Lessons for Energy Marketers from Coca-Cola and Bud Light

Posted by Harrison Grubbs on July 27, 2018 at 9:06 AM

We’ve written, and you’ve read, and then we’ve written again, and you’ve read again, about personalization. You must personalize your marketing. OK, you get it, but you ask, how? and why? and am I doing it right?

From an early age, you’re taught that “there is only one you.” In the whole world, there is no one else exactly like you. We each have our own emotions, reactions and opinions that are specific to us and our individual life experiences. Our differences are what makes us special and unique. That goes for our customers too.

As branders and marketers, we have a responsibility to ensure that we’re reaching everyone. Knowing that no two people are alike, how do we break through such a fragmented landscape to make sure we are effectively connecting with individuals based on their experiences, their desires and where they are in their life?

First step: Look to the winners on the podium.

Brands like Coca-Cola and Bud Light may not have an obvious relation to energy efficiency or renewable energy campaigns, but most likely, they’re talking to the same people you’re talking to. We can learn a lot from the world’s most valuable brands.

These brands aren’t just targeting population segments (wordy advertising-speak for people who get grouped together by geography, age, income, race, sex, education, etc.). They are targeting down to the single individual.

And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. They aren’t actually creating individually designed campaigns, but what they’re doing makes people think they are. Grab a Coke that has the name Erica written on it and you think of your friend, your sister, your child’s piano teacher, and you think, that’s cool, Coke made a label with Erica’s name on it. But really, Coke made a label that allows people to connect with its brand based on their own personal connection.

Second step: Make it personal.

Look at the tools you already have. By diving into historical data, customer data, and existing insights, we can identify various opportunity markets, aka ways to communicate that seem undeniably personal but reach a broad group of people. Move away from the general category of generation or race and go deeper into microsegments like:

  • Empty nesters with the new burden of college bills
  • First-home buyers who are also planning a wedding and honeymoon
  • DIY home renovators on a budget hindered by school loans and daycare costs

And then, reach them in channels most relevant to them with ad content that speaks directly to them—or at least gives the impression that it’s just for them.

Third step: have some fun.

What we’re suggesting is to step out of your comfort zone and do something really different. Feeling afraid? Start by testing a small campaign. Measure it and make adjustments. Baby steps. Focus on one specific, defined group of people at a time. Fine-tune the campaign until you get people to remember that feeling of “there is only one you,” which in turn creates a lasting, emotional connection to your brand or product.

Want more? Call us, write us, or blow up our social feed if you really want. We’re here for you.


Here’s a step-by-step guide (just for you and your unique needs).

  1. Identify opportunity markets: Dig into owned data, as well as research and insights from existing campaigns, to identify specific audience pools that have untapped potential; this could be anything from a different age demographic to a portion of customers who have specific traits or interests that others don’t, such as an affinity for DIY or a deep interest in new and emerging technologies.

These audience pools could also be split into subgroups depending on what type of messaging might resonate with them. For example, if the audience pool is “empty nesters,” there are likely going to be folks who are already making plans to turn their child’s empty bedroom into a gym, as well as folks who are extremely emotional to see their children move out on their own. Testing messaging and tactics against different portions of a given audience pool could be extremely beneficial, as not everyone in a given pool is going to be the same—even though they all have that one, main characteristic in common.

  1. Engage in collaborative planning efforts: Inviting different team members into planning sessions for unique opportunity markets can be highly useful. Not only does it infuse meetings with different points of view, but it also allows for people who are in different life stages to contribute. During planning, it’s important to take a step back and not overthink; simplify things and think about how you yourself would want to be marketed to about a given product. How would you want someone to reach you with their messaging? What evokes emotions in you that might evoke emotions in someone else, and therefore increase the likelihood that your messaging will make a lasting impression on that person?
  2. Develop a custom channel mix: Not all media channels will be a good fit for all audience segments; leveraging media habits research and historical audience data will help you identify the best, most contextually relevant channels and increase the chances of reaching this audience in the right place, at the right time.
  3. Be creative with creative: Designing ads in which both the copy and accompanying images speak directly to the audience you’re trying to reach will only help your brand make a deeper connection with a given niche audience; feeling as though an ad was created with you in mind makes you want to engage with it more.
  4. Implement a measurement plan: The only way to see if any campaign is positively affecting your business results is to learn by doing and optimize it accordingly. By targeting a couple of different opportunity markets, you may also discover that although they have their differences, something within your channel mix or messaging resonates with both audiences—a lesson that you could then apply elsewhere.



Opportunity market: Untapped potential group of people with common traits or interests.

Microsegment: Hyper-defined group of people.

Owned data: Proprietary information you have about customers in your billing systems, customer support databases, CRM systems, etc.

Audience segmentation: Separation of broad customer base into groups typically based on common traits like age, sex, income, geography, education or race.

Audience pool: Part of a target population that has been broken down into more defined groups branching out from audience segments, similar to microsegments.