As mentioned in last week’s blog, we’ll be covering the different customer touch points that water utilities can use to communicate the value of water to their customers. Water utilities now operate in a catch-22 situation where customers refuse to be kept in the dark yet don’t readily engage with utility messaging. Our goal is to help inspire utilities with some ideas we’ve seen from the marketing world and our interaction with utilities.
While a majority of water customers are moving to online bill pay, there is still a significant portion of the population that relies on their bill as a source of information. The utility bill, as archaic as it may feel, should still be a piece of your communication pie. When discussing the value of water, there’s no better place to bring up the topic than on a water bill. The monthly water bill insert offers you 12 opportunities to engage with customers. They don’t have to look like your grandmother’s bill insert either. Create a graphic you can easily repurpose on social media or the website. Here are a few tips to make your utility bill inserts pop.
One Insert, One Message
You have a year’s worth of bill inserts to spread your message across. Create a simple content calendar to see your story at a glance. Use each month to highlight one cost or one fact. Map out your message to make sure you’ve covered everything. The day-to-day in and outs of the water business become second nature to us. Talk about the purchase of raw water, the cost of electricity, how much a main break costs, how much a sewer overflow costs, etc. Don’t skip a step and let the customer fill in the gaps. Be sure to provide that information.
Less is More
Don’t feel like you have to tell customers everything all at once. Every insert should have a call to action and a simple web address they can visit to learn more. Create a compelling graphic and a catchy headline that will inspire customers to want to learn more. Pick a statistic or fact that will resonate with them. Use “Did You Know” of “DYK” to catch their attention.
Let Your Brand Shine
Nothing will make your city communicator or PIO smile wider than calling them to ask for the city or water utility brand standards. This document will tell you the exact colors, fonts, font size, etc. to use when creating your graphics. Branding is essential because it’s who you are as an organization. Customers should know who the information is from before they even read a sentence or see a logo. Using these branding pieces builds consistency and familiarity with your customers. It will create a thread that will run throughout the story you’re trying to tell across your monthly inserts.
Don’t feel like you have to be creative in a box. There is plenty of inspiration out there. Many cities are doing great work that can be sources of inspiration. Cleveland Water is a great example. Their social posts can easily be repurposed into utility bill insert messaging.
There is no silver bullet to effective communication. Your efforts should be less like a bullet and more like a pie. Utility bills may seem outdated in today’s technology-laden world, but they are still relevant to a portion of your population and should continue to be a part of your messaging portfolio. If cost is a concern, many mail houses now can target specific zip codes, and many can even be more targeted than that. If you’re still not convinced, survey your customers or include a measurable call to action on an insert and track engagement.