A Missouri welcome through propane marketing campaign

October 11, 2018 By    
Missouri marketing campaign showcases the benefits of a propane lifestyle. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council

Missouri marketing campaign showcases the benefits of a propane lifestyle. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council

Steve Ahrens makes a case for rolling out a state-level propane marketing campaign.

The president of the Missouri Propane Gas Association and the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council (MOPERC) has presided over a project touting propane’s benefits in the residential market. The market is ripe with opportunities for propane, Ahrens says, at a time when energy competitors are working to increase market share every day.

“As the national PERC campaign is still being developed, we didn’t want to have nothing out there,” he says. “We did not want to be dark.”

The national PERC has been in transition mode on a new consumer marketing campaign as it moves away from “Blue the Dog,” a two-year effort that sought to improve consumer perceptions of propane. It last saw the national airwaves in the spring of 2017. PERC has stressed patience on a new multimillion-dollar, integrated marketing communications program that includes a homeowner outreach component. That program, designed as digitally dominant and regionally based, is supposed to launch in 2019.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, Ahrens and MOPERC began talking this past spring about what a new state program would look like. What resulted was a $150,000 campaign designed to educate consumers about the benefits of a propane lifestyle through an aspirational approach.

“We know as an industry that propane can do so many things in the home,” Ahrens says. “We tend to forget that our customers are familiar with propane for the barbecue, but not so much for home heat, fireplaces and the rest. We wanted to highlight all of the different uses.”

That whole-home focus is brought to life in a new, glossy magazine called Welcome Home, which Ahrens labels the centerpiece of the campaign. MOPERC engaged a communications partner, Callis Integrated Marketing, to research, write and produce the magazine.

The 20-page publication shows the stunning front portion of a large home on the cover. Colorful photos dominate the inside pages to underscore trendy new-home features and upgrades. Nuggets of information provide readers with the latest on building trends and consumer preferences.

For example, did you know that Craftsman-style homes have replaced the traditional ranch as the preferred architectural style? Or that demand for outdoor living spaces in new-home plans has risen over six straight years?

The role that propane can play in these design and homebuilding features is shared subtly on many of the pages. But propane gets its due on two specific spreads – one outlining how a complete propane home works; another breaking down the many residential applications and benefits of propane.

“It’s kind of a Pinterest approach,” Ahrens says about the magazine. “If someone builds or remodels a home, they may be trying to find elements or remember to incorporate a feature into their next project. The goal of the magazine is to provide a collection of ideas, and propane is one of those ideas.”

Ahrens stocked his 300 propane marketer member locations each with 100 copies of the magazine. He’s asking marketers to disseminate copies to anyone looking to build or remodel a home. He also mailed copies to every homebuilder and HVAC installer in the state. The goal is to build awareness of a propane lifestyle that ultimately turns into sales.

The magazine is one part of an integrated marketing campaign that includes social media, radio and print advertising. Much of the magazine content is repurposed for these marketing options, as well as for MOPERC’s consumer-facing website, propanemissouri.com.

MOPERC is also partnering with a homebuilder on a charity project. Dave Leathers, the builder, sells a home at Lake of the Ozarks each year, with the profits going to charity. He agreed to work with MOPERC on building an all-propane home. Follow the progress at lakeoftheozarkspropanehome.com.

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