Marketing

I’ll start this off very simply, I LOVE SOCIAL NETWORKING! Why? As an entrepreneur I am constantly networking! I’ve often told the story of coming to Atlanta and starting my business from scratch. In 1997 every activity in my life involved meeting people and letting them know about the newly arrived Best Barber. Once Exodus Barber Shop was opened I introduced everyone I met to the Best Barber Shop in Atlanta. Back then it was all about business cards, and to this day I’m a testament to why business cards work. I never leave home without them!

Fast forward to the present…everybody’s on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc. Every time I hear a Barber, or any form of entrepreneur exclaim (often in an arrogant fashion) that they don’t use Facebook, I can’t help but cringe. I know these sites get a bad rep, and of course they’re filled with silliness, but so is Television and most of us still watch. The difference, Social Networking Sites are FREE!

Facebook itself has close to 1 billion users!   Click on that last underlined sentence to read about that, and click here to check out some hard stats about social networking site usage. Let’s face it, some people might as well change their names to there twitter tags, I’m @danbrowncuts, we’re @exodusbarbers (shameless with the plugs!) Ohh yeah, www.facebook.com/dan brownthebarber.

Now some of you have banned yourself from these sites because of your own indiscretions. We’ve all heard the stories of the dude who played his self and got caught cheating because he was using facebook as a player’s playground. Well, sorry, but silly is as silly does. However, if you take the “Social” out of Social Networking, what are you left with?…NETWORKING!

Our shop is located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, but through Facebook I’ve gained regular customers from as far as Douglasville. Those familiar with the Atlanta metropolitan area know that that’s an hour long drive. When people see quality, they’ll travel to get it!

If you own a business, or are just someone who must market for themselves, and you’re currently user of one or more of these sites, what you do, should be the primary focus of your account. For barbers it’s as simple as posting pictures of your haircuts. Put a fresh cut in the news feed, and someone who needs a barber will notice. With so many of  us using smartphones its just too easy! Instagram(a social networking site based on pictures) allows you to edit photos and integrate them into other sites like Twitter and Facebook.

There are other benefits as well. Many beauty and barber professionals are on the Social Networking sites posting pictures and giving feedback to one another. Facebook also has several groups such as Barberlife 101, The Barber Society, and Andis Clipper Education to name a few.

In the past Barbers across the nation did not share their experiences, but now, largely because of these sites, we’re helping one another in many ways. These groups have forums where we can comment on each other’s work, and participate in discussions on how to deal with clients, owners, worker’s etc. These tools are invaluable, especially if you’re “up and coming”. However, failure to utilize these free gems might leave you “down and going (nowhere)”.!

If you don’t believe me, then ask yourself why every major company has a Facebook page?  From Wal-mart, to Whole Foods, to Democrats, to Republicans, if they want attention, there’s a page.  Exodus Barber Shop has a page. In fact, click on that “F”, check us out, and “like” us! (I never stop!)

Hey, I know your girl checked your page and caught you being careless. At the end of the day, if you can’t resist temptation, well, get used to failure.  I’m going to continue to use every free tool at my disposal. If you can’t understand that, you probably should stick to a 9 to 5, and leave “business” to the real businessmen and women. That’s just the way I see it.

Blog written by Dan Brown “The Barber”

 

Do you have a business card? If not, you should, especially if you’re in the beginning stages of serious clientele building. I can’t over stress how useful a tool a simple business card can be, and I consider my personal story a testament to this statement.

I moved to Atlanta,Ga, from Buffalo,NY in the summer of 1997. Apart from a couple of Barbers I’d worked with at home, I didn’t know anyone. I started in an established shop for the first couple of months, but moved to a new shop with no regular clients. As a rule I wouldn’t advise that move, but I’d promised the owner of the new shop that I’d work with him. In addition to being a new shop, the business was located in a plaza that was basically dying, so the walk in traffic was almost non-existent. Like I said kids, don’t try this at home… but Dan Brown was up for the challenge!

Now at the time I had a little apartment, with no family or friends to lean on. I was broke! I also had two kids to take care of back at home, in addition to bills and booth rent.  I had to make some money! I was determined to make Barbering work for me in Georgia, the way it had in NY, where I’d left a sizable clientele.  I was still confident in myself, but others in my life weren’t  so sure. I heard many times: “You Need to get a job!”,  but working for other people has never been my thing. I couldn’t afford a lot… but I bought those business cards.

With so much responsibility, I had to make things happen. For less than $40.00 I ordered 1000 business cards, and went to work. What I did, is what I tell every new barber to do. I made sure I did all my shopping in the vicinity of the shop. Whether it was buying food from the grocery store, beer from the liquor store, or gas for my car. I couldn’t afford to be shy, so I talked to nearly everyone I came in contact with, especially if their haircut wasn’t proper! When you approach people you don’t know, you need to be friendly, clean, and respectful. Have you ever heard the phrase “Persistence overcomes resistance”? I lived by it!  It’s something that has to be practiced on a daily basis, and patience is a must. You can’t get frustrated when the people don’t come pouring in. I had to make the most of my small victories, so I gave the best service possible to every client (which you should do any way!).

I was on my grind, and you have to be on yours. Attracting customers is a 24/7 job , especially when you’re starting from scratch the way I did. When I was out, I’d be networking, passing out cards. Other than that, I was at the shop!  Building a clientele is basically, starting a business. Sometimes I’d run into people who said they’d  already gotten a card from me, to which I’d reply by gesturing to my hair, and asking why I hadn’t seen them yet.  Now I was a little hungry  (HUNGRY AS HELL!), and in reality if they express true content with their current barber, let them be. Still, stay friendly, you never know when someone may need a back up Barber.

When it comes to Business cards I have a saying: The purpose of purchasing them, is to get rid of them! Like I said, you can get 1000 business cards for about $35-$40 or less. That money can be made back in couple of haircuts. If you get just a 5% turnaround on that box, that’s 50 people! I stayed true to my tactics, and in 8 months  I had a solid clientele. As fate would have it the shop remained slow, even as I prospered.  It eventually closed, but I made a deal with the landlord, and took over the business. It was a struggle, but we built a solid reputation for my shop, and in 2003, we moved to a better location and began to thrive.

A note about clientele building; once you get the customer, and give them excellent service, get their info. Be smart, use that smart phone! I  am a firm believer in appointments, although this may not seem realistic for all barbers. I wrote an article on it, if you’d like to read it, click here!

Today Exodus Barber Shop is one of the premier Hair cutting establishments in the Atlanta area, but most people are not aware of the struggles I went through to get it up and running.  This is a fact: I was able to build my initial clientele with business cards, I couldn’t afford much else! There were times when I didn’t have electricity, heat , and I couldn’t even think about cable!  It wasn’t easy, but my persistence led to my own business, a couple of homes, and I was even able to move my children down to Atlanta with me. I’m glad I didn’t get that Job!

Blog written by Dan Brown “The Barber”