getting started.

The ultimate goal is to create a branding and advertising plan that’s affordable, sustainable, and authentic — and one that won’t cut into your busy days.

Whether you already have a loyal client base for your salon or spa, or you’re just opening your doors, this in-depth guide will help you build a custom marketing strategy that works for you.

In this spa advertising guide:

Step 1: Getting Started with a Branding Strategy 

Know Your Audience — and Where to Find Them

Before you even begin thinking about your salon branding or where you’ll advertise your business, you need to know who you’re trying to reach.

So, assignment #1: Sit down and write out who you see as your spa’s target audience.

You can use these questions to get you started: 

  • Who is your dream spa client? 
  • What do they need most out of a spa day? 
  • Where do they spend their days usually? 
  • Where are they most likely to engage with your brand? 

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

Dream spa client: She’s about 40 with expendable income and some extra time on her hands now that her kids are in school full-time.

When she’s feeling a little burnt out, she likes to treat herself to a splurge. She also loves bringing people to spas for their birthdays.

But she’s also thinking about building regular self-care into her schedule and budget.

What do she need most? A consistent getaway spot where she can easily book an appointment last-minute if she suddenly has a free afternoon.

She needs the booking process to feel easy, the services to be flexible, and a friendly but unfussy spa environment.

Where does she spend her time? She’s jumping between running errands, work meetings, and picking the kids up from school. She also goes to a yoga class three or four times a week. 

Where is she most likely to see or connect with your brand? Because she’s juggling a lot of duties, she’s using her phone to keep track of almost everything.

She scrolls Instagram while waiting for her kid’s baseball practice to end, buys groceries through the Instacart app, and checks her calendar from her iPhone. 

The Takeaway
You start to see patterns, right?

If your dream clients are mostly like the woman above, you know that you’re going to be advertising to someone who’s already very busy and who prefers to book most of their plans online while they’re on the move.

You also know their self-care budget is flexible — they’re most interested in a spa day feeling luxurious without having to overthink it. 

That changes how you market your spa to them.

Know What Makes Your Spa or Salon Unique

There are lots of spas out there that you’re competing with for Yelp reviews.

The best way to stand out is to know exactly what makes you unique. 

What does your spa have that no one else does?

What are some trending services you can add to your service list that potential customers might be searching for?

Make a list of these before getting started.

Know Your Budget

Believe it or not, you can spread the word about your spa on a near $0 marketing budget

There are also platforms that allow you to streamline your marketing for one low rate.

In addition to offering online booking support, Schedulicity businesses get access to email marketing tools, automated text reminders, and more, so they can market themselves from the same account that they use to run their daily business. 

That’s not to say marketing isn’t worth investing in. The beauty is that it’s scalable.

As you grow, you can start to allot more money toward your marketing, including anything from paid advertising on Google or Instagram to sponsoring local events. 

Step 2: Lock in Your Brand 

Consistency, Please

Your brand should feel streamlined on all of your platforms from your online booking page to your Instagram feed.

You can do this by picking one or two colors and sticking with them. Use the same language to describe yourself everywhere as well (this will also save you time since you’ll only have to write something once).

When all else fails: Keep it simple. 

Get Business Cards

They’re not dead!

If you’re looking to spread your spa brand through word-of-mouth, a set of business cards at the front desk is an ideal way to encourage customers to do exactly that.

Clients can take cards when they leave, then hand them to any friends they see later who admire their “glow.”

You can also drop off business cards (or even postcards if you love print advertising!) at local businesses that serve the kind of clientele you’re after.

Upscale coffee shops, juice bars, yoga studios — all of these businesses could be referring people to your spa.

Dropping off physical cards means that you stay front-of-mind. 

You can get inexpensive, good-looking ones printed for very little money through platforms like Moo

Establish an Internet Presence

Make sure you’re all set up in the following ways:

  • Offer online booking. Everyone wants to book online these days. You can do it through an online scheduling platform like Schedulicity (we offer new businesses free access to all our tools for a nice, long trial period.)
  • Claim your Yelp profile and respond to any and all reviews up until the first 25. After that, make sure you respond to any negative reviews politely and honestly. 
  • Make sure your Google business listing is up to date. Follow these instructions for adding or claiming your Google listing to get started.
  • Offer a website where clients can easily view your services and book online. Schedulicity offers businesses both a unique business listing URL (if you don’t have a website yet) and an embeddable “book now” widget (if you do). 
  • Add a link to where clients can book on all your social media profiles. In particular, Instagram and Facebook.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Little Messy Authentic

More and more, people are looking to support businesses that feel honest.

Don’t be afraid to use your social media to show what your spa looks like in an Instagram Live, to introduce your spa team on your feed, or to make the occasional joke.

Do what feels right for your business, and it will feel right for your branding!  

Step 3:  Launch a Customer Retention Plan

Consider a Loyalty Program and/or a Referral Program

Encouraging return clients is one way to ensure your spa or salon is a business that lasts.

A loyal client list means that you’ll have a fairly consistent flow of monthly revenue, plus return clients also recommend friends. 

Offering a loyalty program or referral program is a great way to encourage them to book with you even more often.

Definitely think about adding some sort of spa perks program (or monthly membership) to your set-up.

Schedulicity offers package management, too, so you can customize what your program looks like and integrate it into the appointment booking and checkout process. 

Be Extra

Our resident hair and beauty industry expert, Nina Tulio is all about going above and beyond with clients — and not just the new ones. Offering extra perks is an incredible way to stand out from the crowd.

Not sure how? Try one of Nina’s suggestions to amp up your client retention

Send Follow-Ups and Thank Yous

After a client comes to your spa, don’t forget to thank them.

You can do this in a number of ways, but one of the easiest is to send an automated text or email that thanks them for coming. You can also encourage them to book their next spa day appointment in the same message.

(And you can use Schedulicity’s automated reminder system to take care of this for you.) 

Ask for Feedback

Another tip from Tulio is to always ask for feedback after an appointment — or at least after a new client has their first experience. It’s as simple as adding a link to a feedback form into your follow-up message.

Tools like Survey Monkey (which has a free account) make this easy. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

If you’re thinking about spa branding and advertising, then you’re probably interested in making your space look as appealing as possible.

And if you want your space to feel exclusive, you need to feel confident in the value of your services.

This means that you shouldn’t agree to discount those services just because someone asks, according to Tulio, and you shouldn’t feel afraid to raise your prices regularly to keep growing.

Knowing your value and not settling for less will help your clients, too, because it will keep your spa (and you) in great shape.  

Step 4: Embrace the Spaghetti-Wall Approach

Yep, throw that spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. Which is to say: some spa advertising strategies or marketing platforms will work wonders for your business while others just…won’t.

The best spa branding plan builds this trial-and-error cycle into the process. 

Set Goals and Check-In Dates

Make sure to set monthly goals and check-ins to see how various advertising projects are going. If that’s too much, try at least to do it quarterly. 

If you’re spending money (or your time, which is money!) on Instagram, make sure to review how your Instagram ads or posts are performing in terms of views, but also engagement (a fancy marketing term for how many people click-through to your site, and also, actually book a spa appointment).

The same goes for client loyalty or referral programs, seasonal sales, or Yelp advertising. 

Test, Pivot, Test Again

Don’t be afraid to switch gears and try something else if you’re not getting the results you want.

And if one type of spa advertising does much, much better for you, ask yourself: How can I make this work for me even better?

Here are dozens of beauty industry marketing strategies that can also work for spas. Give a few a try every few months! 

Step 5: Schedule Time to Work on Your Advertising

Now that you have a plan in place, you’ve got to maintain it. But easaier said than done when you’re busy running a spa day in and day out.

The best way to keep the momentum going is to set aside time in your workweek to dedicate to office-related tasks including spa marketing. Try for at least a couple of hours each week.

(With Schedulicity, you can set personal time in your calendar to prevent clients from booking during that window.)

Setting a regular appointment with yourself to look over your spa branding and advertising will mean that you’ll stay ahead of trends — and ahead of the competition. 

Additional Reading

The above should get you started, but here’s a list of additional free resources worth bookmarking: