MONTGOMERY, AL — One of the easiest ways to keep and retain customers is to show them you care; and an easy way to do that is to provide them with helpful and useful information before and after the sale.

But if you come on too strong and send the wrong message, your original intention may turn sour and you may scare your customer into the arms of a competitor. That’s one of several reasons why one company has come up with a new spin to an established idea — the newsletter.

Service Thrust Organization (STO) recently created a newsletter called Smart Indoor Living News, which targets current hvac customers and prospects.

“Our newsletter is the most successful formula we have tested that gave customers something worth reading, while adding sales for the contractor,” said STO vice president Adams Hudson. “Educated customers buy more, understand value better, and refer more often. This newsletter can do that.”

Do's and Don't's

Hudson added that even a well-designed newsletter does not guarantee success. If the contents give readers the impression of a sales pitch or are “too technical,” they may toss the literature away soon after reading the first few sentences.

He noted the successful example of a Florida contractor who sent out newsletters to prospects in a senior citizens community.

“Residents were disgusted by all of the junk mail they were getting,” he said. “The [contractor] mailed them his newsletter and several people felt it was so useful, they made photocopies and gave them out to other citizens at a community meeting.”

In this case, the contractor signed up several new customers with maintenance agreements.

STO did a nine-month study of research groups regarding businesses that used newsletters. They measured the effectiveness of the newsletter and found that hvac contractors received substandard results.

“Customers had a high degree of skepticism because of the cost of the [hvac] equipment,” Hudson said. “Technically laden information made their choices too confusing.

“We found that 55% to 71% of all in-home service customers were ‘lost’ for basically the same reasons. Most customers felt the contractor was indifferent to their needs or that the only time they were contacted by the company was to be sold something else.

“This doesn’t exactly cement a relationship.”

The Smart Indoor Living News is customized for the dealer and promotes a high-quality image. STO touts it as a newsletter “that balances useful news with sales ‘hot buttons’ throughout. It’s a real newsletter that customers want to read, instead of the fake, ‘all advertising’ newsletters that often go in the trash unopened.”

STO has received testimonials from contractors, including one who sent out more than 6,800 newsletters and wound up with 124 calls, which resulted in sales of several $169 tune-ups and 12 complete systems, totaling $62,728.

Hudson said he is convinced that the easy-going nature of the newsletter is what sells.

“The key is to stay in touch in a friendly, educational, and entertaining way, yet sell while you’re at it.”

If the initial response is any indication, this marketing tool has drawn a lot of interest, which pleases Hudson. “The response has been far beyond our expectations.”

For more information on STO’s Smart Indoor Living News, call 800-738-4808.