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Marketing Report:
Marketing Pools & Spas In A Slow Economy


"A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time." - Henry Ford

We want to let all of you folks in on a little secret to making a lot of money during this economic recession...

A very wise businessman once said;

"If you do not advertise, you'll surely fail in business."
"If you do advertise, you may succeed."
"But if you advertise in the right places, you'll surely succeed."

YOU CAN'T HAVE A RECESSION WITHOUT HAVING A RECOVERY.  Since they have been keeping records about these things, there have been 31 recessions in the U.S. so far.  That means there have also been 31 recoveries from those recessions.  The one thing that is certain is that there will be a recovery from this recession and many experts say that the recovery from THIS recession has already begun to happen.

During this recessionary period, it is most critical that you not only continue to advertise your business, but that you actually increase your advertising budget. These are the economic times where you can significantly increase your market share if you take the bull by the horns and get a jump on your competition.

We realize that many business owners are worried and concerned as they see the economy get worse and worse.  We also realize that as you all make the necessary cuts to your operating budgets, that it is tempting to slash your advertising expenditures.  But history shows, time and time again, that cutting advertising during economic slowdowns is VERY BAD for the health of any business.

Sure, the unemployment numbers are approaching 10%, but that still means that 90% of the people are employed.  Sure, mortgage defaults and foreclosures are approaching 8% nationwide, but that still means that 92% of the people are paying their mortgages.  Sure, the stock market is down, however less than 20% of Americans even own stock (outside of employer sponsored plans) - and even with those folks, you only really "lose the money" when you go to sell the stocks. Every economic expert agrees that the stock market will, in fact, recover.

So let's face facts.....The fact is that hundreds of thousands of pools and spas were sold in 2012 and will be sold in 2013. It is true that there was a significant decline in the number of pools & spas bought in 2012 due to the recession, but we must stress the fact that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS were, in fact, sold....and more will be sold in 2013.

"Who sold most of those?", you may ask. Well they certainly were the companies that advertised the most. Period, end of discussion.


"Pent up demand" is an economic term that has not been used that often in recent years, but we are now beginning to see it work its way into the vocabulary of business and commerce once again.  Especially now that "the recovery" has started...ending the longest and worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

The basic economics of "pent up demand theory" is that money is currently being saved by the consumer in order to pay down existing credit card or loan debt - or to counter the risk of job loss, or to offset thoughts of an uncertain future (i.e. save it for a rainy day approach).
This money that is sitting on the sidelines will be spent at some point.  Necessary items like replacing balding tires, fixing leaking roofs, replacing old TV's and appliances, buying new clothes and other numerous maintenance-type purchases are already seeing a rebound.

These purchases account for the pent up demand curves that have been forming that have different shapes depending on the consumer's ability to postpone taking care of the inevitable...what they would consider "necessary purchases".

However at some point during the economic recovery process, the spending curves overlap and herdish spending begins amongst the backdrop of stable energy prices, government stimulus, new job creation and the inevitable stabilizing of the real estate markets - normally starting with the basic non-essentials (like a flat screen TV, a camera, or a nice computer), and then moving on to the larger consumer purchases such as boats, RV's, hot tubs, swimming pools and their associated commodities.  This will happen.  There is no doubt.  This cyclical economic trend recently repeated itself during the recession of 1999-2001.  In the pool & spa industry, 2001 was a very bad year.  But it rebounded tremendously in 2002 and grew at an exponential rate all the way until 2007.

After all, how long can you drive a clunker for instance? How long can you go before you need a new pool liner? How many thousands of people are sitting around RIGHT NOW dreaming about getting a hot tub or a swimming pool? The answer to that last question is hundreds of thousands of people. Possibly millions of people.  Now is the time to start marketing to those people.  Now is NOT the time for "hunkering down". That may have been OK in 2011 and 2012, but your company will not be part of the pool & spa recovery by adopting that old "hunkering" mentality.  You must start to aggressively promote your products and services...most importantly on the internet.  If you think that internet advertising is not important for pool and spa related companies, you are dead wrong. 

A well documented study of over 500 businesses looked at sales vs. advertising expenditures during the economic slowdowns of 1980-1982, 1991-1992, and 2000-2001. In the year following those slowdowns, when the economy once again improved, the companies who cut down their marketing efforts during the slowdown only saw an average growth of 19%. In sharp contrast, the firms who increased their advertising spending during those slowdown periods saw their sales jump an average of 275% in the post-recessionary periods. In study after study it has been determined that those who market aggressively during recessionary periods out-perform companies who did not by nearly 250%.

American Business Press (ABP) and Meldrum & Fewsmith study showed that "sales and profits can be maintained and increased in recession years and [in the years] immediately following by those who are willing to maintain an aggressive marketing posture, while others adopt the philosophy of cutting back on promotional efforts when sales appear to be harder to get."*

RECESSION OF 1974-1975
ABP/Meldurm & Fewsmith 1979 study covering 1974-1975 and its post-recession years found that "Companies which did not cut marketing expenditures experienced higher sales and net income during those two years and the two years following than those companies which cut in either or both recession years."*

RECESSION OF 1981-1982
McGraw-Hill Research's Laboratory of Advertising Performance studied recessions in the United States. Following the 1981-1982 recessions, it analyzed the performance of some 600 industrial companies during that economic downturn. It found that business firms that maintained or increased their marketing expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth both during the recession and for the following three years than those which eliminated or decreased marketing".

Cahners and Strategic Planning Institute (SPI) produced their report, "Media Advertising When Your Market Is In a Recession." It disclosed, "During a recessionary period, average businesses do experience a slightly lower rate of return relative to normal times. However, expansion times do not generate a higher level of profits than normal periods as might be expected." This phenomenon was explained by an analysis of changes in market share.

"During recessionary periods," said the Cahners/SPI report, "these businesses tended to gain a greater share of market. The underlying reason is that competitors, especially smaller marginal ones, are less willing or able to defend against the aggressive firms." The study then pointed out that businesses that increased media advertising expenditures during the recessionary period [saw their market share significantly increase.]"*

RECESSION OF 1990-1991
Management Review asked AMA member firms about spending during the 1990-1991 recession. "Fortune follows the brave," it announced, noting that the data showed that most firms that raised their marketing budgets enjoyed gains in market share. Among the magazine's sample, 15 percent reported "greatly decreased" ad budgets. Advertising was "somewhat cut" by 29 percent. "The keys to gaining market share in a recession," concluded Management Review" seem to be spending money and adding to staff. Firms that increased their budgets and took on new people were twice as likely to pick up market share.*

At Poolandspa.com, we saw our ecommerce sales increase by over 45% in 2011. Why? Because we increased our consumer direct advertising across the board. As news of the bad economy got worse, we continued to increase our advertising through email, postal mail, magazines, internet ads, search engines and TV. We sent out thousands of direct mail pieces and millions of email newsletters as well as placed magazine, internet and TV ad buys - all of which gave us tens of millions of media impressions nationally.

"Did this cost us one cent?", you may ask. Well it most certainly did not. In fact our sales and profits soared, despite the recession, despite the daily bad TV news and despite the slumping housing market and stock market crash. Our entire advertising program more than paid for itself many times over and produced millions of dollars of product sales for us.

There is really no secret here. Just tried and true marketing principles that will work for every company, every time.

Remember what the wise businessman said:

"If you do not advertise, you'll surely fail in business."
"If you do advertise, you may succeed."
"But if you advertise in the right places, you'll surely succeed."

The Harvard Business Review says that "Advertising is an anti-recession tool. The rationale that a company can afford a cutback in advertising because everybody else is cutting back [is wrong]. Rather than wait for business to return to normal, top executives should cash in on the opportunity that the rival companies are creating for them. The company courageous enough to stay in the fight when everyone else is playing safe can bring about a dramatic change in market position." In addition, they say that "Advertising should be regarded not as a drain on profits but as a contributor to profits, not as an unavoidable expense but as a means of achieving objectives. Ad budgets should be related to the company's goals instead of to last year's sales or to next year's promises."*

At Poolandspa.com, we can't solve all your marketing issues, but we can certainly help you out. Poolandspa.com continues to be the most visited web site for pool & spa information and one of the most visited web sites on the entire internet. We have thousands of unique visitors per day, most of which either have a pool or spa - or - are looking to purchase one. Each week our site visitors are looking at pool and spa photos, watching pool & spa videos, talking on our pool & spa forums and doing research for the purchase of a pool or spa.

If you are in the pool or spa business, or market to a high-end demographic, you should definitely have some sort of advertising presence on our web site. Hundreds of other successful companies do. And we keep adding to our advertiser list each and every day.

Why doesn't your company do the same thing ? Do not sit back and DO NOTHING while the economy is at a low point. This is the time you should be increasing your marketing efforts across the board. If you think that your particular company might be able to benefit with high-powered direct to consumer target marketing, please take a look at our various marketing programs. We have plans to fit all budgets from $5.00 / month all the way up to $8000 / month.

Here is a link to our advertising plans to take a look for yourself:

We are currently running some Ad Specials. Here is the link to those special deals:

And even if you don't think Poolandspa.com is right for your particular business right now, AT LEAST ADVERTISE SOMEWHERE. If you are a manufacturer marketing to the trade, try Pool & Spa News, Aqua Magazine, Service Industry News, or Spa Retailer. If you market direct to the consumer, try ads on our Poolandspa.com web site or try Pool & Spa Living Magazine, The Home Magazine, Pool Search Magazine or Spa Search Magazine. The more that our industry does consumer-direct advertising, the faster that our industry will recover from this recession. There is a HUGE pent-up demand for our products right now, and we all have to get the word out that we are all still here, still in business, and still ready to provide America with pools and spas for years to come !

So hopefully we have gotten you fired up to DO SOMETHING. Don't just sit there with a "woe is me" attitude. These are the times that you must aggressively carry out your business plan and get the word out about your products or services.

Hopefully you will consider adding a consumer-direct internet marketing plan with Poolandspa.com as well. Feel free to contact us for more information any time. We wish you all the best for the 2013 season !

Poolandspa.com Advertising Department
Phone 1-702-437-4343
Fax 702-568-0924
Email ads@poolandspa.com

Advertising Rates & Media Kit: http://www.poolandspa.com/page151.htm

About the author:
Jeff Baxter has worked with Poolandspa.com for 16 years and has been in the pool & spa industry for 25 years. Jeff is considered to be one of the foremost experts in online marketing, SEO and strategic business marketing and planning.

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Or email us for further information at ads@poolandspa.com

Or call us at 1-800-876-7647, or Fax to 702-568-0924

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