There’s good reason to believe that the coming months will see more customers up for grabs than we have seen in years. Higher oil and propane prices, pent-up demand from people who were not changing companies during the pandemic, and a surge in property transfers all set the stage for significant gains or losses. The outcome you get depends on what you do.
Here are a few ideas that are worth exploring with our team.
Fortunately, our business model is ideal for a company like yours. We are running so many campaigns and utilizing so many tactics that we’d be pretty dumb if we didn’t draw some important conclusions along the way. And we’re not dumb. Tell us your priorities, and we will create a plan, based on our experience, that will deliver the most bang for your buck.
We greatly appreciate the trust you place in us. As you will see in this update, we continue to invest in ways to support your business and help you keep pace with the changing marketing landscape you face.
I am always available if you want to talk with me directly about anything.
We’re thrilled to announce that Warm Thoughts Communications continues to grow, enabling us to keep delivering outstanding service and results.
Southern Regional Representative
Prior to joining the Warm Thoughts team, Cayce put his digital marketing expertise to work by developing online marketing plans for hundreds of automotive dealers. He believes the hyper-competitive nature of that industry provided him with lessons that will assist our fuel clients who are looking for a competitive advantage. Cayce, who has a passion for golf, hails from Alabama (Roll Tide!) with his wife and two young children.
Social Media Specialist
Raquel loves helping clients tell their stories and facilitating a lasting impact through social media. She has worked in both the business and nonprofit sectors for many years, specializing in targeted social media tactics, brand awareness, marketing strategies, strategic partnerships and web design. Outside of work, Raquel can be found volunteering for animal rescue groups, reading and traveling.
Silvia supports the consumer marketing work we do for 17 oil and propane associations. (We are the #1 agency in the country in this space, by far.) As if her plate wasn’t full enough, this Jersey girl is working toward her Master’s degree in marketing analytics from the University of Alabama, while also planning her upcoming wedding.
Over the years, Warm Thoughts has constantly innovated, and 2021 has been no different. This year, we’ve already incorporated several new tools and strategies to help to fuel your growth:
We run online advertising campaigns that generate more than 10,000 lead calls per year (Google AdWords, display, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) for our clients.
One of the advantages of our program is that we record all incoming calls, so you can listen to how well your people are selling your services. We can not overstate how valuable this can be.
In May, we launched a new, simplified call-tracking dashboard for all of our online advertising clients. Now, you can listen to your calls in real time and play recordings directly from your web browser. The dashboard organizes the calls by date, time and marketing campaign. It also offers the option to download the audio files and/or export the data, so you can share calls with other in your organization.
From a search perspective, we’ve been seeing an enormous uptick in prospects and customer contacts through the Google My Business (GMB) platform, which is geographically linked. It’s a battle to get Google to list you, particularly if you are not in the town where the search occurs.
To help you get Google to serve up your company’s GMB listing, we have been hard at work creating location pages for all of our clients’ websites. They help you compete for local searches where you may not have a physical presence in a given area, but still provide services there. They’re specifically structured to feed Google with unique information about the locale and your services, in order to influence “categorical” searches (someone enters “oil company near me” or “propane water heater.”) Our clients are starting to rank above huge fuel companies who take a more generic approach in promoting their locations.
We are now incorporating the new Services template for our Gold clients. This will allow your social media specialist to add specific tabs, tailored to your needs, to your Facebook page. The tabs cover options including offers, services, employment listings and more. The services/offers tab will reflect the same offers, products and services as your website, providing more visibility to current and future customers. The employment tab can be boosted to increase your reach, with applications going straight to your email inbox!
In addition, we’ve added a service to manage Facebook location pages for our all of our clients. Facebook allows you to create a separate page for every location within your brand and then to connect those pages to your main brand page. This helps search engines find your business, and also makes it easier for customers to find your location that’s closest to them.
When it comes to potential customers finding your business, nothing matters more than Google’s search algorithm. While it’s tweaked throughout the year, the big event is when Google implements a “core” update. If you aren’t updating your site with Google’s preferences in mind, you can lose tremendous ground in your search rankings.
The good news is that we carefully monitor this, and move quickly to make necessary adjustments. (It’s one of the reasons our clients regularly outrank competitors.)
The priorities of these changes are functional — always with the intention of improving user experience. This current update prioritizes three key variables:
In addition to the above elements, Google is also experimenting with labeling websites that are performing well and websites that aren’t. In the past, Google has experimented with a “slow” warning label for websites that load slowly. On the other hand, they’ve also used positive labels such as “mobile friendly,” to indicate that a website will provide a good experience for mobile customers. While it’s not known exactly what the new Google labels will look like or how quickly they’ll roll them out, experts expect Google to use labels similar to what they’ve experimented with in the past.
As a Warm Thoughts client, one thing you can count on is that we’ll stay on top of any algorithm changes and make the necessary adjustments to ensure your website nails all of Google’s best practices.
The fossil fuels industry has a target on its back, courtesy of those who see “electrifying everything” as the only answer to combatting climate change. We think this myopic focus will backfire, making our energy system more fragile while wasting huge sums of money, and all without achieving the carbon reductions they seek.
We’re proud that Warm Thoughts has been chosen to help lead the fight to engage public support for the heating oil and propane industries as part of the solution.
In New York, we are orchestrating the NY Propane Gas Association’s multifaceted marketing campaign to raise political pressure against a proposed carbon tax, and to avoid restrictions on fossil fuel installations in homes.
In New Jersey, we were chosen by the Fuel Merchants Association to help lead the fight against the Governor’s Energy Master Plan, which marginalizes heating oil and other fossil fuels. As part of this effort, we’re conducting a major poll of voters to identify the messages that most strongly resonate with blue and red voters.
We were also chosen by the National Energy and Fuels Institute (NEFI) to create the NEFI Resource Center. This online resource houses critical industry content about renewable liquid heating fuels (RLHF), Bioheat® fuel and legislative issues. We serve in leadership on the NEFI RLHF Task Force.
Chances are this battle will only expand in scope. If you’d like to talk to us about our strategies, please contact us at Info@WarmThoughts.com.
Tom is one of the most recognizable players in the propane industry, and for good reason.
In addition to handling his Warm Thoughts duties, Tom writes a regular column for LP Gas magazine, facilitates a Benchmarking Council Group, serves on the NPGA Board of Directors as District 6 Director and was recently elected to the Executive Committee. Last year, he was elected to the Propane Hall of Fame.
The biggest short-term challenges are the supply-chain problems that have constrained the availability of tanks and cylinders, and that are sending prices through the roof. It’s causing companies to rethink their sales strategy.
I’m finding companies are more selective about who they want as a customer. They’re reviewing their own customer lists to make sure they don’t have steel sitting in places where usage has dropped too low, so they can repurpose them for bigger users. If they’re smart, they’re taking a closer look at installation and minimum use charges to ensure they are keeping pace with the increases. And they are starting to investigate adding delivery fees, something that Warm Thoughts has helped a lot of companies with.
There’s no escaping the fact that in most blue states, propane gallons are endangered by the narrow, misguided focus on electrification as the only good answer to climate change. We’re deeply involved in this fight in several states. It can’t be won by PERC or NPGA alone, by any stretch. Individual companies are going to need to jump in and help their associations’ lobbying efforts in a way they haven’t really done before, including getting their customers involved so they can generate broader political pressure.
Many aspects of the business landscape are changing faster than ever, in part because of the pandemic. Propane marketers need to recognize that customers’ expectations have changed. They like having the option to either stop by the shop or do all their business online. They need to be convinced that you offer real value, because it’s too easy to hop onto Google and find someone else who does it for less.
You need to pay attention to things like online reviews, search engine rankings, and your social media presence — particularly now that so many people are moving out of cities and into propane country. You also need to figure out how to be more creative about attracting new employees who are not retreads, especially techs and drivers which will be in short supply for the foreseeable future, and use technology to stay lean.
The team at Warm Thoughts is exceptionally knowledgeable, creative, innovative and service oriented. They care deeply about our clients’ results. You don’t have to try to teach them propane on your dime, and they’re not just making “good guesses.” In many cases, they invented or have observed the best practices when it comes to propane marketing, so you don’t waste money, time or opportunity. Plus, they keep learning with every new campaign and client, and bring that knowledge back to you.
How often do you get frustrated by how your phones are handled? In today’s world, a disgruntled customer can make life an online hell. Bad reviews discourage prospects from picking up the phone and cost you business. So does poor salesmanship. Unless you’re the cheapest game in town, you need someone who can do more than give a caller your price per gallon. Your people need to effectively communicate the unique value of your company and get them to sign up.
This fall, tune up your customer service team so they can do a better job when the phones start ringing. We’ve trained thousands of fuel company employees on how to impress customers and manage interactions better. We also teach sales skills so CSRs can turn more inquiries into sales, and upgrade customers onto programs like auto delivery, auto pay, service plans and more.
We speak your people’s language, and draw upon our vast experience in the heating oil and propane space to make our training impactful and enjoyable.
What’s more, your customized sessions are delivered by a superstar: Susan Janett. Susan is passionate about customer service and sales, and her enthusiasm is infectious. She can deliver the training in person or via Zoom, and can provide ongoing coaching as well.