Developing succinct and compelling messages for reaching your target audience is critical to the success of your marketing efforts. Did you know that the average person is exposed to 2,000 to 3,000 marketing messages each day? Marketing experts estimate that you only have about three to five seconds to catch someone's attention, so your messages and materials need to be able to cut through the marketing "noise" and make a strong, immediate, and positive impression on your target audience.
This section covers four steps to generate messages for your program:
CREATE A BRAND PLATFORM
A brand platform provides overall guidance on what and how to communicate about your program. Often just a one-to-two page document, it should be shared with anyone who creates materials or messages for the program.
The brand platform summarizes the research, knowledge, and goals that shape the program's marketing activities, and includes information on the vision for the program, the target audiences, the program's unique attributes, the program's competition, and the specific wording of key messages that everyone should use when talking about the program. It will help guide your program team on how to maintain a consistent tone, style, look, and feel in all program messages and materials.
Gather your key program and marketing staff and collectively complete the Creating Your Brand Platform worksheet. Make sure that everyone is in agreement on the information in the brand platform and commits to using it for all program marketing activities.
Planning Worksheets: Creating Your Brand Platform
DEVELOP A VALUE PROPOSITION FOR EACH TARGET AUDIENCE
A value proposition succinctly describes the benefit that the target audience derives from your program. It answers the question, "What's in it for me?"
It helps to write out your program's value proposition in first person from the perspective of the target audience. Each target audience might require its own value proposition.
Tip: Use an if/then sentence structure to formulate a value proposition, as shown in the example that follows: "If I upgrade my home to be more energy efficient, then I will feel smart and secure because I've joined my neighbors in protecting my investment for the future."
CREATE A MESSAGE MAP
A message map is another one-page document that expands your value proposition. It sets forth the key message you wish to communicate about your program and any supporting messages that help you make the case to your audience. Keep the following in mind when creating your message map:
- The main message should be simple. It should focus on overcoming the key barriers to behavior change.
- Your messages should make an emotional connection with the audience.
- Messages should sell the benefits, rather than the features, of your program to the target audience. For energy efficiency, the benefits include comfort, reduced drafts, and improved indoor air quality, whereas features include added insulation, air sealing, and blower door tests.
- Identify facts that can support your main message.
Use the Message Map and Value Proposition worksheet to develop a value proposition statement for each audience and a message map to expand on those propositions.
Planning Worksheets: Building Your Message Map and Value Proposition
USE EFFECTIVE MESSAGES
Energy efficiency programs around the country have struggled with developing effective messages to sell energy efficiency programs. Experience to date suggests that it is best to stick to the traditional marketing dictum: "Sell something people want." For energy efficiency upgrades, messages can focus on:
- Comfort: Increase your family's comfort and well-being.
- Practical investment: Make an investment to protect and maintain your most valuable asset.
- Self-reliance: Become a self-reliant American—reduce your energy dependence.
- Peer pressure: All of your neighbors are making home energy improvements.
- Health: Help protect your family from mold allergies and asthma.
- Community: Join your neighbors in supporting local prosperity and reducing energy waste.
- Environment: Protect the environment for future generations.
TAILORING A BRAND FOR LOCAL PROGRAMS
Better Buildings Neighborhood Program grant recipients and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program sponsors can take national brand concepts and materials and tailor them for their local programs. Contact us if you are interested in building off of one of these brands.
GUIDE BOOK RE-ENERGIZES BRAND
Better Buildings partner Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska's reEnergize Program developed a brand book to provide internal guidance on the messaging related to its brand. It includes a brand overview, guidance on the name of the program, and requirements on how to use the program's logo.