How Storytelling Sells Pools

Pennydog Sept

In the 1938 romantic comedy “Holiday,” Cary Grant’s character Johnny Case has a signature way of dealing with the stresses of life. Whenever things get a little hairy, Case launches into a backflip to remind himself that life shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

Eventually he finds true love after some vigorous gymnastics on New Year’s Eve, and the final scene has him quite literally falling head over heels for Kathryn Hepburn’s character.
It’s brilliant storytelling, pure and simple, and the audience has no need for dialogue to understand exactly what’s going on during his acrobatics. Grant’s created a brand for himself in the course of the movie and we even come to expect his signature moves at key moments in the film.

Like Johnny Case, our Pool Guy Al Curtis has been known to launch into a backflip or two. He’s also strapped fairy wings onto his “Pool Dog” Penny, planted a pirate flag on a job site to stake his claim and has taken a quick nap in a concrete tree at one pool — all of which are moments that we shared on social media.

What’s any of this have to do with selling pools?

For Legendary Escapes, it’s got everything to do with selling pools. It’s the Pool Guy’s story that sells pools, and it’s that story that we use in our marketing efforts every day. With the range of technical tools out there for storytelling, we are able to create an almost unlimited amount of content that tells the story of Legendary Escapes and its founder Al.

That backflip, for example, has become a phenomenal sales tool. The video of Al, perched atop one of his backyard creations, launching off the waterfall into the deep end only had around 80 views on YouTube; certainly not a viral success by social media standards. But from that video alone, we sold two six-figure pool projects in one season.

The reason is simple: The homeowners said they wanted to be able to do that in their own yards.

Engaging with storytelling is a longstanding practice of human culture. From the original clan around the fireplace in the evenings, the petroglyphs on ancient cave walls and the traveling bard of Shakespeare’s time to our current-day obsession with movies and books, humans are wired for a good tale.

Brands have become keenly aware of this human connection, becoming masterful storytellers for their own companies.

Take Apple, for instance. The launch of any new product instills not just excitement about the product itself, but an almost Pavlovian sense of envy. Is that because of the technology, or the story behind the product of belonging, early adoption and technical prowess that owning the latest Apple whatever bestows?

Or consider Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty. Dove was one of the first brands to embrace the healthy body image mantra by telling real people’s stories about what it means to be beautiful, strong and healthy. The brand helped to launch worldwide awareness of stereotypes and body-shaming rhetoric and turned on a whole generation of young women to a healthier approach to their bodies.

For both of these brands, it’s not really about the products themselves, but the stories they tell that make them remarkable.

At Legendary Escapes, we take the same approach. If you look at our YouTube channel, very few of the videos are about the technical aspects of building a pool. You’re more likely to see a clip of a happy customer and his kids barreling down the waterslide, Al sharing some philosophy on pool building or Penny frolicking in the mud on a new build.
We started out on YouTube offering video clips answering frequently asked questions on inground pool care, and we still get a lot of traffic on those. Yet even in those technical clips, we always worked to instill great personality, a friendly attitude and a human connection through our Pool Guy persona.

According to marketing expert Deborah Shane, brand storytelling consists of a few key elements, including tapping into that element of real emotion.

“Include characters, personality, humor, pain and joy. Some of the best ways to accomplish this is through blogging, article writing, video, podcasting, webinars and workshops,” she suggests.

Using real time examples of what you do is a good way to start, Shane notes. “Share specific examples of your brand in action including the product, process and people that make it happen.”

In this way, your storytelling will be authentic and relatable, two keys to making all of this work for you. And don’t be afraid to share your failures along with your successes, as this is all part of any brand’s story.

Above all, be authentic. A friend of mine once worked for a company that pretended they were much bigger than they were. Customer service people (there were two of them) were asked to use several different names in their email replies to make it look like they had a huge team. The founder created a myth of himself as a “serial entrepreneur” to make him look like a tech heavy-hitter. And the marketing message was all geared about artificial limits on special offers (the “call within 10 minutes” mentality).

While the company offered a fantastic online service, it never thrived. The real story – of two really smart guys who created a brilliant solution eliminating a ton of drudgery for online marketers – got lost in the puffed-up story they told their audience, and themselves. They simply imploded under their own imaginary weight.

Find your own truth about what you do, and tell that story. Be real, be honest and be consistent with getting your content out there. If you do backflips, do backflips. If you serve your crew a barbeque lunch once a month, share those meals on YouTube. If you send a fruit basket at the end of the job, share pictures of your customer getting that special delivery on Instagram. Use the tools that are already there for you.

It’s your story to tell. Tell it with pride.

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