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Marketing for Pool Builders

“The 3-Legged Milk-Stool Strategy”

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

I’m going to share with you today what I think is the single most valuable marketing advice I can give you. With this secret, you should be able to rule the world. Or your part of it, anyway.

When I first opened my own marketing agency about 6+ years ago, the general advice I was given was this: “The MYM system works with any business. Therefore, everyone’s a potential client.” And while that may be true, it created something of a “scattershot” system. In a given week, I might be working with a home builder, a lawyer, an auto-detailer, a coffee wholesaler, and a margarita machine rental company. Talk about a lack of focus! I was learning, strategizing and reinventing the wheel for ten different industries at once.

At some point, I got the very wise advice to focus on just one industry. In a short time, the marketing strategy for pool builders became crystal clear. (And it wasn’t terribly complicated either; That’s why I love this industry.) It really only takes three key components:

  • A Kick-ass Website
  • A Low-Risk Offer
  • An Automated Follow-up system

Call it the “three-legged milk stool of swimming pool marketing” if you will. Because while there are at least 53 different things you could do to promote your business, most builders can actually get the bulk of the job done with just these three items. Let me explain why.

First, we must recognize that for most people, “buying a pool” would be considered an “infrequent purchase.” It’s not like buying a car or a case of beer, where you probably have some practice. It’s more like buying a high-end piano. You know what it is, and what it looks like, but you’ve probably never bought one before, and really don’t have a clue about how to choose the right one for you.

It’s also a fairly permanent decision, so if you make a mistake, you’re going to be stuck with it for a long time to come.

That means your prospects are fairly clueless about what they’re doing. These people are hungry for information. They’re going to take a long time to think about, consider, research and study the idea before moving ahead with a purchase. For a swimming pool, this “educational process” may last six months to ten years or more.

Ed Spec diagrahm.jpg

That’s why you need a kick-butt website. So that these information-starved people will have a “safe place” to go educate themselves about pools, features, builders, construction, etc. The more honest and compelling your website, the more likely they are to trust you and believe you. (It also affects how likely they are to find you, but more on that later.)

With a kick-butt website in place, you’ve now got the first leg of the milk stool. Step 2 then is to create a “low-risk offer.” This is something to tempt them to give you their contact information so that you can continue to market to them. Without this, they’re likely to read your website, absorb your free information, and then leave without ever saying hello or goodbye.

For the pool industry, my favorite type of low-risk offer is a DVD. Nothing is more effective at helping a homeowner visualize their dream of a pool than to let them watch and listen to scenes of pools and features, with water splashing and squeals of delight in the background. How much closer can you get than that? The very act of putting the DVD in the player actually brings them two steps closer to buying from you.

Admittedly, a new DVD can run you $20K to $40K or more, so let’s consider some alternatives, at least for the short term. How about a free report? Or a free catalog or brochure of pools you’ve built? A comparison checklist can work well also. Whatever it is, you want to entice them to give you their contact info. Because that sets the stage for milk stool leg number three.

Automated follow-up” is exactly what I talked about last week. A series of informative e-mails, letters and postcards that continue to educate the prospective buyer about pools in general and you specifically. I recommend a fairly intense multi-touch campaign over the first 90 days, followed by a less-frequent but ongoing campaign of maybe one or two touches per year.

Now what’s happening? Well, while the rest of the pool builders are trying to court the price-sensitive “now buyers,” you’re quietly and steadily converting all the “future buyers” to favor you. And that’s a good thing, because there are a heckuva lot more “future buyers” than there are “now buyers.” And have you noticed that when the homeowners are properly educated, they tend to be less sensitive to price….

So to review, your three-legged marketing milk stool strategy should look like this:

  1. Attract and educate all potential pool buyers with your kick-butt website.
  2. Entice those visitors to give you their contact info with a compelling, low-risk offer.
  3. Educate the snot out of those prospects until they’re finally ready to buy.

This is exactly what you should be doing to win your unfair share of the business. And I think all of us could use a little unfair advantage right about now. Don’t you think?

Till next time,

Brett Abbott Signature


©2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc. May not be used without permission.

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