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Weekend edition June 21, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

New marketing firm in town has a vision for the beauty industry

Occipital Marketing was founded by Billy Davison as a way to empower salons, spas, and beauty-businesses across the country.

If you are a doctor, surgeon, or even a hair stylist, you may have heard the word occipital before, but most of us have not. It describes a portion of the skull that protects the area that processes visual input from the eyes.

Billy Davison
Billy Davison

Billy Davison first heard the word about 12 years ago at a hair salon. Stylists use the occipital portion of the head as a key reference point for cutting and styling while having to use extreme precision to protect the vision of their clients. Today, Davison owns a start-up called Occipital Salon Marketing to do the very same thing, protect his client’s vision for the success of their salon.

“Vision” is a good way to explain how Davison came up with the idea to offer digital solutions specifically to salons. He witnessed his husband, Brett Paulson navigate the salon industry for a decade, and even helped support his marketing efforts when he opened Reverence Hair Studio in Knoxville.

“What works for other industries when it comes to marketing doesn’t work for salons,” Davison said.

He first learned this tried-and-true fact about a decade ago at his husband’s place of work in Springfield, Missouri. The salon, now a client of Occipital, was struggling to establish an online presence and solely relied on social media and word of mouth to bring in more clients. This method simply takes too long to build a steady stream of revenue.

Davison said he frequently made websites when he was younger and has always had a knack for design, but needed the opportunity to prove he could do it professionally. He got his first opportunity in web development at a small business in Springfield, MO, where his true fascination with the field began.

It was a few years later Davison and Paulson visited some friends in Knoxville.

“We did not expect to enjoy it as much as we did. Soon after, we decided to move to Knoxville permanently,” Davison said. “So, we sold our house in 2019 and moved here with no jobs, no house, and a few acquaintances and friends.”

Davison quickly moved into a corporate operations role for an e-commerce analytics company, and Paulson landed a position as a salon manager.

Then, came the pandemic.

“My husband’s role didn’t end up being quite what he expected, and we had a lot of time on our hands to dream up what having his own salon would look like,” Davison said. “So, in 2021, he opened Reverence Hair Studio, not having any local clientele.”

Davison got to work on the marketing, digital presence, and social presence for the new salon. He invested time into SEO, improving the Google ranking, and meeting potential clients where they’re at.

“Three months in, my husband was booked full,” Davison said. “Six months later he had to move to a larger space and hire extra talent to keep up with the amount of people trying to book appointments.”

Now, the salon has been open for three years and is thriving.

“I had so much fun doing not just the marketing, but the business operations and automation for his salon with so much success,” he said. “I wondered if I could replicate it for other salons.”

So, Davison explored other salons needing marketing help and tapped into a major area of need. Today, he does marketing for 35 salons, spas, and beauty businesses across the country.

“I wanted to help them understand everything that a potential client may see, from the first look in a mirror to the Google search, and eventually sitting in the chair,” he said.

Davison explained how the current gold standard for marketing in the beauty industry is thought and taught to be Instagram. Each transformation should be posted, hashtagged, and shared. The number of followers matters. Discoverability with reels is vital. However, Davison said that’s not where the bulk of clients are discovering their stylists.

“Word of mouth is really the way the beauty industry started,” Davison explained. “Instagram may be a business validator, but it’s not a business generator.”

Davison’s Occipital Salon Marketing helps salons identify their vision, and make it clear to potential clients on all platforms of discoverability.

For the past few years, he has been balancing Occipital full-time alongside his full-time corporate career. He said the salon marketing side of things has grown to the point where he can focus on it exclusively, be his own boss, and part with his corporate career.

“I’m just drowning in the potential right now,” he said. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so to see my side gig turn into a full-time career has been truly unbelievable for me.”

To learn more about Occipital Salon Marketing, visit their website.

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