The water utility market is in its biggest shakeup since privatisation offering the opportunity for water companies to secure new business and drive brand growth. Water supply and the management of sewage and drainage are no longer restricted to a monopoly of regional suppliers, empowering businesses, charities and the public sector to switch providers.
With B2B water retailing still in its infancy, the timing is perfect for water companies to build a reputation as a market leader, disruptor and authority in the new open market. But of course, there are challenges too. Primarily, there is low awareness about these changes and the increased importance of brand differentiation in a more competitive environment.
Strategic video marketing
Strategically planned video is the most powerful tool we have as marketers to elicit behaviour change in our audiences. It’s even been shown in the lab that moving stories cause an empathetic response in the viewer – a chemical reaction in their brains – that increases the likelihood that they will respond to a call to action. (See Paul Zak’s studies).
Read on to find out how to take advantage of the power of video to encourage them to make a switch and drive brand growth.
The opportunity for water utility companies
Despite there being an open market for non-domestic water utilities since April 2017 in England and Wales (Scotland deregulated the market back in 2008), there is still a real lack of awareness in businesses, particularly SMEs. It is thought that these changes will impact 1.2 million business, charity and public sector premises. (Ofwat)
As an indicator of the potential B2B interest in water deregulation, energy switching is increasingly growing in popularity. Last year, the numbers were at their highest level ever with 5.5 million choosing to change supplier, (Energy UK) mainly due to increased financial pressures, greater public awareness and better tools to enable the transition.
Furthermore, this new opportunity could go further; while selecting a water retailer is currently only available for non-domestic customers, it is mooted that the same options could be rolled out to households in the future.
Educate with explainer videos
Video suits the B2B audience because it can get straight to the point with the information they need to make good decisions. That’s why 59% of senior executives agree that they prefer watching video to reading text, while 65% of executives visit a brand website after watching a video. (Forbes)
As there is currently little awareness about switching and managing business water consumption, water utilities’ first port of call is the explainer video. Champions at simplifying even the most complex processes, these instructional videos will be a highly effective way to educate your new target audiences about the benefits of switching to your brand.
These benefits (e.g. the freedom to control costs, improved customer service and safety, increased sustainability and reducing admin costs for multi-site operators) are so much more believable as your audience can see them play out first-hand. Spend time identifying the emotional motivations for your audience here. The driver is not just about reducing costs but rather what does that mean for the decision-maker: peer admiration, a promotion, or what they could achieve with the money saved.
Animate your story
Animated explainers are particularly powerful at bringing your story to life. Here is an example of an explainer our team created for nPower, which informed their audience about how to reduce energy consumption by using an air source heat pump. The animation allows the brand to simplify the pump’s processes and how customers can benefit.
Animation also lends itself to character-driven narratives which can be useful to help your B2B audience make an emotional connection with the film and identify with the characters. This emotional connection is critical to encouraging your audience to take an action. It also offers the chance to inject brand personality into the narrative. Check out this example from cloud computing firm, Zynstra, which shows that B2B content does not have to be dull; the film establishes a problem and then solves it revealing the brand’s proposition or ‘secret sauce’.
Brand purpose films to create an emotional connection
Brand awareness-raising is particularly critical at this time when many companies will be vying for attention. Focusing on how a brand is different, is not enough; the emphasis needs to be on how they are distinctive.
That’s where a compelling brand purpose film comes in, as a complement to your explainer, to help solidify your company as a leader in the market. Emotionally driven campaigns work to drive brand value as well as offering short-term sales uplift or switching.
Brand purpose impacts the bottom line; “meaningful brands” outperformed the stock market by 206% between 2006 and 2016 (Havas). In the context of these regulatory changes, there will be value in stressing your brand purpose and affinity with environmentalism. Video content could highlight the CSR benefits of water management focusing on the sustainability story and environmental impact. Such content will reinforce the benefits of switching, as well as meeting the longer term goal of showing the broader distinctiveness of your brand.
Here is an example from a B2B financial brand which shares the stories of its customers to offer proof of its reputation. These beautifully crafted films demonstrate brand value by telling an emotional story, and rather than detailing product features or benefits, they reveal the possibilities that the accounting software opens up and associated sense of control. Consequently, it is more memorable and adds real brand value.
Are you ready?
It is clear that deregulation presents a unique opening for water companies to differentiate themselves and lead in this emerging marketplace. The water utilities which move quickly to educate and inspire their audiences are sure to see tremendous gains. As marketers, we understand the power of the moving image. Video, at all stages in the buying cycle, is the best method of driving consumers to take action, so there’s never been a better time to prioritise video in your marketing strategy.
If you’re interested in how video content can help your utility brand reach B2B audience, get in touch for a chat.