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8 ways to use technology to boost a propane company’s image

August 1, 2023 By    
Photo: nuttapong punna/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: nuttapong punna/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

We recently reviewed our digital advertising with our outside experts, and we inevitably strayed into a conversation around image.

“You need to be hip!” offered our digital expert.

My Generation Z digital expert probably didn’t realize that boomers like me associate hip with replacements. And even if I wasn’t thinking replacement, is it even possible for an industry popularized by Hank Hill in “King of the Hill” to create a hip image?

Maybe. I logged into ChatGPT (Is it hip or controversial to use ChatGPT’s artificial intelligence?) and asked it what a propane marketer does to be hip. Here’s the answer it spit out, along with a list of my past columns that address the topics:

⦁ Embrace digital marketing. Chat suggests using social media platforms with engaging content that includes images and videos that highlight the benefits of propane in a visually appealing and informative way. As outlined in “How to up your digital marketing game,” our company has been shifting our marketing resources from traditional to digital outlets.

⦁ Create a strong online presence. Chat says the website should be modern, user-friendly, mobile-responsive and maybe even include a blog. We talked about this almost four years ago in “Refresh your online presence.” In that column, I observed that our then 5-year-old website needed a lot of work. Four years and two website remakes later, we still need a lot of work. For example, our homepage features – wait for it – propane tanks and trucks. Other than being drawings instead of photographs, that differentiates us from exactly zero other propane marketing websites.

⦁ Engage with influencers. Chat suggests collaboration with social media influencers or bloggers who have a relevant following to engage with our target market. This is something we had not thought of before, but we plan to look into it.

⦁ Leverage video marketing. Chat believes that video content is highly engaging, and it can be leveraged across social media platforms, your website or even video-sharing platforms like YouTube. We haven’t talked about this much in previous columns. Our website features 16 short “why” and “how-to” videos; three safety videos; and nine, soon to grow to 13, promotional videos. All of these videos appear on our website,, as YouTube links. You can also watch them directly on our YouTube channel.

⦁ Use sustainable messaging. Chat says marketers ought to emphasize the eco-friendly nature of propane as a clean-burning fuel and its potential as a renewable energy source. Take a look at “Let’s get on the same (web) page” for some tips on how to implement sustainable messaging on your website.

⦁ Offer innovative and convenient services. Chat says this might include options like online ordering, mobile apps, delivery tracking and smart home integration for propane-powered appliances. For more details, see “Bringing the 21st century to your customers.”

These conveniences also require support. That’s why we devote eight how-to videos and two webpages to step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use our online accounts and app. We discussed this in greater detail in “Digital services free up time but require more technical support.”

⦁ Participate in industry events and trade shows. Chat believes that this demonstrates a commitment to staying current and connected with the propane community. We think Chat is right and take it a step further by participating in benchmarking groups, as outlined in greater detail in “Seek decision-making support from industry colleagues.”

⦁ Foster community engagement. Chat admonishes us to engage in community-building activities to create a positive image and foster a sense of connection with our audience.

We have discovered firsthand that a brick-and-mortar presence with community involvement is important.

In early 2016, we developed two highly visible bulk plants along major interstates to expand our geographic reach. The growth rates of both locations flattened out until we opened offices at those sites and began engaging in community activities.

Chat closes by saying that “hip” is all about connecting with your target audience authentically and creatively, not unlike our thoughts in “Cultivate ‘customer intimacy’” and “Think of propane as a delivery service.”

Who knows, as long as it isn’t about fashion and hairstyle, maybe our business can be hip after all.

Find an archive of Christopher Caywood’s columns here.

Christopher Caywood is a co-owner of Caywood Propane Gas Inc. Contact him at

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