Sometimes it makes sense to collaborate with local companies on big projects.
That’s what we did with our spring radio campaign. We worked with Sanderson Ford, one of the largest Ford dealerships in the country, to develop a publicity campaign that not only got the word out, but advanced our credibility, promoted a cause, and produced soft leads for us to follow up.
Years back, we built a pool for Sanderson’s marketing manager, Max Sirstins, who places the dealer’s advertising. We became friends over the years and have been purchasing our vehicles through Sanderson. We have long admired what a great brand they have. They advertise heavily with the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team and the Cardinals football team, and they do quite a bit of charity work. So their name is very well known throughout the Phoenix area.
Max is very creative and suggested we do a joint ad campaign. We had a meeting, where we brought in a big radio station here called KTAR, because we both have the same rep there. Radio stations are very creative nowadays because they’re looking at all different angles where they can sell air. So we figured they would be a good addition to the creative team.
We sat down with about six people and brainstormed how we could market a pool and a car. We were looking for a promotion that would tout the environment and also was a good fit for ourselves and Sanderson. We came up with this idea of “The Carpool Lane.” The word carpool lane came about, and it just organically sprouted from there.
We liked the term “carpool lane” because it had a couple meanings. It merged car with pool, and by encouraging people to drive in the carpool lane, we could promote the environment and give a worthy cause to our unique campaign.
We decided to give away either a car or pool, depending on what the winner wanted. Sanderson would give away a hybrid car called a C-MAX, or we would build a pool with energy-efficient equipment and recyclable materials to ensure that the person winning our pool is also doing their part in reducing their carbon footprint. Sanderson put a Ford vehicle in our showroom, and we put a spa in theirs.
Consumers could register at one of our locations, on a special website the radio station set up, or by texting a certain code. When they signed up, they checked a box saying if they were interested in the car, the pool, or both. They also had the option of taking a check for $10,000. Then it had a couple of other questions such as how soon they were looking for a pool or car if they didn’t win. So the entrant became a soft lead for us, since we knew they were interested, and had the capacity to have a pool or were in the market for a car. Whether or not they won, we sent each entrant a secondary offer letting them know that we’re still here for them and inviting them to learn about our company and our monthly offers.
We each had our own commercials, but they would link to the joint campaign. Sanderson Ford had someone from the Diamondbacks as its spokesperson, and we had Greg Schulte, the local broadcaster for the baseball team. He would basically say, “Hey, this is Greg Schulte for Presidential Pools. We’re giving away a free car or a free pool. Jump in the carpool lane.”
We did a live television remote for the launch, and announced the winner at Sanderson’s showroom. The radio station handled the registration and picked the winner, so it took on all the liability. They’re used to this kind of campaign.
Together, Sanderson Ford and Presidential Pools spent about $250,000 on the campaign.
We loved collaborating with Sanderson, a company that’s been around for 50 years and is a household name throughout Phoenix. It was kind of like a smaller beverage company partnering up with Coca- Cola. It was partnering with a company that can bring credibility to our name.
We’re looking for a similar campaign that we can do on a year-to-year basis, and we want to see how other companies might be interested in being added in, to broaden the appeal. We’re even talking with the Arizona Department of Transportation, which is very interested because of the environmental aspect.
This was such a great experience. It shows the difference that collaborating with an outside company can make. We basically were able to double the advertising that we would have generated if we’d done it alone. And we received more than 1,200 leads.
We learned that you should work with somebody who has the same business ethics and beliefs as your own. We have a lot of things in common with Sanderson, so finding that cohesion between the two companies is probably the best way to go into a collaborative effort.
Murphy is president and Foster is advertising director of Presidential Pools, a Phoenix-based Pool & Spa News Top 50 builder.