It’s December, and that means you are probably swamped with year-end reporting, sales, and analysis. Plus, your “To Do” list has doubled with holiday activities like shopping, decorating, attending special events, and cooking.
I hate to say it, but there is one more thing you need to add to your list of responsibilities before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31: Create your communications plan for 2021.
Before you roll your eyes at additional work, this is essential to your sales success in the new year. Why? Your communications are at the heart of obtaining new customers and keeping them.
Think about it. Everything you do in your HVAC business revolves around the messages you send to customers.
While your core expertise may focus on fixing an a/c unit or replacing ventilation systems, you can’t do this work unless you have customers who need your help. And the only way they learn about you is through your marketing, word-of-mouth, and other communications.
This means you need to create, organize, and track your messages to figure out who the recipients are and how they receive your information. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea what resonates with your audience.
The good news is that you can create your communications plan for next year in just two simple steps and a matter of minutes.
1. Figure out the basics.
- Who is your target market and what do you have to offer them that is unique and solves their problems?
- What is the best way to reach these customers (email, direct-response mail, phone calls, social media)?
- What products and services do you offer throughout the year to exceed the needs of your customers?
- What kind of special offers, events, and bonuses can you offer that are unique to your business?
2. Create an easy table.
- Now, use your answers from item 1 above and create a simple Excel or Word spreadsheet. Add columns across the top like Month, Service/Product, Message, Send Date, How Sent, Tracking, and Results.
- Then, next to each month, add the product or service you are going to provide and the marketing message for each. Also, figure out how you will track responses with a unique website landing page, phone number, email, or some other kind of call-to-action within your message. This is an important step. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea what worked and what didn’t, and you will waste resources.
- Once you complete a campaign, report the results in the final column. This way, you can keep a record of what is most successful for future efforts.
|Month||Service / Product||Message||Send Date||Sent Via...||Tracking||Results|
|January||Heating Upgrade Special||Stay warm in the months ahead and save 30% on your heating costs with our January special||1/4/2021||Email Series, Press Release, Postcard||Unique landing page|
|February||Valentine’s Day Special||Give your loved one the gift of safety this month.||2/1/2021||Direct mail piece, Email Series, Follow-up Calls||Unique landing page with form|
That’s it! This is easy, but now you have a tentative communications plan for the year ahead that you can change as needed. If you don’t have exact data to put in each column right now, you can always add more details later. Plus, if customers have a specific need in the future or if you see that a particular marketing message is working better than others, you can adjust your schedule accordingly. You can also update the columns to represent your specific needs as they change (e.g., responsible parties, deadlines, sales by a particular person, discount codes).
Many entrepreneurs stick to a simple spreadsheet like this, but know that you can always upgrade to a more comprehensive software application as your business grows. Keep in mind that these tools can be expensive and create new technical issues, so you really need to find what works best for you.
The key is to have some kind of communications plan in place for 2021, no matter how simple it is. Then you can tackle the rest of your year-end deadlines, look forward to better marketing in the year ahead, and really enjoy the holiday season.