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It’s “Winter Marketing Checklist” time…

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Last week, I SPECIFICALLY asked you NOT to forward my “No You Don’t Have To Tweet” newsletter to other marketing people. I thought I could trust you. But no, you just had to start a fight.

“Widespread relief” is how I would describe the reaction from most pool builders and service companies who still scratch their heads about all this “social media” hullabaloo. But marketing people, on the other hand, (especially those outside of our industry), still have this burning, insatiable drive to “preach the gospel” about the incredible and ultimate power of social media.

Of course, the truth is, they’re right. Social media is very powerful. It’s just not necessarily the most important thing for you to focus on right now. (Unless, of course, you happen to be a pool industry expert/celebrity who’s also a talented and prolific writer and/or public speaker, which in my experience, is definitely the exception and not the rule.) Do you know WHY I say that social media should not be at the top of your list? YOU’VE GOT TOO MANY OTHER MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO.

In fact, if your business is in the northern hemisphere, then the frenzy of the 2011 pool season (to the extent 2011 might actually be characterized as a “frenzy”) should be over now. We’re on the edge of Thanksgiving (in the US), and the Christmas/winter holidays are just ahead. It’s time for a little “down time.” A little time to regroup and refocus. Time to tackle all the “other stuff” that you can’t possibly touch during your busy building season.

So to help you with this important annual challenge, I thought I would share with you a simple, “pre-focused, pre-prioritized” checklist of marketing “to-do” action items. These are the “critical few,” MOST IMPORTANT things to focus on, if you want to grow your pool business. And knowing that you won’t possibly have time to touch this stuff next June, I suggest you take a hard look at it NOW.

CHECKLIST ITEM #1: WEBSITE – Unquestionably the single most important marketing tool you have. You need to review your website for the following:

  1. Good-looking style and flow. Does it instantly say “solid, high-end, professional company”?
  2. Is the menu simple and logical?
  3. Do you have a “low risk offer” such as a DVD, report, or “pool ideas” book on every page?
  4. Most important (because this is the page most everybody goes to) – Do you have a well-laid out photo gallery that is NOT flash-based, or one of those annoying “shop through a keyhole” one-at-a-time slideshows? In fact, your gallery photos are so critically important that I’m going to dedicate a whole ‘nother checklist item just on that.

CHECKLIST ITEM #2: PHOTOS – As mentioned above, your photographs are hands-down the most popular item on your website. So here’s your custom Winter checklist just for your photographs and photo gallery:

  1. Photos should be well cropped, and color corrected, if necessary.
  2. Photos should be large, and posted in an HTML gallery that expands to at least 900 pixels wide when you click on it.
  3. Each photo should have a watermark of your name/logo on it. (Not only does it look professional, but it gives you free advertising when other people try to steal your photos.)
  4. Each photo should have a text description on it, offering your website visitor (and Google) more insight and education about exactly what they’re looking at.
  5. And here’s my newest secret (congratulations to you, if you’re reading my newsletter this closely), you should add the Facebook “like” button to each one of your photos. That way, whenever someone clicks “like” on a photo, it creates a permanent cyber-trail in the social media world that goes out to literally hundreds of people (people you don’t even know, by the way), indicating that “so-and-so likes this pool photo on ABC pools website…“. Trust me, you want this.

CHECKLIST ITEM #3: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION – Check your “website popularity” ranking with Alexa. If your popularity is beyond 10 million, then you need to take action right away. (Click this link to find out how to get the Alexa Ranking status bar for FREE.) (You can click here to find out how to dramatically improve your overall website rankings.)

CHECKLIST ITEM #4: AUTOMATED FOLLOW-UP – If you still don’t have this in place for your business, then thank goodness you’re reading this newsletter. Because I predict that the only pool builders who are going to survive and thrive in the years ahead are going to be those who do ALL of the above, including the implementation of an automated nurturing/follow-up system. (More info on how to get an automated nurturing/follow-up system here.)

CHECKLIST ITEM #5: RETURN ON INVESTMENT – Here’s my last critically-important step on your “marketing checklist” for this off-season. It’s time to take a look at all the money you spent on marketing and advertising, and figure out which activities paid for themselves in the form of NEW PROFIT, and which ones should be abandoned and buried as a bad mistake. (You’ll find more advice and instructions on how to calculate ROI in my newsletter here.)

Hooray! There are only FIVE key items on your “Winter Marketing Checklist.” These shouldn’t take too terribly long (especially if you get some assistance). More importantly, they will pay GREAT dividends for you in the long run, which is really the whole point of these newsletters in the first place.

Besides, once you get all this “big stuff” out of the way, that will give you LOTS more time to post updates on Facebook!

To your success,

Brett

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