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.
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 http://www.captainsofindustry.com/energy-marketing-services/.