Since 1960, the success mantra for marketing has been about the five Ps (originally four Ps by E.J. McCarthy). These five segments are: Product, Pricing, Placement, Promotion and People.
Recently, social media brought about massive changes to the Promotion factor.
Historically, testimonials about our pools, spas or other offerings have always been more powerful than what we, the sellers, have to say about those products. And today, social media has made it easier for potential customers to learn what their friends say about us and our products … and most people trust their friends! Social media weapons are simply one additional tool for communicating all the other “Ps” a company offers. It’s important to remember that if the Product, Pricing, Placement and People are not right, all the Promoting in the world will not save us.
Here are a few tips and social media marketing weapons for promoting pools and accessories.
1. Use your Website properly
Your Website’s home page should have prominent links to the social media platforms that you are using. It should be “search engine optimized” (SEO) and at least some of the pages configured for a smart device (responsive design). Don’t let your “nephew” build your Website because he spends a lot of time on the internet. Have a professional do it. The latest buzzword for online branding is “content marketing.” This term is used to describe everything from social sharing to blogging and the goal is to engage potential customers.
2. Choose an arsenal
Because different consumers use different tools to find what they are looking for, you need to employ more than one method to reach them. The average person in North America spends more than 25 percent of their online time within their social media network of choice, an amazing statistic when you think of it. Currently Facebook is in first place, but studies say that Twitter is used by 14 percent of adults aged 30-49. Many of today’s younger consumers turn to YouTube or Vimeo for information while Pinterest now has more than 19 million users and Houzz has 900,000 images posted. Finally, don’t forget about LinkedIn, a social powerhouse generally favored by professionals.
3. Blog to your strengths
Writing a blog takes time and a certain amount of talent, but if the subjects you cover are what people want, then your posts can drive a lot of traffic to your site. Take note of what people say when they call and ask, “Does your pool … ?” then write a blog that answers that specific question. You can use WordPress or Google Blogger. It’s not complicated but it takes time. Try to post two or three blogs each month and you will end up with regular followers (subscribers). One of the strongest bloggers in our industry is Marcus Sheridan of River Pools in Warsaw, Va. Marcus wrote a blog that is the number one hit for the phrase “Fiberglass Pool Cost,” and because he uses a tracking code, he knows it has generated over 100,000 visitors to his site, hundreds of leads and $1.2 million dollars in sales.
4. Use Pinterest? Houzz is better
Pinterest is all about pretty pictures and the audience follows categories and posts images to bulletin boards of their own. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure that all of the photos on your Website are identified with your company name, otherwise no one will know who designed and built that fabulous pool. Houzz is another image-based site that’s gaining ground quickly and has some advantages over Pinterest. First of all, Houzz’s stated goal is to bring designers and homeowners together whereas Pinterest is more of a free-flowing place where users display whatever images they want. In addition, professionals can post a business profile on Houzz which allows potential customers to easily find them. There’s even a spot for reviews.
5. YouTube videos are what young buyers want
Remember that YouTube (owned by Google) is now the number two search engine in the world so you have to participate! The good news is that you don’t need to make Hollywood-quality videos to be successful. You can create strong, functional content by using your smart phone video camera and the software that came on your laptop. Remember that the key is that the video has to answer a question that the viewer has or address something of interest to them. Videos are also all about the content. If you want to take the professionalism up a notch, buy a simple-to-use camcorder and a good tripod. If you want decent sound quality add a microphone that connects to your camcorder. Now load software like Sony Vegas or Camtasia to your computer. They are easy to learn and will allow you to add slides, captions and transitions easily as well as to regulate the volume of background music and sound tracks. YouTube is the third most visited site on the internet, after Google and Facebook.
6. Use Twitter if you are the expert and people care what you say
Most consumers think of Twitter as a way to keep up with the news or their favorite celebrity. Few in the pool and spa industry have had success getting enough people to follow their tweets to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Indeed, when looking at pool and spa companies that have a lot of tweets, it appears that the majority of their followers are also in the industry which is not a bad thing, but won’t help move the needle on generating new business.
7. Create a LinkedIn profile for you and your company
This is self-explanatory. Because potential and current pool owners use this site to qualify suppliers, you should also. You can do this in a half hour and it may make the difference in your next sale. LinkedIn has more than 160 million registered users.
8. Back to basics — Facebook
It’s hard to imagine any business today that doesn’t have a Facebook page, yet many don’t. The key to Facebook is to remember that you are trying to get your customers to communicate with you. You want them to make comments and respond. There are lots of stories about pool builders who have sold another pool because of posting photos of one they just completed on Facebook, so don’t miss that opportunity. The temptation is to post ads on Facebook like you would in the newspaper. Don’t do it. Make it a conversation. Instead of saying, “This gizmo is available at $14.95,” say, “Have you seen the new gizmo that does this and that? Did it work for you?” Find interesting articles about pools and post them to your site so folks enjoy your entries. Try to add a post at least two or three times per week. Facebook has over 900 million registered users.
9. You might as well add Google+
There are a couple of reasons to add a post in Google+ every time you add a Facebook post. One, it’s easy, just copy and post the same photos and articles to this platform and two, it will help raise your Google search ranking. Google is still the number one search engine in the world and Google+ has over 250 million registered users.