Matt GiovanisciIf you have a pool service business, then you should know that the most important thing to your business is attracting customers. Without customers, you really don’t have much of a business, do you? In order to get customers, you need marketing.

The world of marketing can be a scary place. There are so many different ways to advertise and market your business that choosing the right strategy can be a daunting task. A marketing strategy can make or break your business, so it’s important to create an effective one.

In today’s world, the old marketing methods may not be an effective way to jump-start your business. Posting ads in the classifieds and, as I pointed out in a previous blog post, the yellow pages, are not cost effective.

The newspaper is read by the masses, a majority of which don’t own a swimming pool. Because of its mass market delivery and printing overhead, it can be expensive to advertise in. 

You don’t want to waste your advertising dollars on a majority who have no use for the services you offer. That’s why you need to start targeting your market. Hone in on customers who will benefit from using your service and would be interested in hearing more about what you offer.

Here are some tips to help guide you in creating a killer marketing strategy for your pool service business. If you utilize these methods properly, it will help to grow your business and save you money in the process.

1. Send out postcards. Yes, postcards are old fashioned, but they still work very well. They are cheap to send and you can target them to customers who own a swimming pool, which makes them very effective.

The first step is to fine-tune your mailing list. If you already have an existing-customer list, great! If not, or if you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to purchase a mailing list. You can find mailing lists for sale online or locally. Be sure to only get names and addresses of homeowners who have swimming pools. That’s the obvious key here.

Once you have your mailing list optimized, it’s time to start putting together your first postcard. In order to save money, look into creating a card that’s 4 by 6 inches, which are relatively cheap to print and send.

The next step is to design your card. If you are not a designer, it’s probably best to hire someone. You can post a flyer at a local college or put an ad on Craigslist looking for a graphic designer.

Next, create an attention-grabbing headline or a special offer. Why would someone want to choose your company over someone else to care of their pool? What makes your company better than your competitors? Perhaps it’s your low prices or experience. Maybe you are offering an amazing deal this month for new customers. Whatever your message, make sure it’s compelling and attention grabbing. You don’t want your postcard to end up in the recycling bin.

2. Create a website. I already know what you’re thinking. “A website? I’m just a single service guy. How and why would I do that?”

It’s simple, if you want to create an online presence and look professional, then you need a website. Personally, if you don’t have a website, then I won’t trust that you take your business seriously, and many people feel the same way.

Having a website allows you to make your business look big and professional. It’s also relatively cheap to design a simple one. You can take the same approach as finding a designer at local colleges or craigslist, or you can use a company like GoDaddy.com to get a domain name, a hosting package, and use their customer website builder to build a website in just a few hours.

Make sure your website is full of information about your company and that there is an easy way for customers to contact you. It can be a phone number, email, or online contact form on the homepage.

3. Leverage your online presence. This is the new-school way to market to your local customers. Your customers are online and they search for ways to solve their problems. Your job is to get in their way. Think of it like the online yellow pages. 

If a customer wants to hire a local pool service company, they might hop on Google, Yahoo, or Yelp to find a service company that’s near them and has great reviews.

Start with Google Places. Google Places is an online directory for local businesses. By adding your business, you will appear in local searches. For instance, a customer visits Google and types in “pool cleaning service.” If that customer is located in your Zip code, then chances are you will come up in the results. 

But it’s not just about having a listing, it’s about having a great listing. Google Places and other business directory sites such as Yelp, Yahoo and Mantra have free listings that allow you to add photos, videos and really detailed information about your company. Make sure you fill in as much as possible. The more information there is about your company, the more comfortable a customer will feel about using your service.

These sites also have another feature — reviews. Reviews are a super-important factor in where you fall in the rankings. Generally, the more positive reviews you have on your listing, the higher you appear in the list and the more likely customers will call or contact you.

A good strategy here would be to entice your customers to review your business on these various websites. You can’t expect every one of your customers to take the time out to write up a review, but you can persuade them by offering a discount on their next pool cleaning or maintenance. 

Think of this as word-of-mouth marketing, online.

If you don’t want to spend any money, you will need to start manually entering your business onto these websites. However, you can have this done for you using a service like Yext.com. They will put your listing on over 40 different websites, and manage it, for a annual fee. This is a great move if you don’t have a lot of time to sit in front of your computer.

It’s also important to have a Facebook page. Nowadays, it seems like everyone uses Facebook, so why not take advantage of this phenomenon and create a page for your business?

It’s also a good idea to post new content on the site each day. Perhaps a promotion or just a comment on what the weather will be like today. 

With these three marketing strategies, you can really get a good jump-start on your new business or boost your existing one quickly. 

If you have any other tips for marketing a pool service business effectively, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to add them in the comments below. 

Here are a few ideas to help maximize your postcard marketing efforts:

- Always fine-tune your email list with every effort.

- Send out postcards at least once a month throughout the season.

- Create a beautiful looking postcard to grab the reader’s attention.

- Have something to say. Create a compelling message or irresistible offer.

- Track your postcards. Make sure you always know where your customers are coming from.

- Use a postcard mailing service, such as www.postcardmailers.com to save yourself money and time.

Matt Giovanisci is the creator of Swim University (www.swimuniversity.com) and has over 15 years of experience in the swimming pool and hot tub industry. He is also an award winning web designer and has been featured on Martha Stewart Radio as a pool & spa care expert.

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Daniel Harrison - Poolandspa.c Tuesday, 17 April 2012
I agree with Jay 100%.
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Jay Broyer -Precision Pool Thursday, 12 April 2012
Our company is a perfect example of using your website as the focal point of your marketing. We haven't done a direct mail campaign in 2 years! Last year our business grew by 40%. We are our local SCP branches top dealer, we dug a pool every month of the year since last March, IN MASSACHUSETTS! (thank the weather for that ;) ) All of it we can directly track to our website. I have spent the last 2-3 years working my but off to build out the design, blog, make videos, and do relentless search engine optimization. Does it take a lot of work, some tech smarts yes, and we are a younger company, but we are also the only ones building pools around here! Start building a website, start writing informative blog posts, start taking and posting videos and pictures at every job, do all this and your business WILL GROW! If you feel you don't have the time hire someone, it is expensive but I am telling you if you do not do this you will not be i the business in 5-10 years, period. -Jay Broyer Retail Sales Manager Precision Pool Construction precisionpool.net
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Ron Miller-Ace Marketing and S Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Joseph, I understand your point, however I agree with Dan 110%. The website does become a focal point of your advertising and a reference point to your business. If you are going to take the time, money and effort to market yourself, better have a website to go along with it. In this day and age, people are going to want to know a lot more about the person servicing their pool or spa. Your website is a great place to display your testimonials. You can also use Yahoo small business, a small investment for a website, hosting and e-mail package. There are plenty of instructions on how and what to put on your new website. Social media is a place where you can advertise for little to no cost. Use mediums like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest. Yes, it all takes an effort. If you are interested in growing your business, then you need to make the effort. You will be rewarded. Ron
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Daniel Harrison - Poolandspa.c Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Joe - LOL, but true :o)
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Actually @Dan H - You know as well as me.....Running an online website and the dealing with your "online rep" is NOT cheap ;-) Come on Dan - LOL - BTW Call me soon.....okay , back to my opinion ......... In fact, If you build a website and then do not maintain your online web reputation......UGH.....it could hurt your business........just saying................... Postcards....yes - cheap, direct, fast effective....!! A+++++++ I totally agree! Website......meh....................it takes lots of time and dedication....and could screw you in the long run.... Just my opinion ;)
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Great suggestions, Matt! Those are useful for any part of the business, too.
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Daniel Harrison - Poolandspa.c Tuesday, 03 April 2012
What a great job you did on this article Matt ! These are great tips that every local pool or spa service should follow.