Category Archives: Selling And Marketing

Video: Creating The Most Believable Testimonials For Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

video testimonials for your pond waterfall business

The secret to getting testimonials and referrals is to ask for them.

Video testimonials generate a lot more confidence and trustworthiness than written or even spoken testimonials. Folks actually have a person they can associate with; they’re able to see the expression on customer’s faces and the belief in the product is essentially sensed. People today intuitively know that it’s much more challenging to fake a video testimonial, which makes it all the more potent.

Acquiring a customer testimonial on video humanizes your narrative.  It shows that despite the fact that a client may have paid for your services and products, a actual person enjoys the real benefits

The first thing to think about is what you want to be known for. Character is what one is; reputation is what one is thought to be by others. This should shape all else that you do in obtaining testimonials.

Allow me to share a few crucial questions you should answer about your marketplace positioning before getting your testimonials from others:

  • What do you want your product or service to be recognized for? What is it you’d like everybody to say about you and your products or services?
  • What differentiates you from your competition?
  • How do you want your testimonials to appear?

Rather than requesting your customers just wing it through their testimonial by speaking off the cuff, put together a list of questions that frame their replies and make it effortless for them to say excellent things about you and your company.

Here are a few techniques to compose a testimonial:

1. Introduce yourself and say what you do.

2. What type of work were you looking to have done that had you look for the company you are going to highly recommend?

3. What were the final results this company provided? What services did they offer and how easy were they to work with?

4. Sum up your overall experience and advocate for the company. It’s always beneficial to wrap up with one key takeaway you want the viewer to remember.

Make it a Video

Making short videos is quite simple. The strategy is to plan not to edit considering that editing is the difficult piece and prevents people from actually undertaking or publishing them. So if you plan to do your short videos in one take, similar to having a conversation, you’ll produce more testimonials.

If you happen to make a modest error then just say, “What I meant is…” and proceed as you would in any dialogue.

In today’s online world, it’s ok to have a video that doesn’t look staged.  Of course ideally you’ll have your background set against the job you’ve just completed and you’ll guide your customers statements with leading questions.

The feeling of authenticity that’s found in these videos will beat out the well-polished, professional videos every time.

Remember, today’s smartphones have video cameras that will work just fine for creating the type of testimonial video you’re looking for.  And for a few hundred dollars you could set yourself up with a video camera and tripod if you’re looking to get a little more serious.

With today’s technology right in your hand, and a few thought out questions to prompt your customers, what’s holding you back from getting video testimonials?

How To Harness Online Testimonials For Your Swimming Pool And Pond Waterfall Business

local search testimonials

In this second part of getting customer testimonials, we’ll take a look at harnessing the power of online reviews for your swimming pool, pond, and backyard waterfall business.

How do you get credible testimonials? Let’s examine some of the sites you can gather reviews, as well as how to inspire reviews from your customers and how to collect them from all around the web.

Set up a testimonials or reviews button on your website. Clients can click on the button as you encouraged to leave positive reviews and feedback about your services and company.

Send out an email to your clients seeking a testimonial. Your email can contain a link that guides them back to the feedback section of your web-site or a web link that takes them to a customer survey form you created with your evaluation questions.

Include your business in search directories hosted by major search engines. Search directories enable users to leave evaluations about your company on the internet, and may influence the way you get ranking with local search results. One example, let’s say you’re a swimming pool waterfall builder and include your business on Google Places. Customers looking for a swimming pool waterfall builder in their area may select your business over others when they see you have a great deal of favorable customer critiques.

Local search directories like Google Places, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, Yelp, and CitySearch allow participants of their networks to write assessments about local companies. Google obtains opinions from Google users, in addition to drawing in opinions from other local search sites like Yelp. Merchant Circle enables member testimonials and also brings them in from Yahoo Local, CitySearch, as well as other sites.

Why would you want to guide your customers to creating reviews on these sites versus writing a testimonial specifically for your site? The answer is simple. If you are attempting to get Google search traffic to your local small business, you would want your company to come up in the search with the most testimonials.

If you have great evaluations on these websites, you should promote them on your testimonials webpage as well.

Use the reviews features on social networking websites like Facebook. Facebook has built-in functions that allow other users to leave recommendations and reviews for your company on your profile page.

Execute an Web search for local business directories to discover a search directory for each significant search engine. You can then add your company to each directory and advise clients to leave their feedback on these websites.

Create daily notifications via email on Google Alerts for a wide range of relevant terms in order to keep track of your name, company name, brand name with the word review.

There is one drawback when it comes to soliciting reviews on your Facebook page, in local search directories, and other sites that you don’t have control over. There is the chance that all of the reviews that are posted will not be positive.

Anytime you come across an unfavorable assessment about your company, it is vital that you act in response to it. When a prospective customer reads a negative evaluation, but also recognizes that you have acted to help resolve the issue in a consumer forum, then that prospective client will discover that you do care about your client’s satisfaction, which might lead to a favorable perception after all.

Your testimonial page is probably one of the most powerful pages on your website. Fantastic testimonies tell people that your product or service is not only legitimate, but amazing enough that other customers are finding great benefits from it.

How To Develop Testimonials For Your Waterfall Business

testimonials

Have you ever bought a book or product on Amazon and read the reviews before buying?  How about downloaded an app for your iPhone?  Did you ever read the reviews and decide it wasn’t worth it based on other people’s opinions?

Let’s face it; anyone can claim to offer a quality product or service.  In today’s interconnected marketplace customers want proof.  Think about your customer’s decision making process.  Chances are they’ve done a Google search (or Bing or Yahoo) about your company.  What did they find?

Harnessing the power of customer testimonials can be a great asset to your outdoor living area business.  Here are a few strategies to implement a successful campaign to keep the testimonials flowing in.

Ask your clients questions relevant to their total satisfaction with the project you completed for them; why they selected you over your competitors, whether they would recommend your services to others, and if they would hire you for a future project.

Be sure to add a disclaimer to your testimonial survey. Inform your customers that you may be publishing their statements and names from their testimonial. This will help preserve the customer confidentiality and allow you the right to use their statements in promoting your business.

If your customer has provided you with a testimonial in person or through an alternate method, ask your customers permission if you can use their information as a testimonial.

Give a customer survey to your customers upon completion of a job. This approach is a great method if you communicate with your customers in person.

Suggest your customers complete the surveys and return them to you.

You can also have the survey designed into postcards with prepaid postage. This will allow customers to fill them out at their convenience before mailing them back to you.

Send the testimonial survey by mail. The survey can be sent to your customers after you’ve completed their project.

Allow a sufficient amount of time to pass in which customers can use your product before sending the testimonial. For example, if you completed an outdoor living area with a fire pit or outdoor kitchen before a holiday like the 4th of July and they’re planning a big party, send your customer the testimonial letter after the party so they can boast how much their friends and family enjoyed the backyard experience.

Put a stamp on the envelope so your customers can return the responses to you at no cost to them.

If you communicate with your customers via email, you can create a page on your website and send your customers a link to it, avoiding the hassle of using snail mail.

Gathering customer testimonials should be part of your marketing strategy as well as your customer satisfaction strategy.  Coming up in the next article we’ll cover online strategies  for using search directories like Google places, Yahoo local and Yelp.

8 Steps To Successfully Canvass For Your Outdoor Living Area Business

canvassing for outdoor living area business

One of the most overlooked methods to developing new sales leads for your outdoor living area business is the time tested method of canvassing.  You’re probably thinking it’s old school in today’s online world, but it can be a tremendously cost effective method of delivering new leads for your company.  If you’re working on a job site, or want to be working in a specific neighborhood, what better way to gain exposure for your business than by taking directly to the customer?  Here are eight tips to help you start your canvassing campaign.

  1. Prepare yourself:  Have a clean shirt with you if you’re on a jobsite; you never know when opportunity might present itself.  Have handouts, door hangers, brochures and lead sheets readily available for every person you’ll meet.
  2. Set Goals:  What are your expectations from your canvassing efforts?  Are you looking to set an appointment or to gather names, addresses and emails?  Be sure to have clear objectives set for you and your team.
  3. Script Your Door Opener:  Be sure everyone on your team has memorized the script and can answer any of the basic questions that might arise.  Chances are you won’t sell a backyard waterfall knocking on the door, so that shouldn’t be the objective.
  4. Take A Step Back:  After ringing the bell of knocking on the door, take a step back.  You don’t want to come off as threatening by standing too close to the door.
  5. Make Eye Contact:  Look the homeowner directly in the eye and get to the point.  Your opening statement should identify exactly why you are there.  State a few key highlights of your service and end in an open ended question to engage your prospect.
  6. Exude Confidence:  Be sure that you and your team firmly believe in the value offering you’re presenting the homeowner.  Hesitation or hint of dishonesty will doom you and your team to failure.  A good canvasser will look a homeowner in the eye and speak what they believe to be true. Speak with confidence. Canvassers need not hesitate or sound “unsure” of why they are there at a homeowner’s front door.
  7. Express Appreciation:  Let the homeowners know that you appreciate their time for speaking with you and you enjoyed speaking with them.
  8. Follow Through:  When you get a prospective homeowner to give you their contact information, follow through!  It can be as simple as a postcard or email sent before the scheduled appointment.

Canvassing can be a great way to generate new leads for your business.  Like any other sales or marketing effort your company engages in, it will take some practice.  Remember, it can be a profitable and cost effective way to introduce your water feature business to new customers.

Have you had success with canvassing in your business?  We’d love to hear your experiences.

neptune panels installers

Selling Backyard Water Features: Two Different Approaches

If you’ve been in the outdoor living area industry for any length of time, you’ve certainly seen some difference in the way homeowners go about their purchases.  Just 10 years ago, when home equity loans were popular, customers were willing to part with their money a little easier.  Today it seems customers are seeking value in their outdoor projects.    What’s the best way to sell to today’s consumers?

selling water features

There are two different philosophies to approach the in home sale when it comes to outdoor living area projects.  Top down versus bottom up selling.  By top down I mean you give the customer a price for the whole enchilada,  the backyard waterfall, lighting, seating area, fire pit and work down to get into their budget.  The bottom up is starting at a very basic project, and working up from there.

With a top down selling approach you’re basically giving the customer a complete, fully loaded offering of everything you can provide, similar to them walking on to a car lot and looking at the top of the line, completely loaded luxury car,  and deciding which options aren’t really needed.  It’s almost like shocking them with the price so they feel comfortable when the bid comes in lower.  While a popular strategy 10 years ago, it’s been less effective with clients in today’s market.

The bottom up approach starts with a bare bone, minimal feature, essentially your base model.  This helps the customer feel comfortable with the price, but who wants a stripped down version of anything?  This is where your needs analysis and your role as an adviser come into play.  How will they be using the area?  Is the water feature merely for decoration, or will they be gathering there?   A fire pit and a sitting area might fit their needs.

Using the bottom up approach, you’ll be providing your customers the value they’re seeking in their outdoor living area, while leaving yourself room for future work.  Maybe the backyard kitchen isn’t in the budget this year, but if you position yourself right and keep in front of them with email newsletters and other touch marketing, there could be another job down the road when they look for further enhancements.

So what approach is working best for your company in this economic climate?  Please share your thoughts and ideas.

neptune panels installers

How Visual Media Can Help Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard

If you haven’t noticed within the last couple years or so, that social media and video marketing have become a key player in the success of a business both big and small, then you’re missing out. These are great ways to interact with consumers and clients who have an interest in your company.  It is a great way to bring all types of information to a single platform using images or videos. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and more importantly videos are consisted of thousands of images, just think of the impact visual media has. There are many ways to incorporate visuals into your current marketing strategy by using social media sites such as; YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, among others. These sites are a great way to post and share updates of current projects, reflect on other projects you may have done, and communicate with the community. This is very important because with technology becoming so fierce, we rely on instant gratification and the fact that knowledge is power. Visual media is more important now than ever before.

Wikipedia refers to the concept of “visual marketing as harnessing the power of images and visuals (which) makes a marketing plan more powerful and more memorable. Images — when done deftly – can turn concepts and intangible things into something concrete. That helps people envision a brand and its message in their mind’s eye — and remember it when it comes time to buy”.

It is under the assumption that visual media is more for large corporate business’. This could not be further from the truth. You too should incorporate this concept and reap the rewards. With the swimming pool waterfall business being such a visual niche, it is important to have these images and videos that are best going to portray what you do, and that is art. Most people will not understand the intricacies behind a swimming pool or waterfall by just reading about it through an article on your website or newspaper. Having clean, detailed images of projects on your website, and a YouTube channel with videos of product information and some “how to’s” are going to leave a much bigger impression on the consumer than one with no visuals.

Social Media Examiner has a great article called “26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing”. This article helps in getting started or maintaining momentum in sharing more visual content and in creating a visual conversation with your audience. They do so by going through the ways not only to post images, but how to enhance them for a much larger impact.

References:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-tips-visual-social-media-marketing-strategy/

http://blog.theberrycompany.com/blog/digital-marketing-2/the-power-of-visual-marketing-for-small-business

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_marketing

Demonstration Days: Gaining Exposure For Your Water Feature Business

backyard waterfall demonstrationOne of the most successful methods Neptune Panels installers have had in generating new business is by hosting a demonstration day.  Any contractor that does hardscapes, swimming pools, water features and outdoor living areas can benefit from this type of promotion.  Water feature contractors have generated significant business from a demonstration day.

Plan:

1.    Select a date 4-6 weeks out in advance.

2.    Find a suitable location that can accommodate a good number of people and has some traffic.  Car dealerships and retail shopping centers lend well to a promotion, and you’ll gain exposure beyond the demonstration. Once the area is prepped, a typical water feature can be completed in 4-5 hours.  Offer to cover the cost of labor if they’ll pay for only the materials in exchange to do the promotion.  They can also help in cross promoting through their local advertising.

Promote:

1.    Let your customers know what you’re doing.  Send them a flyer in the statement for the month letting them know.  Send out a couple of email invitations.  If you have a monthly newsletter, promote it there.  Post it on your Facebook page. Send invitations to the local chamber group and other builders associations or organizations you belong to.  Invite architects and other contractors.  This is a networking event getting you some exposure for the creative work you do.

2.    Send out a press release, contact your local paper and invite them to the event.  Post in your blog and on your website.  Maybe even contact your local TV station.  At certain times of the year they might want to highlight home improvement stories.

Execute:

1.    The day before the event have the area prepped and ready to go.  Be sure all of the supplies are ordered and in place and your team is set.

2.    The day of the event have a 10×10 tent set up.  Have a table with brochures, business cards, and a sign in sheet for attendees.  Refreshments like water and soda, coffee and doughnuts, and maybe even bring in pizza or sandwiches for lunch.  Plan to start around 10AM and finish around 3PM.

3.    Take pictures and video for the work as it’s going along.  This will be a great piece to use on your website and blog, and for promotional purposes.

4.    Have a great demonstration!  Invite questions and participation as the project progresses.

Follow-Through:

1.    Now that you’ve had a successful demonstration, it’s time to build off of it.  Get the picture and video posted to your website and Facebook page.

2.    Get an email out to everyone on the sign-in sheet.  Let your customers know the location of the completed project so they see firsthand what you can do.

3.    Follow up with the contractors and architects and find out where you can quote some projects.

Gaining exposure for your services of building resort style backyard water features by hosting a demonstration day can generate opportunities well beyond the featured installation.  While it takes some planning and promotion, the rewards can pay off for years to come.

neptune panels installers

Neptune Panels: Swimming Pool Contractors Guide to Loyal Customers

By Jonathan Allard

Picture compliments of swimkids.com

We know that in today’s swimming pool market, customer loyalty can determine whether your business fails or succeeds. It will not matter how great your advertising and marketing is, if you do not have excellent customer service, you will lose contacts. They want their questions answered within hours, not days, and they want to feel secure when they purchase your product or service. You’re running a swimming pool waterfall business; this means returning customer emails in a prompt manner and answering all questions from customers. Great businesspeople know that the number one reason for a strong business is a strong customer base. Building this base takes time, patience and skill, but in the end it pays off because your customers will continue to return to your website and promote your business through referrals. This brings us to our first way to keeping customers loyal.

swimming pool waterfalls, waterfalls, swimming pools, pools, how to get loyal customers, how to make customers happy, how to keep customers

A Website that is Easy to Navigate

A great website design will gain customers trust and friendship from the start. You want your first impression to your customers, before they even decide to make a purchase, to show that you have a clean and well organized website that is easy to navigate through. Your website should be professionally designed and be clear and tidy, which means keeping advertisements and other obnoxious banners to a minimum.  Having links to a Facebook and Twitter page on your website will allow your customers to keep in contact through these popular social media platforms, further increasing their trust in your business and website.  A good website will also feature informative articles that teach your customers about the products and services they are going to get are beyond professional. Consider adding a blog onto your website so your customers can gain more understanding about who runs the website and what your purpose is.

Train Your Employees on Customer Service

If there is only one thing you are going to do well, then it better be customer service. While the dynamics of installing swimming pools and waterfalls are constantly changing, one thing that will never change is that having quality customer service is the best way to gain your customer’s trust and loyalty. But what exactly does it mean to have “excellent customer service”? By following the tips below you can be sure your customers will trust your website, and in turn be more likely to promote your products on a repeated basis.

  • Fast response time – By responding to emails and other queries in a fast and efficient manner, you build trust with your customers because they know you are interested in their concerns and questions.  If you’re a larger swimming pool company, it’s also a good idea to display a phone number in a prominent location on your website where customers can contact you directly via telephone if they have questions or comments. Even having a live chat feature on your website is a great way to communicate with your customers if they have issues or concerns.
  • Generally, but not always, the customer gives the company their contact information, which enables the business to send out newsletters and product info to continue communication with them.
  • Also a great way to stay on your customers minds is send out holiday cards, email blasts, even making personal phone calls. This will encourage repeat business and give your customers a positive perception of you.

waterfalls, swimming pool waterfalls, pond, koi pond, swimming pool, how to keep customers loyal, how to keep customers happy

Offer Unique products and Services

The next step that needs to be followed when attempting to achieve great customer loyalty is to always offer high quality products/services. These products/services should meet the customers’ needs and expectations.  In your case you are offering a swimming pool or water feature, so you must ensure the customer receives all that they purchased, including correct pool-type, a design that they agreed upon, and a finished product that is sure to impress. If you’re selling physical products then it’s imperative that the products be free of defects, including scratches, dents or other physical deformities.  If while during installation damage occurs, which is inevitable, then as the owner you must take immediate action and either offer the customer a refund or fix the issue in a quick and timely manner.

Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Feedback

This will help you hone your sales techniques and advertising tactics, and in exchange for their participation, you can offer a referral program or percentage discount for a future visit to your business.

Gaining customer loyalty boils down to a variety of factors, including hosting a great website, offering fast and efficient customer service, and selling great premium products.  When these three steps are combined together, you will have customers that are loyal, meaning they will return to purchase more in the future.

Was this information helpful?

References:

http://www.drivingretention.com/5-tips-keeping-loyal-customers-loyal/

http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Customers-Loyal

http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-us/resources/management/customer-relations/7-tips-on-keeping-customers-for-life.aspx?fbid=POZlSqwD-cP

 

5 Keys To Build A Successful Water Feature Business

running a successful water feature business

A growing trend in outdoor living areas is the addition of water features and backyard waterfalls to the landscape.  While this is a niche market, it can be a highly profitable addition to swimming pool builders, hardscape or landscape contractors business.  There are a few key principles to follow in insure your continued success.  These five principles are:

  1. Follow a systematic and duplicable process.   When you build your water features using a system that can be replicated on jobsite after jobsite, using the same installation process, it takes the mystery out of the process and lets you teach and train crew members on the steps and procedures.  This is important so you can run your business, find more jobs, and focus on growing your customer base.
  2. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid).  Let’s face it; building backyard water features isn’t rocket science.  There’s really no reason to overcomplicate the process.  Leonardo Da Vinci’s principle “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” certainly applies here, whether working with your crew or working with your clients.
  3. Work with the landscape, not against it.  As a professional, it’s your job to let your customer know what will work and fit with their landscape plans.  Sometimes clients can have some unrealistic wishes.  This brings us to the next point.
  4. Give your customers what they want, not what they ask for.  We’ve all had the customer that thinks they can’t live without certain features in their design.  This is what you get paid for, to give advice.  If you’ve listened to their expectations of what they are seeking to achieve, you should get a good picture of the finished product you can provide.  You’re the one that has solved the same problem for previous customers.  Clarify their desires,  ask the right questions, then show them the solution you’re going to provide.
  5. No free estimates.  While it’s certainly possible to provide a price range for your customer over the phone for a typical water feature, chances are the customer is looking for a design or drawing.  As a professional, you should respect your time and trade, and insist on working with customers that feel the same.  Every job you do is unique and your time is valuable.  When you do a design consultation, you’re providing value for that client.

Of course your success will depend on many other factors including providing a quality service and securing customer referrals.  Let us know if you agree or take a different philosophy in running your business from what we’ve covered here.  We’d like to hear your comments.

neptune panels installers

Outdoor Living Areas: Assessing Your Customers Needs

Backyard waterfall and waterfall garden

As the popularity of outdoor living areas continues to grow, the opportunity for contractors to provide their customers with exceptional designs and options is better than ever.  Assisting with planning and maximizing the space available will provide your customer with years of enjoyment in their outdoor living space.  Here are five points of consideration when planning the outdoor living area.

  • Landscape:  What is the size of the area you’ll be working in?  What are the physical features?  Will you be adding a garden area?
  • Hardscape:  How will your customer be using the backyard space?  Do they like to entertain or is it more of a peaceful, serene escape?
  • Sun Orientation:  At what time of day will the area have the most use?  How will you create a shaded area?
  • Paths of circulation:  What is the walking area and flow moving into the outdoor living space?
  • Focal point:  There are a number of possible focal points you can create in the outdoor living area, any of which can be the area of focus for your customer.  A few examples are:
    • Water Feature:  Probably the most dramatic way to create a point of focus, a backyard waterfall adds a beautiful and natural escape.  There’s a soothing and invigorating quality to the sight and sound of running water.
    • Fireplace or fire pit:  There’s a mystical enjoyment that happens when gathering around an open fire.
    • Outdoor kitchen and dining area:  Cooking and eating outside bring a new level of excitement to meals and family gatherings.
    • Garden:  The natural beauty of a garden brings enjoyment from both the aesthetics and a meditative quality while tending the garden.

backyard fire pit

With various landscape design software packages available, going the extra mile to provide your customer with their ideal outdoor living area will enhance their satisfaction, as well as enhance your portfolio.  What better way to grow your business than with a long list of satisfied customers?

neptune panels installers