U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

How do I craft messages that will appeal to my customers?

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 Solution Center resources:

Topical Resources

Examples

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2013

    This case study discusses Energy Impact Illinois' marketing evolution from a broad outreach campaign to a Òhouse partyÓ approach that brought Chicago homeowners, neighbors, and friends together to learn about energy efficiency opportunities, while increasing demand for home energy assessments and upgrades.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2012

    In this video interview segment, Yvonne Kraus of Conservation Services Group in Bainbridge Island, Washington, discusses why the RePower program created multiple branding and messaging themes.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2012

    In this video interview segment, Bruce Doeuck of JEA ShopSmart in Jacksonville, Florida,  discusses the market segmentation methodology his program used to better understand its audience.

  • Author: Nancy L. Hohns, EnergyWorks
    Publication Date: 2012

    This presentation describes the brand, messaging strategy, and campaign tactics used by Philadelphia EnergyWorks to reach its target audience.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    Building on its understanding of homeowners in Rutland County, Vermont, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont (NWWVT) enlisted respected local citizens and organizations to spread the word about home energy efficiency upgrade opportunities, an effort that helped drive demand for nearly 200 home upgrades in just six months

  • Author: Sustainable Home Initiative in a New Economy
    Publication Date: 2010

    This market research study identifies key stakeholders; builds and executes a survey to help determine the appropriate segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) strategy; and develops marketing tactics as part of an integrated marketing communications plan to help launch the program.

  • Author: Frank Rapley, Tennessee Valley Authority
    Publication Date: 2012

    This presentation describes the Kentucky Home Performance program and lessons learned on testing innovative approaches to engaging consumers.

Tools & Templates

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    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.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    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.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    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.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    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.

Handbooks

  • 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.