Just the other day, I was driving home from my friend’s house, and I passed a very well-known pool store in my area. They had a marquee under their sign on the street that simply read, “Buy Early to Beat the Rush.”

I laughed out loud. I thought to myself, “Do they really think those words are gonna make people slam on the brakes and pull into their lot just to ‘beat the rush’?” I would argue, "No."

Instead of just laughing at how hilariously bad their copy was, I started to think what I would do if I had a marquee to mess with. My goal would be to make people have a reaction while in their cars. Make them think or feel or laugh. I want to manifest an emotion within them. Perhaps that emotion won’t make them stop, but I would hope that it would keep my business in their brains.

This reminds me of an Apple commercial I saw over the holidays. It takes place during Christmas at a family’s house, and it stars a kid who seems to be preoccupied by his iPhone. It turned out that he was making a very heartfelt video for his family to watch on Christmas morning. I’m not ashamed to admit that this commercial made me cry every time it came one — yes, I have feelings. It didn’t matter what they were selling because their advertisement sparked an emotion that I will remember.

The pool industry also is perfect for emotional selling, yet I see very little of it. Normallly, when I pick up the local circulars or see a commercial for pools, it’s blabbing about how low the prices are, or “hurry in before we’re all sold out.” I think pool companies are missing out by only focusing on price and sales and blow outs and discounts and...well, it’s all price-based.

We sometimes forget the reasons that people buy pools and hot tubs. It’s not because the store is having a sale or because they have some extra cash. So why not? It’s because of an emotion.

Try This Exercise

Sit down with the trusted people in your company and brainstorm. Get out the whiteboard or a giant pad of paper, and write every single reason your team can think of as to why people buy swimming pools. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous an idea is, write it down anyway. This is a good exercise for any company to do with any type of project. The idea is to get all the ideas out and written down.

You can’t do this by yourself because you’re not going to think of everything.

Once you have this list, start to vote for your top 5 reasons. The goal here is to narrow this massive list down to what you think is the best. If you can include real data from your customers as to why they purchased, that’s even better and more accurate data.

Once you have this list, rethink the way you advertise. Reimagine the way to present your company to your customers. By hitting them on an emotional level, it’s going to completely change things. Customers want to feel like there is someone listening to them and caring about what they think. You want your customer to think, “How did they get inside my head and know exactly what I was thinking?”

Here Are Some Examples

I’m going to attempt to mini-brainstorm as I write this, and maybe, this session will help you to get started. Here is my short list of why I think people buy pools:

- Kids are complaining they want to go swimming.

- I want to compete with my neighbor.

- I want to impress my friends with my awesome backyard.

- I grew up with a pool and now I want one for myself.

- I want to start exercising by swimming.

Ok, this list is not refined at all. And I bet when you create your own list with your team, you’re going to have some crazy ones — crazy is good.

Now I’m going to imagine how I would present one of these messages to my customers in a single-image ad with just a bit of copy. Here I go:

Kids Are Complaining: I would take a photo of a bunch of kids ready to go swimming in an empty backyard. The copy would be: “Trust Us, Your Kids Will Thank You.”

Compete with Neighbor: A shot of a really awesome pool that the whole family is enjoying, with the neighbor peering over the fence in envy. The copy would read: “You Know You Want This.”

Impress Friends: A photo of a very well-dressed person showing off their pool to wide-eyed friends, with text that says: “Jealous?”

I’ll admit that I could put some more time into it, and I suggest that you do. These are really just off the top of my head as I sit in this coffee shop. But imagine if you had your whole team coming up with ideas.


That’s understandable. I’m all about testing and so should you. Test two different ads: one focused on price, and one focused on emotion and see which one converts better. I’ll tell you that if you create emotional ads with a little bit of humor, you’re going to win. If you create ads that tug at the heartstrings, you’ll win too.

Give it a shot this summer and share your results with us. I’m looking forward to a very great 2014 for the swimming pool industry.

Happy Swimming!