Where Pool Sales Should Come From
Real Data from Real Pool Builders…
By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.
If you’ve never worked with an advertising agency, then you may not be aware that most ad agencies will pocket a 15% commission for any ads they place for you. The ad media companies (print, broadcast, etc.) got smart a long time ago, and agreed to skim 15% off of the top of what you pay them for the ad, and give it to marketing guys like me.
So it stands to reason that a marketing guy like me would want to sell you as many ads as possible, right?
Well here’s the irony – in my six plus years of working with the swimming pool industry, I’ve consistently seen and believed this contrarian marketing concept: Advertising is not the best way to get leads. Advertising is what you do when other/better strategies aren’t giving you all the business you need.
Here’s my theory — If you’ve been building high-quality swimming pools for more than 10 years, then you should be getting so much business from referrals and your website that you shouldn’t have to spend any money on advertising.
Yes, that means most Yellow Page guys hate me, and most newspaper and magazine ad reps aren’t too crazy about me either. And that also means I’m probably missing out on a lot of big fat commission checks. But the truth is, you shouldn’t buy advertising unless you have to.
This is not just theory, by the way. This is based on real data from real pool builders, just like yourself. In fact, I’m sure you know plenty of builders who (at least until this year) brag about how they never spend any money on advertising. I salute these builders. They are the role models and the paradigm to which I believe most all builders should strive.
Just to confirm my theory, I asked my assistant to pull together the “lead source” data from about a dozen of our clients for the last 18 months.
When we combine the data from all across the country, we get a lot of things falling into “other,” but the general trend is still obvious – Websites are consistently the primary source of leads, and referrals consistently show up as the number two source of leads.
When we look at individual clients in different cities, we see some variations, but the general trend still holds true.
(By the way – I don’t know about you, but I think I see a need/opportunity for at least three of these four builders to crank up their proactive referral efforts a little. And for the record, the pool builder with only “24% internet/website” just switched over to a brand new website about a month ago, so that percentage is likely to start increasing soon.)
Now here’s a second dose of irony. In 2009, the total number of people searching the Internet for pool builders has unquestionably and quantifiably dropped. And the number of people buying new pools overall has dropped, so naturally the total quantity of referrals has dropped. Thus, to keep your volume anywhere remotely close to where it was two years ago, you’re going to have to do a least one of the following:
- Improve the design, layout and “stickiness” of your website, so that you have a higher success ratio with that smaller number of people who come to visit. (For quick advice on how to improve your website, refer to my newsletters of March 3 & March 10 of this year.)
- Get more aggressive in your proactive referral programs by reaching out more frequently to your past clients – not to “beg for referrals,” but to reinforce your relationship and “top of mind” presence. That way, when a friend does seek a recommendation, your past customer will be much more likely to recommend you. (Refer to my newsletter of May 27 for a couple of ideas to get more referrals.)
- Consider expanding your advertising budget temporarily, with carefully selected media and intelligent, proactive return on investment analysis. (For some quick advice on low-risk and low-cost advertising, refer to my newsletters of January 13 and January 27, 2009.)
If you don’t have my old newsletters handy, you can always find them archived here on my website:www.poolbuildermarketing.com/more-info/newsletters
On the other hand, if you’re not into “do-it-yourself” marketing, then give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you. Catch me on a good day, and I might even waive the 15% commission….
Till next time,
2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc. May not be used without permission.