Clearly defined goals and objectives will help direct marketing and outreach activities, communicate the value of your program services to target audiences, and guide decisions about the approaches you choose to implement.
Your program’s goals will serve as a starting point from which you will develop specific marketing and outreach objectives. Use the information collected during your market assessment and program design activities to align the objectives of your marketing and outreach with overarching program goals.
Objectives are specific and measureable, and should be realistic. They support goals and represent desired outcomes. Marketing and outreach objectives typically include:
- Raising consumer awareness (e.g., number or percentage of target audience members reached through websites, materials, or events)
- Behaviors that you want customers to undertake (e.g., number of customers scheduling an assessment or attending a home energy efficiency demonstration)
- Customers showing interest in the program (e.g., responses to a call for action or click-throughs on a website)
- A time-frame during which the objective should be met.
Programs should be flexible and realistic when setting marketing and outreach objectives. Make sure you have a way to measure each objective, and keep in mind that objectives may need to evolve as your program is implemented.
This handbook describes key steps to setting your marketing and outreach objectives:
- Review program goals
- Set marketing and outreach objectives that tie to your program goals
- Obtain management and stakeholder buy-in and approvals.
Step by Step
Goals and objectives will help direct marketing and outreach activities, communicate the value of your program services to stakeholders, and guide decisions about the approaches you choose to implement. By establishing marketing and outreach objectives, you can determine when or whether your marketing and outreach efforts have been successful.
These steps will help you establish marketing and outreach objectives:
Establish or refine specific marketing and outreach goals, objectives, targets and timeframes
Program goals identify what your program aspires to accomplish over the long term. Program goals should be set as part of your Program Design.
Your marketing and outreach efforts should not need separate goals, but should be designed to support overarching program goals. You will want to review these program goals to determine a vision for how marketing and outreach can help meet them. Using that vision, you will be ready to develop specific marketing and outreach objectives.
After reviewing your overall program goals, develop marketing and outreach objectives that tie into them. Objectives are specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and include a timeframe. They specify targets for how you will achieve your goals.
Goals vs. Objectives vs. Tactics
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2014.
Example marketing and outreach objectives that tie into program goals are displayed in the table below.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2014.
As your marketing and outreach objectives are decided, make sure you have a way to measure progress toward each. You may need to revise or change your objectives over time. Programs often have to make adjustments based on valuable customer and community feedback.
Also make sure your marketing and outreach objectives align with program capacity. For example, if your marketing and outreach objective is to reach 20,000 homeowners with information about rebates and to get 20% of them to follow up within 2 weeks of outreach, make sure your program is ready to handle this spike by having enough staff on hand to respond to inquiries and enough contractors ready to perform home energy assessments and upgrades. Learn more about preparing for a spike in upgrades in the U.S. Department of Energy’s case study, Spotlight on Austin, Texas: Best Offer Ever Produces Upgrades in Record Time.
Energy Upgrade California’s Goal and Related Marketing Objective
- Promote job creation and reduce aggregate greenhouse gas emissions through energy and resource-saving upgrades of existing building stock through three funding sources.
Marketing and Outreach Objective:
- Make marketing kits available for all program partners (i.e., contractors, realtors).
Source: Energy Upgrade California in Los Angeles County Marketing and Communications Plan, Energy Upgrade California, 2010.
Engage both your program’s leadership and stakeholders early in the planning process to determine when you will need or want their input and approval moving ahead. You would not want to develop and start working toward a set of objectives only to find out later that your program manager has different ideas.
Marketing and outreach stakeholders can include contractors, community leaders, utilities, nonprofit organizations, and other groups with which your program might form partnerships. Stakeholder input into your planned marketing and outreach objectives will help inform your analysis of what is possible and can also be a valuable first step for tapping into their support later. When asking for stakeholder input, be sure to mention that input will be critical to helping your program meet its marketing and outreach objectives, and any support provided could also benefit their efforts as well.
Tips for Success
In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote home energy upgrades through programs such as the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, utility-sponsored programs, and others. The following tips present the top lessons these programs want to share related to this handbook. This list is not exhaustive.
Many program administrators have found that launching and scaling up a program often takes longer than planned for, especially when forming partnerships with contractors and lenders. New energy efficiency programs often need at least 2-3 years to launch and become fully operational. Across programs, the amount of time it takes to get to full operations depends on many factors, including the number of qualified contractors working in the area, the availability of funding, the level of stakeholder and partner support that is available, the program’s goals and strategies, and the presence of unique program features that may take time to develop, such as community workforce agreements or loan products. Many program administrators found it helpful to set realistic expectations internally—and with key partners and stakeholders—about how long it takes to get programs fully up and running. And, they suggest celebrating and communicating achievements along the way.
- emPowerSBC in Santa Barbara, California, found that launching its program and scaling up took more time than expected. The launch of the program was delayed more than a year as the program modified its financing strategy from one that relied on residential PACE to one focused on a loan-loss reserve. Following the launch, hiring delays kept the program from being fully staffed for around six months. Contractors working with the program reported that it took three to twelve months for a lead to turn into a signed contract for upgrade services because homeowners took their time deciding whether to invest in energy efficiency.
- The Virginia State Energy Program (SEP) found that it was difficult for its three programs around the state—the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), the Richmond Region Energy Alliance, and Community Alliance for Energy Efficiency (Cafe2)—to meet their upgrade targets in three years because the home performance industry in the state was still developing when the programs were initiated. These in-state programs started with little to no infrastructure in place and had to address barriers such as lack of qualified contractors before they could even begin offering home energy upgrades. For example, the programs found that contractors were reluctant to modify their business models and agree to undertake the paperwork and data collection the programs required. Over time, the programs developed strategies to work more effectively with contractors, such as holding monthly contractor meetings (in the case of LEAP) and establishing written Memoranda of Understanding with contractors to clarify mutual expectations (in the case of Cafe2). Virginia SEP advised that programs’ goals and timelines should reflect the starting conditions and the work that needs to be accomplished in order to achieve program goals.
- Enhabit, formerly Clean Energy Works Oregon, began with modest goals for a pilot project in Portland and then ramped up its ambitions as it expanded statewide. The goals for the program’s pilot project were to upgrade 500 homes in Portland, build a qualified workforce, and test its approach to service delivery. After the pilot, the program expanded to all of Oregon and upgraded over 3,000 homes around the state in three years.
The following resources provide topical information related to this handbook. The resources include a variety of information ranging from case studies and examples to presentations and webcasts. The U.S. Department of Energy does not endorse these materials.
This case study describes Austin Energy's short-term, comprehensive rebate/financing offer to jump-start participation and valuable lessons learned along the way.
In this video interview segment, Yvonne Kraus of Conservation Services Group describes how the program aligned its goal of increasing energy efficiency with the community's goal to avoid building a new electrical substation.
A marketing and communications plan from Clean Energy Works Oregon (now Enhabit) outlines the program's marketing vision and objectives, as well as the strategies the program planned to undertake to meet these goals.
This marketing plan from EnergyWorks Kansas City includes a strategic focus for the program's outreach activities, as well as three core marketing objectives Kansas City set out to meet.
California Public Utilities Commission Five-Year Marketing, Education and Outreach (ME&O) Strategic Roadmap
The goal of the Marketing Education & Outreach (ME&O) Program is to motivate consumers to take action on energy efficiency/conservation measures and change their behavior. The program strives to both increase consumer awareness and facilitate the ability to act and incorporate technological advances or behavior change using all available resources to reduce energy and choose clean energy options. This Five-Year ME&O Strategic Roadmap includes two main sections: (1) the objectives, strategies, and metrics for customer engagement and how these strategies will lead greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency goals of the California Public Utilities Commission.
This document reflects what the California Public Utilities Commission’s customer engagement campaign will accomplish from April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. It also includes goals and objectives, target audiences, high-level approaches and strategies, metrics, and implementation roles and responsibilities for each strategy.
This presentation covers the strategies, objectives and metrics for Energy Upgrade California.
This summary from a Better Buildings Residential Network peer exchange call focused on how energy efficiency could be used to achieve other goals. It features speakers from the City of Orlando and Seattle City Light.
This summary from a Better Buildings Residential Network peer exchange call emphasizes the health benefits of upgrades to make your program relevant to potential partners and audiences. Speakers include the City of Fort Collins, Colorado and Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Greater Syracuse, Home Headquarters.
This toolkit describes how to strengthen residential energy efficiency program outreach and marketing efforts through data-driven, tailored efforts to change behaviors. One of the greatest challenges facing the residential energy efficiency market is motivating people to take steps to save energy. This toolkit provides guidance, resources, and examples for applying community-based social marketing (CBSM) to increase the number of homes that are energy efficient.
This report from Climate Solutions analyzes small- to medium-sized American cities that are using successful methods to further clean energy economic development. Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners that are featured in the report include Bainbridge Island and Bremerton, Washington; Boulder, Colorado; Bedford, New York; Madison, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The report includes details on the how the featured cities funded their projects, found successful models to reach their goals, and to see which new projects are off to a promising start.