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4 Quick Easy Ways for Pool Builders to Spice Up Their Ad Materials

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Greetings Brett,

In my last newsletter, I promised I would give you some tips on how to “manage your outside perception.” When I talk about “the 3 secrets to successful marketing,” this would be considered secret #2 – “Say It Well.” This means that all your communications with the public -especially your ads- should:

  • Say something interesting and compelling…
  • In a way that’s believable and understandable…
  • Without sounding like an ad.

Talented and experienced copywriters spend hours, weeks, months, and years trying to accomplish the above. But don’t despair. A pool builder can get at least part way there in a matter of minutes by using just a few of these “quick tricks of the trade.” Apply these simple tests to any advertising piece you’re currently using, including ads, signs, brochures, websites, business cards, on hold messages, etc.

TEST FOR PLATITUDES– You may recall that “platitudes” are trite or banal remarks that are spoken as though they are original or significant.These are an unnecessary waste of time, space and ad money. “We build beautiful pools” is a classic industry example of a meaningless platitude. Let’s see how it stands up to some simple platitude tests:

“We Build Beautiful Pools!”

PLATITUDE TEST #1: Does the statement make you want to say “Well, I Would Hope So!”?
Yes, well, I certainly hope you build beautiful pools. If I thought for an instant you didn’t, I wouldn’t consider you in the first place. Don’t all pool builders build beautiful pools?

PLATITUDE TEST #2: Who Else Can Say That? Well, as a matter of fact, anyone and everyone can say that. What pool builder wouldn’t say that?
If your ad or marketing piece fails either of these tests, you should rework it.

TEST FOR PLAIN ENGLISH– The issue here is that people (especially industry experts) often use big words or jargon to make themselves sound smarter. Unfortunately, that approach almost always makes your piece far less interesting, and much less likely to get read. (Keep in mind, it takes a very smart person to take something complex and explain it so that anyone can understand it. I believe Mr. Einstein did a pretty good job of proving that.)

The way to fix this is quite easy, but it requires the use of a 14-year-old child. If you don’t have one, perhaps you can borrow one from a friend or neighbor. Be sure to return it when you’re through.

Step #1 – Take your ad or script or brochure or whatever, plus a pen or highlighter, and hand it to the 14-year-old. Ask them to read through the piece and circle or highlight every single word, sentence or section that they don’t understand.

Step #2 – Rewrite the piece to eliminate all the circled or highlighted words.

Step #3 – Repeat the process with the 14-year-old until it comes back with no circled or highlighted items. Now the entire buying public will find your piece more readable and enjoyable.

SPECIFICITY– Here’s why this is important: Advertisers lie with generalities and tell the truth with specifics. If someone says “We build the most beautiful pools in town,” do you really believe them? Do you think anyone really believes them? A bland generality like that causes an instant red flag in the mind of the prospect. It’s just like Papa John’s saying “Best Ingredients, Best Pizza.” It’s a lie, and everyone knows it.

Fixing generalities is a little bit harder, but it’s still easy enough that most any pool builder can do it. The trick is to read through your materials in search of generalities, and replace every one of them with specifics. Numbers and detail are your friend here.

For example, instead of saying “We build the most beautiful pools in town,” you might say something more along the lines of: “We’ve been building one-of-a-kind, award-winning pools since 1972. Winner of 166 industry awards for beauty, design and innovation, we specialize in vanishing-edge and perimeter overflow pools that make your friends and neighbors go ‘Wow!’” Okay, now were getting into some believable specifics. Who else can say that? Well, not much of anybody. And who does? Almost nobody.

Ask yourself these questions while you review your materials, to shake out the generalities and replace them with specifics:

  • What specifically?
  • How specifically?
  • How many, exactly?
  • Since when, exactly?
  • Compared to what, exactly?

So again, your four quick and easy tests to help you “Say It Well” are to:

  1. Test for platitudes – “Well I Would Hope So!
  2. Test for platitudes – “Who else can say that?
  3. Test for “plain English”
  4. Test for specificity.

Till next time,

Brett Abbott Signature

©2008 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc. May Not Be Used Without Permission

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