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7 Marketing Lessons from Hair Club

May 26, 2014

HairclubA few weeks ago, after trying to grow grass in rocky soil and not succeeding, I decided to dig everything up, put down better soil, and install sod. In just a few hours, I had an “instant yard.”

For people experiencing similar problems with hair on their heads, Hair Club has a solution. Since 1976, they’ve been doing similar things to men’s heads.

Here’s what you can learn from them…

7 Marketing Lessons from Hair Club

1. Accentuate The Pain – Losing your hair is painful. It’s what makes you a man for God’s sake…at least according to Hair Club.

Sure, there are some sexy ass bald dudes walking around, but you’re not one of them.

Your wife will probably leave you because of this. She’ll take all your money, the kids, and the dog, then start shacking up with some guy who looks like Samson.

And then what? I don’t know, but there’s one thing for sure — you’ll never have sex again. Even hookers will be skeptical of your manhood with that bald head.

Pain sells. Look at “before” photos on the Hair Club website for great examples of this. Those guys look so sad — just like you are (or will be after looking at those photos).

Are any of these things true? They can be, so Hair Club exploits them, picking at your worst fears like a scab, until you call them for help.

You wouldn’t sell a lot of hair replacement showcasing badass bald guys like Bruce Willis, The Rock, or Patrick Stewart, yet by not pointing out the pain, you leave that as an option for readers to think about.

We do similar things when marketing our own businesses.

The lesson here? Don’t assume they’re already hurting badly enough to buy. Go for the jugular.

2. Sex Sells (So Does Power) – Did I mention that a full head of hair is going to get you laid? That’s what the Hair Club ad implies…

But it implies more than that, doesn’t it? A great hair of hair will give you a life of freedom and power. You’ll be able to go wherever you want and do it on your terms.

This is huge. People who come to Hair Club don’t really want hair — they want what hair will give them.

Same for what you sell.

3. Get People Early – Like any business, Hair Club clients are various stages of need. Surgery sounds serious, so the company offers non-surgical procedures as well. And if you’re not quite ready for a “procedure,” there are pills, potions, and lotions you can use from home that will (hopefully) get you where you want to go.

All businesses have similar “entry level” options. If you’re selling a high-ticket product, consider offering something that doesn’t come with a big commitment, even if it’s a free blog or email newsletter, to get people comfortable dealing with you. The quicker you can do that, the better chance you’ll have of doing business with them when they need a more extensive solution.

4. Sell A Complete System – Hair Club doesn’t just sell a single product — they sell you a compete system that will take you from where you are now to where you want to go.

A great example of this in action is the “shampoo” they sell. Again, it’s not a single product, it’s a five-step solution to your problem.

First, you get the moisturizing and revitalizing “hair loss shampoo” containing a complex system of vitamins, nutrients and botanical essences to revive and strengthen thinning hair.

Next is a deep-penetrating moisturizing conditioner that encourages thick and healthy hair with a system of complex proteins and wheat amino acids.

Then you’ll apply an enzyme scalp cleanser that removes the DHT buildup and sebum oils that can impede growth of fine and thin hair while also improving the effectiveness of the final step.

You’ll take a proprietary nutritional supplement, available only from Hair Club, which provides a fusion of vitamins (B3, D, E, and Biotin) and herbal remedies (saw palmetto and nettle) that have demonstrated benefits in slowing or preventing hair loss.

The general person has no idea what any of the technical stuff is, but it sounds great when wrapped up in a nice package like this.

Finally, you’ll use Minoxidil, a drug you can get at Walgreens for $27.99, but wouldn’t be nearly as effective alone as it will be with the above four steps (so says Hair Club).

Never ever sell a single product — sell a system that provides a solution.

5. Recurring Billing – Hair Club excels at this. As already mentioned, the pills, potions, and lotions you get are a big part of the system the company sells. And pills, potions, and lotions run out, so if you want the system to keep working, you’ll have to keep buying them.

But hair club does something else when it comes to recurring billing that also provides not only an extra income steam for the company, it’s also a way to keep in touch with clients and sell even more products and services — they cut your hair.

When you’re concerned with losing your hair, you don’t want just anybody cutting what little you’ve got left, letting it fall on the floor, and sweeping it into the trash. You want somebody who will save what you’ve got and use it to “fill in” problem areas.

Every business can add to its bottom line via recurring billing. Like Hair Club, this is often done in the form of a “maintenance plan.”

What are you selling once that you could also help to maintain?

6. You Are Your Client “I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client.”

When people think of Hair Club, they often think of its founder and president, Sy Sperling, who was all over early advertising for the company.

When you know how your clients are feeling, you can provide a better solution to their problems as well as more effective marketing than any outsider could.

7. Try Something Different – See below for a video that backs this up. Sy Sperling wasn’t slick, but given his understanding of the people he was selling to, he didn’t have to be.

Final Thoughts

We don’t want to work with nameless, faceless companies — we want to work with people who understand our problems and can provide very specific solutions. Hair Club does this as well as anybody.

They understand the pain.

They understand the desire for privacy.

They understand the real reason people buy.

If you can do the same things in your business, you’ll dominate any markets you enter.

Good luck!

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.

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