The Hidden Costs of Free Outreach

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Utilities and local government agencies across the country share many of the same messages to their customers.  For many of these universal messages, like water or energy conservation, there are a typically few free outreach options, usually in the form of a printable brochure or flyer.  Typically, utilities can find these materials through their state’s regulatory agencies or the federal agencies like the EPA.

There is one obvious benefit to taking advantage of these free outreach materials: cost.  All utilities are looking for ways to save a few bucks when it comes to outreach.  But before distributing these free outreach materials in your local community, you should consider a few of the potential downfalls:

The Hidden Costs of Free Outreach
1. Reduce Readership:

Free materials may include the overall messaging you need, but it won’t garner the attention that the same message would with local flair.  Outreach materials with a local element will receive greater readership and response.

2. Reduce Trust:

Though the essence of the free outreach material might check a few boxes for you in terms of delivering a general message, it may also include information that doesn’t apply to your community.  Typically, you won’t be able to edit this information, putting you in a position of delivering confusing or inaccurate information, reducing overall customer trust.

3. Increase “Tune Out”:

The unfortunate result of reduced customer trust is a higher likelihood of tuning out of any future outreach efforts.  If a customer feels that you aren’t communicating with them personally, they no longer feel the need to listen to what you have to say. Check out these tips for decreasing customer tune out!

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