Relationships. They are an integral part of our lives, both personally and professionally. In the marketing world, we strive to build and maintain strong relationships with our clients, vendors, and each other. Businesses, in turn, have a responsibility to foster long-lasting relationships with their customers. Marketing initiatives are key to this effort. Whether it’s a coupon offer for Carter’s on Facebook or tips from a utility company on how to make a home more energy efficient, every relationship is important – and worth the time and effort to maintain it.
So, what could be more important to a utility than building relationships with customers? Trick question, because it’s the most important thing.
Take energy efficiency. In order for utilities to be seen in their customers’ eyes as a valuable resource on the topic, utilities have to know their audience. Every person comes from a different background and life experience. The only way to market effectively to customers about energy efficiency is to know where every customer is coming from and to listen to them.
For example, my relationship with my utility companies doesn’t extend beyond the fact that I pay my bills every month. Unless there’s an issue, I don’t hear from them, and they don’t hear from me. But that’s because I rent my apartment. So making energy efficiency updates to the apartment building is not my decision. At this point in my life, I don’t need to hear from my utility. But, are my landlords being contacted by these same companies to share with them how to save money by making my building more energy efficient, and in the long run, saving me money too? I certainly hope so!
Utilities need to understand where their customers are coming from, and their specific needs. That means marketing initiatives that speak specifically to landlords and property managers to make them aware of energy efficiency options for their buildings.
It’s picking up the phone when customers have questions about how to make their homes or apartments more efficient.
It’s doing the research to really investigate their markets and find out who is living there, and what those customers’ needs are.
It’s having an actual person on the other end of the phone in times when customers don’t need information about how to save money by saving energy, but when they want to know the timeline of when their power will be coming back after a storm.
Whatever the situation is, it all comes back to relationships, and how they have been created and maintained.
And the strength of a trusting relationship, whether it’s with a utility or a friend, is the most important thing.