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Golden School Awards: Marketing Innovation Finalist

Golden School Awards: Marketing Innovation Finalist

AACS is proud to announce the finalist of the Marketing Innovation Golden School Award, American Institute of Beauty, Largo.

AIB is on the cutting edge as one of the first beauty schools to be utilizing the new communication tool, Tolstoy. Tolstoy is an interactive communication tool that is shaping the way AIB interacts with potential students. This tool perpetuates the changes in communication drawn from post-lockdown. Currently, AIB is using the tool similarly to a live-chat feature on their website, but instead of it being live, the “chat” occurs over a series of pre-recorded videos. These videos give the brand a voice and a name. It can be difficult in the beauty school world to discern who should be the face of a brand, but for AIB the choice was simple: admissions representatives. The videos themselves feel like a one-on-one interaction and depending on the “path” selected throughout the duration, a custom experience occurs.

The pandemic gave AIB the opportunity to streamline their processes in order to make them more user and environmentally friendly. QR codes are one of the best ways to improve a user-experience by creating convenience. AIB has been using QR codes in every way possible from marketing and advertising to dissemination of materials to students. These codes give the ability to link anyone to the digital world through hyperlinks, PDFs, images, and much more. One way AIB is using QR codes is through Google reviews. Every mirror in our campuses has a cling asking guests to leave a Google review if they enjoyed their experience. Instead of guests needing to go to Google to search for the Google reviews page, there is a QR code on the mirror cling. Upon scanning, the code takes the guest directly to our Google review page, cutting out the additional “work” it would take to get there. That way, guests are able to seamlessly leave reviews for our students on the spot.

Another example of how AIB has used QR codes is for students to sign-up for elective classes. They place flyers throughout the campuses announcing when elective classes approaching. These flyers have QR codes placed on them, which links directly to a form for the students to complete and submit. The QR code makes for an easier user experience so that the students don’t have to manually type in a website address, and it captures the information digitally, cutting out any paperwork. QR codes can be accessed on any smartphone device either through the native camera on the phone or through a QR code scanner app. The great thing about using these codes is that you can digitally track how effective print marketing is through the analytics dashboard. This shows how many scans you receive, location, device type, and the time it was scanned. This data allows for better optimization.

With the challenges of COVID-19 over the past year, AIB looked to innovative ideas to be consistent with the delivery of education and therefore, facilitated classes live online. AIB was still able to achieve a great student experience through the use of technology. The Business of Beauty is a series of elective classes that focus on business management, entrepreneurship, social media, and marketing that are offered exclusively to AIB students. The social media and marketing class is broken down into three parts—discovery, action, and workshops. Discovery focuses on the fundamentals of social media, marketing of a small business, and branding. This includes an introduction to:

  • Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and their basic uses.
  • How to create a business page/profile on these platforms.
  • Content strategy, what this means and what does it look like.
  • Content types and how to create them.
  • Content scheduling platforms, how to use them, why, user-friendly recommendations.
  • Branding, how to create one, best practices.
  • How to create visual representations of a brand. (i.e. logo, slogan, etc.)
  • Customer segmentation and how to define a target market.
  • Basic photography.

The action class expands on these principles into the more advanced aspects of social media and marketing such as:

  • Facebook and Instagram advertising, why, how to set up.
  • Social media best practices/how to increase engagement.
  • Basics for website set up.
  • Hashtag strategy and best practices.

Finally, the workshops are where students get hands-on in smaller, more hyper focused groups. Here, AIB goes step-by-step and show our students how to do certain tasks:

  • In-depth still photography.
  • Video creation and editing.
  • Website development.
  • Content creation.
  • Tiktok.

In the Business Management portion of the class, students learn about five potential careers paths that are available upon graduation/licensure:

  • Employment with a company.
  • Independent contractor or booth rental.
  • Partnership.
  • Opening a salon/spa/barbershop.
  • Purchasing an existing salon/spa/barbershop.

AIB covers the tax structures, accounting principles, and legal documentation necessary for each of these career paths. The Business of Beauty is offered throughout the year to students and is conducted by the in-house social media and marketing coordinator and general counsel. In today’s technological world, it became clear that offering these classes was necessary on an on-going basis for students to truly reap the benefits. Instead of offering a crash course in each of these topics, AIB found it better to provide the information in sections to decrease information overload. This way, students are able to ask questions along the way and gain a better understanding of the “why” behind what they are doing.

AIB believes that to make business defining decisions, they must be backed by sound data. Hot Jar is a web-based tool that places heat maps on your website and allows businesses to see how people are interacting with the site. AIB used this technology to complete a full-scale conversion-rate-optimization project on our website to gain a better understanding of how potential students were interacting with it and where they could make improvements. This is a web-based tool that allows for heat mapping of a website (or pages of a website). AIB used Hot Jar in order to assess how they can make their website more user-friendly. With the help of a marketing agency, AIB completed a full conversion-rate-optimization report on our highest converting web pages. Through the heat map technology they were able to see how guests were interacting with their website, which information was most useful for them, and where they may be able to improve. AIB did this not only to increase conversions, but also to create more brand trust by seeing where they can provide additional information.

AIB showcases students daily projects, creativity, and talents on social media to help motivate and encourage their passion for the beauty industry. They also feature graduates that share their stories of success and what struggles they have overcome. From a social media perspective, AIB strives to share predominately student work. AIB has also seen great engagement from the use of Instagram Reels. A newer tool on the platform, Instagram pushes Reels heavily when it comes to their algorithm over standard posts, and they even have a dedicated Reels Explore tab. Understanding this, AIB creates reels to show off student work such as hair coloring or barber hair design. With an in-house social media and marketing coordinator, AIB can create the Reels. Instagram Reels are a series of videos that are usually filmed right on the spot and music, or a voiceover can be added. These videos are similar to TikTok and have a comparative set of editing options.

AIB also loves to share stories of graduate success on social media. Their team has made it a priority to stay in contact with graduates because their stories resonate with the current student body. They interview graduates from all different beauty industry backgrounds from salon/spa employee, to management, to business owner.

American Institute of Beauty has incorporated technology of today not only to enhance the student experience, but also as an introduction to the beauty industry for graduates.

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