The VIP Card – A Media Attention-Getter

Posted by Sharon Esche Irving under Consumer Editorial, General, Strategy, Tips & Tricks

What’s a VIP Card?

Looking and feeling like a credit card, a VIP card is a ‘flexible’ discount device for salon or spa services and/or product purchases.  Although you will think of many other uses, our focus in this post is on how you can use it to garner more local media awareness . . . without looking moochy.

Although VIP cards work well in any economic climate, no one is immune to a value. Value and savings opportunities are strong motivators, especially now. See our recent post ‘Good PR in a Bad Economy’.

Newbie or Old-Timer

If you’re just getting started working with your local media, a VIP card is an excellent tool to put in the hands of local newspaper and magazine editors, TV program segment producers, hotel concierges, etc.  Yes, it’s a shameless, transparent outreach to bring them into your salon or spa, but if offered tastefully and sincerely, expressing your desire to have the opportunity for them to experience the ‘special’ value and service you offer your clients, it will be perceived for what it is . . . good promotion, not bribery.

If you’ve been around for a while and the local media already know you, it is yet another good way to get ‘top of mind’ for them again, especially if accompanied by an invitation note tied into some ‘special event’ or charitable good work you are doing.  It’s simply an added incentive for them to focus on you again.

For either group, a tastefully handled VIP card in the pocket of someone from the media increases the likelihood you will see them again IF you’re done a good job on their first visit (See our posts on “How do Your Clients See You?” and “All the World’s a Stage“). Many long-term relationships with local anchor people, weather folk, segment producers, magazine writers, etc. have begun with an enjoyable ‘first visit‘.  Getting that first visit is the trick.

Note: Some press feel ‘guilty’ visiting another salon – It’s like they’re leaving their hairdresser! But, your Salon VIP Card gives them the option of just coming in to ‘try’ another service like a manicure, pedicure , massage or facial, etc. If they like what they experience, they will often opt for a new cut or color look sooner than later. Without your card, they may have never come in at all for any service!

There is no more powerful referral to have than members of the media! They not only tell all their endless contacts but are now familiar with your business when it comes time to do a story involving salons and spas.

What Does a VIP Card Look Like?

Back of Suki card

The above image is a real world an example of a card created by Suki of Donsuki Salon on Madison Avenue in New York. Should your design be flamboyant and easily identifiable, or more subtle and designer-ish? No rules. You can make a case for both, but it always should reflect your salon or spa’s image and message.

Our experience has shown a VIP card works best, and is more flexible for multiple use, if it is designed with:

  • An expiration date.
  • A ‘write-in’ field for discount amount (based on use).
  • Write-in’ fields for a choice of services, products or both.
  • A non-transferable and recall statement.
  • Contact information

Back of Dale card

In Suki’s case, she chose never to give product discounts, thus the printed copy on the card ‘for services only’ added. Dale elected ‘write-in’ space for both services and product discounts.  Again, your choice.

Be Inclusive

Everyone was an ‘assistant’ or ‘Jr.’ before they caught a break.  Include in your list of VIP candidates those individuals who are most often overlooked when “goodies” are sent to the media. Keep in mind that those lesser-titled individuals at the media today are the senior people of tomorrow.  In addition, they influence everyone around them.  You simply cannot evaluate someone’s sphere of influence or credibility factor until you get to know them better.  Treat them with the same respect and caring you would give to the Editor-in-Chief and you could make a supporter for life’ of your salon or spa.  Your VIP card program is a long-term promotional investment.

VIP Card To-Dos

  1. Make Your Cards Substantial –Don’t ‘cheap’ on the look and feel of the card. Card stock or paper doesn’t send the right message. We recommend a plastic credit card stock and size. Figure printing cost at slightly over a buck apiece for a thousand.
  2. Make Your Invitation Letter Sincere and Clear — Download the sample invitation letter to get an idea of how a good invitation avoids your offer looking blatantly ‘moochey’.
  3. Inform your Front Desk and Staff –When a VIP card holder arrives at your salon/spa front desk you should be notified immediately upon arrival. You should be the one to welcome them and evaluate how you wish to handle their appointment.
  4. Keep a Log –Keep a front desk log of VIP cards recipients using their privileges. You will know within a few months who is a ‘goody-grabber’ and who may be a helpful friend.
  5. Expire All First-time Cards at 6 Months –You want to re-issue replacement cards every six months to have the option of dropping someone off the list as well as the opportunity of sending out replacement cards and new reminder invitation letters at six months. It’s a twice-a-year reminder that you are there and ready to serve.
  6. Put Your VIPs on Your Regular Mail/Email List — You’d be surprised how often this gets forgotten. Make sure all your VIP’s are kept updated and on your regular salon/spa mailing and e-mailing list.
  7. Use Ink –Make your write-in entries on the card un-erasable.  I know, I know, it seems obvious, but one should never assume:-).

Sample Invitation Letter

Download sample-invite copy for your invitation letter. Change the general copy to suit your offering, discounts, services, etc.

Starting Here

We’re sure you can find several convenient local suppliers of credit card stock custom cards but here are a couple of names of suppliers to get you started:

If you have any questions or comments, do post ‘em below and we’ll get right back to you.  We are notified of all comments.

Good Fishing,

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3 responses to “The VIP Card – A Media Attention-Getter”

  1. Alex Irving says:

    Hi Charlene, Glad you snagged a good idea. While you’re at it, grab a ‘gravatar’ at so we can get a better picture of the real you . See our post here

    Gald to have you aboard.

  2. greeting cards says:

    Good Comments. I agree with your point.

  3. […] and tells you a local TV news person you’ve been wooing (who noticed you originally because you sent them a VIP card and a great news release) is on the line.  Wow!  … flurry of excitement.  You hurry to your […]