Public utilities know exactly who their customers are, where they are and how much they are using. Public utilities are in an ideal position to engage in the sort of one to one marketing that other service providers can only dream of.
Yet despite this unique relationship with their customers, many public utilities use one size fits all messaging in mass mediums to communicate about their various programs and initiatives. Having spent 19 years in the electric and gas utility business, I observed that the industry is very good at amassing, collecting and reporting data. Where it often falls short is in converting that data into insights.
A market savvy Chief Marketing Officer once told me, “If you don’t know who your customers are, use mass media advertising to reach them. If you know who your customers are, communicate with them directly”.
Utilities could better serve their customers by heeding such advice and shifting spending from wasteful mass media campaigns to direct communications with their customers. The lack of meaningful consumer insight is a primary reason utilities rely on one size fits all mass media campaigns. Careful analysis of existing data that results in the identification of discrete customer segments would enable utility companies to begin developing the right messages for the right customers at the right time.
By communicating directly with customers utilities would avoid the need to cut through the clutter of mass advertising to get their messages out about safety and conserving energy. Forward thinking utilities should seriously consider the increased utilization of Word Of Mouth Marketing tactics and techniques, such as leaning on webinars, email newsletters, and social media tools like Twitter and YouTube.