Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about four of The 7 Crucial Marketing Secrets Every Pool Builder Should Know. To see the others, click here and scroll through my author page.
Today we're going to talk about what is, in my opinion, the single most powerful marketing secret you could ever hope to harness. It is also, paradoxically, either the best kept or worst executed secret of marketing. Because even though it's kind of a no-brainer, almost nobody does it. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons it's so powerful.
I'm referring to the simple concept of follow-up. You need to nurture your prospects to buy from you.
Now before you get ahead of me and think, "Oh, I've got this nailed," let me clarify a couple of things:
- I'm not talking about the rudimentary act of having your sales rep follow-up with cold leads. That's a manual process that (a) only hits a small number of your prospects, (b) gets abandoned as soon as sales reps get busy and (c) isn't really all that effective anyway.
- Seriously, almost NOBODY does it effectively, so chances are EXCELLENT that you're not doing it nearly as well as you should.
And let me also emphasize that when I say "7 Crucial Marketing Secrets Every Pool Builder Should Know," I really do mean crucial. And here's why.
First of all, we know that the decision to consider and eventually purchase a swimming pool is not an overnight event. Most people spend many months, if not years, dreaming about and evaluating this decision. So to think that "a few weeks of follow-up" is going to have a big impact is simply delusional.
Secondly, because people spend so many years THINKING about a pool before buying, that means there is a HUGE number of "future buyers" in the market compared to the small handful of "now buyers" that are ready to purchase. Most of those future buyers are not looking for any interaction with a sales rep. They're just looking for useful information that will help them on their long journey of becoming more educated about buying a pool.
Which leads to the third reason your follow-up is so vitally important. If a future buyer visits your website and request some free info from you, and then 18 months later, decides they’re ready to move forward with their pool project, who are they going to call? Well, if they haven't heard or seen anything from you in 18 months, then it's probably not you. More likely, they will call whichever pool builder has been in communication with them most regularly and most recently.
Conversely, if you started maintaining an e-mail and/or direct-mail relationship with this future buyer over that same 18-month period, then two things would happen. First, they would be much more inclined to think of you first. But secondly, and more importantly, they would know a lot more about you — even though you've maybe never had a conversation — because of all the information you sent via email and/or postcards. So the fourth reason you should implement follow-up with future buyers is to help warm up and ripen these prospects to the point where they are ready to buy.
And now the fifth reason: By proactively nurturing your relationships with all these future buyers, you’re building a pipeline of new leads who are much more likely to call you when they are ready to buy. That means they will likely ignore all of your competitors, which you must admit is nothing short of a dream come true when it comes to marketing. That's why I said in the first place that this is potentially the most powerful marketing secret you could ever harness.
So if this concept of "follow-up" is so gosh darn great, why doesn't everyone do it?
Well frankly speaking, it's hard. It's hard to find someone on your team who can consistently make time to scratch out a note or shoot out an email to all these future buyers. Receptionists and sales managers get busy, and you certainly shouldn't expect your sales people to do it, because future buyers are just a distraction from what salespeople should be doing, which is meeting with “now buyers.”
That's why you have to come up with a system that is automated. As Michael Gerber famously states in the E-Myth:
“In order for any business to succeed, it must first become a system, so that the business functions exactly the same way every time… down to the last detail.”
If you're ready to systematize and automate your follow-up with prospects, the first step is to purchase an e-mail system such as A Weber, Constant Contact or Vertical Response. These systems will allow you to create a special contact us webform that you (or your website person) can install on your website. Then whenever a prospect makes an inquiry through your website, all of their contact info will automatically be loaded into your database the moment they sign up.
The next step is to create a series of helpful e-mails that will be automatically delivered to these new prospects over the next three to 6 months, or whatever time frame you choose. Writing can be challenging, so to help you avoid writer's block, I suggest you try to put together some e-mails based on any or all of the following subjects:
- "Thank you for your request!" (to be sent immediately after the inquiry)
- "Here's how a modern pool can take care of itself."
- "Here's why a new pool costs less to own."
- "Look at what people are doing to their backyards today…"
- "Here's how to choose the right pool builder…"
- "Have you seen these unusual swimming pool features?"
- "Here's why swimming pool owners tend to be healthier than everyone else."
- "Have you met our owner?"
- "Don't think we've forgotten about you…"
Now if you're really serious about automating your follow-up, you could also add a series of postcards or other direct-mail pieces to your process. But you'll have to choose an e-mail system that also has direct mail capabilities, which is somewhat rare. Three systems that I know of include Infusionsoft, Vertical Response and eSentAll. (Infusionsoft is highly capable, but also rather expensive. eSentAll is much more reasonably priced, and provides most of the features you'll want.)
Bottom line – setting up an automatic follow-up system is complicated and challenging, but that's also one of the reasons it's so incredibly powerful. If you can do it, you'll have a huge advantage over all your competition.