"My father's goal, when he began the company out of our garage, was to build a few pools a year. He started with three employees, including me, during my school vacations."
Today, the company has more than 100 employees working out of locations in Evans, GA; Aiken, SC; and Lexington, SC. In addition to building hundreds of pools per year, it has expanded into the sale of hot tubs, pool chemicals, deck furniture, and maintenance.
"Augusta radio is our dominant form of advertising," says Mr. Alewine who, is responsible for the company's marketing. "We are starting to add more online advertising to the mix as well, including social media and Google advertising. We have used a little bit of television, but it hasn't worked well for us."
"We like radio because we can afford to buy enough frequency to be successful. Putting-in a pool is not a knee-jerk purchase. So, we need to make sure our advertising is heard when people make the decision to finally build."
Research from Nielsen, affirms Mr. Alewine's choice to use radio advertising.
Last week, for instance, 89% of likely pool and hot-tub buyers in the CSRA tuned-in to an Augusta radio station. This is significantly more consumers than who are reached by local TV, newspaper, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, or streaming audio sites like Pandora and Spotify.
"One of our largest markets for pools is among people buying houses," says Mr. Alewine. This is consistent with 2018 research from IBISWorld, which indicates 60% of pool construction is purchased by new owners of single-family homes.
More than any other advertising medium, Augusta radio reaches more CSRA consumers who are planning to purchase a new home over the next 12 months.
Mr. Alewine also has identified consumers with young children as a key target for his advertising. Once again, radio had the dominant reach among CSRA households with children under 17 living at home.
To expand the amount of advertising Pete Alewine Pools and Spas does each year, the company uses all of the co-op dollars its vendors and suppliers make available.
Inc. Magazine defines co-op advertising as “the sharing of costs for locally placed advertising between a retailer and a manufacturer of the products they sell.” Often, the manufacturer will cover 100% of the cost of advertising. In other words, free advertising.
"By utilizing our co-op funds, we are able to purchase about 25% more advertising than we normally could," says Mr. Alewine.
To make sure he receives the greatest return from his co-op funds, Mr. Alewine has conversations with each of his vendors. "I pick their brains," he says, "to find how other pool and spa companies across the country are using their co-op to grow their businesses. I am not afraid to steal those ideas for our stores here."
To prove that his advertising is effective, Mr. Alewine points to a very quantifiable example.
"For ten years, we have been running a sale every March where we offer 25% discount on all pool and spa chemicals. We want people to come-in and stock-up before swimming season starts to take-off."
"Four years ago, we increased our advertising by 30% to promote this sale. Year-over-year, this helped to double the amount of chemicals sold during the promotion."
"When it comes to our radio advertising, we know it works, says Mr. Alewine. "For years, my mother, Toni, has been the voice of our commercials. New customers come in all the time and say they heard her on the radio."
"More importantly," he says, "we can point to our profit-and-loss sheet and see which parts of our business have demonstrated growth. We can then link that growth to the advertising we are doing."
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