Reaching co-op members in 2018 means turning up where they might least expect you.

"People with phones are mobile. They're going places," said Mary Ann Cristiano, Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives' director of marketing, advertising and digital strategy. "So, let's get your message where your members are: out of the home."

No, that doesn't mean a return to Burma Shave signs on the side of the road.

Cristiano said there are digital billboards where you can change your message for different times of the day, along with moving messages on buses and trucks as well as mini-billboards inside malls.

She suggested two ways for co-ops to get involved without making a large investment: ads on gas pumps and in movie theaters.

"These are two mediums that deliver messages when you're just waiting for something else. You're captive," Cristiano said.

At gas stations, co-op videos can play while members fill their tanks. When they're done, they can pull out their smartphones to visit your website for more information.

In the cinema, your videos can play along with other ads and previews before the feature begins. "It's a great place to put one of the Touchstone Energy videos and draw people back to your site," said Cristiano. In September, Touchstone Energy will release its new "Super Hero" ad campaign, which includes video, social, radio and print materials.

And don't mistakenly assume members are flocking to your website. When the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives 2017-2018 National Survey on the Cooperative Difference asked members how often they visit their co-op's website, 46 percent said never.

"We also know that the biggest reason they go is to pay their bill or view their account. It's a transactional experience," said Cristiano.

"So you may want to do some soul-searching about why this is. Do you have information that's important to them on your site? Is it current? Is it relevant to your members? And is the content displayed in an engaging manner?"

Touchstone Energy can help member co-ops with cinema and gas station advertising. For more information contact Mary Ann Cristiano, MaryAnn.Cristiano@nreca.org, 703-907-5648.

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