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Creative Capabilities Series: How to Find “the One” for Your Program Marketing (Part 1)

Everyone can agree that having the right marketing approach is vital to the success of an energy efficiency program. Done right, how we greet, converse with and nurture customers has the power to break through the countless, all-too-common barriers that ultimately prevent engagement.

Marketing is also the most exciting part of any proposal. Okay, I may be biased, but nothing can be more dessert-before-dinner satisfying than cracking open that deck and flipping ahead to the marketing section. Crisply designed graphics outline the customer data, which play off the segmentation recommendations, which inform the customer journeys, which flow seamlessly into integrated tactical mixes that drive program participation. The ultimate fulfillment: The warm and fuzzy afterglow of customer satisfaction and brand awareness. Ahhh.

But here’s the rub. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated, how integrated or how undeniably brilliant the marketing strategy is. If the execution falls flat, that plan will go no further than the proposal page. How the plan comes to life can be just as integral as the plan itself. (tweet it) And the anchor in that marketing relay race? The creative team. Yet, as important as they are, creative capabilities rarely come up in the utility-implementer courting conversation.

So as you review proposal after proposal, how do you know which one is the one? The one that can actually pull off the marketing plan it proposes? Do not fret. Over the course of this three-part blog series, we’ll reveal the discussion starters that can help the right implementer (and their marketing/creative team) rise to the top.

Question #1: How much of their creative work is created in-house vs. outsourced?

This may turn into an impassioned philosophical discussion, debating the virtues of agencies vs. in-house groups. Yet, most people agree that both have their positive qualities. Agencies are known for their high-quality, creative work presented with multiple out-of-the-box options that get people thinking and talking. In-house groups are known for their expert-level knowledge of a specific industry, brand, product or service and possess loads of experience within that niche. As a result, they can hit the ground running quickly and efficiently once given the green light.

Understanding your finalists’ creative resources can give you a better sense for what to expect. If most or all of the creative will be completed by an agency, you can ask the implementer why they chose to work with that agency. Request to see their portfolio and clients of record. What experience does the agency have with utilities or efficiency programs? And if none, how will the implementer get them up-to-speed as quickly as possible? Finally, how does working with an outside agency affect timing and costs?

If the creative work will be done in-house, you can ask about the team’s design, writing, branding and presentation experience – not just with efficiency program marketing, but other industries and clients. Has the team’s creative work ever been recognized by the marketing or advertising industries? Pick a marketing sample from the proposal and ask them how it came to be. Was it an independently developed concept/campaign or a utility-developed template? What was the objective, strategy, result? What creative best practices do they use?

Franklin Energy’s Approach: In-house and Ingrained

Franklin Energy’s creative team brings nearly 20 years of ad agency experience to program marketing, so you can expect brand-focused, innovative work and dazzling presentations that hit the mark. But we also have 17 years of energy efficiency experience, so by “hit the mark,” I’m referring to the message-brand-timing-budget bull’s-eye. In fact, Franklin Energy’s creative team has been recognized six times in the last two years by the Business Marketing Association (BMA) for creativity and effectiveness in business-to-business marketing.

90-percent of everything we create is produced in-house. Of the 10-percent that isn’t, we work hand-in-hand with a trusted network of agencies and freelancers to help us fulfill our vision – all of whom are deeply entrenched in the efficiency world. For our clients, the result is the best of both worlds: agency-level quality and creativity, paired with deep-seated efficiency knowledge.

Stay tuned for our second discussion starter featured in next week’s post, where we’ll discuss why an implementer’s internal marketing processes can not only affect timing and cost, but creative quality as well.

Lori Szolwinski
Written by Lori Szolwinski

Senior Copywriter
Lori Szolwinski proves daily that her creative depths have no limit. She has a knack for writing words that jump off the page, drawing in readers and expertly conveying their message. Lori leverages her advertising agency background to ensure quality, while producing copy through the lens of a demand side management expert. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication design and advertising from the College for Creative Studies.

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