by Penni McLean-Conner, NSTAR
Recently I attended an energy efficiency (EE) technology show targeting commercial and industrial customers. This show, completely funded via sponsorships, created 14 EE projects with a projected savings of more than 4 million kWh.
In reviewing this technology show further, I felt the blueprint for the show was spot-on to reach this difficult market. EE program administrators recognize that the commercial and industrial marketplace is critical to achieving EE goals. This sector represents about twothirds of all energy usage in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy’s “Sales to Bundled and Unbundled Consumers by Sector, Census Division; 2006.” This segment, though, is not conducive to a mass market approach of direct mailings or mass media and, therefore, requires more customized marketing and outreach strategies.
If your EE program needs a marketing boost, consider following this technology show blueprint to yield real projects and energy savings.
Technology Show Purpose
You must define the purpose of your technology show. The show in which I participated was designed as a one-day event blending educational sessions and a robust exhibit area with vendor booths demonstrating EE products. The stated objectives were to:
a) Educate customers on qualifying technologies, including what is coming down the pipe,
b) Drive EE projects, and
c) Reinforce the program administrator as the energy expert.
Critical Success Factors
During an interview with the team that developed the technology show blueprint, they identified several critical success factors:
- Sponsorship involvement. Sponsors paid a fee to exhibit and be involved in the event planning via weekly conference calls. This yielded many ideas to further enhance the event.
- Engaging keynote speaker. For this event, the Massachusetts commissioner of energy’s upbeat remarks set the tone.
- Quality educational content. Speakers for educational sessions received presentation guidelines suggesting they provide general EE technology overviews that explain the benefits and details for where applying this technology works well and where it does not. Presenters were to discuss case studies or examples that demonstrate how the technology features can translate into energy savings for customers. Finally, presenters were encouraged to communicate applicable EE incentives associated with that technology.
- Event promotion. To reach the target audience, the best outreach was via personal contact by account executives to their key accounts. Additional promotional vehicles included direct e-mails to customers, sponsor outreach to clients and outreach through associations such as the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
- Hook. The most elegant piece of the blueprint was the hook for participants. Customers who attended the entire day at this show were eligible for a 10 percent additional incentive on projects started and completed by year-end.
- Technologies. It was important to feature current and up-and-coming technologies. This show featured LED lighting, lighting controls, Turbocor chillers, combined heat and power technologies, green technology, warehouse technologies, variable frequency drives and energy management systems, energy audits and motors and renewable generation such as solar and wind.
Technology Show Results
By all metrics–customer feedback, sponsor feedback and EE projects–the technology show was a success.
Sponsors and customers were positive about the technology show and in post-event surveys asked for more technology shows. Sponsors loved that engaged, interested customers were lined up at their exhibit booths, hungry for information on various EE ideas. Customers were thrilled to see lots of EE technology in one place.
Roseann Brusco, the EE program manager who designed the technology show blueprint, said that the event exceeded planned goals in attendance and cost–which was nearly zero, thanks to sponsors.
The commercial and industrial market can be tough to crack. As you consider how to engage this audience, consider using the technology show blueprint. It provides a framework for customers, sponsors and EE program administrators.
Penni McLean-Conner is the vice president of customer care at NSTAR, the largest investor-owned electric and gas utility in Massachusetts. McLean-Conner, a registered professional engineer, serves on several industry boards of directors, including the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and CS Week. Her latest book, “Energy Efficiency: Principles and Practices,” is available at http://pennwell books.com.