Jackson EMC has been a client for almost eight years and is the second largest Electric Membership Cooperative in the country providing power to a huge and fast growing area that includes much of northeast Georgia. As a company that is always leading the way in energy efficiency, they were developing a new brand of programs and services under the name Right Choice. Right Choice is an energy efficiency program that includes their new home-building program which guarantees the homeowner energy savings, comfort and reliability, and energy code compliance backed by third party testing. There are also other home testing services as well as free “do-it-yourself” and web-based options for their customers.
Our challenge was to create an “umbrella” campaign for the Right Choice family of products and services, keeping them, as well as the brand, in the public eye on a year-round basis. This campaign should elevate the status of the Right Choice brand to one of superior national quality, inform consumers of energy efficient products and services provided by Jackson EMC, influence builders to become a part of the new home program, aid partner builders in the selling of Right Choice homes (through implied greater value and quality) and provide testing partners with Right Choice analysis business of existing homes.
Strategy/Assessment of Right Choice
We first assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the program and well as the opportunities and threats that may present themselves during the marketing of Right Choice. We’ll not get into full detail regarding the complete assessment, but here is a brief summary:
Right Choice is a value-oriented program that provides guaranteed energy-efficiency and comfort for the buyer of new homes as well as a family of services (many of them free) dedicated to helping customers save money and energy. It is also backed by a company with an almost 70 year history of providing excellent customer service and satisfaction. In fact, the promotion of energy efficient products and services has been a part of Jackson EMC’s corporate culture for a very long time — they are not new to this, but rather have been leading the way for decades.
Additionally, within the current national and international climate of awareness and discussion regarding energy efficiency, global warming and the environmental impact of development, Right Choice is a value-driven option for educated home buyers and owners.
Also, the suite of Right Choice products offers consumers comfort and energy efficiency with new home products, as well as offering tools and audits for current homeowners.
The Jackson EMC service area continues to be one of exciting growth in many ways and the Right Choice product is a great one backed by a great company. And there is a story to tell. One that shows the consumer they can get something that they may have never expected (a guarantee) when making what is likely the largest purchase of their lives. We have the opportunity to build equity and make the Right Choice brand synonymous with comfort, energy efficiency and savings by using all Right Choice products — not just new homes — to promote the brand. By promoting all of the products with an “umbrella campaign,” we’ll have greater opportunities to impact consumers where they are and keep the brand awareness high.
There are tremendous opportunities for the Right Choice new home product, the Right Choice brand as a whole (Home Performance Audit, Home Checkup Services, etc.) and Jackson EMC at every level of the company. The dramatically redesigned website is a major example of the kind of progressive EMC that Jackson EMC has become. The Right Choice brand of products and services, and its success to-date, are opportunities to show customers that Jackson EMC is a forward-thinking company and responding to the needs of your members.
Our continued goal for Right Choice, and Jackson EMC as a whole, is to elevate the status of the Right Choice brand. Every contact that we make with the customer — from the publications chosen to advertise within to the on-hold messages — is an opportunity for the brand and the customer to meet and an opportunity to market, position, inspire and make a sale. We believe the possibilities to extend the marketing of the brand are almost unlimited — and many will cost almost nothing additional.
Based on what we learned from assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges, we developed an Action Plan according to Key Principles of successful advertising — checking our plan against these principles to make sure that we were keeping in line with our goals. From there we developed five key points of the campaign strategy
The Five Key Points of the Campaign Strategy
- Build the Brand with repetition of a simple message
Use billboards, signage, on-line banner ads, point-of-purchase displays, sales sheets, taglines on print ads, table tents, trade show displays, decals, and the new Jackson EMC website to promote the Brand name and message of “Energy Efficient. Guaranteed.”
- Build the Brand by connecting directly with the four main target markets: Consumers, Builders, Realtors & HVAC contractors
Connect through the strength of the sales force, develop a multi-media campaign that connects in a simple and powerful way, use direct mail with messages specific to each business market, advertise via trade publications, cross-sell during events (such as the various Parade of Homes), use the new Jackson EMC website and e-newsletters to further inform the target market of key selling points, and use on-site signage, signs & decals, etc. to help these specific markets sell the Right Choice brand to their customers.
- Build the Brand by connecting emotionally with the consumer
The purchase of a home is largely an emotional decision, so our strategy uses images and copy in print, television and radio that evoke the emotions of attaining a quality home through a quality program. It will take more than “Energy Efficient. Guaranteed.” to reach this audience and deliver this message convincingly. Keep the message simple, but make sure it taps into the emotion involved in buying a home of quality (or improving their home to make it more comfortable). We are talking to a market that wants value for their money.
- Build the Home Checkup Services aspect of the Brand through celebrity spokesperson Pat Simpson
How do we get people to believe in these products and services? The Right Choice Home Performance Test is a tough service to sell on its own. The sales message is not easily summarized. So we had to find a source of credibility to draw on. Pat Simpson of HGTV fame was chosen for his knowledge, celebrity status among the growing number of HGTV fans, and for his comfortable, “guy-next-door” appeal. He would be used in commercials on radio and television, print and outdoor advertising, as well as instructional DVD’s, webcasts/podcasts and other online marketing opportunities. His would be used specifically to help sell the various Right Choice Home Checkup Services, but at the same time, lend credibility to the entire Right Choice brand.
- Build the Brand with consistency
Despite all brilliant marketing approaches, the design systems in place, or the amount and division of budgets across various media, the most important factor in maintaining the integrity of the brand is consistency. This consistency can only be achieved through communication – between marketing staff, the design partners, and any other member given the responsibility to produce a supporting element to the brand. Whether it’s a television commercial, a DVD package, or the cover of a community service brochure, Right Choice must be presented with the same visual elements across all media.
To successfully keep the Right Choice brand in the public eye on a year-round basis. all elements of the branding campaign must elicit the same response so consumers can make a mental connection that these products are part of a family. Each piece and point of contact builds confidence and strength in the whole. Any element bearing the Right Choice name that breaks from its set identity is a compromise to the integrity of the brand and a flaw in the Right Choice personality we’ve all created.
For this campaign, we developed a media strategy based on a given budget with the intent to keep the Right Choice brand in the eye of the market as much as possible on an annual basis. This included, but was not limited to, the following:
- Television commercials
- Radio commercials
- Trade show displays
- Direct Mail
- Newspaper ads
- Magazine ads
- Online ads
- Press Releases
- Home & Builder targeted events
- Monthly bill inserts
- Monthly corporate newsletter
- Sales Cards
- Decals for homes and trucks
- Decals for HVAC equipment
- Pop-up Banners
- Yard Signs
- Google ads (zip code specific)
- Home Checkup Services brochure
- Home Performance Brochures
- Right Choice new home brochure
- DVD cases for the Pat Simpson videos
- Door hangers for inspectors
- Thermostat hangers for new homes
- HVAC decals for HVAC unit
- Online bill paying procedure prompt
- Table tents
- Warranty sheets for HVAC contractors
- Online videos
This campaign continues to develop and expand despite the housing downturn that is being experienced across the nation. And we are pleased by a recent survey of Jackson EMC customers that indicated that 82% were satisfied with the information and services provided by Jackson EMC regarding energy efficiency. The Right Choice brand will continue to be positioned as the leader in providing value, quality, and money and energy savings for new and existing homes. We anticipate that as the nation, and in particular Jackson EMC’s target market, begins to not only expect but demand homes that are guaranteed to be better built and better for the environment, Right Choice homes will be positioned as (yes, you guessed it) the right choice!