Communicating the successes and lessons learned from marketing and outreach activities to other program staff and externally to contractors, program partners, and stakeholders can help show the value of your and your stakeholders’ work and provide an opportunity for them to provide feedback.
Once you collect the results of metrics identified in your marketing and outreach evaluation plan and assess marketing and outreach efforts, take time to communicate key findings of those results to program staff, as well as marketing partners, contractors, and stakeholders. Remember to link the program’s marketing and outreach impacts to marketing and outreach objectives to make sure your efforts are achieving what you set out to accomplish. The Data and Evaluation Communicate Impacts handbook provides insights into how to interpret and communicate evaluation results.
Your program’s overall results will be developed and shared at the programmatic level. As part of this programmatic strategy for communicating results, your program team will identify:
- Roles and responsibilities for program staff and partners
- External audiences for communicating program impacts
- Channels and products for communication.
This handbook focuses on steps to communicate the impacts of your marketing and outreach activities as part of your program’s overall information sharing efforts:
- Collect marketing and outreach successes and lessons learned as you go
- Share marketing and outreach impacts internally and with partners.
Share Marketing and Outreach Impacts and Experiences with Peers
The Better Buildings Residential Network provides an opportunity for residential energy efficiency programs to share their lessons learned and learn from other programs.
Lend Your Expertise to Communicate Program Impacts
Your marketing and outreach staff expertise may be needed to communicate the impacts of your overall program, not just marketing and outreach efforts. Be prepared to provide your expertise at the program level if or when you are needed.
Collect marketing and outreach successes and lessons learned as you go
Gathering qualitative and quantitative information on marketing and outreach efforts as you implement these activities will help you present relevant impacts in a useful way. By evaluating your marketing and outreach efforts and working to assess and improve processes, you have the opportunity to understand what marketing and outreach approaches have or have not worked. Communicating the successes and lessons learned from your program’s marketing and outreach activities to other program staff and externally to contractors, partners, and stakeholders can help demonstrate the value of their efforts and provide an opportunity for them to give feedback.
To determine which successes and lessons learned to highlight, look at information captured by your program, such as data trends that demonstrate the impact of seasonal marketing campaigns, spikes in demand following outreach events, and annual evaluation results, as well as any marketing survey results and data collected through your marketing and outreach evaluation.
Marketing and outreach successes might include:
- A successful marketing campaign aimed at reducing drafts during the cold winter seasons that was picked up by the news media and generated a significant number of call center inquiries
- A highly targeted direct mail campaign that generated a significant number of calls or resulted in a high uptake rate
- A spike in demand following successful house parties or other outreach events.
Marketing and outreach lessons learned might include:
- Yard signs were more effective at getting homeowners to sign up for a home energy assessment than fliers that were distributed at community events
- Members of the community that are early adopters encouraged more homeowners to sign up for a home energy assessment than having a public figure promote assessments during a public event
- Homeowners within a program’s target audience are motivated to answer a call to action more often with a message about home comfort than one about saving money on energy bills.
Share marketing and outreach impacts internally and with partners
Communicate marketing and outreach results to other program staff, as well as marketing partners, contractors, and stakeholders, on a regular basis. Not only will these groups be interested in learning about the impact of their contributions, but they can also help you make necessary adjustments to strategies that are not working. Partners and stakeholders value being heard, so sharing your results and asking their point of view enhances cooperation and trust.
EnergyWorks Leaves Legacy by Sharing Lessons
Philadelphia’s EnergyWorks program made a point of sharing information and lessons learned with local utility partners, including Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW). “By the end of the program, we had identified a successful formula of marketing, outreach, and contractor interface, and we wanted our lessons learned to be useful in the future,” said Katherine Gajewski, director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia.
PGW, a city-owned utility, was developing energy conservation programs closely resembling the design of the EnergyWorks program, so there were several opportunities to exchange relevant information with PGW. EnergyWorks was interested in getting as much uptake as possible with the residential loan fund it established with the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, and PGW wanted to support homeowners who needed to finance improvements beyond rebates and incentives. By partnering with EnergyWorks, PGW enabled homeowners to access low-interest loan rates. EnergyWorks got access to a larger pool of loan applicants, and PGW was able to utilize an existing loan product that was already very attractive and supported by Better Buildings Neighborhood Program seed funding.
By sharing data, program experiences, and what worked (and what did not work) to encourage program participation, EnergyWorks helped to sustain PGW’s energy upgrade efforts into the future.
Source: In the City of Brotherly Love, Sharing Know-How Leads to Sustainability, U.S. Department of Energy, 2013.
You can share marketing and outreach successes and lessons learned in a variety of ways:
- Develop case studies and fact sheets.
- When developing stories, be sure to include a narrative—with a protagonist (e.g., the program administrator, a homeowner, a contractor), a problem to be overcome, barriers faced along the way, and a resolution.
- Stories highlighting marketing and outreach successes, particularly those that include customer testimonials, can be developed and shared with online outlets, trade publications, and local newspapers.
- Highlight improvements on your program’s website by letting customers know when their feedback has been put into action (e.g., We heard you! Our program has made it easier for you to sign up for a home energy assessment).
- Present at conferences, which can also be a good place to get new ideas and learn from others.
- Contribute to the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center.
- Join the Better Buildings Residential Network. Residential Network members regularly benefit from sharing marketing and outreach best practices.
Coordinate case studies, stories, lessons learned, and best practices that highlight your marketing and outreach successes with the person or team responsible for communicating your program’s overall results.
Get more information on which communication channels you could use to share marketing and outreach impacts in the Program Design Communicate Impacts handbook.
Lessons learned from your marketing efforts can be shared beyond the program’s partners and stakeholders. Contributing results and materials to the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center provides recognition for your program, and benefits residential energy efficiency programs across the country that can learn what has—or has not—worked for you, and vice-versa.
Examples of Communicating Marketing and Outreach Impacts
Here are just a few ways the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners have communicated marketing and outreach impacts.
- DOE created several case studies highlighting Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners’ marketing and outreach successes and lessons learned. Visit this handbook’s Examples tab to read these case studies.
- Many local and national conferences have residential energy efficiency components, including events organized by Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI), the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). See the Program Presentations and Reports section of the Examples tab for just a few examples of Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners sharing their successes and lessons learned.
- Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners developed their own newsletters to share successes, lessons learned, and opportunities for participation with partners and other stakeholders. The Better Buildings Network View e-newsletter regularly features marketing and outreach successes from Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners and Better Buildings Residential Network members.
- The RePower Bainbridge and RePower Bremerton programs in Washington state developed an infographic summarizing the results of its Final Boarding Call event. Infographics are a good approach for sharing program results with partners and other stakeholders because they can do so in a brief, visually appealing way.
RePower Bainbridge and RePower Bremerton Infographic
Source: RePower Bainbridge and RePower Bremerton, 2013.
Tips for Success
Make upgrade benefits visible by showcasing completed projects and actual results
Unlike remodeling projects, home energy upgrade benefits are generally not immediately visible to the casual observer. Strategies that demonstrate tangible benefits from upgrades can help increase understanding and motivation with potential customers. To help energy efficiency become real, some programs successfully used house parties and demonstration homes to show potential customers what a home energy assessment or upgrade entails. In some cases, the hosts of these events were interested or satisfied customers who invited friends and neighbors, allowing the program to leverage word-of-mouth marketing from trusted sources. Program staff and a contractor were typically present to walk the attendees through a home energy assessment of the house or, when showing an upgraded home, point out the home performance measures that were installed.
California Puts Homes on Display
Source: California Center for Sustainable Energy
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2012.
- During a one-year "house party" initiative, Energy Impact Illinois worked with trusted neighborhood champions to host more than 650 house parties, which enabled more than 3,000 Chicago homeowners, neighbors, and friends to see for themselves what energy efficiency upgrades can mean to a home. Each gathering included a real-time energy assessment demonstration on the homeowner’s home, and the opportunity for attendees to sign up for their own assessment or upgrade. Program administrators estimated that more than 900 house party participants completed upgrades. Learn more in the Focus Series interview with Energy Impact Illinois.
- The California Center for Sustainable Energy, which manages a residential energy efficiency program in San Diego, partnered with municipalities to conduct demonstration home tours, which successfully promoted both energy assessments and the contractors who performed them. During the tours, neighbors heard testimonials from demonstration homeowners, took a firsthand look at contractors' work, asked questions of the contractors who installed the upgrades, learned about available incentives, and had an opportunity to sign up for an energy assessment of their own home. Between January 28 (when the initiative formally launched) and April 21, 2012, about 25% of the home tour participants signed up for a home energy assessment with a contractor.
- NOLA WISE (New Orleans, Louisiana, Worthwhile Investments Save Energy) generated its highest number of high-quality leads through its Homeowner Showcases. NOLA WISE organized and promoted the open house events, which were hosted by homeowners who completed home energy upgrades. The NOLA Wise team and contractors were present to highlight the completed home energy upgrades and educate attendees on how to make their own homes more comfortable and energy efficient. The program saw an uptick in home energy assessment requests in neighborhoods where these events were held.
Provide expertise and newsworthy stories to media outlets to garner earned media coverage
Many successful programs found that getting media attention for their offerings and benefits helped add credibility to marketing efforts and expand their reach. By positioning "green" stories or home improvement mini-segments on local television or radio stations, they provided timely content that generated interest in their programs' services (e.g., a story about how to cool homes in a heat wave).
Although television coverage or advertising may not always generate immediate leads, it can increase program recognition and lay the groundwork for future leads. Successful programs also tracked where customers heard about their program to understand which outlets were working (e.g., by including promotional codes on materials and asking for the code when potential customers call or visit the program's website).
- The media is often interested in stories about the first or the biggest, or about breaking thresholds. The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance used its 1,000th upgrade milestone as the basis for a press conference, which garnered newspaper and television coverage for the program and its satisfied customers.
- Virginia's Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) earned media attention for its "house doctor," Guy Caroselli. As an expert on building science and energy efficiency, Mr. Caroselli hosted a weekly radio show, provided home improvement advice at events, and wrote a blog to address recurring issues for contractors and homeowners. Putting a voice with specific expertise in home improvement added a great deal of credibility and human interest to LEAP's outreach efforts.
LEAP's House Doctor Is In
Source: Local Energy Alliance Program
LEAP's "House Doctor" creative approach to providing advice on home energy efficiency garnered media attention for the program.
- The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) in St. Lucie County, Florida, was able to capture media coverage by continuously refreshing its messages and maintaining a tone of "new-ness" to what the program was doing. SELF found that highlighting "first" experiences (e.g., its first Community Reinvestment Act loan, the county's first property assessed clean energy [PACE] program) was key to this approach. As these first experiences are hard to maintain over time, the organization also drew attention to milestones such as its 200th client or hitting a $2 million dollar mark in its lending. Finally, SELF shifted from its own success to highlighting the success of others related to its efficiency program and sharing stories about its customers as well as its affiliated contractors. By stressing that SELF was the local community's nonprofit and that the successes achieved were not only for SELF but for the community as a whole, this engaged the local media over time.
Good news is addictive – spread news about program accomplishments widely and often
Successful programs use many channels to communicate accomplishments and results to stakeholders. These include word of mouth and products such as press releases, announcements on websites, case studies, and presentations. Many programs use earned media—especially local media when possible—by giving people something to talk about, such as endorsements from local personalities.
- New Orleans’ NOLA WISE program (Worthwhile Investments Save Energy) organized showcases hosted by homeowners. NOLA WISE promoted these showcases through neighborhood canvassing, electronic newsletters, social media, and collaboration with nearby neighborhood associations. The events often generated earned media coverage. NOLA WISE experienced an uptick in home energy assessment requests in neighborhoods where these events were held following the showcases.
- At the Energize Bedford launch event, Martha Stewart—one of Bedford’s best-known citizens—was a prominent attendee and supporter. Reaching well beyond the immediate community, Martha Stewart wrote about her experience on her blog, further illuminating the important work of Energize Bedford. Locally well-known people can be effective program champions as well, such as a local weather person.
- The Solar and Energy Loan Fund in St. Lucie County, Florida actively attracted media coverage by continuously refreshing its message, maintaining a sense of new activity and innovation, and stressing its contribution to the community. The program emphasized “firsts” in its messaging—such as its first loan, its first experience with crowd funding, and launching the county’s first PACE financing program. It emphasized key funding or participation milestones (e.g., $2 million in loans issued).The program also highlighted the success of its partners and the satisfaction of clients, in addition to its own accomplishments. These activities kept the program continuously in the news.
Last Updated: 10/15/2014