Content Marketing Tips for Clean Energy Marketing Segmentation Campaigns

Big data-fueled market segmentation is by no means new marketing strategy, but it is increasingly being exploited in sectors beyond consumer goods (e.g. clean energy marketing) to serve up targeted messages and content to niche audiences. Despite this positive shift towards brands providing more than coupons and product ads to consumers, the majority of segmentation infrastructures are still reliant on push marketing tricks—not adapted to a new era where people are savvy information seekers, resistant to being interrupted with generic directives. As content marketers, market segmentation is key to all of our content development efforts. But we do it—and think of it—differently.

Though there is always economy of scale to consider, our version of “market segmentation” is best represented in targeted message roadmaps and executions that help our clean energy clients reach their hardest-to-reach microswaths not by interruption, but by influence; providing material that is tailored to their distinct needs and designed to ameliorate their crucial pain points, wherever they are at on their conversion journeys. Our approach isn’t reliant on algorithmic wizardry, but rather on deeper storytelling—fostering authentic client-to-consumer conversations with distinct value adds, whether for wind and solar developers who are simultaneously cultivating investors while trying to get community buy in, or for utilities trying to incentivize energy efficiency updates for niche demographics. After all, the common push for reach and frequency only works if you are shooting in the loose direction of awareness and have low expectations. If you’re a clean energy brand seeking to move markets and change the world, you are going to need a tack that runs deeper than data to ensure that the right customers return to your brand, again and again.

Culled from our work with clients across the sector, here are some of our tips for crafting effective segmented messages and campaigns.

The platform should serve the message (not the other way around)
The platform should serve the message (not the other way around)

1) Make room for the “why”—even when you’re selling the “what”. In clean energy marketing, it’s tempting to talk to your end users in terms of what you do (whether that’s providing cost-par clean power, harvesting the inexhaustible resources overhead, or designing better panels and turbines) in order to highlight your competitive value proposition. But emphasizing the economics of renewables or technology innovations fails to recognize the bigger picture that fuels brand loyalty among niches of consumers—hungrier than ever for the big “why” behind “what” you do. As we were helping one of our wind clients articulate the value of their smaller, more efficient turbines among community audiences, we took their product-focused position on an infographic journey, matching needs and pain points to community health-focused messages to “bring clean, affordable energy home”. The result was that our client was able to sell out of their product for the subsequent year.

2) Harness good, ol’ fashioned, word-of-mouth sharing. Especially in the epoch of cross-channel campaigns, there’s significant power in the human distribution engine. When your brand is trying to reach valuable players with messages to augment awareness or close sales, it’s key to have representative stakeholders on your team—empowered, they will evangelize on your behalf to their peers (who are disproportionately likely to be your microaudiences, according to numerous social studies in “sorting”). Having an external advisory group who helped vet, refine, and share targeted brand messages amongst their networks was a crucial component in how we helped an energy consulting firm become the global thought leader among audiences interested in the smart grid (and grow their business by 15%) in one year.

3) The platform should serve the message (not the other way around). As new platforms and channels for sharing information are launched by the day, it’s easy to get swept up in snake oil promises of deeper engagement and more conversions with less effort. In our experience, the best way to increase conversions among niche audiences is to stay platform-agnostic and reallocate focus on getting the message right first—then determining the platform which has the lowest barrier for entry for its delivery. For a client looking to move the political gridlock in Washington around climate change, we crafted a strategy to entice a moderate-to-conservative set of global business leaders to rally behind tackling climate change. This came to life framed as “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities in the 21st century (and simply the right thing to do)”, served up in declaration form on our client’s website for quick and easy sign-ons. The result was that the declaration was signed by CEOs at over 800 global brands—plus consumers around the world—and made it to Washington, where President Obama referenced it to underscore the business community’s support of new rules to limit carbon pollution nationwide.

Want to learn more about how we help our clients in the clean energy space reach and influence niche audiences? Visit

Healthcare marketing based on great content versus interruption: a better way to connect with patients.

While healthcare marketing still primarily employs ads that blare from every possible source of paid media, the tendency of today’s consumers to tune out these ads is only accelerating. When people are “targeted” with ads, they take evasive action. Instead, information seekers want to know how to deal with a disease (their own or a loved ones), find a cure, or simply stay healthy. So of course they do a Google search. Based on Captains of Industry’s experience, here are five ways to look differently at content marketing for healthcare in order to raise your brand’s visibility and build a deeper connection with customers.

Focus on quality first. How quickly and easily a healthcare brand can be found via a search has less to do with SEO, and more to do with the actual quality of the content offered – especially since Google has once again changed their search algorithms to favor real quality and depth of knowledge versus the junk often spewed from content farms.

Put yourself in the patients’ shoes. If you were a patient, what would you really want to know? Avoid the hard sell completely and focus on providing a genuinely useful depth of information on the medical condition that relates specifically to your product or service. The Mayo clinic does a nice job with their prostate cancer information center (part of a range of resources for patients dealing with various conditions). Their site provides a comprehensive resource of helpful information on symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, preparing for your appointment, tests and diagnosis, treatments and drugs, alternative medicine, coping and support, and prevention. It’s a lot to read through, but wouldn’t you want all that and even more if you were diagnosed with prostate cancer? It’s not a coincidence that the Mayo clinic was the only hospital on page one of my Google search for “prostate cancer.

Tell the right story (and sometimes let it find you).  Marketing firms tend to gush about storytelling as if it had just been invented. Of course you need storytelling, but you first have to find the right story – the one that will resonate with the people who you most want to connect with. This process typically starts with a research project that determines the mindset of customers, and how your product or service can solve their problem. I’ve seen countless reports and spreadsheets that deliver tons of details and data on customers; gathering all this is wise, and it never hurts to know more. But often these processes miss something incredibly valuable that can’t be envisioned through a database: magic. Magic happens when you listen very, very carefully and look for unexpected twists and turns as the story develops. For example, when Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer-prize winning historian, set out to write a the definitive biography of Abraham Lincoln, her research led her to a whole new and far more fascinating story about the Team of Rivals who made up Lincoln’s cabinet and helped him win the Civil War. Goodwin’s ability to listen, and let the story find her, helped her create a classic. This approach has many applications in healthcare. For example, when Captains sought to create a campaign focused on a product that made it easy for patients to remember to take their medications, we found the story was far more compelling when told from the perspective of a patient’s granddaughter. The story was about her and how much she cared for her grandpa, versus a story about forcing gramps to take his pills. You’ll know when the right story has found you when you can’t stop thinking about it. If the story is that memorable to you, it will be memorable to your customers.

Create a content publishing calendar that maps to your customers’ journey of understanding. The key is to provide your customers with access to the right pieces of content at the right times, based on where they are in their level of understanding. You have to meet customesr where they are, and gradually over time provide them with knowledge-building tools that will help them reach the conclusion that your product or service is of value to them. For example, let’s say your company makes a drug for pediatric asthma patients. You already have a sales force that’s providing doctors with brochures and other sales tools, but you know that parents are actively searching for better solutions as well. So, first, you have to know what level of knowledge most parents have when they first learn their child suffers from asthma. They’re likely at a very early stage on their journey, and lack the basic knowledge about the various treatment options. For this audience, at this stage of learning, you might create an e-book or video primer for parents that offers basic education on asthma, its causes, and typical treatments. Other parents will already have this base level of knowledge, and they should have their own place on the content roadmap, and unique content tailored to their level of understanding. A good content roadmap will be very comprehensive, and cover the full spectrum of phases each parent will go through as they learn to provide their child with the best care possible. This roadmap should then be put in a calendar – month by month, quarter by quarter – with content launched in a way that’s coordinated and integrated with your other marketing activities.

To sum up, it’s time for healthcare marketing to move past short, catchy headlines and ads that interrupt, and instead rely on great content that today’s information seekers are hungry for.

Delivering Content Through Enchanted Objects

When we (or anyone in the space) talks about content marketing or delivering content to your audience, there’s an implicit assumption that the vast majority of that content will be served up and consumed on a screen—PC, laptop, tablet, phone. But what about via the Internet of Things?

Okay, you say. I’ve heard of this “Internet of Things” thing.  But what the heck is it? David Rose can tell you. See his interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:

David coined the term “enchanted objects” a couple of years back to encapsulate any device that uses technology to communicate with us in a less computer-y way. Need a reminder to take your medication? How about an Internet-enabled cap on the bottle that glows, then beeps, and if you still forget, texts you—or a family member? It’s called GloCaps and it’s been around for 5+ years. Certainly devices from Nest and others fall under this category.

And by the way—it’s all content. Content that is designed to be effective, meet us where we are, seamlessly integrate into our existing lives, encourage action. In a way that feels natural, organic, not techy. And especially not spammy. Which should be the goal of any good content marketer. Delivering content via the appropriate platform or channel is important here.

The more we fit content seamlessly into our audience’s lives, the better it is for everyone. Are my laptop, tablet, and smartphone part of my life? Absolutely. But those are three objects out of the hundreds (or more) I interact with every day. Content beyond-the-screen is something we’re starting to think about, and I am fascinated to see what others are beginning to do out there. A lot of this, I suspect, will initially be translations of traditional content applied to new media (that “media” being objects of all kinds). Yep, we’ll probably be seeing screens on everything for a while. But then the innovations will come. And I think there is a huge opportunity for marketers (and communicators of all kinds) to deliver content that will be appreciated via these enchanted objects.

At the end of the day, of course, it’s about telling a great story, being relevant, being welcomed because your content is desirable. When I chatted with David this morning (via text of course) we talked about the delicious irony that the enchanted object that brought him to Jon Stewart was a book. Printed on paper. Somewhere up there, Gutenberg is smiling.