Marketing Advice for Pool Builders in 2015…
By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.
At the first of every year, I like to share with you my observations and recommendations of “what’s happening” in the world of marketing, and “what you should focus on” in 2015. We have an interesting mixture of trends going on in the worlds of marketing and technology, so some of my recommendations may surprise you.
The economic environment continues to improve for a 2nd year, and demonstrate that one of the longest economic downturns in the last century is truly over. If you’ve been “hunkering down” for the last 5 years, just trying to survive, then congratulations – your wait is over.
UNCHANGED: Pool builder websites continue to be the number one source of leads for most pool builders. And that’s because (duh) when homeowners want to educate themselves about this fairly serious decision to buy a swimming pool, they almost always go to the Internet.
“Mobile-Ready” has become even more important in the last year or so, NOT just because more people are searching on mobile devices, but because Google has publicly admitted that they “play favorites” with mobile-ready websites. Failure to upgrade your website to a decent “mobile-ready” condition now annoys not only your website visitors, but Google as well.
CHANGING: Traditional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services continue to lose traction, reliability and effectiveness. Call it “Penguin” or “Panda” or “Pigeon” or whatever P-animal you like, the days of manipulating Google with videos and back-links and “Social Astro-turfing” are essentially over. Yes, there are still things you/we can do to improve your rankings. But if your goal is to be #1 on Google, then you need to consider the old joke from comedian Steve Martin: “If you want to become a millionaire, then FIRST– GET A MILLION DOLLARS.” What I’m telling you is that nowadays, if you want to show up at the top of page 1 of Google, then FIRST, Be #1 on Google.
ALSO CHANGING: Professional opinions and attitudes regarding Social Media. Your Social Media activities today aren’t any more or less powerful than they were one or two years ago. But marketing professionals around the world are finally starting to recognize and publicly admit that the power and impact of social media – especially with regards to the bottom line – has been vastly overrated. (I guess you could say “I told you so.“)
UNCHANGED: “Referrals” and “Websites” will continue to produce about 80% of the new leads for most pool builders. (I explained why in my video here.) But what about other lead sources? Here’s my observation:
PAY PER CLICK ADVERTISING continues to prove itself as the most predictable, most reliable, most measurable, and “fastest-to-implement” advertising medium out there for pool builders. But doing it yourself is simply nuts. The very best experts will save you thousands of dollars every month, and not charge you an arm and a leg for their services. If you’re considering pay per click, then hire an expert.
PRINT ADVERTISING in newspapers and magazines continues to decline in effectiveness. Dilution of the media and distractions in general have taken their toll. There are exceptions, so if you’ve found something that works for you, then I would “ride that horse till it drops.” But if you’re thinking about trying a NEW magazine, you should recognize that you’re taking a pretty serious gamble. The same could be said about TV, by the way.
RADIO is still a work horse, but it’s never been for the faint-of-heart. It’s the one medium that can truly establish you as “the go-to company” in your marketplace. But if you’re thinking about advertising on radio, then I recommend 3 things:
- Go big. Budget a minimum of $50,000 for the first 6 months, and $25,000 every 6 months after that, for at least the next 18 months. (You could easily triple that for larger markets, such as New York.)
- Start in January/February (unless you’re one of my beloved readers in the southern hemisphere, in which case you should start in July/August).
- Write a damn good campaign. You’ll need to create a series of powerful and compelling messages that serve to “tell your story” over an extended period of time. (Yes, I can help with that.)
Converting Leads to Sales…
UNCHANGED: Brochures and DVDs (in addition to your website) will still play a crucial role in helping you convince homeowners to choose you over your competition. These aren’t cheap, so you should check with your suppliers to see if they have any co-op money to help you pay for it.
Sales Training still tends to be money well spent. If you’re attending any of the upcoming shows, you should grab all the sales training you can get. Larger teams might want to consider bringing in a sales trainer, or forming a relationship with your local Sandler Sales representative.
“Telling Your Story” so that people really understand why you are different and better than your competitors is perhaps one of the hardest things to do. But if you’re struggling with closing ratios, this is always the first place to start. I explained this process in a video here, and on my website here.
While there are a number of interesting changes taking place, the overall recommendations for marketing your pool construction business remain essentially unchanged:
- Make sure you’ve got “a good story to tell.”
- Continue proactively working your referrals.
- Make sure your website is modern, mobile ready, and loaded with interesting content.
- Make sure you’ve got good sales tools, such as brochures and a DVD (and a trained sales person / team to use them).
- Take advantage of the standard free directories to improve your “online popularity” without any “Astro-turfing.”
- Continue your social media efforts if you like, but don’t expect miraculous results.
I hope these recommendations will put you on the right path for success in 2015 and beyond. If you have questions or need help, just give us a call, at 877-634-8787.