Finding the success stories…what worked?
Jan 24, 2016 — I spent the afternoon in the library today further researching what’s been done already in various states about energy efficiency. I specifically browsed the internet for articles and case studies where community based social marketing is used as the main approach to get people involved. I first looked at studies from across the nation and then tried to find information about Pittsburgh homeowners and what actions have been taken around here locally. Unfortunately and also to my surprise, I found nothing useful (about the Pittsburgh situation).
I thought I could start designing parts of the campaign graphics today but like I mentioned earlier, I think so much more time needs to be spent collecting data and research first. I still don’t really have documents that clearly define some statistics about the state of Pittsburgh homes in regards to energy consumption. It would be helpful if Tim could pass some of those along or direct us to a website where we could find that kind of information. I really don’t know the specifics of who my audience is which I think is a problem. Of course, that kind of data could be collected with the survey that’d be sent out with the start of the campaign I have in mind. But even then, it’s hard to make the questions on the survey sound personalized and specific to Pittsburgh when I’m thinking so broadly at the moment.
I did find some information about an energy efficiency program, run by Better Buildings Neighborhood, rolled out in Fayette County of Pennsylvania which is an area similar to Pittsburgh in that the location was big on the coal mining industry as well in the past which affects the state of homes there today. The point I’m getting at here is that I need to define the market position and business model for my campaign. I need to be know the needs, motivations and barriers that my audience is facing. Having psychographics would help — what’s the general personality of these homeowners? Do they have similar interests and traits that I can use to my advantage? What are their values? Do they have commonalities? What are their housing stock features?
I took detailed notes on the Be. Apple Valley program structure which begins educating the community through free instructional workshops, exactly how I’d like to target the audience. The workshops teach community members about strategies they could leverage to reduce energy use.
At the meeting, they receive a package of CFL bulbs in addition to outlet insulation kits. They’re offered the chance to sign up for a professional energy assessment at the low cost of $20! They’re usually around $400 but here is where teaming up with local contractors and organizations help to lower the costs of upgrades. The local contractor will come by to conduct tests and install any additional energy saving equipment. By the end of the assessment, the homeowner will have received recommendations on what to do next. Smaller changes will be the focus because again, the sense of immediacy in changes is important for the homeowner. The long term goal is important but people want to see the impact and savings right away. Feedback is given through personalized report cards. The campaign’s marketing will be done through the use of websites, the city newsletter, and direct mail. Also, the neighborhood’s crime watch block leaders have the ability to go door-to-door to hold conversations with homeowners.
The community meeting had 793 attendees which is a large number! 98% of the attendees signed up for home evaluations on the spot. 16,680 CFL bulbs were installed. The overall estimated value of energy saved was at $437,000. The organization found that having one energy advisor per person made a big difference in the amount of those who followed through with upgrades. Providing a curated list of options for homeowners is also important. Make the process as simple and straightforward as possible! The base package offered to the people during the meeting included an assessment, installation of CFL bulbs and water saving devices as well as sealing around the windows. Something I found that was consistent in the studies I read about was the goal of achieving 15% in energy savings for each homeowner as a number to hit. I think that’s a good goal to strive for and will most likely use that percentage as an expectation to reach for within my own campaign. Lastly, effort has to be put into rewarding the homeowners that made changes. Giving them certificates is one way of doing this. Recognizing their names publicly on websites and local newspapers is another strategy. The competition aspect is beneficial for the campaign. The Better Buildings Neighborhood Program mentioned how in one of their cases, the community members held a meeting to agree on what the community reward should be. At the end of the program, the community got the reward of seeing the installment of efficient lighting in the local sports complex and city hall.
I started writing out some thoughts about the box (the buy-in) I’d like to ship to homeowners after having read more about other programs that used this kind of “toolkit” approach.
I think my next step after this long day of researching is to start maybe building out the survey that will be included with the box and the brief information brochure? I think I want to keep the contents of the box very minimalistic. Since I want there to be an online presence later down the line in the campaign, I might as well get people on a website from the very beginning. I’ll probably prototype what the website will be like. There should be a place for homeowners to check-in that they received the box. They should take the time to set up their account, connect with whoever else is in their “block group”, read about their block leader, fill out a short survey, and RSVP for the community meeting.