Weed Out Nonsense Marketing Words


A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine explains that the overuse of certain words drives customers away rather than pulls them in. According to author Kim Gordon these tired words include Care, Solutions, Results, Amazing, Needs, Quality.

“Results” is a non-specific word and if our menu says: ” A luxurious results oriented facial that will leave your skin glowing, your body relaxed and your spirit soaring.” The message is vague. An improvement might read: “A luxurious exfoliating and refining facial with that will leave your skin glowing, your body relaxed and your spirit radiant.” When we choose a superlative such as “amazing” to describe the results of a particular product or service we must back it up with the details or clients will stop listening. Consider descriptive alternatives to words such as “solutions”, “quality” and “needs” in your marketing materials.

Internally and externally, spa marketing is seasoned with other overused and hollow words: World Class, Seamless, Client -Focused, and Synergy are good examples.

We have been using “World-Class” to describe our product and service experience to both employees and clients for too long. With so many “World-Class” spa experiences and spa properties this concept is no longer a differentiator. Stating a commitment to a “World-Class” spa experience is far less effective than this alternative: “Our goals are to provide you with the finest treatment available in a beautiful, serene environment and to help you develop a healthy lifestyle and sense of well-being” .

When we state our intention to provide a “Seamless” spa experience our staff may nod their heads in agreement, however do they really know what this means? Seamless as in lingerie, or as in technology or what? If we speak plainly, “seamless” means to make everything invisible to the client except for the magic of spa and a serene and pristine environment of relaxation.

When training a new hire do we enthusiastically explain that we are a “Client- Focused” organization? Backing up this statement with a success story and detailing what this will mean to them in terms of successful job performance on a daily basis is necessary. Bring in etiquette training to demonstrate how to act in a “client-focused” manner. Google “etiquette training” in your area to uncover a wealth of potential resources. A training DVD for $75 may be a great investment for demonstrating the values and attitudes of a “client-focused” organization.

At our spa we are guilty of using the word “synergy” to describe our treatment packages. Our spa clients are not interested in “treatment synergy” or “treatment ritual”. These words have not driven sales or interest. Clients want to have their choice in services validated by knowing the benefits of spa. Today we are obliged to communicate that spa is not a luxury and that we provide services that help our clients to radiate wellness and balance on every level – by improving the health and appearance of their skin, eliminating stagnation, and enhancing energy flow, circulation, mobility, and personal joy.

By Rhana Pytell


What to Do When Revenue Growth Seems Impossible … Develop!


We tend to measure success by our degree of growth in revenues and profits or, in the case of a public corporation, stock value. Can we experience success when revenues are flat or shrinking? In our current environment it may be helpful to redefine our measures of success and include internal quality development, personal satisfaction and profit goals.

The achievement of Olympian Michael Phelps has resulted in the addition of word “phelpsian” to our language. It refers to an amazing feat. A feat of discipline, will, love of sport, belief, persistence and balance. Michael and every Olympian reminds us of our human capacity to aspire, to live, and to celebrate our efforts. We too have the capacity to stand out, to shine and to thrive in the current environment. It is interesting and relevant to our spa businesses that the 8th gold medal, the stunning phelpsianteam effort. moment, came through a

Backcasting is one method to strategically move towards a new goal. The definition of backcasting in Wikepedia states: ” a method in which the future desired conditions are envisioned and steps are then defined to attain those conditions, rather than taking steps that are merely a continuation of present methods extrapolated into the future” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backcasting

Use the Backcasting method to determine how to arrive at a phelpsian feat of your own choosing.

Example: The massage/spa numbers may be down due to a low cost provider opening down the street and, or due to the fact that clients have lowered the priority of spa treatments in their personal wellness plans.

Desired outcome: Day Spa Extraordinaire is experienced and perceived as a superior value in terms of overall treatment and therapeutic value to the spa client – every time, all the time, exceeding expectations. This results in customer loyalty and commitment to their personal care, reliable bookings for the staff, and revenue levels that meet our budget requirements.

Backcast steps to deliver this outcome:
Gather the team for a revisioning process.
Benchmark – Find out what value and experience the competition is providing.
Do an internal quality check – review each provider against the benchmark and your ideal.
Test market value added service improvements to your top clientele to measure response and perceived value. (Offer at your current price or slightly lower if margins allow.)
Once you have designed this new service product, train it, promote it, and deliver it flawlessly.
Do the numbers. Know, set and share your goals with the team: cost containment, green business  practices, product and service contribution margins, and sales volume.
Assist massage therapists in doing their own numbers and meet with them individually. What do they need to be making monthly? What will it require in work days and treatments to achieve that?

This process with enthusiastic and disciplined implementation will contribute to achieving your new measures of success!

By: Rhana Pytell

The Benefits in “Going Green”


After decades of exponential growth in the spa industry we have become accustomed to steadily increasing numbers of clients, revenues and opportunities. The primary constraints to revenue growth have been management skill, facility size, the number of qualified employees, and the ratio of esthetics to body services (esthetics delivering more dollars per client visit with skin care purchases.)

New constraints on revenue growth are the US economy, the credit crisis, and increasing fuel costs. The revenues of “brick and mortar” retailers are decreasing while on-line retail sales are increasing. Many of the lines we sell are being sold by manufacturers on-line directly to the consumer. With that $120 bottle of serum normally found at a professional skin care salon available at the local Whole Foods market, top skin care lines available on EBay and clients curtailing the number of miles they will drive for products and services, the economics of the spa business are shifting dramatically.

There may be little we as individuals or as day spas can do about global warming, we can however, make efforts towards green and we can learn to apply “sustainability – zero waste” practices that will result in resource conservation, a reduction of our carbon foot print, and a much needed reduction in our operating costs.

Practices to consider:

Downsizing printed service menus – we have seen our industry produce booklets, books and all manner of printed information explaining service and retail choices to educate and entice customers. These are costly! A multi-million dollar upgrade at a Four Star Resort in San Diego provides a service menu that is an 8.5 * 11 sheet of paper, printed on both sides. Results: Fewer trees needed, less energy needed and significant reduction in graphic design and printing costs.

Print advertising – glossy ads are great when your business is in the startup phase. An established day spa with 40% + overall return rate is better off allocating marketing dollars to cultivating referrals. Business processes designed to develop client advocates is by far the most cost effective marketing plan. Results: Clients benefit from the in-house loyalty program and promotional efforts, reduction in advertising costs.

Embossed gift bags – The cost of a custom heat stamped gift bags is .50 to $2.50 depending upon the size and paper quality. What is the cost to our environment? Give our customers .50 or a $1 dollar for bringing there own bag! Offer new customers your spa branded reusable bag for a few dollars or as a gift. Results: Our spa makes a difference, educates clients, preserves our natural resources and reduces our packaging costs.

Paper hand towels – even the recycled paper hand towels have an environmental cost in the resources needed to produce them and the impact of waste in landfills. Cloth hand towels that may be cold water washed in non-toxic detergent may seem like a luxury; however it is a smart practice and good business. Results: Waste reduction, resource conservation and reduction of supply costs.

In the spa industry we are at the epicenter of growing wellness awareness; awareness that now includes our entire community and culture.

By: Rhana Pytell

The Tipping Point of Green


The “tipping point” is here, the “green” conversation is main stream. As the executive or owner of your company your role is to engage managers and employees in a new vision; one where we all can live differently – with a higher level of awareness and a greater quotient of happiness. The “use and trash” or “sip and toss” mindset has diminished our natural resources. We are at the precipice of tremendous change, where revaluing resources and our quality of life as individuals and communities is our first priority.

Currently every employee Position Description in our spa business includes this process: “Sustainability Management: To develop and maintain standards of sustainability in my work and to participate and encourage others in our ongoing learning and efforts towards sustainability.” The employee is provided with a list of guidelines and business practices that describe all our sustainability efforts and expectations.

Having been openly criticized by a former employee for wasting time on ‘greening efforts” in my business and the spa industry I learned that it is necessary to have processes and systems that educate, measure, and reward individual and collective sustainability efforts. The sentiment that “global warming” is a rich man’s worry can easily permeate our modestly paid service industry when context is neglected on the personal level. Articulating the WIFM, what’s in it for me”, feature in individual terms is a necessary step. Engaging department leaders, managers and supervisors in an initial meeting to brainstorm ideas for improvements and meaningful rewards is essential. Following through on goals and keeping the vision as an active dialogue in the organization will, over time transform the company culture towards embedded sustainability.

The old model of competition where one might hear the statement “we are greener than you.” is giving way to a new model, and one based on the original meaning of the word: competere from the Latin which means “to strive together or to seek together some common interest.” Author Mark Anielski offers a vision for the future in his book The Economics of Happiness- Building Genuine Wealth; a vision in which the consumer becomes the citizen, progress measured by consumption gives way to progress being measured by the pursuit of happiness and genuine well-being, and practices of hoarding are replaced by practices of sharing and reciprocity. The Green Spa Network is an example of this new and refreshing attitude in our own industry!

All businesses face the challenge of educating and engaging employees in change processes. Adam Werbach, the Global CEO of sustainability agency Saatchi & Saatchi S. assisted WalMart in the development and implementation of their Personal Sustainability Practice initiative: individual employees decided on something they could do that would be good for them and good for the planet. 20,000 WalMart employees quit smoking!

By: Rhana Pytell