Raymond Whitford


Lifetime Pools Inc.

Palo Alto, Calif.

Rather than trying to reach a broad spectrum of consumers, we’ve begun focusing our advertising on specific groups or organizations in the area.

For example, we’re now targeting Chinese clients, whether it’s through the Chinese Yellow Pages or other periodicals specifically geared to that community.

For commercial business, we’ll focus on publications that cater to health clubs, spas and resorts. To attract general contractors, we might advertise in architectural magazines.

Our research consists of communicating with past clients who fit into those particular groups. We’ll ask them what they looked at, what they read.

We’re also dedicating some advertising dollars to the higher-end periodicals that play to an upscale audience. We’ve redesigned our ads and are paying more attention to their placement so they don’t get lost [among all the others].

And we pulled out of newspapers entirely. We found from tracking our lead flow that we weren’t getting a real benefit out of it. Because our advertising budget is limited, we needed something that would really pay off.

But we’re also experimenting with an old-school technique. One of our salespeople is particularly artistic, and we asked him to develop a customized door hanger. It turned out great.

Now we’re canvassing different areas, whether it’s a housing development where we’ve had previous success, or a neighborhood where we’re in the process of building or remodeling.

It’s kind of old school, but if you talk to a lot of the seasoned veterans out there, they’ll tell you it works. It takes a little more time and requires a little more effort, but in the long run, it has paid off for us.

I think in some respects it’s actually refreshing to our customers. It’s a dose of personal contact in this day and age of high-tech and the Internet.