Case Study: Outsourcing Outreach and Education
 
Overview
A Fortune 500 public utility company serving both gas and electric customers across 10 states was dedicated to strategic and professional lead generation and outreach and education efforts for their demand side management residential and business programs.  Using employee volunteers to staff and help manage these programs did not prove to be effective in achieving their program goals of an effective, branded, scalable program with actionable metrics.
 
Goals
  • Increase client metrics while improving branding, innovation, efficiency and consistency
  • Provide an opportunity for the outreach and education program to scale
  • Allow company leaders and volunteers to focus on their core work and expertise
 
Problems
Execution
  • Events were staffed with employee volunteers who have other full-time jobs within the company and who were not trained on specific event messaging, branding or protocol
  • Employee volunteers had limited capacity – due to existing full time jobs – to professionally manage, execute and report upon multiple events
  • Capital expenditures were necessary to invest in assets and materials to support operations of the outreach efforts
  • Frequently difficult to secure enough volunteers to adequately staff events
  • Volunteer engagement levels varied by personality and the extent to which volunteers were able to choose dates and events for their volunteer service
  • Inconsistent messaging and branding for each event, depending on volunteers’ experience and expertise
 
Innovation
  • The program had been run as an addendum to the core marketing efforts and therefore limited resources were available to
    • Research trends
    • Discover new audiences or events
    • Negotiate sponsorship details
  • Messaging was not tailored to the audience
Efficiency
  • While the company could maintain a presence at numerous community events, the level of engagement, branding and reported results did not always reflect the company’s high standards for excellence in community and customer service
  • Capital outlay required for event assets was beyond core business needs
  • In-house management of the outreach strategy required multiple vendors, multiple communications and multiple invoices
  • Institutional knowledge was passed on to multiple vendors, one vendor at a time
  • Additional liability/insurance needs were created by using volunteers
  • The lead generation / outreach & education efforts used corporate resources on activities that were not part of the core business
  • Event operations and logistics details – not a core value or strength – became a primary focus 
Solution
  • Retain Energy Resources to manage, execute and report all facets of client residential and business outreach and education
    • Strategic events
      • Discover & present new event opportunities
      • Move quickly and easily into new segments and markets
  • Sponsorship negotiation
    • Review contracts and work toward the optimal sponsorship fee for the desired visibility
  • Branded execution
    • Own and manage and execute event transportation and logistics
    • Insurance requirements covered
    • Warehouse all inventories and assets
    • Seamlessly provide fast, reliable, accountable service
  • Creative solutions
    • Stay on top of trends, both industry & social
    • Research relevant and engaging event displays and giveaways
    • Provide custom/niche marketing (i.e.: Bilingual staff, etc.) tailored to specific events
  • Professional Staff
    • Trained, dedicated, reliable and professional staff to provide consistent branding and messaging across all events
    • Take over all Human Resources aspects including hiring and maintaining staff, staff onboarding and continuous training, and all other staff management issues
    • Translate complex programs into easy-to-understand messages that demonstrate clear benefit to the end user
    • Appropriately engage customers
  • Clear and detailed reporting
    • Create pre-event report for internal use
    • Provide clear, quantitative and quantitative post-event reporting including in-depth customer feedback
    • Maintain an extensive photo gallery with a unique client login to provide the company “eyes” in the field
Results
Strategic Innovation
  • Branding and messaging are on point and consistent with larger company guidelines
  • Thoughtful and thorough negotiations with partners resulted in increased client metrics
  • The client is able to reach a broader customer segment
  • Sponsorships and partnerships are thoughtfully added or removed, based on mutual goals and objectives
  • Event assets are relevant and engaging
Increased Efficiency
  • Increased attendance (brand exposure) by 205%
  • Increased program sign-ups by 298%
  • Increased customer leads by 393%
  • Improved company focus by taking over operational details that leave management free to focus on more important business issues related to customer service and market demand. 
Fluent Execution
  • Staffing issues have been eliminated
  • Lead generation capacity has been increased
  • Based on original market results, the program expanded to another 5 markets
  • Corporate resources freed up for core activities that have the greatest impact on business performance
  • Freed up capital as outsourcing partner provides the capital investment as part of its overhead
  • Consistent programming and brand messaging
  • Complex programs have been simplified for the client: single vendor, single professional relationship, single bill
  • Institutional knowledge need only be passed on once
  • Management and integration handled by outsourcing partner