Many savvy home improvement contractors send a prepositioning packet of printed materials to prospects prior to the salesperson's visit. For the cost of overnight delivery, say marketing experts, you build trust, boost your closing rate, and minimize the possibility of rescission.

Now some companies have taken that practice a step further and made their packet electronic, via discs that can be popped in the prospect's DVD player. Schmidt Siding & Window, in Mankato, Minn., which has long mailed videos to prospects, regularly sends a disc that introduces the company's installers and owners, showcases its product lines, and offers testimonials. Regency Windows, in Cleveland, dispatches a pre-positioning DVD on which prospects can choose from a menu of information modules, depending on what they want to know about the company.

According to DVD Marketing, in Cincinnati, 67 million DVD players have been sold in the United States since the introduction of digital video technology six years ago. Digital video has a lot of advantages over VHS. For instance, in addition to DVD players, such discs can be played on a Mac or a PC. DVDs let the viewer skip and sort through content more easily than a videotape, and they have state-of-the-art sound and picture quality.

Customized to Fit Putting together a DVD can be expensive. Costs include video production (if you have no current video), “authoring” (transforming your video content into a DVD with menu), and packaging. If you already have video content — minimum cost $10,000 to produce — the expense of preparing a DVD covers authoring, packaging, and manufacturing the DVD.

About a year and a Lee, owner of Coastal Exteriors, in Savannah, Ron Sherman Advertising productions, Little Rock, develop a 27-minute sentation expressly for the pre-sale package. The presentation features an overview of Coastal Empire Exteriors a discussion of its include windows, siding, customized disc complements a similarly customized catalog that shows Coastal Empire projects and photos rather than those supplied by a manufacturer.

“Customers love it,” Lee says. “They get to see the rooms, they get to hear our customer testimonials. I'm on it, so they get to meet the owner.”

Worth the Price The impact on sales was immediate. “It's hard to get the customers to take the time to watch the DVD, but when they do, we probably close 20% more sales,” Lee says.

DVD copies cost about a dollar each to produce, Lee estimates, because the company burns its own. The original production cost approximately $20,000, but it does double duty. Although Lee had it produced expressly for the information package, “we made it so that we can insert commercials in it so it works great on TV, too.”