Life After the Tax Credit
Effective Marketing Strategies Take Precedence
by Ric Jackson
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) tax credit
has expired.* Now what?
Absent the $1,500 ARRA tax credit that helped drive energy-efficient window
sales the past two years, window producers and retailers need to refresh
their marketing strategies to promote the benefits of high-performance
windows effectively to homeowners.
Next, companies need to take a holistic approach to marketing those energy-efficient
windows without a tax credit incentive. To assist in these efforts, Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) offers several best practices in its
Demand for Home Energy Improvements” report, including the following:
Sell what homeowners want. Common selling points for high-performance
windows include energy savings and lower utility bills. They won’t be
the primary drivers for every homeowner, however, especially ones that
already have low energy bills. These parties may respond better to programs
that combine energy-saving messages with targeted messages focusing on
concerns they actually have. For example, homeowners may be more concerned
about increasing comfort, reducing condensation or improving indoor air
quality. They also may respond to information about neighbors making home
energy improvements, as pressure to keep up with social norms may inspire
Know your audience. When tailoring marketing programs to consumers,
think about whom you are trying to reach and what strategies will engage
that audience. Consider targeting smaller populations, as blanket marketing
campaigns can be ineffective at influencing parties to take action. Reaching
target groups enables you to adapt messages to their needs and motivations.
For example, early adopters are often a good initial target for programs
linked to energy efficiency. These parties like to be among the first
to try new products and programs, and they have the power to influence
"A recent LBNL report suggests
that marketers avoid the word ‘retrofit,’ as it may not inspire or motivate
Communicate effectively. Words matter. Choosing
the right language for marketing materials can go a long way in influencing
your audience’s perceptions and choices. For example, the LBNL report
suggests that marketers avoid the word “retrofit,” as it may not inspire
or motivate homeowners. Instead, the report says terms like “energy upgrade”
and “home energy improvement” are more descriptive and potentially more
Partner with contractors. For remodeling and replacement projects,
a contractors often is the homeowner’s primary point of contact. Contractors
have influence over consumers’ buying decisions, which makes them an ideal
partner for window marketers. When designing contractor programs, strive
for simplicity, consistency and streamlined involvement. Create simple
messaging that helps contractors educate homeowners about the benefits
of energy efficiency. Offer training on how to communicate with customers
and convert leads into sales. Take advantage of supplier programs that
offer various tools for easy incorporation into your marketing programs.
Reach consumers multiple times. As a general rule of thumb, consumers
need to see product messages at least three times to take notice and be
moved to make a purchase. Frequency counts, as does diversity. A layered
marketing strategy combining traditional and non-traditional tactics will
ensure your audience receives messages a number of times. Tactics may
include print, TV and radio advertising, e-mail marketing, direct mail,
websites, blogs and social media platforms. Other potential tactics include
holding breakfast meetings, lectures and community roundtables. In addition,
make it easy for satisfied customers to spread the word by providing them
with cards or literature they can share with friends. No matter what marketing
channels you utilize, maintain consistent messaging throughout to build
* At press time, Congress voted to extend the tax credit into 2011, but
for $200 for windows and $500 for exterior doors. Visit www.dwmmag.com
for the most up-to-date information.
Ric Jackson is the director of marketing for Quanex Building Products
Engineered Products Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of
© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.