The first quarter of the year can be a mix of massive service leads generated by weather and targeted replacement or upgrade leads.

All sales should immediately go into your database for your spring newsletter list. (It’s cheaper to keep ’em than replace them!) Smart marketers kept all caller info from last fall’s tuneups to target for maintenance agreements in the spring. Keep it up!

Replacement sales come from image and high-value selling during cold months. Use direct response later in the quarter to pull large numbers of sideline watchers.

Advertising Watch

Newspapers: Annual contracts should be in place to achieve the highest volume discounts. (Ask your rep.) Image ads help persuade “lookers” your way. Limited direct response can be used very effectively now.

Direct mail letters: Send follow-up letters to prospects from the last 90 days with non-closed sales. Do not miss this chance.

Postcards: Service postcards can wait. Let the weather do this work for you now.

Alternative media: Your yard sign presence should never be taken for granted. Your name should be pounded into your market.

Radio: This media drops off considerably after Christmas shopping time. Trim back here, but continue to stress name recognition for selected service leads.

On-hold messages: These should be about energy saving replacements and quality service.

Yellow Pages: Don’t let a bad ad make a bad impression of your good company. Fax us for your ad for a free critique; we can design a Yellow Pages ad for you that works. (Read our articles at www.hudsonink.com that can cut your budget here.)

Monthly Strategy

Coming off of Christmas, buyers can be hard to shake. Your New Year’s resolutions should include letting no marketing opportunity pass you by.

Your marketing plan and budgets should be in place, with 4 to 9 percent of projected sales to be spent on marketing.

The weather should be bringing you enough service leads, but there is no need to wait around. Send letters to prospective buyers with non-closed replacement sales over the last 90 days offering an added incentive. This can pull money from the trash, and you’ve already paid for the leads.

Direct response ads should center on deferred payments and rebates to assist cash-strapped buyers and urge them into action. Tout higher efficiency energy savings as a return on investment instead of as an added cost, and your salespeople will close more sales faster and easier. Assemble the numbers that prove it instead of setting your salesperson up for skepticism.

February can be slow for many companies, so continue to collect names for your database and we’ll show you how to use them in February with great results. Stay tuned. Watch for my tips here in The News both in print and on the Web on the Extra Edition page.

Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink. He can be reached at 800-489-9099, 334-262-1115 (fax), or www.Hudsonink.com.

Publication date: 01/20/2003