Why Don’t More Energy Companies Embrace Content Marketing?

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Energy companies are known for breaking ground when it comes to their products, but that spirit of innovation isn’t always evident in the way they market them.

For all the solar panel producers, wind turbine manufacturers and renewable energy suppliers out there, there are a lot of dense fact sheets and text-heavy product descriptions that are difficult for the average consumer to understand. These are products and services that can be complex, and content marketing could help to bridge that gap.

So why aren’t more energy companies embracing it? From my own experience working with several of these companies, it’s not that they don’t see the value, it’s that they can have particularly daunting hurdles to leap over first.

Here are three of the most common hurdles I’ve seen and how marketers in the energy industry can overcome them.

1. A Lengthy Legal Review Process

The energy industry has always been tightly regulated, but it’s become even more so in recent years. The passage of the Dodd-Frank Act gave even more power to regulators like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, SEC and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to enforce any perceived attempts to manipulate energy prices.

That’s why it’s so important to avoid making predictions about energy prices or making unsubstantiated claims about your product or service.

Something that seems as innocuous as implying your customers will receive lower energy bills in the coming year as a result of your product or service could be perceived as price manipulation.

Most organizations have a legal team to review every customer-facing document to look out for these potential missteps. As necessary as this is, it can be incredibly frustrating. A simple case study can get tangled up in the review process for months.

So what’s a responsible, understandably cautious organization to do?

First, involve the legal team from the very beginning, before launching any content marketing initiative. Communicate your intended plan, including preliminary content pieces, and ask the legal department to share concerns before that first piece is developed. It can be helpful to create a shared document outlining guidelines for blogs and any other resources you plan to create.
This document should spell out your brand’s style, primary buyers, tone, topics, imagery and terms to avoid (such as using “hedging,” “pricing” or “sustainable” without qualification).

Taking the time to gain consensus on these basic matters first will help you streamline the legal review process and help you avoid missteps along the way.

2. Not Fully Understanding Buyers

At times, identifying your organization’s typical buyer can feel like shooting at a moving target. Differentiating between residential and commercial energy users is necessary when it comes to segmenting services, but these categories are so broad they can encompass just about anyone. For B2B energy companies primarily focused on marketing their products and services to other companies, it can be difficult to identify the decision maker.

While the largest companies may have energy managers…