January 18th, 2011 By Jack Morton
In the wake of the energy deregulation policies which remove monopolies and provide households with choices when it comes to electric and gas bills, a handful of new companies have emerged and are out in the marketplace proactively seeking new customers. One that stands out in my head is Ambit Energy – they got mentioned in Fast Company and INC. – not bad. But my post is not about Ambit – not this time.
So, what does all this have to do with branding, particularly through the lens of a brand experience agency?
Well, over the weekend a lady was in my apartment building knocking on doors, alerting tenants that their gas bill could be incorrect and suggesting that tenants could be getting overcharged. That was an attention grabber!!
Her ‘uniform’ appeared to be that of a utility worker; and, she kept flashing her lanyard necklace to prove her credibility and authority on ‘energy issues’.
Minutes later we realized that she was a salesperson trying very aggressively to have us switch our gas company over to her ‘more eco-friendly, fixed rate’ employer. My wife and I began looking at each other and shaking our heads as though we were about to discipline our 3 year old son. We refrained.
But, she essentially had us trapped at our front door. Our exchange ultimately turned into a 20 minute back and forth about how we’re not going to sign a contract until we do some research.
I hope it is now becoming clear why this landed on my radar as a branding issue.
The company, whose name I am choosing not to share as they could (and should) be a client one day, needs a brand experience agency. With this sales strategy, potential customers will not realize the benefit of switching over to their company. Instead they will only become annoyed with the brand….and that’s not a good look.
We all know that new companies are emerging as a result of the energy deregulation polices; but, in the brand experience and consumer engagement world a door-to-door sales strategy to launch a new product or service just won’t work in modern society. The last time I encountered a door-to-door salesperson was down south at my grandmother’s house over the summers during my childhood!! And that was the ‘80s. So unless they’re trying to reach my grandmother’s demographic make-up, I doubt that this plan will be effective.
If these new companies want to engage new customers in a growing competitive landscape, they’ll need to be more compelling than what I experienced over the weekend.
Sorry for the soapbox; but, sometimes it’s so necessary.