{AQUA} Ask the Pool Guy Real Advice to Help You Define Your Niche

I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

I was just leaving Home Depot with a random sack of fittings for a job, when I spotted a man hanging around my company van. My first thought was “oh great, what is this guy up to,” not sure what he was after standing next to my well worn construction van.

As I picked up my pace, puffed out my chest and donned my best “ready for anything” face, the man saw me coming, broke into a big grin and said “Hey, Pool Guy, I’ve got a question to ask ya!”
That’s when I knew there would be no trouble; I was being sought out for my industry expertise. What a great realization, and a fun confirmation that our niche marketing concept was truly working.

In this mammoth $51 billion dollar a year industry , defining your own niche can be a real challenge.

The first step is to decide what you want your niche to be, what you hope to accomplish with your marketing. For us, we had two major goals: 1) to set Legendary Escapes apart as boutique custom pool company; and 2) to create a human voice and a solid presence in our industry and a position as experts in pool construction and service.
We had noticed that there wasn’t any one person speaking as a resource for the industry…for pool builders, manufacturers, and homeowners. There was a real lack of a “go to” guy for these kinds of questions.

Our CMO Sandi Maki was the brains behind the actual marketing plan to build our niche. We started to build a persona — “Ask the Pool Guy” — who was a source of information for manufacturers, suppliers, other pool builders and customers. We began posting informational videos on YouTube, blogging weekly, and engaging in social media in all kinds of pool and outdoor lifestyle discussions.

We started going to local national pool conventions, filming videos and doing on-the-spot Q & A sessions, and talking to everyone we could meet in the industry. We had “Ask the Pool Guy” images plastered over everything — and I do mean everything: trucks, vans, pens, t-shirts, puzzles, coffee mugs, towels, blankets, boxer shorts, the crew’s work gear, M & M’s Candies, and of course all over social media.

I didn’t have an end game at these events. I just went to talk to people, share our ideas, give them a chance to talk about their business and share our passion for ours.

Before we knew it, the “Ask the Pool Guy” persona became a real presence both online and in real time, with people recognizing me and the crew as if they knew us. Because really, with our heavy social media and live network presence, they did, in many ways, know us already.

With this new found “celebrity” we were able to build Legendary Escapes into the boutique business we knew it should be — manned by a small crew of dedicated and talented people who are passionate about what we create and deliver. The more we engaged, the more our reputation grew and we are now in the fantastic position of being able to pick and choose the projects we take on each year.

We have the outrageous fortune to be able to work with people who understand our passion and feel the same. If our heart-felt approach to the craft doesn’t make sense to someone, they’re probably not our kind of customer. And that’s okay! There are other pool companies that can meet their needs.

If I had to give you just one piece of advice, it’s this: Just keep showing up. At industry events, at local networking events, on social media — show up to learn, to connect, to grow your knowledge base and increase your influence. Don’t look for a specific return on investment for this time. It’s not about how much you sell at a particular event, or how many business cards you collect. It’s about all the folks you meet, the knowledge you offer, and engaging with the influential people in your industry.

It’s in these things that your niche comes to life.

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Al Curtis is the designer and builder for Legendary Escapes Pools. He has pioneered the hybrid vinyl liner/gunite swimming pool, and is known for his unique and innovative custom designs. Also known online as @askthepoolguy, he blogs, does video, training, and events for the pool loving public and fellow industry professionals. He can be found online at www.AskthePoolGuy.com.

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[1] IbisWorld Market Research on Swimming Pool Construction in the U.S., 2013.

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