Your job is to offend at least 50% of your market. You read right. Build a brand that offends people. Not necessarily in the way Donald Trump offends...well, everybody, but in a way that isolates the customers that you want and gets rid of the rest. Effectively you will choose who you want as a client through offensive branding. By offending part of the market, you get rid of the tire kickers–people window shopping for a deal or “trying you out.”
Think about it. You cut hair. So who are your potential clients? Anyone within a reasonable distance who needs a haircut, right? But those people are all very different and are all looking for different things. Some want the best haircut possible no matter what the cost. Some just want shorter hair and view a haircut as a 30-minute chore every 3-5 weeks. Some want a good haircut but won’t pay more than a certain amount of money. They want the best value for their budget. We have all worked in places where we had to service people who were not our ideal customer but were willing to sit in our chair and pay our rate.
For instance, I worked at shops where barbers loved doing a #2 all around with no shape-up. It’s easy work and easy money. Nothing wrong with that. But I hated it. I wanted mastery in my work and doing easy cuts all day was not going to get me there. So the ideal client for some of my colleagues was not the ideal client for me.
So how do we choose our clients? By building a brand that speaks to our ideal client and turns off the others. We can use pricing, advertising, decor, and other brand choices to select our ideal clients. We want people to have a visceral reaction when they encounter our brand. Good or bad, as long as it makes them feel some type of way, we are on the right track.
You have all seen the memes that say “we fix 10 dollar haircuts.” This is an example of offending the market. Most people repost without realizing what this meme actually does. It seems like it is just taking shots at low cost barbers, but really it is signalling to the market that you are more expensive. It also suggests that you are more expensive because your services are better. People who care about their hair or who have gotten a bad haircut at a low cost shop may respond positively to this type of ad. People who feel they get a decent $10 dollar haircut will be “offended.” Not deeply hurt or pissed off but maybe turned off enough to say “screw that shop.”
Price is part of your marketing. Price signals what type of clients you are looking for. I opened my shop with $27 dollar haircuts, which was somewhat expensive to the traditional barbershop crowd. After a year and a half of being pretty much booked, I raised to $45. I am even busier now and the clients that come are happy to have a spot and pay what I charge. In 2 years I have only had one person even ask for a 1st time discount, which I promptly refused. I just don’t attract those clients.
Start thinking about how to offend some folks. Trust me. Or don’t. It’s your brand.