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More like Ikea, Less like the IRS

I love a good catalog. I’m instantly transported to an idyllic place where my house is flawlessly decorated and organized. The throw pillows complement the loveseat (which matches the rug). Even the dog coordinates with his dog bed tucked neatly in the alcove. Sigh.

As you comb through each spread, there’s also a sense of familiarity. You know the brand. You identify with the look and feel. Recognize the products. You know the names, styles, cost, and ordering them is a cinch with those bolded product codes.

Why can’t everything be so satisfying and simple?

Turn the page to energy efficiency programs and it’s a different scenario. Trade allies use catalogs regularly to order products from manufacturers. The brands are familiar (maybe not as amusing as catalogs they subscribe to outside of the job, but nevertheless). Conversely, for programs we tend to gravitate toward a long-form application.

The standard program application is long, confusing, too many words, and lacks clear guidance. Instead of catalogs, they sort of mimic tax forms. Ho-hum and complex. So no, trade allies do not love applications. I’m sure the term “necessary evil” comes to mind. And if it is too confusing or too tedious, they may even think why bother.

This sentiment is evident on the processing side. So many applications are turned in incomplete. Some neglect to provide their utility account number or forgot to sign the paperwork – the most necessary parts of the form. With the amount of information required, it’s no wonder fields get overlooked.

So why can’t program applications be more painless? (Tweet it!)

They can. In 2014, I took on my first application-to-catalog conversion project. Program incentive catalogs combine the simplicity and guidance of a regular product catalog. The critical information for the program is all there, but it’s delivered in a digestible and desirable package.

A good incentive catalog shows qualifying products, in full-color context, helping trade allies quickly identify applicable technologies. A good incentive catalog is like a regular catalog, with clear descriptions, product codes and incentive amounts. A good incentive catalog boosts program participation – the ultimate aim.


What did we incorporate into our incentive catalog?

We invested time and resources in the development of line art. The visual cues allowed trade allies to quickly find what they were looking for. Applying improved too. Each measure contained a code. Icons indicated fields that were often missed during the application process. And to make it a true field tool, we added features like “Pro Tips” and a terminology glossary.


The catalog proved its worth. For the first few months we used it alongside the standard application to get a straight comparison. Missing information on the catalog application was cut in half. Processing time saw a 76% decrease. But the best result was trade ally satisfaction. We received positive feedback across the board, from the ease of use to a better understanding of the program business benefits. 


To hear how Franklin Energy’s marketing team can incorporate incentive catalogs in your programs, request a meeting.


Katie Mueller
Written by Katie Mueller

Regional Marketing Manager
Katie Mueller’s unmatched energy breathes life into every project she tackles and every program she markets. This includes oversight of program marketing for four Wisconsin programs and various programs throughout the West and Midwest. Katie’s expertise extends across multifamily outreach, trade ally engagement and innovative trade ally support resources. As Vice President of the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) Wisconsin Chapter and an engaged member of the national association, Katie lends her thought leadership at various events throughout the year. Katie holds an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.


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