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BLUE SKY THINKING needs the back of workable sales strategies. Pic.H20 Exeter

Rob Carlin encourages a fresh approach to 2021 business strategies…

Innovation is critical to survive in the competitive spa market. To compete, we must develop new ways to serve our customers, that keep us ahead of the game. We have to choose to embrace change, rather than resist it. Resistance is futile. This is mainly aimed at the bricks and mortar stores who refuse to embrace the latest marketing strategies that many online only retailers are adopting. Having a showroom where customers can see, touch and even wet test their next hot tub will always be the best way to make sales. However, sales for 2021 will rely heavily on having sophisticated ecommerce channels. Failure to adopt an online strategy, could see your businesses start to suffer.

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Change is inevitable both in our personal and professional lives. Businesses that resist change will get left behind, whilst others who innovate and adapt will dominate the market. When change comes knocking on your door, embrace it with open arms. So, my advice to hot tub retailers is to consider how you are selling and whether you are innovating to match the demands of the market. Today, the market has transformed, and businesses are investing heavily on marketing online. Virtual tours are a common strategy that businesses use to improve their online presence by giving you an immersive experience. It surprises me how rarely it is used in the hot tub industry. There are many benefits of a virtual showroom, such as a unique experience that your competitors may not offer, a more immersive way to view a hot tub compared to the 2D image alternative and it encourages customers to visit the store in the future based on familiarity. A tour increases the value of your business because it operates on a 24- hour basis. I hope to see more of these popping up this year. The website is the face of your business, so make it user-friendly, unique and memorable. Make sure the website is up to date and that customers can easily access information that could increase sales, such as the price, features, images, videos and blogs. Employ and utilise the power of the web.

Don’t forget to add useful call to action buttons such as “Arrange a wet test”, “View our virtual showroom” or “Request a brochure”. It’s important you optimise your website by using keywords that will rank your website higher on Google. By doing this it will organically boost your business to appear higher up the page on Google and therefore more people will find you. Online Chat, or Live Chat, is also important vitally. A case study with Virgin Airlines showed a 3.5 times higher conversion rate with online chats compared to email. What’s more, they also found that chatters had a 15% higher average order value compared to those who didn’t use the chat. Once your website is performing optimally it’s time to work on your marketing strategy. It is important that companies diversify their forms of marketing. I won’t go into depth with marketing strategies, but it is important to use all of the following: PPC (pay per click online ads), Google shopping, Facebook paid ads, re-marketing ads, email campaigns, SEO, online blogs and many more.

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DON’T FORGET to add useful call to action buttons such as “Arrange a wet test”, “View our virtual showroom” or “Request a brochure”.

Social media is an opportunity to raise brand awareness and engage with your customers – new and existing – with posts that educate and inform, as well as to advertise. People actually buy benefits, not features. Focus your content on benefits and how your products solve a problem, for example, the health benefits of hot tubs as well as the social benefits. Use of photos and videos on social media platforms keeps customers, up to date, educated, entertained and most importantly, engaged. I find that posting the same content on all social media channels works well, as you will have different audiences on each. People buy to solve a problem or to meet a desire. While you are running campaigns, try to create a sense of urgency. When your customers feel that your product will meet their need or solve their problem and there is limited availability they are more likely to convert and buy your product.

Do you track all of your leads? Do you know your conversion rates? Did you know that only 2% of sales occur at a first meeting? The 2% who buy at a first meeting tend to be those who have already done their research on your products and know exactly what they are looking for. The other 98% will need a certain level of trust to develop before purchasing. Therefore, it is vital, if you wish to sell more hot tubs, to track your leads in a database and follow up regularly with potential customers. Customers need guiding through the journey of purchasing a hot tub and need information about the product. It is a big decision and a large amount of money to spend on one product.

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THE WEBSITE is the face of your business, so make it user-friendly, unique and memorable.

Sometimes, it is so easy to get caught up in the process of prospecting for new customers that you forget that your best customers are sitting right in front of you. They are your existing customers. You’ve already won them over with your products. But did you know that keeping customers loyal comes with a wealth of benefits? Loyal customers convert at a higher rate and often have a higher average order value. It is also much more cost effective to retain customers rather than acquiring new ones. A loyal customer can have a long lifecycle with you, choosing to spend their money with you on consumables such as chemicals and filters, as well as yearly servicing and aftercare. These loyal customers also become an extension of your sales team. If you treat them well they will recommend you to their friends and family. The power of the web strikes again…..I see a lot of hot tub owners recommending the companies they have purchased their spas from to a large host of strangers online, particularly in Facebook groups. A relationship with a customer can be transactional, or relational. By building a positive relationship with them, you will encourage brand loyalty, that can give you continuous custom on consumables with a potential for an upgrade in the future. Online buying can be a labyrinth and for customers looking to buy high ticket items like spas, it can be a little daunting. Last year saw a few hot tub scams which casted negative light on our industry and a little doubt in consumers’ minds. Credibility has become important in the online marketplace. Customers rely heavily on reviews as they trust their fellow consumer when making purchases. Ensure you build your Google reviews and Trust Pilot reviews with all customers and consider printing reviews off, laminating and putting in a folder at the entrance of your showroom for walk in customers to see. I like to also recommend a credibility wall within the showroom that shows off your industry awards alongside customer reviews to help give confidence to potential customers.

Try to develop a personal relationship with new customers. Be their friend and they will work as your brand’s story-teller, completely free of charge. Establish a complete and extensive customer service and resource centre with the objective of giving the customers access to various products and services offered by your company. Complaints from your customers can give you insights into your products and services. Be humble and be accommodating by rectifying any problems and address issues with haste, to show your business is customer-centred. Customers that feel appreciated and valued are more likely to be brand loyal and therefore increase sales. Richard Branson said ‘Look after your staff because then they will look after your customers’. Make sure your staff feel happy, supported and valued. Offer them the necessary training to excel in their role will help to increase sales and improve customer service.

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BUSINESSES THAT RESIST CHANGE will get left behind, whilst others who innovate and adapt will dominate the market.

The reason for product expansion is simple: no company can survive on a single product. There will always be competitors who can make that product cheaper, faster or better. Expanding the product line is one of the strongest ways to grow your sales and your profit. The more products you have, the greater your chances of reaching a wider audience and purchasing market. Market expansion can help you get a firmer hold of your current market and open your business to a new audience. Your customers are diverse, so you should have a product offer to match. For example, suppose you sell only one brand of hot tubs. You have loyal customers who return to your store each month to buy their chemicals. By diversifying your offering with products such as outdoor furniture, firepits and other complimentary products you not only sell more to your current customers, but you also attract new customers who want to buy outdoor living products. I hope these thoughts have inspired you to embrace change and implement some of these ideas when considering how to increase sales this year. Let’s make 2021 a great year for everyone in the industry.