Electricity experts share strategies for appealing to indifferent customers

ATLANTA, Ga., Nov. 28, 2001 – Although the subject of buying electricity and natural gas usually is low on a homeowner’s or a small business owner’s priority list, some energy companies are successfully advertising to these frequently indifferent customers, a new report shows.

At regulated utilities, advertising consists mostly of corporate image building. But in the face of competition and deregulation, advertising has become even more important, according to the Energy Competition Strategy Report from NHI.

What can energy companies do to pique the interest of uninterested buyers and stand out from an increasingly crowded field of competitors? The article cites a number of proven strategies – as well as some to stay away from.

One tool is Wellesley, MA-based Nexus Energyguide, which uses creative marketing strategies founded on customer loyalty to pique a buyer’s interest. Energyguide reports success using its print-based energy analysis as a customer acquisition/loyalty tool.

California’s energy crisis and last winter’s high natural gas prices also has raised consumer interest in energy. Thus, some utilities are targeting messages more specifically to help consumers understand how they can do something locally, such as conserve energy.

Many companies are tying into the patriotic fervor resulting from the September 11 tragedy and the war in Afghanistan. Says one expert, “The way people are getting the most attention these days is through some form of sponsorship, social responsibility, or social marketing, by positioning the ability to do good by plugging in your lamp or turning on a light switch.”

Other highlights of the report include:

* Green pricing. Green pricing programs are a way for energy producers to provide greater choice to their customers who are interested in supporting renewable energy and a way for utilities to differentiate themselves from the competition.

* Climbing the corporate ladder. As the energy industry restructures and M&A activity continues, executives must develop new skills to continue to be valuable or transferable. Key findings from an international survey about 21st century leadership and management skills carry important implications for the competitive energy industry.

* Focus on IT. Deregulation, the impact of demand on energy prices, and the effort to manage price volatility underscore the importance of earnings to energy companies. Software can help mitigate the risk.

For more information, visit www.nhionline.net.

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