2.17.2009

Planning Ahead


It's always a good idea to get out of our day-to-day mindset and look ahead. Consider it the same thing as watching the weather segment on the news and waiting to see the extended forecast - we want to know what's coming up, how to plan, what to expect. In business, that can mean taking a singular message or concept, and creating a visual merchandising plan or an advertising or event plan that builds it from month to month or season to season. This basically tells your customers what to expect from you in the near future - and gives them something to look forward to. In retail psychology, it also creates a sense of urgency - a reason to buy NOW: 'Get this season's products before they are gone, and be ready to get the next seasons's hot deals as soon as they release!'

A few years ago, I created a visual merchandising design plan for Gene Juarez Salons here in the PNW. Although at the time all they asked me for were design concepts & proposals for Fall and Holiday, I went ahead and created concepts with stylesheets for Valentine's Day, Spring/Mother's Day, Spring/Youth and Summer. When I presented all six of the stylesheets to them in the meeting, they were blown away. My intention - along with getting the account - was to show them that I could work with their design team to brainstorm and create new ways to present the brand visually in cooperation with the seasonal programs they designed. In that, I was very successful.

I didn't get the account after all...actually, no one who pitched it did. The company was sold the next week and new management took over. In any case, it was a really good exercise for me in planning ahead. I was able to get into creative mode, play with color, style, concepts, and themes, and design a campaign that would build from one season to the next. One whole year of themes, built around one central concept... which is what GJ does flawlessly, year after year.

Their product is beauty. NO, it's not merchandise like hair gel and shampoo. It's not services like haircuts, massage, and facials. Those are just a means to an end, and a profit. What Gene Juarez Salons really offer women is beauty - which is based on providing them with the feeling that they are, each and every one of them, beautiful. And the key element in facilitating that feeling is a marketing campaign that makes beauty accessible, approachable, and attainable by a very wide scope of women. Advertising and merchandising make it clear that any and every woman can experience this at Gene Juarez Salons.

For each season, the color palette of the advertising collateral and product packaging reflects a new theme - but is grounded in the stylistic color palette that defines the GJ brand. That palette is all based around the colors of skin, hair, eyes, and lips. Yes, really! This brand image color palette is used by the Gene Juarez design team, which pulls colors from it for each season and creates a fresh new look six times a year. Beneath it all, the concept of Attainable Beauty reigns. Elements change, but that general idea is repeated. It IS the brand.
And this approach is uber-successful. From teen girls to women in their nineties, the clients of Gene Juarez Salons all leave their appointments feeling beautiful, every season of the year. The loyalty of this customer base is legendary, second only to Nordstrom here in the PNW. It's a veritable heirloom, handed down by generations.

So, let me ask you...... what are you planning ahead for? How are you carrying your message, your brand, and your marketing forward to entice your customers to stick with you? How are you engendering loyalty and growth in your customer base each season, each year? What are you offering that is new, fresh, exciting, to motivate your customers to plan ahead and visit your shop? Get inspired, and get busy....'cause you know what they say about failing to plan. Right?

Image Credits: All stylesheets photos copyright DWK 2007; Gene Juarez and GJ stylistic logo copyright Gene Juarez Salons.

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