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Ads vs. Social vs. Word-Of-Mouth…

Which works best for pool buyers?

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Let me warn you right now that the above is, at least partially, a trick question. But you’ll sell more pools if you understand and appreciate the differences between advertising, social media and “word-of-mouth.” And helping you sell more pools is ALWAYS my goal.

Let’s start with ADVERTISING, because the answer here is easy. Advertising CAN work, but it can be very risky, very costly, and it isn’t for everyone. (Especially the high-end/low-volume pool builder.) In fact, in my ideal world (as I’ve said many times before), you should be getting so much business from referrals and your website that you shouldn’t have to do any real advertising at all. (When referrals and your website aren’t bringing in enough leads, THEN you’ll have little choice but to turn to advertising. To put it bluntly, “Advertising is what you do when all else fails.”)

How about WORD-of-MOUTH? Basically, we’re talking REFERRALS here. And I think we can all agree that referrals are by far the best source of leads. Cheaper to acquire, easier to close, and significantly less likely to be “Price Shoppers.” (Especially when compared to someone responding to a yellow page ad.) And since referrals come from word-of-mouth, then we obviously like and want more word-of-mouth. W.O.M. is definitely a good thing.

So then what about our special friend SOCIAL MEDIA? Well, here’s the interesting twist that most people overlook regarding social media. (And also the reason I warned you this was a trick question).  Social media is NOT an ALTERNATIVE to Advertising or Word-of-Mouth. It’s actually just “word-of-mouth gone digital.”

So the question really isn’t “Which one is best?” The question SHOULD be “HOW might I use and leverage social media to get more Word-of-Mouth referrals?”

(By the way – If you’ve been questioning the whole point of social media for the last year or two, especially as it relates to your business, does this alternate perspective of “word-of-mouth-gone-digital” help “turn on a light bulb” for you? I hope it does.)

Now let’s take a quick look at some practical ways where you might leverage these “digital word-of-mouth” opportunities. Starting with the obvious:

FACEBOOK (& GOOGLE+): Lovely place to stay in touch with existing clients, presuming they like you enough to “like” you. OUTSTANDING place to provide your “new pool” clients (and all of THEIR friends) with frequent updates on their project as it’s taking place. (Also potentially a venue for advertising, but that’s a topic for a different article.)

YOU-TUBE (& VIMEO, U-Stream, and others): Excellent place to post videos, presuming you have them. If you DON’T have any videos, then there’s not much point in worrying about YouTube until you get some. Once you get some, you should post them anywhere and everywhere you can. Just don’t forget the absolutely most important place of all for your videos: On your website!

PINTEREST: Newest and fastest growing kid on the social media block, this new animal has huge potential for pool builders. Too many specific strategies and tactics to cover here; I will cover these in a separate article.

HOUZZ: Another up-and-coming social media animal that has outstanding potential for pool builders and high-end landscape companies. (More specific strategies and tactics on this in a separate article.)

ANGIE’S LIST: Probably the most often overlooked (and tragically so, I daresay) social media opportunity for pool builders, landscapers, and pool service companies alike. The epitome of “Word-Of-Mouth-Gone-Digital,” Angie’s List is a “members only” group of homeowners who make specific written online recommendations of the companies they know and love. And they all pay a subscription fee for the privilege of reading each other’s recommendations. Ironically, it’s totally free for the business owners who are recommended. It’s a very short list, and you DEFINITELY want to be on it. (Unfortunately, you can’t just sign up and “get on the list.” I’ll explain in another article exactly how to get yourself recommended on Angie’s List.)

FLICKR (& Photo Bucket and others): This is a perfectly acceptable place to post photos of your work, provided you’ve ALSO posted these photos on your website. (These aren’t near as powerful as the ones described above, but they still have some merit. I’ll explain what you should do and why in a separate article.)

BOTTOM LINE – Do we all agree that Word-Of-Mouth Referrals are a GOOD THING? And that taking word-of-mouth “digital” can make a good thing BETTER? Then it’s probably a smart thing to pursue. I’ll be back next week with specific advice about how you can implement these strategies yourself for FREE.

To your success,

Brett

2012 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin, Inc. May not be used without permission.

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