It´s no accident that the all the big box stores start putting their seasonal items out months BEFORE you even start thinking about needing them. The utilities and local government agencies who are seeing the highest rates of behavior change are doing the exact same thing: targeted seasonal outreach.
Just about every utility-focused topic we can think of has a “season” that will garner the most attention from your customers. Even a single topic can be presented in different ways throughout the year to match the season.
To be effective with your public outreach this year, consider taking a well-planned, seasonal approach:
Steps for Planning Your Seasonal Outreach
1) Choose ‘specific’ topics.
Try to get as specific as possible. For example: reduce outdoor watering, decrease chemical fertilizer use for lawns, reduce FOG loads during holidays, etc.
2) Choose a target month.
This will be the time of the year when your customers are most likely to be engaging in the undesired behavior. For example, let’s say July is when most customers are using the most water outdoors. Keep in mind that many behaviors may take place ALL year, but try to think of a time of year when you may see small spikes or opportunities for customers to try the new behavior.
3) Now back that up (at least) 4 months.
If July is your highest month for water use, March will be when you start planning how you will reach your customers. What will you do and how will you say it? Depending on budget, don’t limit yourself to just one form of outreach. A solid campaign will include various elements so your customers see it more than once. Here are a few examples:
• Series of Social Media posts
• Outreach booth at local community event
• Local newspaper advertisement
• Press release
• Bill Insert, postcard or brochure
• Blog post
• Radio ad
4) Now add 2 months.
Your campaign should be released 2 months prior to your target month. So if July is your target month to reduce outdoor water use, your campaign should be launched in May.
5) Keep going into your target month.
Now that you set the stage for changing behavior, it’s time to finish up by delivering messages to your customers at the exact moment they may be engaging in or about to engage in the undesired behavior. This is that moment when they see your message for the third time and think “Oh, I saw something about this before. It must be important. Maybe I’ll try that.”
Below are some of the most popular outreach topics our customers are currently tackling along with our recommend time frame for planning and launching your outreach campaign or materials to achieve the highest level of effectiveness:
Outreach TopicPossible MessagesUndesired Behavior Taking PlacePossible ReasonsStart Planning Your Outreach CampaignRelease Your Campaign
Reduce Indoor Water Use
· Take short showers
· Turn off water when brushing teeth
September, back to school time
· Increase in bathing activities compared to summer
· New schedules and habits
· Can, cool and toss cooking oil
· Scrape food scraps into garbage
· Holidays, food and big gatherings
Picking Up Pet Waste
· Scoop pet waste at home once a week
· People spending more time in their yards after winter
· Spring cleaning good time for new habits