This week brings us one of the most painful and feared topics during a consultation. A client walks in, whips out their phone and shows you some Insta photo filtered to high heaven and says, “I want to look like this!”
Why is Instagram, Pinterest, and/or every other social media picture on a phone so scary!?!? Is it because the phone they’re showing you on is cracked, looking like a spider web and you can barely make out the picture!?!? Is it the layer of foundation offsetting the entire color!?!? Maybe it’s the fancy case reflecting light and the glare is burning a hole in our eyes!?!? :)-
Pictures have always existed, so what has changed? Remember the original Ghostbusters quote: “Don’t cross the streams!”
Technology is as good as it is bad. The media in which we look to for inspiration has crossed streams. Before modern day technology, client’s would come in with a magazine picture or a 10-20 year old photo of themselves and request to look like that. These days, they bring it in on a phone.
It really comes down to the same thing… They are asking for something they don’t know how to ask for. They have an emotional attachment to that picture and it made them feel good. They want to share that with you because they don’t know how to ask for it. We have forgotten this very key element.
We have also forgotten that we as the stylist are the ones that help them filter what kind of pictures they are supposed to be looking at. We are the ones that set the expectations. When that doesn’t happen, social media fills that void and the client it coming asking for all kinds of crazy. There is over saturation of media now because of technology. As bad as we may think that is, it is also good. It may give us an idea of what they are trying to say.
Here’s a fun exercise. Have you client put their phone down and describe the photo with words. Half of your clients will immediately have to look at their phone again. They have no idea what they physically showed you because it was an emotion that made them save the photo. From the other half, only a few will be able to describe what they want… because how do you really describe an emotion? The point of this exercise, do NOT be held hostage by the few clients showing you social media pics.
Let’s revisit salon days before cell phones and see how nothing has really changed. When it was a magazine or a photo, it would go one of two ways. One, we would tell the client, “Get real, who doesn’t want to look like that picture in the magazine!” Or two, “Look at that picture, you can barely tell what the color really looks like because of the paper, lighting, etc.” We explained to the client that pictures in magazine are just that, pictures.
When it comes to a client presenting a photo from their glory days this is what would happen. You would sit down next to the client at eye level. Depending on the client, you may even put a hand on their shoulder and make the most sincere face you could. Then you would say this line that we have all said before. Something that sounds a little like this:
“Miss, sweetie, honey, darling. You still look gorgeous, beautiful, amazing. You don’t look a day over 35. This photo is really nice, but you should put it back in your album and always remember it.
You know your hair will not do that, we have spoken about this before. This is why we are doing this with your hair now. This is why we do this color on you like this. This is why we cut your hair this way, and why we style your hair this way. We are doing it this way because this is what your hair can do and BECAUSE I SAID SO!
I am the stylist, I am the authority, I am the one with my finger on the pulse of what your hair can and can’t do. Would you like a cup of water or coffee? Oh, of course, no worries, I know you were just asking, this is why we consult. Two sugars? Cream? No problem, I’ll be right back.”
Some of you reading are laughing and remembering back. Some of you are reading and saying “What the hell just happened? There is no way stylist used to talk to clients like that.” Yes, oh yes we did, and the clients loved it! Let’s break it down to understand why the clients loved it. This is really important!
- (Insert nice pet name) Miss, sweetie, honey, darling.
- (Insert pick me up line for attractiveness) You still look gorgeous, beautiful, amazing.
- (Insert confidence booster) You don’t look a day over 35. This photo is really nice, but you should put it back in your album and always remember it.
- (Insert intervention) You know your hair will not do that, we have spoken about this before.
- (Assert authority and reinforce the plan) This is why we are doing this with your hair now. This is why we do this color on you like this. This is why we cut your hair this way, and why we style your hair this way. We are doing it this way because this is what your hair can do and BECAUSE I SAID SO! I am the stylist, I am the authority, I am the one with my finger on the pulse of what your hair can and can’t do.
- (Don’t let it get awkward or give them a chance to respond) Would you like a cup of water or coffee?
- (Now the client is apologizing like a child thinking they made the parent upset) Oh, of course, no worries, I know you were just asking, this is why we consult.
- (Back to customer service and getting on with our day) Two sugars? Cream? No problem, I’ll be right back.
This is why they come to us. Social media doesn’t know them, it can’t see who they are, or what they look like. It doesn’t know what their hair can or can’t do. Social media is just a modern day magazine or photo album.
Let’s remember that and continue to be the authority for them. Just say NO if that’s what it takes. Remind them of what you are doing for them and they will love you.
Don’t be lazy, don’t get comfortable and complacent. Stay creative and solve the puzzle of what the client is wanting when they bring in that totally wrong-for-them Instagram picture.