The energy industry has a perception problem. Energy has access to the broadest swath of possible customers, most of whom do not inherently trust their energy suppliers to provide them with a useful service at a decent price, according to research conducted by Raconteur. In increasing numbers each year, consumers indicate that they are tired of being treated like a captive audience with no real alternatives. They look for companies who can help them transcend this role, with content that informs them without forcing their hands.
The heavily-politicized and publicized battle for dominance–between green, renewable energy and technologies based on fuel–places consumers in the middle of a tug-of-war, and they are aware of it. This conflict has the ability to taint every level of this vertical marketplace, from the energy suppliers themselves to the service organizations that maintain, repair, and replace the equipment for consumers. By making the greatest effort to engage with consumers honestly and solve real problems, would-be influencers can improve brand recognition and increase trust.
Building a Tide of Positive Brand Awareness
More than ever, customers have access to alternative technologies that put control of their energy consumption into their hands. A recent survey from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative indicates that 84 percent of energy customers see themselves as engaged with their energy consumption. The companies who will ride this tide to success recognize their customers’ needs and expectations at every stage of interaction. October’s CHARGE 2017 Conference in Iceland, a yearly conference for energy branding, emphasized three areas on the benefits of innovation for customer benefit:
- Understand: help users understand their energy usage
- Control: devise solutions to provide greater customer control
- Automate: integrate energy management that improves efficiency across home systems
Amidst this wave of positivity is the constant reminder that every claim, every brand reconceptualization, must be checked with reality. If customers feel like they are being led to a particular position, they will resist. In the current climate, consumer resistance means a lot more than it used to.
Improving Customer Awareness in a Newly Competitive Field
Utilities companies are encountering competition at a level they have not seen in decades. The ground is shifting, converting a norm that once set utilities companies in a field with no competitors into a dynamic industry with at least a few choices. Data and engagement company V12 Data argues that the upcoming generation of energy consumers wants so much more from utilities, such as:
- Outspoken awareness of sociopolitical concerns related to energy
- Options for alternative energies
- Focus on energy-efficient options for consumers
Part of this push is driven by demand for green technology, solar in particular. As solar innovation improves, costs drop, and more energy customers are able to make a decision about their energy sources. Searches for “solar energy” rank highest among energy topics in general. Companies that plug into these types of innovations will be rewarded with positive brand awareness. Utilities content marketing that informs readers about these options has a greater reach.
Staying Ahead of Utilities Content Marketing News
Of all the utilities writing tips, this is probably the most important: energy is in constant flux. Quit reading for a few months, and the foundation of the energy world may have changed. Just in October of 2017, news comes from several overlapping sectors of the energy community. The International Energy Agency releases its yearly report on Energy Efficiency in the world at-large, emphasizing digitalization and integration as the dominating forces of energy efficiency today. CHARGE 2017 tests out the latest technology in electric cars by driving up a mountain, lending credibility to the IEA’s projection that there will be 160 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
Russian Energy Week 2017 identifies energy poverty and insecurity to be the greatest energy challenge facing the modern world. This problem is exemplified by the epic difficulties of the U.S. territory Puerto Rico, which endured catastrophic damage from Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20 and struggles to find a sustainable energy source in its aftermath, according to the Washington Post. Top influencers in the utilities industry, like Tesla, are quick to get their names into the conversation, harnessing customer fears about the possibility of energy insecurity in their own areas with realistic solutions.
What’s New with Utilities Writing?
Companies at any level of this vertical marketplace can take advantage of these utilities writing insights to craft content that solves problems customers are not even aware of yet. Businesses providing products and services for individual homeowners can tap into this innovation by sharing and building content that shows readers how they can cut their energy consumption, save money, increase energy efficiency, and promote their own comfort. Organizations such as the IEA, the U.S. Energy Information Association, and even ACHR News are excellent resources for the latest trends and releases from dominant industry producers and regulators.
Sites like Electrek have nailed the combination, as exemplified in this article they titled, “Tesla’s solar roof to cost less than a regular roof – even before energy production, says Elon Musk.” Writing for a broad audience makes it difficult to address everyone’s needs at once, but the combination of celebrity recognition, innovation, energy efficiency, and monetary savings is likely to attract plenty of interested clicks. The unexpected benefit made clear in the headline tells readers that what they might have guessed is probably wrong, grabbing their attention immediately. That is why BuzzSumo rates this particular article as the most shared within the energy topic.
Writing for the utilities industry demands a thorough understanding of the political controversies surrounding the production, distribution, and use of energy, as well as the content needs and preferences of its almost universal customer base. As a vertical marketplace, the utilities industry contains layers of producers, innovators, and service providers, all of whom have to engage customers in the right way to improve or maintain brand image. Competition is growing fast. To preserve their status within the marketplace, companies should hire utilities writers who can balance readers’ hunger for innovation, efficiency, security, and comfort.
About the author
Holly S has over a decade of experience writing in the fields of communication, journalism and history. She obtained a master’s degree in a writing-intensive discipline and possesses years of academic, professional and non-profit experience in editing and arranging for distribution the written works of herself and others. As a professional writer, she has written hundreds of articles and blog posts on topics including technology, finance, home and garden, health and wellness, food and beverage, travel, and education.