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Company-Crushing Killer #5: Not Using a Proven Marketing Formula.

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, Pool Builder Marketing Inc.

In our first few articles, we talked about thinking strategicallyfocusing on hot buttonsand avoiding platitudes. When combined, that helps us figure out “what to say” to the target market. The next stage is figuring out “how to say it”, which leads us to Company Killer #5 – Not using a proven marketing formula.

The best-known marketing formula in the world is called “creativity and repetition.” 

It’s all about “branding” and “name recognition.” The top 100 advertisers in the world spend over $270 billion a year on this approach. It’s basically three steps:

  1. Come up with something interesting and creative.
  2. Then spend millions of dollars pummeling the public with it, and hope it makes a difference.
  3. Repeat.

Super Bowl ads are the most obvious example of this. Which makes it easy to understand why “Creativity and Repetition” may work if you are a fortune 500 company with a multi-million dollar annual ad budget. And it’s certainly proven to burn a lot of cash.

Creativity and Repetition is a recipe for disaster for a small business.

If your primary goal is to “do some branding” and “get some name recognition,” then you will likely be out of business long before you accomplish either. Even if you’re only spending $100,000 a year, you’re basically throwing money into the wind.

So let me clarify – I didn’t say this was the BEST marketing formula; I just said is the best KNOWN marketing formula, since that’s what you see the most of, day after day. People who don’t know any better (including many of the people who sell you advertising) just think about what they’ve seen on TV all their life, and presume that’s what everyone should do.

But like I said, that’s a disaster for small business. 

In the swimming pool industry, we need a much more sensible formula that’s proven to produce results and actually generate revenue.

SOLUTION: 

The alternative to “creativity and repetition” is a much simpler and logical 4-part formula:

  1. INTERRUPT
  2. ENGAGE
  3. EDUCATE
  4. OFFER

Here’s how it works — every video, email, webpage, advertisement or other marketing message should be designed to lead the prospect through these four distinct phases of engagement.

INTERRUPT

The INTERRUPT stage is arguably the most important step, because without this, none of the other stages will happen. “Interrupt” refers to the process of grabbing the attention of the prospect. (More specifically, it refers to the process of “knocking on the door of the reticular activator” – also known as “Broca’s area” – and gaining access to the “thinking brain” aka the prefrontal cortex.) When the brainwaves transition from “alpha mode” or “resting mode” into “beta mode” or “attention mode,” you have successfully interrupted the brain.

Interrupt is also the shortest step; It takes less than 0.5 seconds. It’s accomplished with pictures, colors, sounds, motion and/or hot-button words. To achieve interrupt, you need to do or say something that will cause your prospect to look up and pay attention, at least for a moment.

ENGAGE

After interrupt, you must ENGAGE. Almost as short as the interrupt stage, this is where the thinking brain takes about 0.7 seconds to decide whether or not this “interrupting event” is worth paying attention to. 

For example, if someone is actively thinking about getting a swimming pool, and they see a video or photograph or other info related to a swimming pool, they are likely to be interrupted. If they then see the promise of additional information that will help them in their quest for a new swimming pool, they are likely to become “engaged.” They have mentally decided to continue watching / reading / listening to your message.

EDUCATE

If you’ve successfully interrupted and engaged your prospect, then you now have full permission to “EDUCATE” that person with more information about you, your product, and/or how that person can achieve their wants and goals through you and your company.

I often hear this question: “How long should we educate?” The answer is simple: As long as (1) you need, and (2) space allows, and (3) you remain interesting and engaging. But at the same time, less is usually more, so you should try to make your message as clear and succinct as possible.

For radio and TV, you are limited by time. (Of course, if you’ve got a great story to tell, you can always buy a 30 minute infomercial.) With video, you have much more flexibility, but if you’re going to go more than five minutes, you better make sure you stay interesting. In print media, you can use a font that’s smaller than a typical ad, thus allowing you to say more in the same space. Because remember, if the person is interrupted and engaged, they will be happy to read/watch/listen to all the information you provide.

OFFER

Now we’re at the fourth and final stage of the marketing formula — The OFFER. After you successfully interrupt, engage, and educate your prospects, you need a “call to action.” In most ads, the call to action is “Please Call Us!” The problem with that is the only people who will call you are the ones who are ready to buy right now. What about all the other people who are not ready to talk to you?

With major purchases such as a swimming pool, people tend to spend a long time thinking about it before they actually make the decision. Thus, for every “now buyer” who is ready to talk to you, there are probably 99 additional “future buyers” who are hungry for information, but not ready to call you.

For those people to respond, we need a “low risk offer” such as a “Backyard Ideas” DVD, or a free report such as “10 Steps to the PERFECT Pool”. (Yes, I know that DVDs are declining in popularity, but when someone is hungry for information, and you offer that info on a DVD, they will gladly take it, even if they have to borrow a DVD player to see it.) Besides, you can also make those DVDs available online.

Either way, the low risk offer will get the “not-ready-to-buy-right-now” people to reach out and give you their contact information anyway. Now you can put them in your automatic follow up system, and continue to market to them while your competitors continue their wasteful “creativity and repetition” approach.

CONCLUSION: To avoid wasting money, and get better responses, make sure ALL your messages follow the proven formula of Interrupt / Engage / Educate and Offer. 

NEXT WEEK – Company-Killer #6:
“No Automated Follow-Up System”

This article is part of a series designed to provide pool companies with unique insights that will help them address the modern marketplace challenges that their company may be facing. These insights, when applied, will virtually guarantee new growth, and get your company to the next level.

If you find this information helpful, and would like to learn more, check out the short five minute video here.

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