The Rules of SMS Marketing

Jun 11, 2011 No Comments by

Spa’s and Salons are finally starting to realize that SMS is a great Marketing and Business Building Tool. More and more Beauty Businesses in South Africa are catching on. As the Marketing Director of my own Company. I have signed up to a lot of other businesses SMS Marketing Campaigns. I have done this so that I can learn how other businesses and industries market their products and services. Over the last few months I have begun to realize, that many businesses in our industry are just not using SMS correctly.

Here are some very practical ideas to help you with your current and future SMS campaigns. I always tell Salon Studio clients that SMS is simply a tool and a tool is only as good as the person using it. SMS works if you follow the rules. There are rules to marketing via print media, there are rules when marketing via email and there are also rules to be followed when marketing via SMS. Below is a list of seven rules for SMS Marketing that will help you take your Business to the next level.

Rule # 1: Always allow clients to opt in and out

Don’t simply add names to your SMS database. Anyone with a phone book can do that. Get permission from people to send them SMS’s. The word for this process is “opt in.” Don’t get upset if people opt out. In fact, get excited because now you know that you don’t have to waste time or money on them. But people who opt in will never consider your SMS to be spam, in fact they are waiting to do business with you. Have your customers opt-in and subscribe to receive your communication. You should also provide a means of the recipient opting out. (TOOL-TIP: Make sure your read our sms marketing article entitled “Get permission first!”)

Rule # 2: Make sure that the SMS is relevant and personalized

This is the most important rule if you want to succeed using SMS. In the last month, I have received SMS’s from Spa’s offering me the following promotions;
• A discount on facial products for teenage acne,
• Two different slimming specials
• A bikini wax offer.

Here is the problem – these SMS’s were not relevant to me. I am not a teenager, I don’t have teenage kids and I don’t have acne. I am also a skinny guy, I don’t want to lose weight I want to gain it. And most importantly, for me as a male – I will never ever go for a bikini wax! These may be great products and services sent from a great Spa, but they were sent to the wrong person. Because they are irrelevant they don’t sell and they can be quite irritating. The biggest mistake Spa’s and salons make when using SMS is this – they create a special offer and then send it to their entire database hoping that customers who have not purchased that particular product or service will change their minds and try something new. Unfortunately this does not work.

People are creatures of habit. Think about your own life and your purchase preferences. I am willing to bet that every time you visit your favourite restaurant, you stick to two or three of your favourite meals. You hardly ever try something new and adventurous. The same is true of consumer buying patterns in Spa’s. To get your SMS’s to sell your products and services they must be relevant to the consumers you are targeting.

In other words, target people according to purchase preference and purchase history. If you are offering an anti-ageing facial special the best place to start your SMS campaign is to start with customers who regularly buy anti-ageing facials. Once you have targeted these “most likely” candidates then move on to other groups of consumers who purchase different facials. This may mean that you send less SMS’s but your rate of return will always be higher because you have sent the right message to the right person. I guarantee you that if your SMS is irrelevant it will not sell!

In addition to making sure that your SMS is relevant make sure that the SMS contains your client’s first name and or their surname. This creates a sense of intimacy. Your customer doesn’t feel like they are being sold, they feel as if the special offer was created just for them. Make sure that you use the “Personalised SMS” functionality inside Salon Studio CRM when you create Marketing SMS’s

Rule # 3: The focus must be on the customer, not the spa or the product

This is the hardest part of writing SMS’s that sell. You only have 160 characters to work with, so the offer needs to be stated in the form of a short attention grabbing headline. Most Spa’s and Salons make the mistake of putting the business or product name at the front of the SMS. In other words the first thing the customer reads about is you and your product. The truth is people don’t care about you or your company – they care about themselves first and foremost. They want to know what’s in it for them. That’s why the offer must be stated at the front of the SMS. To do this, the content of the message must focus on the customer, her purchase preference and what she likes or wants. People buy products and services for only two reasons;
• To solve a problem
• To make themselves feel good.

Ideally, the message should tell how you solve your customer’s problem or need. The message must not be about you or how great your company is. Don’t tell them what you do – tell them what you do for them! By now I hope you are starting to realise how important Rule # 2 is.

Rule # 4: SMS marketing is not about branding or awareness building – it is about getting people to respond, to take action

Again, this is where many businesses fail with SMS marketing. They spend so much time talking about themselves that they don’t leave any space for a strong call to action. SMS is a direct response form of marketing, therefore your message must be compelling enough to cause people to move, to take action. Your call to action must be clear and concise. Tell people what to do. State your offer as precisely and clearly as possible. Then, motivate your customer to take action. In other words tell the person reading your ad, menu or brochure specifically what steps they need to take to do business with you. What you are doing is motivating your audience to get involved. Tell your clients to visit the salon, make a phone call, fill in a coupon, write for more information, ask for you by name, visit your website, attend a workshop or come in for a free consultation. Don’t stop short, tell your prospects exactly what you want them to do and tell them clearly and precisely.

Create a sense of urgency by offering a special incentive or bonus to get customers to act immediately. You do this by including a date or limited offer in the SMS.

There are 2 important reasons why you want customers to respond. Firstly, anyone who responds to your SMS marketing is a qualified prospect. They are interested in what you have to offer and want to do business with you. Secondly, you want customers to respond so that you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. This leads us to rule # 5.

Rule # 5: Every SMS must have a response mechanism

To track SMS’s and measure your rate of return all you have to do is add a simple response mechanism to every SMS. For example, “Get 20% of all treatments TODAY NOV 16 ONLY by showing this message at the ABC Spa.” There are some important elements here.
• The first is we have included the date. This firmly fixes when the sale / promotion / special offer is being run. It creates a sense of urgency.
• Second we have ‘by showing this message’. This allows tracking of the response rate. Your Therapists can also ask if customers received the SMS. If not they can be added to the database so they can get future sale notifications.
• Thirdly the offer is at the lead. 20% off is the first thing people see – it is an attention-grabber. Most Salons and Spa’s make the mistake of putting their company name first. In print marketing, never put your logo or Spa name where an attention grabbing headline should be. In SMS marketing never put your Spa name where the special offer should be i.e. at the start of the SMS. Think about it, what will grab people’s attention and move them to action, the special offer or the name of your business? The answer is obvious
Methods of responding to the offer can vary depending on your business and your imagination. But remember that the simpler, cheaper and easier it is to respond the better your rate of return. When you measure the rate of response it allows you to test what works, stop what doesn’t and keep on improving.

Rule #6: Make sure that you send the message at the right time

SMS marketing is all about putting the right message in the right person’s hand at the right time. This means that you should pay a lot of attention as to when the message is sent. When will the prospect be most receptive to the message? A good message that is delivered at the wrong time is totally ineffective. Be careful not to send messages out after hours as well as on Friday afternoons because people are in the wrong frame of mind. The point I want to get across here is simple – get to know your clients and send the message out at the most appropriate time.

Rule # 7: Pay attention to Frequency

Regular communication with your customers is vital to business health. Please note however that there is a fine line between regular, appropriate contact and irritating, intrusive bombardment. Make sure that you follow the rules of SMS outlined above and SMS marketing will work for you. An occasional, friendly, relevant and personalized offer, promotion, reminder or after sales SMS will help maintain your relationship and could provide just the push you need to increase sales and retain your customers.
For more information on SMS Marketing or Salon Studio Software, please do not hesitate to contact Vaughan on 0827863223 or visit

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