Advertising Case Study: Barber Shop

This is a classic advertising story that is worthy of repetition. It’s not just funny, but exceptionally valuable when you extract from it lessons that you can leverage from it. Enjoy!

A barber had been noticing that his clients had been dropping off slowly over the last eighteen months or so. He blamed the economy and people moving on and such things and just kept plodding on as you would expect.

The last straw for him was when,  just two doors down from his barber shop, someone opened up another barber shop! His competitor put up signage all over the front of the store windows announcing “hair cuts $5” .

When they opened, there were people spilling out the door lining up for haircuts. This went on for days and as you can guess his clients dropped off dramatically to the point that he decided that he would rather sit at home watching Oprah than do hair cuts for five dollars. He even decided he would close down his shop at the end of the week.

That afternoon, a gentleman walked in and asked if he could get a hair cut. The barber warned him that he charged fifteen dollars. The gentleman said that’s fine as he did not have time to stand in line and wait two hours for the barber two doors down .

After he finished the gentleman stood up looked and thanked the barber for a really good haircut. He also said he would be back next time he needed a trim because he was very satisfied with his haircut. That’s when the barber advised him that he was going to close his shop because he couldn’t compete with $5 hair cuts.

The gentleman looked at him smiled and asked “If I can increase the number of clients, would you be willing to pay me two hundred dollars?” The barber said he would only have two days to do it since he was going to close the shop on the third day. The gentleman confidently said that would not be as issue. The barber could not help but like this cocky guy in a suit and since it was only two hundred dollars, he thought he really didn’t have much to lose.

The next day, when the barber showed up, there were people waiting for him to open his door! They continued to stream in all day his phone was ring hot taking bookings! He was so busy that by the end of the day, he was exhausted. He could not remember ever being that busy.

The next day the same thing happened and about lunch time the gentleman walked in smiling and asked how things were going. The barber told him about all the clients and bookings and asked him what he did to change things around so quickly -  hoping he hadn’t done anything illegal. The gentleman smiled and assured the barber that everything was OK and that after work there would be something out the front of the store for him.

That night, the barber walked out the front of his shop and saw an A frame – he could not stop laughing when he read what was written:

FIVE DOLLAR HAIRCUTS FIXED HERE

This is a totally exponential strategy – but here are a few questions I have for you.

  • How can you use this story to your advantage?
  • How can you leverage someone else’s efforts in a legal and morally acceptable way?
  • How can you make the most of your marketing budget to get the very best results?

A lot of people have either heard this story or others similar to it. They get a laugh and move on to something else.

Very few learn the lesson. Very few learn HOW to leverage something like this.

That’s what I teach my clients to do, as their business coach, adviser or mentor. I explain to them that this is not just a funny story. It’s a lesson to be learned and applied. I then usually explain via one of my case study examples or one from a client.  In this case, I heard this story and used it to close a $250,000 sale to a top 50 ASX company.

I know you’d love to know how I did that, but sorry – I keep that information for my Platinum Members!

The thing about having an Exponential Mindset is not just thinking differently, but making sure you walk the thought. That only happens when you’re taught how to translate a great story like this one INTO a practical system and process that you can use in your own business.

Otherwise, it’s just another fun story to tell mates over a cold beer at your local.

If you want someone to help you turn things around, like the barber – contact us and we’ll show you how to get people lining up at your shop front door, into your business or if you’re online – visiting your website.

3 Responses to “Advertising Case Study: Barber Shop”


  • I love the simplicity of this story Marc, these concepts can be often much easy than we make them out to be. Thanks for reminding me it will help me with my Gym in Geelong. Gerard

  • What a fantastic story about how a shift in your thinking can turn a disaster into an opportunity.

    We help Australian Electronics Manufacturers who have run into problems with either the Electronics Design, Embedded Software Development or the Electronics Printed Circuit Board Manufacture or SMT Loading to get back up and running quickly. This includes the case where they have gone off shore to China for Low Cost Electronics Manufacture and found that the delivered product was complete rubbish.

    With this story in mind, I am thinking about how we can let people know that we fix Electronics Design or Electronics Manufacture problems they might have run into because they tried to save money and went with a poor supplier.

    Ray Keefe
    Successful Endeavours
    Electronics Design and Embedded Software that work

  • Hi Marc,

    Thanks for the inspiration. I will try something similar in our butcher shop “Carl’s Culinary Cuts” tomorrow. Every other piece of business building advice you have given me, has worked and I am confident this will as well.

    Too often people judge us purely on price, ignoring the fact that our aging process makes our meat eating quality, something that is out of this world.

    I will let you know how we go,

    Eat well. Eat safe!

    Gavin Buckett
    The Gourmet Guardian
    http://www.AustralianFoodSafety.com.au

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