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Relationship Marketing, Extremely Important For The Growth Of A Spa

Focus on Customer Retention

I believe that customer retention should be core in the DNA of any spa business. Anyone who walks into your environment must not be allowed to walk away without experiencing any of your offering even if it is at no cost. You must find a way to get into a relationship with your customers from the first day. Interestingly, a major part of the revenue from spa businesses comes from repeat visits. You must have a Customer Relationship Management CRM system that would enable you keep and maintain contact with your customers and leverage same to upsell and cross sell them.

You will need to introduce loyalty card as soon as you can and really work it. Keep in contact with customers through the use of an e-mail list, promotional cards or a monthly newsletter is a way to ensure customers remember your location. Incentives for repeat business, including discounts for subsequent visits or free product tied to number of patronage, are good ways to keep people coming back.

Word-of-Mouth Advocacy

Like we say in the definition of marketing, an experience from your spa must speak for you. Once it speaks for you, it is then easier for your customers to speak for you. It’s not unusual for family and friends to go to a spa together. If they come to your spa, that becomes two or more customers instead of one. That’s the idea behind a ‘friend bring a friend‘ or ‘family and friends’ promotion where a customer gets some loyalty points or discount off a service for introducing a new customer. The customer gets recognized and rewarded in some special way for every friend who comes to the spa and mentions your name as the person who told them about the spa.

As noted earlier, your marketing programs must be well articulated and coordinated in the delivery to ensure that you do not make losses as a result of the promotions you run. Each promotion must pay for itself and deliver incremental revenue in addition to making positive contribution towards the development of the equity of the spa brand.

A friend once asked me if a spa needs marketing to survive and my answer was, a spa business does need marketing, not just to survive but deliver great experience, grow and be profitable. The Spa Business, needs all the major functions of business, marketing in particular, because it is the core of any business.

Traditionally, the industry has not been known to do great marketing but that is understandable because they are often embedded into better known hotels or luxury businesses. They simply assume the image of the parent or mother brand. Recently we are increasingly seeing standalone spas that offer great experience and really want to be known for what they do as a business and not a value added service offered by a known brand. This indeed calls for great marketing.

Like we know about any beauty or wellness outfit and indeed any business venture, having the most talented hands or staff (brand ambassadors) is great but if the customers (the people for which you are in business) do not know about you and the experiences they can enjoy, you will not get their patronage and by extension, you will not remain in business for too long. We can count how many well equipped beauty parlors that have come and gone. Lack of marketing is one of the major reasons for their extinction. Someone may ask me ‘what is marketing’ in the context of running a spa? In answering this, I will take us back to three popular definitions of marketing:

  1. Marketing is the discipline concerned with solving people’s problems with products and services profitably. –    Procter & Gamble
  2. Marketing is the management process involved in identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer wants profitably (Institute of Marketing)
  3. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand your customer so well that your product or service fits him well and sells itself” – Peter Drucker.

We see from these definitions that Marketing is not just selling. It is about knowing and understanding your customer. In the context of managing a spa, it is a big deal.

Most spa guests are interested in some form of healthy living, and the increase in spa use during the past several years bears this out. As such, spa businesses must realize that building spa brand loyalty is crucial to success. The spa brand must call-out to consumers. That means attracting new and potential customers you wouldn’t normally attract. There are many spa options in the world, yet the best ones are built on a solid market positioning focused on a specific key benefit for its customers.

It calls for carefully determining what your spa brand will be and your unique value proposition message to your customers. It is often said that you better under promise and over deliver than over promise and under deliver. None of the two statements are correct in my view. I will rather that we make a promise and keep it. A great spa should put resources behind fulfilling the key benefits promised through the experience (treatments) offered, and service standards. In short, be the brand, reinforce it, and you will be rewarded with loyal and growing patronage.

In the words of Seth Goden “ideas that spread, win’. Getting the message of your spa brand out is as simple as placing your brand in a few key places, offering strategic promotions and encouraging satisfied customers to come back. This is the sole aim of marketing.

Is it different from marketing retail products or services? Not exactly. However, like I explained earlier, it does not matter what kind of business, marketing is very important. Customers have to know where you are, and choose to come to you. Getting the word out about your business and starting a buzz about the unique experience you deliver and the product range you carry are extremely important in building your spa brand. It’s even more appropriate when you are a standalone spa brand.

So what does this mean? Your marketing programs must be properly articulated and coordinated. Your website should feature high-quality images of the location, which are inviting and promote your value proposition packages. You must appeal to your customer and the target market, appreciating the dynamic needs of your sub target audiences i.e. younger and older demographics, mid-life professionals etc. To succeed i.e. grow and be profitable, you must take marketing seriously. I like to see marketing as the engine of any business. You cannot succeed without being in touch with your customers and being intentional about meeting the needs they have and in a way that makes them talk about you and the services to others. Let’s look at some strategies that might help:

Partnership

Marketing recognizes that you can leverage affiliations and partnerships to enhance your image as well as grow value. This is even more pronounced in the spa industry. You could partner with hotels whose image match or compliment yours to deliver more value to your customers. Other businesses in the hospitality industry, including restaurants, fitness and community centers might also have a bulletin board with advertising from local businesses. Your city’s tourism information center will stock brochures about the sites around your town, and might also agree to set a place aside for your advertising. It’s about collaboration. You’ve got to choose right to ensure that the partnership enhances your value and brand equity.

Encourage Product Sales

The sale of associated products is a second revenue stream for any business in the beauty / wellness industry. It is therefore a useful strategy to stock and retail the kinds of products and services that will keep you in the minds of your customers. After every spa session, there must be some complementary products or services to keep the customer going before the next spa session. This comes from knowing and understanding your customer well. The more you know about your customer the better you would be at serving them and once your solution fit their needs and sell itself, you are in for real good business. Offer sales on products in combination with a service; for example, some percent off a body massage and full steam bath for buying a certain product. Knowing and understanding your customer will help you develop the right combinations that will excite your customers and motivate and in some cases compel them to go for it.

In conclusion, it’s important to note that when you have a happy customer base, your spa will do well. Marketing helps to build a happy customer base by continuously investing in knowing and understanding the need of her customers and making sure that you have products and services that fit their needs and sells themselves. 

As a value creation consultant, I advocate proper marketing for any business. I totally agree with Phillip Kotler when he says that marketing is the engine of any enterprise.  Value creation actually starts with marketing. Where you do not have the capacity to develop and implement a well-articulated and coordinated marketing program, seek help from external consultants. It would not make sense to invest so much to set up a spa and not put resources behind marketing. That amounts to winking in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does. You will not get the desired results. You will not have enough customers. Your equipment will be underused and eventually become obsolete. You will not be able to replace them with more modern equipments. Newer spas will open all around you. The cycle of decline has set in.

Is marketing important for the spa business?. The answer is an equivocal, yes.  

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