Modern Marketing

Instagram, Barbershops, and the Power of Continuous Marketing


It was Saturday and I needed a haircut. Badly.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t schedule an appointment to get my haircut. Instead, when the mood strikes me, I just find the closest barbershop – the kind with the barber pole outside – and make it happen. Since my family and I have only been in the Bay Area a short time, I didn’t have my “go-to” barber.

My process went something like this:

  1. Ask my friends on Facebook.
  2. Search Yelp.
  3. Walk the streets of downtown Redwood City looking for the barber pole.

No luck on Facebook (most of my FB friends don’t live near me). Yelp was all over the place. I then recalled passing a new barbershop called Captain’s – barber pole and all – close to our house. At this point, you may be saying “What the heck does story this have to do with marketing?” Fair question. Wait for it…

The second we walked into Captain’s, we were greeted by a friendly staff member. She took down my name, offered me some coffee, and began interacting with my son (who was also “getting his hairs cut”). My son is two, but he LOVES getting his hair cut (odd, I know). As he sat calmly in the chair,  she asked if she could post a picture of him to their Instagram account.

Yes, my barbershop has an Instagram account! And it’s not just any Instagram account – it’s an active one. If you are going to promote your Instagram account (or any social presence, for that matter) be sure you’re consistently updating it…but that’s another post, for another day. The point is that, being the Instagram freak that I am, I said “Of course!”

Fast-forward an hour: my son and I both had fresh haircuts and a new favorite barbershop. As we were walking out the door, the woman who took the picture handed us a “Now Open” sticker (see below) and told us to tell all of our friends about it. She then handed me a business card and wrote down their Instagram handle on the back.

captians now open sticker

This small, locally owned barber shop was masterfully engaging in offline marketing. I was definitely impressed.

That being said, as I walked out the door, I couldn’t help but think about how Captain’s could turn this one-time “campaign” into a continuous, sustainable marketing program.

What is Continuous Marketing?

If you want your marketing to be truly effective, you can’t just think in terms of “one-time campaigns.” No longer does a single point of contact (i.e. just email, or just social media, or just direct mail, or just your website) work. Your customers and potential customers are everywhere, all the time. They are talking about you, your brand, your company, your employees, on all channels – regardless of whether or not you are listening.

Go where they are. Meet them there. Have a conversation with them – an authentic, personal, continuous conversation.

Bringing it back to the barber shop, here are three ways that Captain’s – or any consumer business with a retail store presence, for that matter – can begin executing continuous marketing programs.

Use this multi-channel marketing workbook to think about all of the channels where your potential or current customers engage.

1. Continuous Marketing on Social

As I mentioned, I love that Captain’s is on Instagram. I love that they are actively posting pictures of their barbers, their clients, and anything related to hair. I love that they are sharing their Instagram credentials with people on the way out the door.

But what if they stepped up their Instagram game (their insta-game?) even more? What if they asked each new client, “Are you on Instagram?” as soon as they walked in the door? What if they started tagging each client in “before” and “after” shots during the haircut? Clients would be encouraged to tag Captain’s in their haircut pictures – talk about free marketing.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To really start engaging in continuous marketing, Captain’s could create a database of clients with Instagram accounts. After following all of them, they could start actually interacting – commenting on their pictures and videos, tagging them in relevant updates, and so on. Captain’s could send private direct message videos reminding clients to get their hair cut or sharing other interesting news.

Captain’s could quickly becoming the case study for how barber shops can dominate Instagram through continuous marketing. ROI, baby! And to be clear, this same “formula” could work on any social media channel.

Captain’s took a good first step in posting my son’s picture on Instagram (with my permission), but that’s a one-time deal. Unless they continue to interact with me on Instagram, I’ll probably forget they even have an account.

2. Continuous Marketing on Email

Email still is king. Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic. But it’s not just about “doing” email marketing. Anyone can send out an email newsletter, or share an awesome piece of news with your mailing list. However, the really smart marketers save time AND make their messages more timely, targeted, relevant, and continuous by automating their email marketing programs.

So how can Captain’s use marketing automation to make their email marketing continuous?

  • Step 1: Collect email addresses. I don’t care how they do it – legal pad and clipboard (old school), iPad (new school). Whatever. Just get people’s email addresses!
  • Step 2: Input some information about each client – name, date of last haircut, frequency of haircuts, Instagram handle, phone number, and so on.
  • Step 3: Send a personalized welcome email. Mention the date the client came into the barber shop, the type of haircut the client got, and a link to the before/after Instagram picture.
  • Step 4: Automate! Based on the frequency on their haircuts, schedule a “Don’t forget to schedule your next haircut” reminder email.
  • Step 5: After next appointment, repeat Step 2 (update info).
  • Step 6: Send a “thanks for coming in” email, similar to the original welcome email.
  • Step 7: Continue automating (Step 4).
  • Step 8: Set up occasional coupon/deal emails.

Easy, right? Remember: it’s not just “one and done” when it comes to email. Instead, think automation. Think continuous marketing.

3. Integrated Marketing

Captain’s could apply the principles of continuous marketing to every marketing channel – not just social and email, but also print and display ads, event marketing, direct mail…you name it. But the true power of continuous marketing emerges when you integrate those tactics. Why use one when you could use five?

There are plenty of integrated marketing opportunities for a business like Captain’s. For example, let’s say Captain’s decides to run a “Wild Haircut Wednesday” column in their weekly email newsletter. Assuming they took my advice and followed all clients on Instagram, they could flip through their Instagram feed and select the “wildest” client haircut, or host a #WildHaircutWednesday contest on Instagram and give away a free haircut to the winner – announced via email, of course. They could use the winners as the “models” for a print ad campaign, and feature them on the website. The list is endless. Just like (continuous) marketing. See what I did there?

In Summary

If I had to summarize my thoughts about Captain’s in one simple equation, it would be Barber Shops + Instagram + Email Marketing + Integration + Continuous Marketing = #Winning. (Feel free to check my math.)

Marketers, does your company think about your tactics as silo’d, “one-off” activities, or are you riding the “continuous marketing” train? As a consumer, are there any brands/organizations/Instagram-loving barbershops who have won your heart (and your business) with continuous marketing campaigns? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Learn how to break down the silos of one-channel marketing campaigns. Download this Multi Channel Lead Nurturing Strategy eBook.