Black Barbershops and Salons Are a Marketing Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight
When he owned a salon and was a stylist in the early and mid-’90s, Wil Shelton, founder of Wil Power Integrated Marketing (WPIM), noticed that there was some fertile brand ground to cultivate. The epiphany came from seeing all manner of product discovery around entertainment and that he was inadvertently helping companies—especially record labels and studios—promote their wares.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
"The road has not been smooth. But I know that all of the tests and trials that I’ve had to overcome have helped make us who we’ve become. We’ve had to go through the challenges of diversifying our client base and breaking into other industries outside of our core clients which were the entertainment industry. When we first got started we had no track record so we had to pitch our capabilities to companies that never heard of us. Once we landed our first client it became easier to get the next, but it was a project by project build. Another one of our struggles was building a solid team on the ground to penetrate into marketplace."
"Because we service so many types of salons and barbershop, we have been able to hyper-focus our campaigns to better suit the needs of the client. For instance, we are able to target facilities where more women or men are the clientele and even target based on the age demographics. Either way, we are able to scale and guarantee visibility for a host of major brands ..."
"Everyone in this world has a unique talent and when that talent is discovered, nurtured and put to use in the proper ways, it becomes a niche."
"The African American community is not hard to reach, however it's important that companies reach us where we are."
100 MILLION CUSTOMERS
For its impressive brand activations, Wil Power Entertainment has an unexpected advantage: its vast network of over 100,000 independent salons and barbershops across the country. And this strategy seems to be paying off. The Cypress, Calif.-based creative shop claims it connects with more than 100 million customers annually.
“ It’s been a blind spot for global brands because they didn’t understand the power in the cultural capital that existed in the shops. The shops are where conversations are started and everybody’s talking about different things. So, I think that companies never recognized the power that was in the cultural capital that existed. I think that it was just an overlooked environment.” I began to realize that clients would come in and be there for two or three hours. We’d listen to music, gossip, talk about movies and TV. When a client would leave, they would tell me they were going to go buy an album [we had just talked about], or they would say, “That’s a good movie recommendation.” Then, they’d go see the movie and come back and tell me about it. That’s when I began to realize that I was helping the entertainment companies organically promote their projects through the salon.
“ The opportunities that arise in life often times come out of the blue and out of nowhere. Wil Shelton, CEO of Will Power Integrated Marketing has changed the world in the aspect of how the hair care industry has impacted the world of marketing, branding, and entertainment. As a salon owner, Shelton understood the impact that his clients had on various sectors of spending and it was then that he conceptualized his company that would bridge the consumers with the companies which they were spending their money. "