In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas magazine and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on agriculture, addressed by marketing and communications specialist Tammy Day.
Q: The propane industry is now in the second year of its “Blue the dog” national consumer education campaign. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) offers related marketing materials, but generally speaking can you tell us some of the most effective ways retailers can market their businesses to today’s consumers?
A: The “Blue” campaign has the right idea when it comes to marketing any product, service or industry. It is a campaign that takes all facets of marketing into consideration. It provides newspaper, radio, television and web ads, as well as posters, bill stuffers, door hangers and postcards. There are also photos for use in social media campaigns.
It’s clear the campaign was created so you, as a propane retailer, can blanket the market with the message of the benefits of using clean, safe propane.
The same principle should be used when creating a plan to promote your company. It is becoming increasingly important to include more than phone book listings and newspaper ads in your marketing plans. With the increased use of smartphones and personal computers, newspapers (actual print) and phone books are becoming obsolete. Propane retailers should take note of the types of materials and the different avenues taken by “Blue” and utilize the same tactics. Blanket the surrounding area using every outlet available to promote your business and the benefits of being a customer of your company.
While there are still a few options for print advertising available, there are many other ways to promote your business. The attention of today’s consumer is not focused in one place for very long. This means you need to get your name, product and service in as many places as possible for the consumer to see, hear or read. Here are a few options to try in addition to more traditional advertising:
■ Go online and claim your business through online listings such as Google+, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Manta, Facebook or Mapquest. (The list goes on and on, and for a fee services are available that will claim your business and monitor and update the various accounts for you.)
■ Create social media accounts for your business using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Pick a few or pick them all; just be sure to keep them updated.
■ Create contests using social media accounts.
■ Draw attention to your company by creating an interactive experience for your customers and surrounding community using social media outlets. PERC’s Proudly Propane campaign provides a good example with its “Warm & Cozy Selfie” contest. The object is to take a selfie depicting the warmth and coziness of propane. With seven days remaining, the contest had already engaged 1,551 participants.
■ Promote propane and your business by renting booth space at county fairs in your area. Provide a raffle prize, a game or a contest to increase foot traffic to your space.
■ Join your local chamber of commerce to create and increase partnerships in the community.
■ Be visible by sponsoring local fundraisers or sporting events/teams.
■ Target areas where you would like to gain new customers or increase gallons by going door-to-door. You’ll create a personal bond in the area, as well as prove the friendliness of your business’ service.
While getting your business’ name seen and heard in as many ways as possible is important, be careful not to spread yourself too thin. The inability to keep social media accounts and business listings updated can be as detrimental as no marketing strategy at all.
Tammy Day is a specialist in marketing and communications at Propane Resources. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-739-6732.