just appending a fancy logo on your business card or designing a website. The simplest way to delineate what branding means, is to describe it as the process of making your product, service or company different, and ensuring that your target audience positively thinks about you more often than the competition.
Many small businesses understandably shy away from spending big on advertisements or implementing expensive marketing campaigns. This is where branding comes in; it is a cost-effective way of improving the perception of your product or services by the customer. Branding makes you stand out from the rest and ensures that you occupy a mental space in the minds of your target audience.
Make-up artistry is fast becoming a popular type of business in Nigeria. Many young individuals (mostly females) have grasped unto the concept of making money through the art of improving other people’s looks. While this type of business can be a source of gargantuan income for many, only few people come to mind when make-up artistry is mentioned. This is because those few have managed to brand themselves as leaders of the industry. However, for those who are yet to understand the nitty-gritty of growing your make-up business, the ten tips in subsequent paragraphs will direct your path towards being a successful make-up artist.
1. Be GOOD at what you do
The first step is to be good at what you do. The moment you decide to charge people for what you do, it is no longer a hobby, it is a job or business. Just like any job, being highly skilled is definitely the first step towards success. I might not know much about make-up kits that are used to beautify a customer, but I do know that excellent delivery of service is highly dependent on the quality of the service provider. If you must take classes or enroll for training, do so by all means. Invest in yourself and be equipped with the needed skill in thriving in the make-up business.
2. Have a purpose
There has to be a reason why you decided to be a make-up artist or go into the make-up business. That reason must never be because your best friend is making a lot of money as a make-up artist or because people commend you for ‘painting’ your face so well. There should be a cogent purpose for your business endeavor and it should not be solely underpinned by the desire to make money. Aside making profit, there should be a purpose that ignited your passion for making people up or enhancing their looks with your skill. Perhaps you derive joy in being the reason why someone feels special or smiles every time she looks at herself in a mirror. Perhaps your purpose could then be to stimulate that feeling of self-admiration in every customer you make up. With purpose comes direction, and with direction, one can easily navigate through the path of business success.
3. Have a unique brand Identity
It is imperative that your brand has an identity. There has to be a way of identifying your brand among the myriad make-up businesses out there. Just like the way every individual has a distinct identity that sets him apart from his friends, from the hair on his head, to the way his nose is structured to how the person speaks. This is the exact way a brand should be. Your brand identity encompasses how you want to look or be seen by the public. From visual identity (company logo, style, design colours, typeface etc) to your brand’s tone of voice. Other intangible aspects of your brand identity includes your core values, personality and culture.
In the case of brand personality, because it is a make-up business, you are the face of the brand (in most cases). When customers think of your business, they think about you. Therefore, your personality has to be congruent with that of the business. In other words, the brand personality is pretty much your personality. Are you lively and fun? Are you uptight or friendly? The way they see your personality is the way they see your business. Your (brand) personality will endear you (or not) to customers and help or deter you from building a relationship with them. So work on how you come across as a person.
4. Develop brand values
Core values are those moral standards or principles that guide how you run your business. Develop brand values that differentiate you from the competition. For instance, values like integrity and punctuality could make a difference to your target audience and allow them to associate with your business, rather than the competition. These values should be inculcated into your employees as well. The values should be upheld and communicated at every touchpoint.
5. Sell experience not service
This is about the most important step that can make your business the envy of the competition. Nowadays, the best way to enhance brand resonance with customers is to deliver memorable and mind-blowing experiences that will linger in their minds. Experience is an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone while service is what you render in exchange for financial compensation in most cases. With that being said, when you think of the service you deliver as an experience, it goes a long way in registering your trademark in the hearts of your customers. The focus should not be how well you make people up but how you make them feel when you make them up. People can forget what you do to them, but will never forget how you make them feel.
Those who require the services of a make-up artist do so, not because it is the eleventh commandment in the bible, but because of the emotional benefits that come with it. The benefit of feeling beautiful and being appreciated by others. There is an emotional reward that is attached to looking pretty, the reward of high self-esteem, self-confidence and social acceptance. Those are the things they pay for, not your services. Therefore, do your best in ensuring you provide a memorable experience.
The minute you become the experience-provider, your customers will automatically become your brand advocates. They will publicize your business to their friends in their gossip forums, to their colleagues at work and relatives at an owambe. Even eavesdroppers will get the scoop of how talented you are as a make-up artist. This further ensures a strong bond is strengthened between you and your customers.
6. Be customer-obsessed
Be the customer-centric type. Without customers, your business will be non-existent. Do not take loyal customers for granted because they are hard to replace and do not relent at getting new ones even though it is hard. Appreciate your customers with little gifts and excellent customer service. Call or email them during their wedding anniversary and send them gifts during their children’s birthday parties. Ask for their feedback and opinions as this shows they are relevant to you. The make-up business is extremely saturated and the red ocean situation makes it easier for customers to switch to the competition the minute they are dissatisfied with your offering. Be obsessed with them and their needs and make it your goal to worship them at the altar of commerce with excellent customer service.
7. Study the competition and beat them
You don’t need to do a SWOT analysis to know the threats to your business. Your competition pose the threats. They are in business to succeed just like you so they stand in your way every time you try to convert an individual to a loyal customer. The best way to beat them is to prove you are better than them and this entails studying them to the letter. Research on the major players in the make-up business, study how they operate and what makes them big, not for the purpose of imitating, but for the aim of doing it better in your own way. Figure out their strength and beat them at it. Work on your own weaknesses and let their weaknesses be your strength.
8. Use social media to drive customer engagement
Social media has enhanced the business growth of SMEs since its advent. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are now powerful business platforms where brand awareness and customer engagement have been fostered. In the case of a make-up business, while many artists use these social media platforms to promote their businesses, the question is- how effective do they use them in building their brand? I observed that many make-up artists post pictures of their works and advertise their repertoire on Facebook, Instagram and other picture-enabled networking site. Although this is necessary in terms of creating brand awareness, the aspect of customer engagement is often ignored. Customer engagement involves interacting and engaging your customers in virtual conversations, forum discussions etc. For instance, the fact that your Instagram page has one million followers is an opportunity for you to convert them into one million customers and brand advocates. That can only be quickened through engagement. It shouldn’t just be about uploading pictures of your work. When they like your pictures, say hello; when they comment, respond and have a chit chat.
Create a personal blog and post your work and other beauty-related pieces to get them involved from time to time. Start a YouTube channel where they can see you in videos as you inform, interact and showcase your competence in what you do. Don’t make the mistake of not having a business website. If you are serious about your business and want to gain customers, you need a website that instantly communicates your brand identity and purpose. When people want to know more about you, that is where they’ll go to, so make it as informative as possible. I often get irritated when I visit the websites of certain brands to get more info on what they do or offer and it’s all vapid, dull and uninviting. That could immediately discourage me from visiting the site again or even dissipate my interest in the brand. Make the website look like a visual brochure of what you do and why you are the best make-up artist in town. However, do this in the most concise and less wordy form.
Business networking involves building relationships and trust with individuals that want to help you so that you too can help them. Since you might not have the luxury of advertising on mass media like TV, radio and print, business networking is your best bet. Partner with hair salons and have them refer their customers to you while you do the same for them. Photographers can also be vital to your business. If you want to regularly show what you do on social media and in your portfolio, get a photographer that is adept at the art of taking exquisite pictures. Contact fashion houses or modelling agencies and convince them to allow you make up their models. This can boost your awareness. Attend special functions like weddings and events like awards shows where musicians, actors and other celebrities flock to. The showbiz industry will always need people like you so take the advantage. Ensure you have a stack of business cards with you that you can hand out to people every time you go to such events. It makes you look more professional and people will take you seriously.
10. Be consistent with your brand promise
Brand promise includes the benefits and experiences that are associated with a brand, in its current and prospective consumers' minds. Those benefits and experiences that you have promised must be delivered consistently to customers. Perhaps your brand promise to your customers includes the benefit of looking like Beyonce and the unforgettable experience of feeling queenly; you must deliver this promise on a regular basis and without fail. Just like in any other business, the satisfaction of customers is central to business growth, therefore their expectations must be met at all times. In this era of social media, a disgruntled or disappointed customer can bring down your business with one tweet. Consistency is key and it breeds trust. The moment customers trust you, your brand will live in their minds rent-free.