Top Takeaways from the #AESP18 Spring Conference

May 29, 2018

The AESP 2018 Spring Conference just wrapped, and I’m back at Nexant now, feeling refreshed, driven, and energized from a great conference experience.


I attended some sessions on marketing and consumer behavior like “Real World Journey Mapping” and “Why Won’t Consumers Act Like We Want Them To?,” but I also got my nerd on with a session on Blockchain and another on Electrification. My colleagues Joe Larsen and Jen Denherder also presented on Nexant’s work with Rocky Mountain Power’s Premium Trade Ally Network. (AESP members can check out their presentation in the AESP Resource Library.) The agenda was stacked with great topics and speakers. Here are some of my key takeaways from the sessions I attended:


On Marketing Energy Programs

  • First, we need to make it as EASY AS POSSIBLE for customers to participate. This may mean:
    • Reducing the number of choices
    • Taking the guesswork out of it
    • Taking a “concierge” approach with customer service reps and/or chatbots helping every step of the way
  • Decisions to purchase and install energy-efficient products are made emotionally, and then validated by the financials. Money is not the only driver.
  • Segment a portion of the market and find the influencer—the person they want to listen to—and use them to get your message out. Maybe it’s a local celebrity or a community leader; maybe it’s the kids convincing parents with materials they bring home from school.
  • Video content is particularly memorable for consumers, but videos have to be SHORT (between 10 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on content).
  • People see smart thermostats (especially NEST) as a status symbol and they like that it is prettier than a typical thermostat control unit.
  • Thanks to technology, personalized messaging is getting easier and less expensive.   
  • Paid ads or promoted posts in social media can be segmented to specific demographics and industries.
  • Try an engagement approach that doesn’t talk about “energy” at all. Concentrate on comfort instead, or the features and functionalities of efficient systems/equipment.


On Utility Marketing Strategies

  • Utilities should engage with their customers on social media during natural disasters and service interruptions as the fastest and increasingly best way to reach customers.
  • The utility-customer relationship is different because customers don’t have a choice, or as much of a choice, as they do with other products and services. Many are aware enough to realize that they help PAY for the programs.  
    • Communal messaging, or evoking personal responsibility can lead to successful engagement in these situations.
  • Real-time feedback on energy usage helps people empower themselves to make better decisions toward energy efficiency.
  • Electrification programs are a whole new ball game that requires some re-education as to why customers would use an electric version of something, especially in areas like the Northeast US where natural gas is so cheap. (The answer is because it’s more efficient and cleaner with less emissions.)   
  • One compelling story around electrification is about Air Quality—reduced emissions is one of the main benefits that customers will care about.
  • Customers may think electrification is all about revenue for utilities, but the message we want to share is that it can help keep electricity rates stable for them.


I can’t wait to see what my team will do with some of these insights. Connect with me on Twitter @Katy_McEnergy if you’d like to chat more about these topics!


Katy McSurdy, Joe Larsen, and Jen Denherder of Nexant at AESP's Spring Conference