Five Opportunities to Expand the E.E. Conversation with Customers

Posted by Energy Wire on February 5, 2015 at 10:56 AM

As a firm focused on marketing energy solutions and long term sustainability, we’re constantly seeking the “secret sauce” to inspiring customers to think, act and buy sustainably.

But when it comes to energy, the industry is complicated leaving most customers confused. Between the news and debates on pipelines, climate change, regulations and policies, utility E.E. programs, the big brand advertising of efficient products and the monthly bills… the touch points are many, but seemingly all disconnected. (See Six Trends to Mold Successful E.E. Marketing)

How do we leverage these conversations to create long-term interest, and more importantly, action?

Last week, we looked at a balanced conversation between the financial and non-financial customer benefits. As E.E. marketers, we need to engage customers with the emotional drivers and then support them with rational arguments. (How to Motivate the E.E. Customer: Financial vs. Non-Financial Benefits)

This week, we’re adding another element to that conversation: Transparency and Customer Empowerment.

By transparency, we don’t necessarily mean disclosing even more business information than you already do, we just mean expanding the customer conversation to include your point of view on what people are seeing on the news, and how it affects their utility (their energy source) or why they should purchase a product that reduces their consumption. While they may not understand the complexities, customers are aware the industry is rapidly changing. They need to know that measures are being taken to update old infrastructure and better serve the changing needs of the marketplace.

Our clients consistently talk about being a “trusted energy advisor” to customers and not just a rebate and billing processor. How do you do this? How can your brand be more than the pleasant face to a bill?

  1. Empower customers to do more than just save money. (Everyone is “empowering” them to do this.) Instead, empower them with benefits that impact their lifestyle, their communities and our world. What will your state look like if your 2020 goals are reached? What ARE your savings goals that need to be met? How do these goals affect the larger energy goals of our country? Give your customers context. Bring them onto your team. Ask for their advice and action. Making them part of this discussion is important.
  2. 2015 is going to be a big year for the Climate Change conversation. Whatever your stand might be, show you’re paying attention because your customers will be more than ever before.
  3. Talk to customers about clean and distributed energy and the efforts you’re making to get there. Some utilities are further down this path than others. And that’s okay. Wherever you are, make customers aware. We believe that awareness of clean energy efforts and action will increase customer satisfaction. (Good work done by Florida Power & Light to showcase their clean energy operations.)
  4. Make big storms and outages an opportunity for your brand. Provide transparency on when, where, why, how long and the efforts you’re making to strengthen the infrastructure for next time.
  5. Involve customers during peak demand times. Again, empower them by creating greater awareness and asking for their help. Reward them for doing their part. Make this an opportunity for engagement.

So, why does a marketing firm care about EPA regulations? Or helping utilities reach their upcoming savings goals?

We’re focused on building brands that build a sustainable future, and energy is at the very core of our mission. To be successful, we continually conduct research on the E.E. consumer.  In a few weeks, we’ll be releasing our newest research on the American homeowner. After surveying 1300 participants, we've gained valuable insight into the consumer relationship with energy efficiency, consumption, conservation practices, smart technology and their outlook on the future. In addition, we're uncovering the most effective and trusted channels to engage with people on these issues. Our objective in gaining a deeper understanding of this relationship is to inspire our clients' customers to think, act and buy more sustainably.

Interested in learning more? Contact Lauren Bell.

Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / / 802.862.8261

Topics: Customer-Centric Marketing, Customer Engagement, utility communications, Utility Marketing, energy efficiency

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