A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words…and Your Next New Customer
“People aren’t just buying pools. They’re buying the entire backyard experience.”
Every year, pool builders look at new ways to market the latest trends and technology to potential customers. While finding ways to get ahead of the competition is important, one thing will never change: Before builders can promote a brand or a feature, they have to sell the idea of owning a pool in the first place.
“When someone is thinking about putting in a new pool, they’re thinking about what it looks like,” says Brett Abbott, a marketing consultant. “And it’s our job to sell the dream. You can’t do that with a mediocre photograph.”
Abbott is the owner and president of MYM Austin, a marketing firm that works with pool builders throughout North America. He says the single most important piece of marketing is a beautiful photograph. And over his 12 years at MYM, he’s seen tens of thousands of photos.
“The quality of photos…on your website, on your Facebook age, and in your advertising will have a dramatic impact on any homeowner’s perception of your company and your capabilities,” Abbott says. “Investing in high-quality photos — either by hiring a professional or by taking the time to learn how to take good quality photos yourself — is one of the smartest and most cost-effective marketing investments you can make. People aren’t just buying pools. They’re buying the entire backyard experience.”
Abbott says the cost of a professional varies on location and experience. He says in most cases, you can invest between $500 and $3,000 on a solid photographer. Before hiring, do a web search of the photographer and look at the portfolio. If you find yourself saying, “Wow!” that’s a good thing. If not, you may want to consider someone else.
“If you want to sell six- or seven-figure pool projects, you want a magazine cover–worthy shot,” Abbott says. Would a car company let an employee take out a smartphone to photograph a new car and then use that photo on the company website? Neither should you.
Is a DIY pic ever appropriate? Yes. If you use social media regularly to post updates on projects, Abbott says go ahead. And if you’re looking to increase the number of photos for your website, but you don’t plan to highlight the pics in a prominent place, DIY may be the best option if you follow this advice:
1. Use the right camera. You should be shooting digitally, with a minimum of five megapixels. A wide-angle lens will help get the entire pool in one shot.
2. Get up. Eye-level shots of swimming pools are lousy and amateurish. Sky shots from 20 feet or higher are fabulous. Shoot from a ladder, or use the ladder to get up on the roof or into a tree.
3. Bring a tripod. Abbott says you can’t get a world-class photo of a swimming pool without one.
4. Arrive early or stay late. Mid-day shots are almost always a waste of time and film, unless it’s a perfectly cloudy day. You should be targeting for early-morning and predusk shots.
5. Hose down all stonework, brickwork and the deck. It enriches the colors and adds sparkle to everything. Remove the hose, the pool sweep, the floaties and any other distractions before you shoot the photo.
6. Use wide angles and close-ups. If you get up on the ladder and catch 95 percent of the pool, you’re wasting your time. Get the whole thing, and all of the deck and the area around it. You can always crop it later. Get a close-up of the waterfall, the grotto, the beach entry and the water arches.
7. Take 50 to 100 shots. Anything less than 20 shots is just not sensible. You want to have a lot of choices when you get to the studio or to your computer.
To get a better understanding of what you should or shouldn’t do, look at the photos on this page. You can find more suggestions for posting pictures online and using them in social media on Brett Abbott’s website, poolbuildermarketing.com.