Have we finally put the pandemic behind us? I’m not sure anyone can confidently predict that. But I’m fairly confident about the following predictions:
- Demand will remain strong in our industry, most likely well into the year 2023.
- But that demand will gently taper off throughout the year, just as we saw in the latter half of 2021.
- And shortages in materials and manpower will continue to challenge the industry.
With that in mind, I offer the following “Marketing Checklist” to make sure you are as prepared as possible for what’s ahead of us in the pool and spa industry.
- Let’s start with the most basic of marketing requirements: your website. For those few internet laggards who still haven’t gotten the memo, you need to (1) have one, and (2) make sure the hosting is “secure.” (To confirm whether or not your website is secure, just click the little “lock” icon at the top of your browser, to the left of your URL.) And (3), your website should also look clean and modern — and be fairly easy to navigate.
WHY? Because in this industry, most of our prospects will visit a company’s website before picking up the phone. If the website is clunky or out-of-date, or not secure, or non-existent, you will likely lose that prospect before the first phone call. Read more on this topic in “Pool Builder Marketing Secret #3: Your Online Image is Critical” (AQUA Magazine, August 2014).
- The second basic marketing fundamental is to “tell a good story.” Customers are overwhelmed with too many options and decisions to make. So, give them a darn good reason to choose your company over the competition, and they will happily bestow you with their loyalty and money.
WHY? Because if you leave out the compelling story, and feed customers empty, meaningless platitudes instead, they will be unimpressed, and simply choose whomever has the lowest price. For more information on this topic, see “Winning Clients With Your ‘Compelling Story’” from AQUA’s July 2021 issue.
The two suggestions above are basic marketing fundamentals that every business owner should have embraced at least 10 years ago. So let’s move on to the marketing plans and strategies that will help us deal with the unique challenges of 2022 and beyond.
- Automation is quickly becoming the next “must-have” marketing item for anyone in the pool industry, and any other industry that is currently overwhelmed with demand. That’s because many business owners are just too darn busy to even answer the phone, much less spend 30 minutes talking to every prospect that suddenly got the bright idea to get a new pool or spa renovation.
Automated marketing can send a variety of emails and text messages to set and manage expectations from the get-go, without you ever lifting a finger. And it’s not just for prospects. You can also use automation to nurture clients through the construction process, and long after the project is completed. And again, this can all happen without any involvement from you. See “Let Automation Smooth Your Journey Through 2021” (AQUA Magazine, January 2021) to learn more.
- To properly and effectively implement automation, you will likely need to adopt the use of a CRM (client relations management) system as well. I must say, I was shocked a few years ago when I surveyed over 100 pool builders and discovered the No. 1 most popular method of tracking sales opportunities was a piece of paper and a pen. And the second most popular method was “none.”
People — we are better than this! With sales opportunities well-exceeding $50,000 each, and the inherently scattered nature of trying to manage an overflow of leads, I simply can’t imagine running a new pool construction business without a professional CRM in place. There are plenty of good CRM options out there to choose from.
- Digital marketing is likely to become a lot more popular in 2022 and beyond for two reasons. First, as noted previously, the overall lead flow in our industry is beginning to decline. So if you want to maintain your current level of operations, you may need to start feeding that sales funnel. Secondly, the highly targeted pay-per-click side of digital marketing can be laser-tuned to appeal to your ideal target market. This will help protect your sales team (or yourself) from wasting time with so many “tire-kickers” who never should have called you in the first place. Read more on this topic in “Does Pay-Per-Click Advertising Make Sense for Pool Builders in 2021?” (AQUA Magazine, May 2021).
- The next smart marketing decision for 2022 is to get a lot more serious about video. If you’ve created the occasional “how to” videos — or some drone videos showing off your work — that’s fine. But I’m talking about a different kind of video. There’s a lot of leverage to be gained from a well-produced video that tells your compelling story in an engaging and intelligent way. Not only will a well-crafted video help generate more leads from your website, it will also prequalify and educate your ideal prospects in advance. It can also help to filter out those mismatched prospects who would be wasting your time. Check out the AQUA March 2021 article, “Leveraging Video Beyond Zoom” to read more on this topic.
- And last but not least is social media. Platforms, such as Facebook and Houzz, can be a great source for both paid and organic leads. But what I believe to be significantly more important right now is to make sure your online reputation is solid. Just like a clunky website will stop people from calling you, a few bad reviews will prevent many people from ever getting to your website in the first place. So this is no time for “out-of-sight, out-of-mind.” If you don’t have someone monitoring your online reputation in-house, then I suggest you find someone outside to handle it for you.
2022 is likely to be another challenging year — but in somewhat different ways from 2020 and 2021. So if you’re ready to finally get off that hamster wheel and get ahead of the sales / marketing curve, then now is the time to tighten up the loose ends described above and make some smart marketing decisions in the new year.
Brett Lloyd Abbott is the founder and CEO of Pool Builder Marketing LLC, a marketing consulting agency that works exclusively with swimming pool builders, pool service companies and high-end landscape professionals throughout the world. He is a frequent keynote speaker and leader of workshops and seminars.
This article first appeared in the January 2022 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.