Propane marketer locator tool yielding new customer leads

March 1, 2004 By    

The impact of advertising might be hard to discern, but the propane industry is hoping its commercials will give retailers something a bit more tangible-new business leads.

Each of the commercials and print ads urge consumers to learn more about propane by visiting, a redesigned website that includes an easy reference tool to locate retailers in their area.

The Propane Marketer Locator asks consumers to enter their ZIP code and indicate whether they are a new or existing propane customer. They are asked how they want to use propane. And, within a few seconds, they are given a list of five or six retailers serving their area and contact information. It’s that easy.

According to the Propane Education & Research Council, which runs the website, some 1,412 propane retailers registered their 2,240 locations on the list since last summer. Those locations cover 41,797 ZIP codes, or 97 percent of the country.

The search feature has been used more than 18,754 times since its September launch, leading 394 users to ask to be contacted by one or more marketers. The users’ information was distributed among 1,029 participating marketers.

In designing the listing service, the council struggled to be fair to all retailers, says Darryl McClendon, chairman of the Consumer Education Advisory Committee and a member of the committee that developed the locator service.

The committee felt it was important to know early on in each search whether the user was an existing customer who might be shopping around, or a potential new customer. Every user gets what is essentially “Yellow Page” service, with the order of companies shuffled each time a given ZIP code is searched. Some marketers feared an alphabetical list would give some companies an unfair advantage. A complete listing of all companies in the area is available, but McClendon says the committee did not want to overwhelm potential customers with too many names.

“I think this is going to be a tremendous outreach within the industry,” McClendon says. “The companies are going to be able to tangibly relate their PERC dollars to something that comes back to them directly.

The trick now is to ensure that retailers do follow through on the leads they receive to “close the marketing loop,” says Kate Caskin, PERC’s vice president of communications. “If a consumer sees a propane industry ad on HGTV, sees the call to action to find a propane retailer near you, and they actually do that, you can see how critical it is that the propane retailer is on board with the campaign and is in position to follow-up on a consumer lead.”

Apparently, some of those leads are being dropped. Caskin says PERC will try to guide marketers with the follow-up.

“This is a brand-new program, and brand-new programs require new ways of doing business,” she says. “We have our work cut out for us in that area.”

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