Category Archives: Selling And Marketing

How to Market Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business on Pinterest

By Jonathan Allard

swimming pool waterfalls, waterfalls, swimming pools, pools, pinterest, how to grow on pinterest, how to use pinterest for business, what is pinterest

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months, you have probably heard of this social media platform called Pinterest. If you’re a female you have known about this image-capturing site for months, and have probably used some recipe ideas from it. If you’re a guy, you may be confused as to the purpose of this site which you may be hearing about for the first time. Do not worry though, we have put together the top strategies for marketing on Pinterest whether you work for a large company or own your own business.

TechCrunch reports that it got exclusive stats from ComScore showing that Pinterest had 11.7 million unique monthly visitors in January 2012. That’s up from 7.5 million in December…and a scant 418,000 last May. These stats represent the fastest sustainable growth ever for a standalone site.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a platform for user sourced, visual content, grouped into topics. From a broader perspective, it’s a social network that allows users to visually share new interests by ‘pinning’ images or videos to their own or others’ ‘pinboards’ (a collection of ‘pins’ that have a common theme). Pinterest in the visual version of Twitter, as you can hashtag all your photos and create external links within your boards. It is a great way to drive traffic to your site and other social media platforms, through media integration.

Here’s how it works:

1) When someone likes an image on a website they can pin it back to a board they’ve created on the Pinterest site. These boards can be named anything, but fall under categories designated by the Pinterest team, like weddings/events, home décor, travel, etc.

2) Individuals can see pins by people whose boards they are following, or by searching through the most popular pins (most repinned), by category, by search term, or by price. If a user has typed in the price of the object in the comment area it will also appear on the top left corner of the image (this only happens when the dollar sign is typed into the comment area. No other money symbol – like € or £ – makes the price appear on the pin).

3) Every image has a comment area, link, and options to like or repin. Viewers can visit the site that housed the original image by clicking on the image or on the URL in the top right corner of the image.

Maybe this cartoon explains it best, it’s addictive! (source)

 So how do I use Pinterest to help grow my business?

1. Use your business email (and Twitter) on account set-up: Once you receive an invitation to sign up for Pinterest (it’s still invite only!) use the same email address you use for your business Twitter profile, then sign-up with Twitter so you can easily share your new pins through your Twitter account. Pinterest doesn’t offer a connection to Facebook business pages, so Twitter it is. Of course, choose your company name as your username then add a company description, logo, and a website link.

2. Be worth following with great visual content: To get started, spend time looking around, this way you’ll get some great ideas and a feel for how the network works.

See this post here on some of the most successful brands who are using Pinterest effectively so far. Get your great, non-promotional content uploaded – see point 2! This way, new followers will have a reason to follow your pins; just as you would populate a brand new blog before you start promoting it. What images, graphics, info graphics do you have or could you easily get together?

3. Promote your brand externally:

  • Add the Pinterest follow button to your website and write a blog post to promote it.
  • Promote your presence on Pinterest through your other social networks by encouraging your followers/fans on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter to follow your pins!
  • Consider a Pinterest contest (see below).
  • Start following users you think would want to follow you back.

4. Don’t upset fellow pinners! The site naturally discourages blatant self-promotion. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, great, just don’t use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion. Think up creative ways to promote your brand on the network – showcase the lifestyle that your brand promotes. If you are in the Swimming Pool Waterfall business, do not just pin photos of how great your waterfalls are, pin photos of the work being done, waterfalls that you find interesting, even things unrelated to swimming pool waterfalls. This will engage a lot more traffic to your site, and create consumer awareness.

5. Become an expert on a topic: Become the go-to Pinterest account for pins about a certain subject or topic relating to your industry. You’ll see this by looking around the network. Some people are really owning certain spaces and you’d have to say there’s an early, possible gold-rush potential within Pinterest at the moment to do just that. I like this graphic designer and their logo love board, it is just simple but a great board. How about a pinboard that showcases life around and in your organisation, whether day-to-day stuff or events, even parties. It’s subtle, basic stuff but every little bit helps.

6. Create a fan Pinboard: You can allow other users to contribute their own pins to your hosted pinboards, so involve fans and customers in your marketing as you would in any other social channel. Dedicate a pinboard to your top fans or customers – ask the customer to pin images that showcase your brand within their lifestyle. Does your product allow the user to look good, be better at something, feel better – get images the illustrate that, think of it as a pictorial testimonial.

7. Learn about your buyer personas: View pinboards of your customers, learn more about who they are and what they’re interested in. Use Pinterest as a tool for understanding the interests and needs of your ideal customers. Then… show your expertise within those areas, be valuable and interesting. Very simple, and very time consuming to do it properly. Yet that’s surely the opportunity.

8. Remember videos: Pins can be videos as well as images – worth remembering! Existing footage you can use, interviews, fun stuff, even videos that you find interesting on the web. Pinterest is all about the visual, so if you can spark an interest through all types of media, you are bound to build your brand.

9. Integrate with other channels: Do you attend or run offline events that your fan base would find interesting to see behind the scenes? How about features around the best photos and video footage – this is good for those not attending and it helps you generate interest and promote the next event you run or will be present at. Consider online integration too – you can use hashtags in Pinterest, if you use them then create a pinboard around it, tag it with a hashtag you’re using on Twitter and Google+ and help integrate Pinterest within the campaign. You can use your Pinterest account to promote a relevant section of your site this way – driving multiple links (traffic) back to your domain around a particular topic, theme or campaign.

10. Measure traffic back to your website: Make sure this is all generating results and proving it’s worth your time and effort. Whenever possible, include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins. Keep track of referral traffic and leads generated from Pinterest to see what resonates and what doesn’t.

Here are a few external references to setting up your Pinterest account:

http://visual.ly/how-pinterest-can-help-your-business

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/08/64-pinterest-marketing-tips-and-tactics-infographic/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2017448/how-to-set-up-a-pinterest-business-page.html

 

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What are your thoughts on Pinterest?

 

 

How To Use Google Places For Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

 

google places for your swimming pool waterfall business

We’re all familiar with Google Search. Most of us use it every day to find information and data to help us with our jobs and make our daily easier or perhaps, just more entertaining. However, Google is not only a search engine. It also has a range of tools that provide marketers with social networking and content creation opportunities. Google Places is one of these lesser known tools, but used correctly, it can help your swimming pool waterfall business get found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps. In fact, you’ve probably unknowingly used it yourself to find a local restaurant or dentist. So, what exactly us Google Places and why is it important?

Google Places is a free service that lets you list useful information about your business for potential customers to see. It’s sort of like the Web 2.0 version of a Yellow Pages ad, but better. With Google Places you can:

  • Gain more visibility for your business
  • Attract more traffic to your web site
  • Level the playing field and appear higher up in search results

 

You probably already have a Google Places listing and don’t even know it. Google collects data from multiple sources, some of which may be outdated or incorrect and aggregates these into a Places listing. Google Places is a great listing for local businesses and getting to the first indexed page is of huge benefit to any business as it will bring in more customers and clients. When you apply for a page in these Google Places, you should make sure that you provide as much information as possible about your business, which means filling in all the optional text fields. You should also upload pictures and videos of swimming pool waterfalls and outdoor living areas you’ve done as the more information you have on your pages, it would appear that the higher you will be ranked in the Place index.

swimming pool waterfalls for google places

Google Places is rather like a Yellow Pages directory where people look to find products and services that they need and which are specific to a local area. Because of the growth of mobile marketing, the number of mobile devices and an ever-increasing desire on the part of the consumer for a more personalized customer interaction with a business and advertiser, the more important Google Places becomes for a local business owner.

A growing number of searches now concentrate on finding local businesses and services, so your business needs to be in those Google Places so that you have as much Internet exposure to your potential client or customer-base as possible. Because Places listings are increasingly finding their way onto the first pages of a Google search, your business needs to be prominent in order for it to beat the competition.

Looking at businesses that have been highly ranked on Places pages, you can’t help but notice that they have been reviewed by customers. The more and better the reviews, it appears that the higher the business is ranked. This has not been stated by Google, but is simply the information for which there is clear evidence in the Places rankings.

As a local business owner you have a client/customer base and you need to ask these people to review your products, business or services. You could have flyers made and give these out at the cash register, requesting satisfied customers to write a review for you.

In 2010 local businesses could choose to ignore Google places, but it would be folly to neglect to use them now. As more searches online are to find local providers of whatever the customer/client wants, it is important for local businesses to have a profile on the Places pages so that prospective customers know where to find what they are looking for. A profile which includes visual images be they photos or videos, will have a higher place on the index pages for that category of service or sales.

So, if you haven’t done so already, create and/or claim your Google Places listing as soon as possible. When creating or updating your listing be sure to do the following:

  • Optimize the listing by using key words that are directly relevant to the products and services you provide.
  • Add images, photos, and videos to create a rich and robust listing. The extra information will help Google match your listing to more searches and ultimately increase the number of views you receive.

 

Here a few helpful links on setting up your page:

http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=142902&topic=1660711&parent=1656746&rd=1

http://allied-women.com/how-to-claim-your-google-places-listing-to-increase-your-local-business/

http://learning.hubspot.com/blog/bid/109463/How-to-Create-a-Google-Places-Account-Concept-of-the-Week

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8 Ways Facebook Can Help Grow Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard

Facebook is a phenomenon that has grown drastically in a very short time, and continues to do so. It was originally used mostly by college students to keep in touch with high school friends. Recent statistics prove that it has moved beyond its original use and become an incredibly powerful business networking platform. A Facebook Fan Page is a profile for a business or organization rather than an individual, and is used to build brand recognition. Even if members have no intention of buying anything on Facebook, the relationships you establish and community you build can benefit your business in countless ways. Here, I reveal 8 ways a Facebook Fan Page can help grow your business. If you’re still not sold on this (not entirely convinced that Facebook networking offers great potential to help your company grow and reach new business contacts), here are some reasons why you can’t afford to ignore Facebook as a networking tool.

1. Establishes Another Outpost for Your Business on the Web

Creating a Fan Page provides your business with another branding platform where prospects, customers, future employees, vendors, and even the media can find information about your company and the services you provide. Unlike Facebook’s personal profiles, which are member-only accessible, Fan Pages are public by default. This means that even the individuals who are not logged into Facebook can view your business page, therefore more people have access to the information you post.

Tip: If you are looking to set-up a Facebook Fan Page, Social Media Examiner does a great article on How to Set Up a Facebook Page for Business’

2. Drives Traffic to Your Website and Other Platforms

Fan Pages have no restrictions on driving Facebook traffic to websites. In fact, Facebook encourages you to link your website to your business’s Fan Page. Redirecting even a small portion of Facebook’s huge amount of daily traffic to your website could significantly improve the amount of qualified leads on your site.

Tip: Turn Facebook members into Fans, Fans into customers, and customers into Fans by cross-promoting your Fan Page and website. Link your Fan Page to your website and insert a Facebook Widget on your site to link back to your Fan Page.

3. Improves Your SEO

Google, through its new Social Search feature, and other search and decision engines are now indexing content created on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. This means your Fan Page content has the potential to generate favorable search engine results for your business and brand. By linking your Fan Page to your website, you can leverage Social Search to drive even more Facebook traffic back to your site.

 

4. Allows You to Engage with Your Community Easily and for Free

 A Facebook Fan Page provides an inexpensive (free) alternative to implementing customer engagement on your own site. In minutes, you can have a branded Fan Page where customers and other brand advocates can post to your Facebook Wall, share photos and video, ask and answer questions, and interact with you and one another. Creating and managing a Fan Page, complete with a Discussion tab, is easier than launching and monitoring discussion forums or message boards on your own domain. A Fan Page also gives you a direct pipeline to your Fans. You can send messages to Fans all at once or target individuals by country, state, city, gender, and even age range. Using the Events App, you can even schedule special events or promotions and then send invitations to only those Fans who live in or near the town where the event is scheduled to take place. All of this and more is available free of charge to any business or brand using Facebook.

5. Provides a Breeding Ground and Platform for Brand Evangelists

Only 25 percent of Facebook members want to be sold to, but a much higher percentage are apt to sing the praises of a quality company, brand, or product to their Facebook Friends. Establish strong relationships with a number of influential members who have plenty of connections, and you gain valuable brand promoters who authentically market and sell on your behalf.

Tip: As you post updates to your Page’s Wall, or as Fans interact with your Page, these interactions appear in the Fan’s News Feed, reaching even more potential Fans (i.e., your Fan’s Facebook Friends), making Facebook the ultimate opt-in, permission-based marketing tool available online today.

6. Listening and Observing Has the Potential to Improve Your Business

In a social setting like Facebook, customers and prospects are likely to let down their guard and share information with you and others about products and services they like, good and bad experiences they have had with your business or your competitors, and their unfulfilled needs. Each time a Fan interacts with your Page, you are presented with a wealth of information.

Tip: By default, Facebook Fan Pages include the Discussion tab. Encourage discussions to cultivate valuable market data and ideas on how to improve your business.

7. ROI-Related Metrics are Readily Available

Facebook’s Page Insights dashboard facilitates the analysis of marketing and communication by revealing data related to interactions (Comments, Wall posts, and “Likes”); discussed posts, reviews, and mentions; Fan demographics (gender, ages, geographic location/distribution); and so on. These tools improve your ability to identify and target specific demographics and gauge ROI.

Tip: Use Facebook’s powerful metrics, along with information you gather from your Fan Page, to develop custom messages and talking points that speak directly to your Fans’ needs, are suited for your community’s style of engagement, and support your business’s word-of-mouth goals and objectives.

8. Allows You to Keep Pace with the Competition, Free of Charge

Still not convinced a Fan Page is worth setting up? Then consider the competition. Even if only one of your competitors launches a successful Fan Page, that competitor can corner the market on Facebook and build a following long before you do. Stake your free claim early to establish your business as the industry leader before the competition has a chance.

Take a minute right now to do a Google search on some of your top competitors and see whether or not they have a Facebook Fan Page, and are using it successfully. If nothing comes up, do not hesitate, create a Fan Page now and become a dominator in your niche. If your competitors do come up in search, study their page and see what they are doing right and wrong to better your Facebook Fan Page.

Do you have any additional questions regarding Facebook?

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5 Reasons To Blog About Your Backyard Waterfall Business

waterfall business blog

The revolution in social media has changed the landscape for how businesses interact with their customers.  The foundation for any social media strategy is your blog.  While it may seem like a daunting task, a blog is basically an online journal.  It’s a great way to share the uniqueness of your business with your customers.  So why should your backyard water feature business keep a blog?

I’d like to use an example of fiberglass swimming pool company that was struggling to attract customers.  After battling for a few years to build their company, in November 2008 River Pools and Spas had finally begun to see the light and the economy turned downward.  Faced with the prospect of closing their doors, they stumbled across a concept called inbound marketing in March 2009.  So how did they use their blog to move to the top of Google search results for fiberglass swimming pools?  Here are 5 reasons to consider:

  1. Little To No Cost:  Establishing a blog is basically free, or extremely cheap to do.  Sites such as WordPress can provide you with instructions on how to set the platform up on your own site.
  2. Educate Your Customer:  When a customer is considering a swimming pool waterfall or backyard water feature, where is the first place they’re going to start for information?  Chances are it’s with an online search.  This helps answer the question of” what do I write about?” that business owners ask.  Answer the questions your customers will be asking.  You become the authority by providing them answers to the common questions like property disruption, time to complete a project, options and styles available, etc.  Make a list of questions you’re asked and answer them.
  3. Showcase Your Work:  Chances are that you’ve done some projects your proud of and highlight your talent.  Tell the story of those projects.  The challenges you overcame, how you arrived at the design you used, what the customer specifically wanted and how you provided that.
  4. Provide Customer Testimonials:  One thing that successful businesses do is constantly seek out testimonials from their satisfied clients.  What better way to highlight the quality of your work than through stories of happy customers.
  5. Use Long-tail Keywords:  What is a long tail keyword?  Rather than use a term to write about such as swimming pool waterfalls, how about using your city and write about “swimming pool waterfalls in Boston”?  The longer the tail, the easier it is to rank in Google and the other search engines for that particular keyword phrase.  This will make it easier for customers to find you and give you the first shot at providing them with your services.

That swimming pool company I spoke about earlier?  One of the owners, Marcus Sheridan, writes about his experiences and teaches blogging practices in his blog, The Sales Lion.  He also offers a free ebook for download that talks about best practices for business blogging and how to get your business found on the web.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Blogging for your business requires a commitment, and it’s not a quick fix to drive new leads.  But through consistent writing, you’ll make it easier for your new customers to find you.  Do you have any success with blogging you can share?

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How To Price Backyard Water Features: A Contractors Guide

pricing backyard water features

There are certain items every contractor needs to consider to adequately and fairly place a value on any potential water feature project design.  As with any other project, properly pricing a water feature installation is critical to the success of your business.

There is one thing contractors should never do; this important issue can single handedly destroy this industry.   Never underbid a job just to get that job. Remember, underbidding a project may get you the job but cost you in the end.   Every time contractors underbid a project, they hurt themselves, their business and the industry as a whole.

By pricing your projects fairly and competitively without gouging your customers, you can be successful without having to undercut your competitors.  By offering higher quality materials and components, better service and attention to detail you’ll be able to meet the demands and wishes of your client.

When pricing a project, here are some of the basic items to consider:

  • The type of water feature desired – Each type, style and size of feature has different costs associated with its installation and has its own set of pros and cons regarding cost.
  • Client wants and needs – Many times a client will tell you exactly what they want. If you ask the correct questions you might discover that what they want is not exactly what they need. As a professional, this is your responsibility to point this out to them.
  • Site selection – Where is the best location for the particular project for maintenance, visibility, enjoyment and use? Selecting the correct location for a water feature project can make a big difference in the overall cost of the structure.
  • Excavation – How easy or difficult is the excavation site?  Is there access for heavy equipment or will it need to be dug by hand? Can you use all the excavated soil onsite or will you spend valuable resources and labor hauling it off? Installers often must pay to dump excess soil somewhere. Watch out for underground utilities; call ahead and have them marked or you might spend a lot of cash making costly repairs.
  • Proper component selection and placement – Selecting and installing the correct equipment and components for a practical and functional water feature can be critical for the end satisfaction of your client. Make sure you select equipment designed to perform as needed under the present environmental conditions.
  • Aesthetics – Choosing the correct types, sizes and amounts of materials can be essential in the end appearance of your project design. Making one small mistake can ruin the best of intentions. Do not cut corners when selecting your materials. Choose the right materials that will result in the appearance the client wishes to achieve.
  • Labor – Calculating the number of man-hours needed on a particular project is the single most expensive issue we are faced with on most projects. Knowing how many people you will need on the job and how many hours each man will work each day is an expensive endeavor that can cost you dearly if miscalculated.

Several water feature installation companies have used this formula successfully for many years: Calculate your total out-of-pocket expenses for the proposed project, and then triple the amount. If a project costs you $2,000 to install, charge the client $6,000. If the project costs you $7,256 to install, charge the client $21,768.

Here is how this amount breaks down:

The first third is your actual out-of-pocket costs. It is gone. You used this amount to pay for everything you needed to make the project materialize – your design work, employee labor, materials, components, supplies, specialized equipment, everything.

The second third is for your business operating expenses, such as office space, office furniture, computer, printer, ink and paper, pens and pencils, Internet access, separate laptop or tablet, business insurance, digital camera, unemployment insurance, business license and permits, telephone service and equipment, cellular phone service and a cell phone, business cards, brochures, advertising, website, website hosting, vehicles, vehicle signage, tools and other work-related equipment, employee hats and shirts, professional association memberships, attending business-related educational events or conventions, and more.

The third portion of the amount charged to your client is your profit. This allows your business to grow and advance in the future to keep you viable in the marketplace. Without profit, your business is dead in the water.

There are many other items to consider, but always make sure that you adequately price the project so you and your business profit from your efforts. Otherwise, you might find yourself looking for another line of work.

Many thanks to Rick Bartell for putting together this list.  Rick is one of the foremost experts in water feature design/build with over 30 years of experience..  You can visit his site at http://rickbartel.com/.

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Neptune Panels vs Modular Waterfall Systems

There are several methods available on the market today for creating faux rock waterfalls and outdoor living features.  Quality, functionality, simplicity, realism, and of course customer satisfaction are some of the reasons to make a valid comparison between the different systems available. Which is the most efficient in producing pool-side, stand-alone, and other styles of water features? The following is a brief comparison of the Neptune Panel system versus other leading modular Kits

 Modular System

 

  • No need for heavy equipment
  • Quick install time
  • Limited designs
  • Panels are purchased not made
  • Good for around pools
  • Limited sizes and textures
  • Held together with only a mortar joint
  • Expensive for the size kits available
  • Small selection of colors
  • “boxy” design looks

garden waterfall

Neptune Panels

 

  • Very affordable
  • Moderate to fast installation
  • No need for heavy equipment
  • Unlimited design configurations
  • Panels attached to a structural steel frame
  • Indoor/outdoor uses
  • Cure out at over 9000 psi
  • No effloresence
  • Can be pre made to accommodate any design feature
  • Molds are made not purchased
  • Can be used for grottos and caves
  • Each mold can be used to make thousands of panels
  • Unlimited styles with just an adjustment of the mold
  • No need for kits to be in stock

 

Neptune panels is a solution to those who are looking for a truly unique design that will set there feature apart from the rest. Hundreds of Neptune Panel features have been constructed and no two look the same. With a completely customizable design there is no limit to what can be achieved through the use of the Neptune Panels system.

By not “pre-fabricating” the design of the panels you are not restricted in what your projects outcome will be. The same panels you might use for a water feature will be the same panels that will be used to create a grotto or man cave as with other modular kits you will have to purchase varying panels and products. All of the designs are based around a structural steel core to ensure that all projects whether big or small maintain our goal of quality and integrity.

What is your experience in working with either system?

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