Long before social media, tanning businesses relied heavily on “word-of-mouth” marketing to gain new customers. Even those that had the resources to invest in traditional advertising understood that more customers came to them organically via recommendations from friends and family. That’s why many independent tanning businesses with limited budgets eschewed traditional advertising, and many continue to do so.
But these days, digital platforms have made advertising more far affordable and efficient. It makes sense that many small businesses didn’t want to invest in billboards, radio or newspaper ads, but anybody can and should be spending as little as $100 a month to garner hundreds of clicks and tens of thousands of impressions with local consumers.
At the same time, social media has revolutionized word-of-mouth marketing. Instagram, and later TikTok, gave birth to the phenomenon of “influencers,” the impact of which goes much deeper than just business and marketing. It’s a whole cultural shift. People who probably wouldn’t be famous otherwise are now amassing millions of followers and making millions of dollars from brands that will pay for their influence. More importantly, everyday people take cues from celebrities and influencers in the way they portray themselves online. Understanding and playing into that mindset is the key to building an effective influencer program as a small business with limited resources.
Even if it could be afforded, it wouldn’t make sense for a tanning business with one or even 100 tanning businesses to pay Kim Kardashian for promotion. What small businesses need is local influence, and anybody can afford that on some level.
On a small scale, literally everyone is an influencer, even if they don’t have an Instagram account at all. Every one of your customers has influence. Your friends and family have influence. All your staff members have influence. You just need to give them the right tools and incentives to make them use it to benefit your business.
Click here to read the entire article in the latest issue of Smart Tan Magazine online.
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