When your pool or spa business is humming along and profits are strong, it’s easy to think of marketing as an unnecessary expense. Why invest money to drum up leads when you have paying customers now?
In my experience with clients, this is not an uncommon outlook. If the company is just starting out or short on recurring revenue, the owners see a need for marketing help. If business is good, they’re less likely to see a need.
When determining whether or not your pool business needs marketing help, consider not just the volume of leads and customers, but the sources from which they’re being generated.
Do You Have Diversified Lead Generation Channels?
Imagine a small pool cleaning company — let’s call it Bill and Ted’s Excellent Pool Service. Bill and Ted are having a good season; just about all of their customers from last year signed up for weekly cleaning again this year and they picked up a few new customers through referrals from existing customers.
Bill and Ted may see little need to invest in marketing if they are happy with their revenue, but now let’s consider another plausible scenario. Next year, two of their existing customers move out of the area. One has decided to clean the pool himself for financial reasons, and one of the referrals goes with a cheaper service.
They’ve lost four customers and have no new business to make up lost revenue. The company had left itself vulnerable to this situation because there was only one source of new lead generation — customer referrals.
The time to invest in diversified lead generation channels is before you have a revenue problem. Few effective marketing channels function like switches you simply turn on or off; they typically require time to plan, set up infrastructure, test tactics and tweak. But the good news is that once you have a good variety of lead generation sources, you’re in a much better position if one of your lead sources dries up.
Takeaway: If your business only has one or two sources of new leads, you need marketing help.
Do You Have the Resources to Execute and Manage Marketing Channels?
Maybe Bill and Ted take stock of their lead sources and decide to diversify by moving forward with some new marketing channels – let’s say SEO, PPC and direct mail. The question now is: are they able to devote ample resources to executing these channels?
- Will someone be in charge of website redesigns/creation, conversion optimization, link building and any copywriting or other content creation that might be needed?
- Will someone be able to provide keyword research and use this for the website and ad copy?
- Will someone be managing the PPC, monitoring the budget and making bid and copy adjustments as needed to optimize the spend?
- Will someone have time to design, copy write and order the postcards?
- Did someone do market research to determine that these were the right channels in the first place?
An easy trap for small businesses is to try executing channels without the proper resources. When the channels fail, it’s assumed that they were just bad channels – when in fact they may have been mismanaged.
Takeaway: If you don’t have qualified, dedicated resources to manage channel execution, you need marketing help.
Do You Know Which Marketing Channels Are Working?
Let’s assume Bill and Ted hired someone to handle the marketing channels above for their pool cleaning business for a couple months. Afterwards, they come away thinking something like this: “Business seemed good this summer, so the channels might’ve helped. But then again, maybe it would have been a good season even without them.”
A sound marketing strategy relies on careful tracking of all channels. If analytics, dedicated phone numbers and other tracking methods haven’t been set up to determine where leads are being generated and how cost-effective each channel is, there’s no way to make informed decisions about how to move forward. You can keep investing in several channels and hope that it all somehow works out, but I don’t know many businesses that are comfortable with that (lack of) approach to ROI.
Takeaway: If you don’t have the resources to properly track and assess your marketing channels, you need marketing help.
Charlie Nadler is the marketing strategist for AAA Pool Service, an inground pool maintenance company serving the North Shore and western suburbs of the Chicagoland area.