Here’s my fresh view on what to do in 2019…
By Brett Lloyd Abbott, Pool Builder Marketing LLC
Don’t let my introduction confuse you. This story is about marketing.
After holding steady at 175 pounds for most of my adult life, I suddenly gained 10 pounds right around Thanksgiving, and solidly kept it on right past Christmas. So when my wife suggested we start the new year with a high quality “7-day cleanse,” I figured that’s exactly what I needed.
Now I know better than to make a hopeless/clichéd 12-month resolution, such as “I’ll go to the gym three days a week for the next year.” That’s not happening. But seven days? I can handle that.
Then I found out that the cleanse means FRUITS and VEGETABLES ONLY. No meat. No dairy. No sugar. No bread. No potatoes. No eggs. No alcohol. And NO COFFEE.
With no booze and no coffee, I figured there was a 50-50 chance that one of us would kill the other by day 5.
Well this morning is day 7 of the 7-day cleanse, and we are both still alive. And just like everyone says when they do this, I feel better. A lot better. I dropped 10 pounds, and I’ve got more energy, and less stress.
But that’s all pretty normal, I think, for anyone who commits to a 7-day cleanse. It’s the hidden upside of all this I want to tell you about. Since I committed to the cleanse, I figured it wouldn’t kill me to do 20 sit-ups every morning. So I did. And I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to be a little more conscientious of my sleeping habits, and go to bed a little earlier every night. So I did. And of course, we’re taking supplements because of the cleanse, so that’s better too.
This “fresh attitude” allowed me to be more diligent with my time management also, staying focused on priorities, and accomplishing more every day. And it inspired me to adopt a few other good habits too, such as being sure to kiss my wife every morning and night.
So overall, it was a very good thing.
Now here’s what this has to do with the pool industry.
This “cleanse” experience aligns with my marketing advice for 2019.
The pool industry is now five years into a healthy upturn, after a pretty brutal five-year downturn. Demand is up. Sales are up. And the competition is up. Which means the marketing challenges are up too.
Five years ago, pool companies began to tepidly step into the hint of an upturn. Now, EVERYONE has stepped in, oddly making it easier than ever to lose a sale. The business is out there, but I’ll bet you’re finding it just a little bit harder to generate the leads, and/or harder to win all the deals you thought you would get.
What I see, from my rather unique vantage point, is that when it comes to marketing, now EVERYTHING matters..
In years past, you just needed a good website, or a good PPC program, or a good organic ranking, or a good reputation. (Remember when you could live comfortably off a steady stream of referrals?)
To deal with this increased competition, I would encourage you to take a look at the entire length and breadth of your marketing operations, and to the extent you are able, ensure that ALL elements are operating as well as they should.
Here are the pieces I’m talking about:
- You’ve got to start with a solid STORY. Call it your “unique selling proposition” or whatever you like, you and everyone else in your company need to consistently convey a clear and compelling story that explains and justifies why you are the superior choice. That story needs to permeate everything you do. Otherwise, a competitor with a better story will tend to win more sales.
- You’ll need a solid, compelling, well-designed website. As I’ve said in the past, your website is a unique tool that can both generate leads and help convert those leads into sales. But if it’s slow, or out of style, or loaded with meaningless platitudes, or not designed for “conversion,” then you’ll consistently lose sales to competitors with better websites.
- You’ll need a solid lead generating system. If you are thriving on referrals-only, then congratulations. All others will need to invest in other lead generation, such as Search Engine Optimization, or Pay per Click, or Joint Ventures, or any of a number of other forms of advertising. It’s getting increasingly brutal and expensive (Some of your competitors are spending $10,000 per month in PPC advertising, and $2000 per month in SEO!) That’s why it’s so vitally important that all OTHER pieces of your marketing are working well. Otherwise, your competition will bleed you to death.
- You need to “monopolize” every lead that comes your way. Most prospective pool buyers spend a lot of time looking at pool builder websites, and then leave without a trace. You should have (1) a “Low Risk Offer”, such as a free report, free DVD, free brochure, etc. that entices the visitor to give you their contact info. Then you need (2) an automated “drip marketing” system that consistently and automatically communicates with your prospect, sharing more and more information about why you are the superior choice. If you aren’t doing this, and your competitor is, your competitor is likely to win more sales.
- Your salespeople need to have powerful sales tools, to help them close the sales. If you’ve got a solid story, then make sure it’s in your brochure, and on your DVD, and in your showroom, and your on-hold message, and your elevator pitch, and on your salesperson’s laptop. Otherwise, your competitor with better sales tools will tend to win more sales.
- Make sure your salespeople are well-trained also. As we all know, a talented, well-trained salesperson is worth their weight in gold. So even if your company and marketing is superior in most other ways, a talented salesperson working for the competition will tend to steal more of your sales. So don’t neglect sales training either.
- Don’t ignore your online reputation. It’s sad to say that a few rogue one-star reviews can totally stop your otherwise happy and excited prospective pool buyers dead in their tracks. So if the one star-reviews are pulling you down, and you can’t dissuade the complainers otherwise, then your only choice is to flood your reputation with as many five-star reviews as possible. Otherwise, the competitor with more five-star reviews will likely win more sales.
Yes that’s quite a list. Quite possibly overwhelming. That’s why I suggest we take a cue from my 7-day cleanse experience.
I’m not ready to become a vegetarian, and do push-ups and setups, and run a mile every day, and give up coffee and booze, and take out all the fun in my life. That’s too much. I can’t afford it.
But I CAN do ONE thing.
You should take the same approach here.
If you’re not ready, or can’t afford to invest in all seven items above, pick your weakest area, and focus on that.
As you address one piece of it, the process will tend to spill over into other areas, lifting the entire company.
And THAT’S my fresh view of what you should do in 2019.