Olympic Hot Tub’s Seattle show room. Photos: Olympic Hot Tub

Mutual Benefits

Olympic Hot Tub partners with local TV station

Olympic Hot Tub’s Seattle show room. Photos: Olympic Hot Tub

In a clever mash-up that provided content for the station and promotion for a local business, Seattle-based Olympic Hot Tub partnered with its local ABC affiliate to create three lifestyle segments over the past year. The topics covered the health benefits of hot tubs, the latest in hot tub technology and the power of using hot tubs as a place to connect with loved ones. Running concurrent with these segments was a giveaway for a $14,000 hot tub package.

Don Riling, who’s been with the business since 1995 and the owner since 2016, says these lifestyle segments were a way to elevate Olympic Hot Tub’s brand. “It was a good way of getting us on the airwaves without just having an ad,” he says. “It was also a way for us to create something that was evergreen to use on our website, blogs and social media. I can use it as email marketing to existing customers and the sales team could send it out to customers who were interested in a hot tub but hadn’t decided to buy yet. It’s not sales-y, it’s just informational. The viewers are getting info but they’re not being preached at or sold to.”

Olympic had been a regular advertiser on the network for years before this project, when the company’s marketing agency was contacted by the station asking if Riling would be interested in doing segments on the show Seattle Refined. Riling and his agency rep met with the show producers to brainstorm ideas.

“The segments were created collaboratively with me,” Riling says. “They weren’t intended to be advertisements for Olympic, but to highlight Olympic and point out the benefits of hot water soaking and give viewers ideas of how they could install hot tubs. It was my idea to get a couple of our customers involved in the segments as well so it gave viewers someone outside of Olympic discussing their love of hot tubbing and what it’s done to change their life and well being.”

Olympic Hot Tub spent about $4,000 on each segment, then put together the $14,000 giveaway package with free products from its vendors. The return, while hard to measure concretely, was substantial and largely due to negotiations with the network.

“In exchange for that [$4,000], we got the [contact] list from the giveaway to market to,” Riling says. “The station posted the segments on its website and social media, and tagged our brand and social media handles — so there was a lot of cross networking that way.” In addition to the segments running during the afternoon slots Olympic Hot Tub paid for, they also ran as fillers in case a football game or a political debate ended early. Riling says each segment ran at least three times due to this arrangement, and that at least three people purchased because of the TV spot.

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For spa professionals considering a similar approach, Riling highlights three key things to keep in mind.

Before making such a huge investment, consider every possible way to capitalize on what you’re spending. “It’s not just about the segment,” Riling says. “It’s got to be about the email marketing, social channels, any blogs you can write, engagement with your existing customers and marketing to potential customers. And I wouldn’t do it unless your showroom looks terrific. Make sure that what they’re shooting is really what you want people to see as your brand and positions you as an expert.”

Riling suggests leaving “the boring stuff” like phone numbers, websites and location for the voiceover at the end of the segment. “I wanted to focus on telling stories,” Riling says. “I talked about how I have a bad back and how my tub just really makes a huge difference for me — anecdotal stuff.”

Lastly, Riling emphasizes the importance of knowing your brand before taking on such an undertaking. “One of the hazards in our industry is that when the downturn happened, a lot of people diversified their product line,” Riling explains. “The real benefit for me is that we were a hot tub retailer and that was it. For a lot of these companies, it can be very easy to get distracted and want to cover too many things. You really have to take your time and home in your focus.”

Watch the segments here: