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Understanding what motivates your customers and what prevents them from taking action is crucial to creating succinct and compelling messages that resonate and create demand for your program. Market research and tools like focus groups and customer surveys can help to identify, segment, and characterize audiences to better understand their needs. With information on your priority audiences in hand, you will be able to create with a value proposition that will appeal to these audiences. Value propositions succinctly describe the benefits that each priority audience derives from the product or service you are offering them, answering the question, “What is in it for me?” Consider creating value proposition statements for each audience segment to help you make decisions about the messaging, strategies, tactics, and incentives used to reach them. Also, use the motivations and barriers identified in your market research to develop compelling messages.

Here are a few general rules for developing effective messages:

  1. Sell something people want. Messages about home comfort, cost savings, health, neighbor involvement, and community pride can be effective in engaging potential customers. 
  2. Make your message stand out among the competition and make a strong, immediate, and positive impression on your target audience.
  3. Choose the words used in your messages wisely. Avoid technical jargon (e.g., leakage) or words with a negative association (e.g., audit, which can make people think of a tax audit). Instead, use positive words (e.g., upgrade) and ways of communicating that tap into customers’ priorities and motivations.

Learn more with the following resources:

Topical Resources


Tools & Templates

  • The U.S. Department of Energy's Message Map and Value Proposition Worksheet is designed to help programs determine the key messages to best communicate to priority audiences.

  • This sample email survey template, created by the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, was designed for programs to develop their own survey of successful program participants in order to assess customer experience.

  • This sample phone survey template, created by the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, was designed for programs to use with applicants who have been screened out from participating in a program.

  • This sample phone survey template for program drop-outs, created by the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, was designed for programs to find out why applicants that applied to participate in a program ultimately dropped out.


  • See the steps: Articulate your value proposition for customers; Develop messages to motivate action. These steps provide information on using market research to craft messages that will motivate customers and include common energy efficiency message themes.
  • See the step: Develop marketing and outreach strategies and tactics. This step covers how to decide which strategies and tactics might work best and provides examples of those that have proven successful for other residential energy efficiency programs.
  • See the step: Build on what works and adjust as needed. This step discusses the importance of taking stock during the early days of your marketing campaigns, as well as later in the program, to determine what is working (and what is not) and make adjustments.
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