3 Strategies to Increase Leads and Student Satisfaction

Stephanie Melvin

VP of Business Development, Canvas ME

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3 Strategies to Increase Leads and Student Satisfaction

Stephanie Melvin:
Hey, Chris, how are you?

Chris Linford:
Doing awesome. It’s so good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

Stephanie Melvin:
Yeah, thanks for having me. Thank you so much for having me. Now I’m following a tech presentation and I got to make sure I can just share my screen, so you just let me know when you can see everything I got.

Chris Linford:
We can see it. You’re good to go.


Stephanie Melvin:
Perfect. All right. Well, hello everyone. I am so excited to be here with you today. I see so many of my friends in the chat, which is really exciting. So hello to everyone that I know and hello to everyone that I have not yet met. But I’m very excited to chat with you today and to share with you some information that’s pretty near and dear to my heart.
So Chris did read my bio. It was pretty long, but I’d like to point out a couple of things. One is I currently work for the coolest company. There’s a lot of cool companies on here, but kind of the coolest company in the biz, CanvasME. We’re having a blast building a recruitment platform that serves the school world, which is where my heart is, and the salon world, which is something I’ve been a part of for over 20 years. So I’m combining that with years of experience in the school world and also just a personal passion for researching and understanding generations as they come along. So really understanding how generations communicate, how we play together, and also how we tailor the needs of marketing and business to be able to meet the needs of today’s current students.

So excited to kind of blend all of that into the next 20 minutes with you with three strategies to increase leads and student satisfaction. Super important. All three of these strategies happen to begin with R, so if you’re a big fan of alliteration, here you go.

Referrals – Tell Your Story

Number one is referrals. So referrals, as I’m sure everyone on this call would agree, it is your number one marketing source. So yes, we do need to spend money on marketing resources and we do need to follow specific strategies, and you’re learning all about those, but good old-fashioned referrals, having people tell your stories and you doing a really good job of inspiring everyone around you to be telling your story.

Influence: The Psychology of Referral Marketing – Social Proof

So why is that important and why is that one of the strategies that we’re talking about today? Well, it goes back to a book that I’m sure many of you are familiar with as well called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which is a very popular book, and Dr. Robert Cialdini goes through six, and we’re looking at six universal principles of influence. So we’ve got social proof, authority, reciprocity, you can read these here, but the one that we’re going to focus on today is social proof.

And social proof, we’re going to get into what that is, but really this is just the basis behind the psychology of referral marketing. And our brains are already, from just a biological standpoint, we are already hardwired to seek influence when we’re making a decision of any sort. So social proof is exactly this, and I heard earlier we’re not supposed to make people read off of the slides, and we’re definitely not supposed to read off of them either, but I’m going to break that cardinal rule of presentations and do it too.

But people want social proof from their friends, from their family members, but they definitely do not want it from the brand selling the product or the service. That’s not what we’re looking for. And so take off your business owner hat for a second or your business leader hat for a second and just put on your consumer hat. So when you’re in the process of purchasing something or maybe choosing a new place to go to the gym or choosing a new hairdresser, the first thing that you’re going to do is you’re going to go online and you’re going to check it out, right? You’re going to read the reviews. If you have a different process, please let me know because I’m pretty sure this is what people do these days. But that social proof is what we need as effective business leaders. And so asking for that referral constantly, “Please tell your friends about us,” and I’m going to get into the five people that should be giving you referrals as we speak.

Who Should Be Giving Referrals?

So this is things that can be happening in your sleep, right? Giving referrals and social proof. So the top two are listed here, and that’s your students and your alumni. And there is nothing more effective for increasing leads and student satisfaction in your school than referrals and social proof from your currently enrolled students and the alumni of your school, singing your praises, telling everyone about their experience at your school. Also your team, so when people talk about where they work, and people like where they work, and they have great things to say about where they work, everyone wants to know more about that business. So as a business leader, how are you influencing your students? How are you influencing your alumni? And how are you influencing your team? And all three of those categories in a really beautiful organic way to be singing your praises as a business.

We also want our guests to be talking about their experience at our school. So maybe how their hair turned out or how their nails got done, how well they were treated by the service desk and also salons in your area. So we spend a lot of time working with salons in the area and having them come in for guest artist presentations or teaching classes in your school. And so what are they saying about your students? What are they saying about your school on their own personal social media, in their own personal networks, in the art of giving the referral?

Reputation – How Others Tell Your Story

The second strategy that we’re going to dive into, again, begins with an R. And this is a tough one. This is one that we’ve really got to take a special look at. This is reputation and sometimes your reputation within your community is stellar, and that’s great and that’s the hope, right? But this is how other people are telling your story. You don’t really get a lot of control sometimes about your reputation out there, but what you can control is what’s happening in your business that other people are out there talking about.

So I was doing some research in preparation for this presentation and I ran across the school. I don’t have any affiliation with this school. I just ran across them online and thought, wow, this is a really, really, really cool way to dig into reputation and reputation management. You can’t just let this happen. You have to know what’s happening out there so that you can really influence what other people are saying about your business.

So, this is a school, again, no affiliation, and if they’re on the call today, I would love to connect with you because I think it’s very cool. But checking this out, this is Mason Anthony, I believe that they’re in Columbus, Ohio, School of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences, and this is the homepage of their website. And on the homepage of their website, they’re giving school reviews and in the bottom corner, they’re asking people to leave a review. This is a business that truly understands the power of referral.

Referral is, like I said, your number one lead generator, your number one source of people learning about you, finding out about you and connecting with your business. And they’re going right in asking for it right on their homepage. The first thing that you see under that beautiful banner photo are student reviews on one side and guest reviews on the other side. And they really understand the power of referral, and they must have heard these statistics before.

What Are the Statistics?

So again, I’m going to break my rule and I’m going to read this to you, but 91% of 18 to 34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you agree with that as a consumer, even if you’re not 18 to 34, because 93% of consumers say the online reviews influence their purchase decision.

So if you agree with that and online reviews are a really big part of your process, just type yes in the chat box, just like I’m just watching the number because if I open the chat, I’m going to chit-chat back and forth with you guys, so I just got to watch the number. But yes, when you’re looking for anything new, first thing you do is you’re going online and you’re checking it out, you’re reading reviews. The entire Amazon model is built off of this. How many reviews does this one have versus this one, even though they’re theoretically the exact same thing, right? But we’re looking at the reviews, we’re always looking at getting that five star, of that five star product, five star service. And so we want to give that five star product and give that five star service in return, right? Well, I love seeing that number go. I don’t know what you guys are saying because again, I will get distracted real fast, but lots of yeses up there I just imagined.

The Process

So let’s talk a little bit about the process. I’m not just going to leave you hanging with reputation. I want to talk a little bit about the process. And as a business owner myself, I happen to own a gym and a salon in my little town of Lexington, Kentucky. And so reputation management and really digging into this process, and this is a constant process. This isn’t just at the beginning of the year, we jump in and we do a little searching around on the internet and then we jump into fixing it. This is constant. This is keeping your finger on the pulse of your reputation in your community. And so above all else, it’s an audit.

The Audit

So performing an audit regularly or having a team member perform an audit regularly of reading online reviews about your business.

Serving students. So asking your students, many schools already do this, but asking your students during and after each phase of the program, what did you enjoy? What could we have done better? And really looking for those consistencies from the surveys that you’re getting back from students, and not just current students, but asking your alumni. Sometimes when they’re out of the building, they’re more apt to say things, right? So let’s ask our alumni and also your team members, what are your team members saying about their current situation in the school, about their employment in the school? Are they enjoying their experience? What do they think that you could be doing better as a business? And maybe different departments giving advice to one another and supporting one another. But again, that’s all lending itself to increasing your reputation and really just making people part of the process, which is awesome, right? Also, searching social channels and searching relevant hashtags for your business. What’s out there? What are people saying about you?

The Strategy

And then the second part, after the audit and taking all of your findings and putting them into a strategy. So your strategy is really about reviewing those surveys. Sometimes you ask people for feedback, but then you never really read the feedback. So really reviewing the surveys and again, looking for consistencies. If people are saying the same thing over and over and over, good stuff, let’s celebrate it. If it’s not so good stuff, let’s find a way to fix it. But asking for their opinion and making them a part of that process.

Creating social proof worthy experiences. So I’m sure throughout this presentation, we’ve only been together a few minutes, but I think you know what that means by now. So something that people want to be talking about, something that people want to be posting about. When you go somewhere and you see something really cool, you want to take a picture and you want to post it, or you go for a new experience and you want to take a video and you want to show everyone where you went because it was so great. Let’s have create more opportunities for social proof worthy experiences.

And then the last part of that strategy is just to provide more opportunities for your students, and your guests, and your alumni, and your team, and local salons to leave review. So not everyone has to go the route of the school that I showed you obviously, but really paying attention to and making room and making space for people to be able to review your business and the performance of your business.


So the last R that we’re going to touch on today is retention. So let me stop here.

Referrals, we know, number one, we’ve got to focus on referrals. Referrals are lending themselves to impact our reputation, but really it’s the retention of students in your school. And I say this with well over a decade of experience on the school side, keeping students in the building. As I worked in enrollment, and I can tell you, getting the students in the building is one thing, retaining them and keeping them engaged in the classroom is the other thing. So I do spend a lot of my time in research trying to figure out what it is that makes people tick. Why are they choosing schools and why are they staying in schools, right? That’s an even bigger question. But your retention strategy is about student satisfaction in action, and they leave you a really great review. We want more and more reviews, but keeping them in school and watching them deliver on their own promise, watching us deliver on the promise that we made in the beginning, seeing them graduate and go to fulfill our industry that we love in such a big and important way is really the goal here.

So to really focus in on retention and not just looking at it as a percentage, but we really need to understand the mindset and the psychology that drives today’s student as well. And there’s many, many things that I could share with you. And trust me, I can be on here for hours, but I don’t think Chris wants me to do that. I only have a few more minutes with you.

What is Phygital?

So I want to tell you a word that Jen Martinelli, she’s one of the co-founders of CanvasME, and she uses this word all the time, but it’s a phygital generation. Gen Z prefers phygital experiences. And this is about connecting with them digitally, connecting with them on their device, in their DMs, getting them very social and socially interactive, but also connecting with them physically as well. We serve all generations, but our Gen Z that we’re really focused on this defines them. They still want you to stay close and they still want that physical connection, but meet them digitally first and make sure that you’re staying digitally connected throughout the experience.

So understanding that it’s a balance. It’s not just digital. It’s not just physical. We have to find a way to create and meld and blend both.

Engagement Creates Social Proof

So engagement in the classroom is what they’re asking for, engagement in the building, in the school, in their experience in life, right? So Gen Z, they want engagement. They want you to be connecting with them digitally, and they want them you to be connecting with them, phygitally, physically and digitally. And engagement creates social proof. So what do I mean by that? If you look on the right side of the slide, you’ll see here this is a screenshot, one screenshot from YouTube. I typed in cosmetology school and got thousands of videos. And I don’t know that I was shocked by this, but I haven’t done it in a long time. And some of these videos have hundreds of thousands of views.

This one cosmetology school, question mark, exclamation point, that’s it. That’s all you see. It has 139,000 views. So what does that tell us? It tells us that people are going to YouTube for information they’re typing in, should I go to cosmetology school? Tell me about cosmetology school. What is this experience like? And so all of this social proof is filling the screen. So number one, above all else, video, video, video, video. Life is video right now, right? People aren’t posting static images as much. We know that or they’re using them for different reasons, but capturing content, capturing video, everything is content. Isn’t that what they say now? Everything is content. Creating content while you’re learning and really keeping them engaged in the classroom by allowing them to take videos and create content of their experience in a really beautiful and organic way. This creates social proof. It also creates accountability.

They’re posting on their social media that they’re in school, that they’re enjoying school, that they’re learning things at school. Here’s what I’m doing at school. And it not only shares that with their circle of influence, but it also holds them accountable to continuing to provide that message for their community. So engagement in the classroom is what will organically drive them to create the social proof that’s going to benefit you and your business and your entire environment.

Engagement Creates Increased Attendance

Engagement also creates increased attendance and completion percentages. And as someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes enrollment a lot of the time, I can tell you, I say enrollment’s cool and all, but attendance and completion is really where it’s at. That means that you have happy students, that you have engaged students, they want to make it through the program. They’ve kept their eye on the prize, right?

So providing them with purpose driven content that helps them to stay focused on why they started school in the first place. Why did they come to school? They obviously had a dream of a career in the beauty industry. And so really helping to educate them not only technically, but on what this industry provides and what’s available to them and opening their world and opening their minds in that way creates career focused education and engagement in the classroom, which lends itself to everything that we’ve talked about for the last 20 minutes. I feel really fortunate to work for a company, CanvasME, that’s created a curriculum that we’re now offering free to all of our CanvasME schools. And so this curriculum was designed not only to walk your students through the CanvasME platform, but also to provide purpose driven content. So helping them discover their purpose, helping them to discover their connection to their goals, helping them to elevate their emotional intelligence levels, right?

And this is the type of content that today’s student is so hungry for, and it not only benefits them while they’re in school, but imagine what content like that and education can do for this generation as they enter into the salon industry and begin changing the face of that industry as we know it in such a beautiful way.

Connect With Stephanie Melvin!

So I could stay on here all day. Like I said, it was very hard for me to shrink down this information into 20 minutes. But here’s me, this is me, this is my email address, so please feel free to connect with me anytime. You can also scan here and just shoot me an email right away, and I will connect with you there as well. So thank you so much for having me, and good luck with everything. Enjoy the rest of Beauty School Summit.

Chris Linford:
Yeah, Stephanie, great job. Thank you so much. A lot of really good content. I mean, reputation is something that we’re passionate about with our schools over here, and you nailed it. There’s some questions in the chat, but our users answered them beautifully.

Stephanie Melvin:
That’s sweet.

Chris Linford:
Yeah. And then for sure content, I mean 100% spot on. And the cool thing about content now, especially if you’re on TikTok, if you’re a school, is you need to find ways to encourage your students to create great content about your school, and then you can actually run their content as your ads. So these types of ads are the most believable student-generated content. So a lot of really cool stuff. Hey, we understand that you and CanvasME would like to give one free month of CanvasME to a school if they use the code ouzel at checkout. Is that accurate?

Stephanie Melvin:
That is absolutely accurate. Chris, thank you for reminding me. Thank you for inviting me. Yeah, absolutely. So one free month on CanvasME. Here’s the deal is we are having so much fun with our beauty schools, and there’s just, as a consumer myself, I can go through and I can read all of the reviews, but I want to get my hands in it and I want to play with it, and I really want to understand what it is before I say yes. So we definitely want to give everyone that’s on today’s call, the opportunity to do that. If you hop over to CanvasME and just sign up as a school, put code ouzel in as your promo code, and you’ll get a whole month free, which is a $99 value. So thanks Chris.

Chris Linford:
That’s awesome. Stephanie. Thank you so much.