Harvesting Your Hidden Leads

Tap into existing prospects for new sales

As a new pool season gets underway, most savvy business owners are deciding how best to spend their marketing and advertising
dollars. So while you consider radio, TV, billboards, AdWords and other advertising opportunities, don’t forget about the low-cost
hidden leads that may be right under your nose.

When it comes to new pool leads, for every five leads you get, typically one will buy from you; two will buy from your competitors; and the remaining two will wait until the timing is right.

This means that for every pool you sold last year, there are two more people in your market who 1) already know you and 2) are already thinking about buying from you. Add the people from two to five years ago, and suddenly you’ve got quite a collection of prospects who may decide to buy from you this year.

So before you start throwing thousands of dollars at print and Internet ads, shouldn’t you think about reaching out to those people who are already at your fingertips? They are perfect candidates for what we call an automated drip-marketing campaign.

Akin to drip irrigation or Chinese water torture, the concept and goal is the same: Keep dripping onto these prospects with a series of compelling messages until they’re finally ready to buy.

Yes, this could take years because some people who said “We’re going to wait” may still need three to five years to ripen. But many others could easily decide this is the year. Either way, no matter how long it takes, when these people finally decide they’re ready to buy, we want them to think of you first.

Drip marketing is either the best-kept or worst-executed secret in swimming pool marketing. It’s a no-brainer, but almost nobody does it — which is one of the reasons it’s so powerful.

I’m not talking about the rudimentary act of having your sales rep follow up with cold leads. That’s a manual process that only hits a small number of your prospects and usually gets abandoned as soon as the sales reps get busy (and truth be told, it isn’t all that effective anyway).

Since almost nobody does it effectively, chances are excellent that you’re not doing it nearly as well as you should. As Michael Gerber, famed business guru and author of The E-Myth famously said, “In order for any business to succeed, it must first become a system, so that the business functions exactly the same way every time…down to the last detail.”

Step one is purchasing an email system such as AWeber, Constant Contact or VerticalResponse. These systems will allow you to create a special web contact form, which you (or your website person) can install. Then whenever a prospect makes an inquiry through your website, their contact info will instantly go into your database.

Step two is creating a series of helpful emails which will be automatically delivered to these new prospects over the next three to six months, or whatever time frame you choose. Writing can be challenging, so to help you avoid writer’s block, I suggest you put together emails based on any or all of the following subjects:

If you’re serious about automating your follow-up, add a series of postcards or other direct-mail pieces to your process. But you’ll have to choose an email system that also has direct-mail capabilities, which is somewhat rare. Infusionsoft, VerticalResponse and eSentAll have these abilities. Infusionsoft is highly capable but also rather expensive. eSentAll is much more reasonably priced and provides most of the features you’ll want.

Remember: Most future buyers are not looking for a face-to-face interaction with a sales rep, but they are interested in useful information that will educate them about buying a pool. So if you were to initiate and maintain an email or direct-mail relationship with this future buyer over an extended period, they would be much more inclined to think of you first. They would know a lot more about you because of all the helpful information you’ve emailed over months and years. Thus, you will essentially warm up and ripen these prospects to the point where they’re ready to buy.

Rather than broadcasting to the world to find new leads, leverage old leads to create a pipeline of people who are more likely to call you when they’re ready to buy.

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