How to Sell a Hot Tub

A few years ago, my wife and I went out looking for a hot tub. My daughter thought it was fun to hop into the empty tubs and try them out. I would climb in with her and see if they were comfortable for my bad back. We were in our fifth store that day and running out of energy, not able to find just the right one. We were about to leave the store when the salesman mentioned to us that he had one more we might want to see. It was in a side room and filled with hot water.

He explained to us that there was a place to undress and that there were towels we could use. He said he would lean a chair up against the door so customers wouldn’t walk in on us. Now, when you grow up in the prudish Midwest like my wife and I did, offers to take your clothes off in a retail store (even in a semi-private room) tend to make one a little nervous. However, my daughter thought it was a great idea, so we very self-consciously went into the room, closed the door, disrobed and hopped into the tub. We could hear customers walking back and forth just outside the unlocked door. Completely uninhibited, my five-year-old turned on all the jets and started splashing and jumping around. After about 15 minutes in the jets, we toweled off and emerged from the room smiling, wet, and a little self-conscious.

Successful marketing is all about helping your target feel something. How can your brand build a powerful experience into its contact points? Can it approximate this feeling on the web? In its communications? In the shopping experience? In their book, The Experience Economy, James Gilmore and Joe Pine encourage marketers to think of their brand as staged theater, to create an experience that helps consumers feel something about the brand.

Naked in hot tub, separated only by an unlocked door and a thin wall, we were nervous, excited, happy, and spontaneous. We didn’t stand a chance of resisting the sale.

We bought the hot tub.