Sales & Marketing

Traditional vs Digital Marketing: The Pros And Cons For Salons

4 min

Traditional vs Digital Marketing: The Pros And Cons For Salons

Many people will argue that traditional marketing was only a “thing” because digital marketing didn’t exist. Is it true? Perhaps to a certain extent, yes. But if it were entirely true, what we deem as “traditional” would have ceased to exist by now. If you consider that Google is only 19 years old, you can expect the marketing possibilities in the next 5 years to go places we can’t even start to imagine. Does this mean that every other form of marketing has or will become irrelevant?

Hard to tell. Let’s have a look at why.

The Difference Between Traditional & Digital Marketing

To clarify the terms and jump into the nitty-gritty of the subject, traditional marketing covers anything from printed newspapers and magazines to radio, television, billboards, business cards and flyers. Technically you could also include the door-to-door marketing and telesales in the more traditional forms of marketing.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, refers to the “representation of a brand online and the optimisation of its presence to achieve goals.” This can be achieved through websites, SEO, social media, content marketing, banner and Google ads, video marketing and more.

Related | Interview With Wolfgang Digital SEO Analyst Luke Fitzgerald

Which Is Best For Salons And Spas?

The toughest question of them all, one that still gets marketers talking. It’s hard because there are pros and cons to both and the metrics for measure the success of campaigns are also different. For instance, digital marketing is all about the customer. The content tends to be authentic (Facebook/Instagram Live) and we measure the success of campaigns with engagement. On the flip side, traditional marketing is a one-sided conversation showing polished content to a potential client. Does that mean that traditional marketing shouldn’t exist? Not at all. To give an example outside of the industry, massive billboard ads still exist because they bring more local exposure to the brand.

While the principles are the same (product, price, place, promotion), fundamentally, digital media creates awareness and helps people develop attitudes about the brand, rather than directly promote a purchase (although it eventually leads to that).

Related | Creative Mardi Gras And Valentine’s Day Salon Marketing Ideas

Traditional Marketing

If you’re a small salon or spa with a limited marketing budget, traditional forms of marketing might be harder to sustain consistently all year-long. You might want to run an ad in a magazine or leverage press coverage for an event, but apart from that, you’re looking at flyers and business cards. By all means, do make sure you have at least the two latter!


  1. Target local audiences
    For instance, an ad on the radio might play exclusively in your city.
  2. Hardcopy of materials tend to be remembered best
    As much as people are drifting towards the digital world more and more, there’s nothing like the sensation of paper in your hands. Or grabbing that flyer telling you about this festival coming up. Most people are still wired to remember what they can physically bring home. Why do you think goodie bags still work so well? 😉
  3. Easier to understand
    These forms of marketing have been around significantly longer than the internet has been, so people are familiar with the concept.


  1. Tends to be more expensive to produce
  2. Results are difficult to measure
  3. Litte to no engagement

Digital Marketing

It’s almost become impossible to run a business without an online presence nowadays. You’re looking at the very least at having a functional website and quite possibly either a Facebook page and/or an Instagram profile. Should you run ads? It depends. You need a strategy to run ads. So the real question is, what are you trying to achieve through your marketing? Online marketing is only cost-effective if it’s done well.


  1. Less expensive to produce
    To reach 2000 people on Facebook could cost you €/£/$75 while running an ad in a magazine could easily bring the bill to €/£/$500.
  2. Real-time results
    With the likes of Facebook and Instagram Insights or Google Analytics, you can have a real-time view of what’s working and what isn’t at the touch of a button.
  3. Increased brand awareness
    Things like running a website or having a Facebook page, they don’t have to cost a fortune. Plus, they’re constant ‘ads’ in a way. In the older days, you’d advertise your business on the side column of a newspaper and hope that someone would read the advertisements.
  4. Greater potential exposure
    Through social shares and email, content referring to your salon or spa can reach an incredibly bigger audience – would your local flyer end up in China?
  5. Higher engagement
    People can interact with the ads and promotions, whereas on paper, your target audience is really that, just an audience. Additionally, with online marketing, people can choose how they want to receive your content (video, blog, podcast, etc.)
  6. Easier to refine a strategy
    If you know what isn’t working in your approach in real-time, it’s much easier to improve or slightly tweak it.


  1. Can be complicated to navigate
  2. Often requires new skills and training (Facebook Ads, Graphic Design, Social Media)
  3. Can take time to realise measurable success 

Watch Phorest Salon Software’s content manager Chris Brennan as he discusses what you should first focus on when getting into marketing your business.

While there are pros and cons to both traditional and digital marketing, a mix of both is often necessary to maximise the reach and impact of a campaign or even just to get your salon or spa’s name out there. I’d keep away from dismissing either one of the two; traditional marketing can very well support your online efforts. Does it mean that you have to do both? No. Most importantly, the best results come from understanding people and knowing your audience. Do what you’ve tested and know works best for your salon. If you don’t get to know your audience properly, you’ll end up spending all your budget, only to get virtually nothing in return (see what I did there?).

Got feedback? Let us know either in the comments below or tweet us @ThePhorestWord!

Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

Featured imaged shot on location of Wildflower Creative Group, in Dublin. © 2018 Phorest Salon Software.

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