How to market outdoor products alongside hot tubs
By Hannah Brashers
In warm seasons and climates, the backyard is the place to be for grilling with family, playing yard games and lounging on patio furniture. During these months, spa retailers have a huge opportunity to sell outdoor living products.
How can hot tub dealers market backyard living products effectively so they stand out next to the many other specialty retailers?
Any good retailer knows the importance of customer service. But when retailers are attempting to stand out against competition, customer service becomes even more crucial.
Fiesta Pools & Spas in Tulsa, Oklahoma, knows exactly how to sell hot tubs and backyard living products. “For us, the most important marketing tool is exceptional customer service,” says Travis Hogan, who has owned the company since 2005. “By providing this to our customers, we find we stand out from other specialty retailers and big-box stores. We try to always go above and beyond to meet the needs of our customers, whether it’s building them the perfect pool or solving their algae issues. In addition, we provide outdoor living products that are complementary to our hot tubs and pools.”
Hogan also credits treating customers like family as a large part of his company’s success. “The best way to talk to our customers is with kindness and respect,” Hogan says. “Our customers become part of the larger Fiesta family, so we talk to them as we would our friends and family. We only carry products that we ourselves use or would use, so we find talking about them with our customers is much easier.”
Marketing also plays a key role in ensuring hot tub dealers stand out among other specialty retailers. Fiesta Pools & Spas advertises primarily through email marketing, Google ads, social media and a blog where the company provides customers with pool and spa care info, recipes, grilling tips and other outdoor living information. Hogan says in-store marketing is also key. “In store, we group our specialty products together so they really stand out,” he says. “Our employees are quick to highlight these items to customers.”
In-store marketing is also something that Bob Phipps, CEO of The Retail Doctor, a New York–based retail consultancy, believes is of the utmost importance.
He says painting a picture of a customer’s future backyard in the showroom — complete with hot tub, grill, furniture, etc. — makes a customer much more likely to buy from a hot tub dealer over an outdoor living specialty store. “The secret is you have to look like a store within a store,” Phipps says. “Most spa retailers just stick a barbecue grill next to a spa and say, ‘Oh, we did it.’ That doesn’t look natural for anybody.”
Phipps stresses the importance of switching up the showroom displays. “Make sure that if somebody comes in [to the store] in August, that the store doesn’t look the same as it did in April,” Phipps says. “Make sure you’re actually cross selling in your own sales process. For the guy who came in for a hot tub, show [him] what a complete picture would be. Say ‘Imagine yourself having a nice hot tub, and you’re grilling and people are getting in the hot tub. You’re having a family event playing games.’ Show how it all fits together.”
Hogan’s best advice for hot tub retailers who want to grow their backyard living sales is to do your research. “Know about your competition,” he says. “Get to know your target demographic. When you’re adding backyard living products, it isn’t always what you think they want. Ask your customers what they want and need in the way of backyard products.” For hot tub dealers, standing out against specialty retailers can be a challenge. But armed with quality customer service, thoughtful marketing (both digital and in store) and thorough research, success is attainable.