The second actual day of Spring here in Cincinnati was met with several inches of snow. My kids are off school, roads are a mess, the whole bit. And even at that, we got off easy compared to large parts of the eastern seaboard. Many of you are probably buried again this week, and even if you are making some money on snow removal, if you’re like me you’re thinking that this has been plenty of winter, thank you, and let’s get onto the spring weather.

As a backdrop to all this wintery weather has been the annual March Madness basketball tournament. I am not a huge basketball fan, but my wife and I met at Xavier University and I ended up graduating from the University of Cincinnati, so every year they both make the tournament is cause for some interest. This year, my beloved Xavier Musketeers were actually seeded #1 in their region; a testament to a great season.

For those of you who don’t watch basketball, I’ll fill you in on the absolute heartbreak that befell these teams on Sunday. In back to back games on national television, both Xavier and UC gave up their leads in the waning minutes of their respective games, with both teams losing to lower ranked teams. It was an implosion that only Cincinnati sports fans can really appreciate. (see also: Bengals 1992-present)

To me, these things relate. We know we can’t really depend on the weather, but the good money is that usually we aren’t getting snow days this time of year. And in fact, on this day in 2012 it was 86 degrees. THAT felt more like spring! We can all make plans based on what we think is likely to happen, but whether it’s unpredictable weather or blowing a 20 point lead and losing to a lower seed, we need to be ready for the unexpected.

If I were a lawn and landscape contractor looking back at the last few years, it would be easy to set proactive sales/advertising on the back burner, because many companies have had more work than they can handle. But life teaches us to prepare for the unexpected, and I recommend you approach your advertising this year with that in mind. On a related note, I have this nagging suspicion that we are nearly due for another recession at some point, and even though it's an unpleasant prospect, I encourage you to make sure you are still being active with your sales efforts so you are up to speed when that pendulum swings that way again.

It does not take a tremendous amount of money or effort to have a proactive marketing plan in place; I would suggest some targeted direct mail or EDDM mailing into areas where you really want to generate new leads, and I would recommend an e-mail marketing program to maintain contact with your existing clients/prospects throughout the year. An e-newsletter program, specifically, is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to maintain contact with your audience.