Rich founded Warm Thoughts in 1991 and has earned a stellar reputation for creating Breakthrough Marketing™ and sales solutions for hundreds of the nation’s premier residential energy companies and associations. He has been a featured speaker at numerous national conferences, and his columns have regularly appeared in trade publications serving the industry. Outside of work, Rich channels his competitive fire on the basketball court, where he is known for tenacious D, a sweet jump shot, and complete lack of jumping ability. He is an avid explorer, and despite his intense work schedule, he has managed to visit over 40 countries. Rich is a proud graduate of the University of Virginia (Go ‘Hoos) and a former International Vice President of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO). He and his wife Laurie raised four children in Montclair NJ.
BEN GUTKIN V.P., Marketing Services
Ben looks for marketing solutions for our clients from every possible angle. Formerly a Fortune 100 marketing executive, he is an online and direct marketing expert who has advised dozens of the nation’s leading energy services companies and associations on improving their web presence, search capabilities, direct response advertising and return on investment during his 20+ years with Warm Thoughts. He has launched and managed dozens of websites, SEO/SEM and broad-based advertising campaigns across the energy industry. He’s also been a featured speaker at industry conferences and meetings across the country. Ben is a self-described health nut, frequently cooking with kale and quinoa and attending daily yoga classes. He grew up in Canada and doesn’t understand all the fuss and complaining about cold weather.
RICH CARRIONE V.P., Operations
Rich is our Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. Behind the scenes, he manages Warm Thoughts' day-to-day operations, tracks performance metrics and ensures our clients are supremely satisfied with our work. When he's out front, he spearheads the NORA-related work for heating oil associations across the country. And since Warm Thoughts is the #1 provider of NORA programs, there's a ton of it! A 15+ year industry veteran, he's especially proud to be a key strategic contributor to Warm Thoughts' recent explosive growth. Rich's passion outside the office is fishing, which he'll do anywhere there's water. He's fished all over the world, from local waters in New Jersey to offshore excursions in Mexico and Thailand. And that's why he hopes Warm Thoughts' newest clients come from Hawaii and Costa Rica!
ED CARDELL Senior Consultant
Ed brings deep hands-on experience to Warm Thoughts clients, and is a recognized expert in the industry. Prior to joining Warm Thoughts seven years ago, Ed was the General Manager of the heating fuels division of one of the most diversified fuel companies in the country. He guides our clients who want to align sales, marketing and customer service to support increased retention, growth and profitability. He puts together marketing game plans, coaches sales and customer service managers, and delivers exceptionally high-rated training programs. Ed says “I like all aspects of what I do, but I get the biggest kick out of running our Breakthrough Groups- the member’s-only groups of fuel company leaders who strategize and benchmark for success.” When’s he’s not working indoors, you can find Ed cycling, hiking and kayaking, or drinking a good IPA at a bluegrass festival.
Tom Jaenicke Vice President, Propane Marketing Services
Tom's distinguished career in propane, spanning five decades, makes him an invaluable resource for our clients and the industry. He's done everything from driving bobtails to running marketing and sales for Ferrellgas, one of the largest Propane MLPs in the country. He also founded NRG Distributors, a gas appliance distribution company based in Michigan, which was eventually sold to Ray Murray, Inc. Tom continues to hold a mechanical contractor license and closely follows advancements in propane heating equipment and appliances. He is passionate about packaging all that experience and knowledge into helping our clients figure out ways to grow their gallons.
Tom is a frequent contributor to LP Gas Magazine. He facilitates a Benchmarking Council Group for NPGA and is chair of the NPGA Government Affairs Committee. All this activity barely leaves him time to tend to his small vineyard and commercially licensed winery in northern Michigan. Tom also likes to travel to faraway and exotic locales, like our headquarters in New Jersey.
Jason Erwin National Sales Representative
Jason Erwin is a National Sales Representative for Warm Thoughts Communications. He is a digital marketing expert with 20+ years’ experience across various industries. His experience in the digital space includes website and brand development, social media management, search engine marketing, and programmatic advertising. Jason is a native Texan who enjoys hiking in national parks, fishing in the spring and summer, and spending time outdoors year-round with his dogs and family.
Allison Rosenthal Digital Department Director
If a project is digital, it goes to Allison. Whether it’s a website or anything in between, Allison manages all digital projects from inception to launch to ongoing requests. Prior to joining us, Allison had 20+ years of digital experience with consumer products companies in management roles including Digital Marketing Manager, E-commerce Manager and Senior Website Manager, all of which make her especially tuned in to our clients’ needs.
Allison has launched as many as four client sites on the same day. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has a way to go before he can match that launch pace. When she’s not here, you’re likely to find her behind the wheel chauffeuring her three kids around, reading or playing Mah Jong.
Susan Janett Program Director
Susan is an unmistakable champion for the heating oil industry who spearheads Warm Thoughts’ Partnership for Realty and Oilheat Success. PRO$ has operated in 9 states to help Realtors overcome obstacles in the sale and marketing of oil-heated homes. Under her guidance, PRO$ has connected with literally hundreds of thousands of Realtors nationwide, coordinating thousands of in-office presentations, appearing at hundreds of trade shows, establishing a recognizable presence on social media, and getting much needed support materials into the hands of real estate agents.
As a former real estate veteran and award-winning top producer herself, Susan is passionate about helping other real estate professionals, and makes herself available all hours of day and night. Utterly authentic, this “Jersey Girl” always finds common ground, whether in the hills of rural Ohio, downtown Baltimore, or toney Greenwich, Ct. She is a master of social media, with over 4,000 Facebook followers, and helped launch Warm Thoughts’ very successful social media consulting program. When Susan is not in the field presenting the PRO$ program, she is passionately committed to saving animals, as founder and president of Rosemarie’s Rescue Ranch, Inc. (rosemariesrescueranch.com)
Michele Asfalg Senior Account Manager
Michele started her career 18+ years ago as an Account Coordinator for Warm Thoughts. Today, she manages and executes diverse projects for many clients. Michele is amazing at keeping projects on track, overcoming obstacles, and has a fierce commitment to getting things right. She is also Warm Thoughts’ go-to party planner, and helps lead our focus on strengthening our internal values and corporate culture. A simple client thank-you is the most satisfying part of her job. Her favorite superhero is Wonder Woman but her favorite role is Super Mom to her two boys. She cherishes the occasional thank-you from them, too.
Mindy Santiago Senior Account Manager
Mindy loves building great client relationships, problem solving and helping our clients with their toughest marketing challenges. A 10 year Warm Thoughts veteran, she works with some of Warm Thoughts biggest clients, keeping multifaceted campaigns on track. She claims to be particularly good at managing Rich Goldberg by persistently bugging him when he is a log jam on some project ( a recurring theme here.) She is a former high school track star and a big Auburn football fan. When asked what she does in her spare time, she said, “I have two young kids. I don’t have spare time!” That explains her favorite drinks: Cuban espresso and good sangria.
Sharla Herbert Senior Account Manager
Although she doesn’t wear them to the office, Sharla’s tap shoes would come in handy as she keeps the marketing rhythm moving with several of our top-tier clients on their digital and print projects. She’s delighted to bring her many years of marketing experience in account management, client services and consultative sales to them. As if you couldn’t tell from her photos, Sharla’s greatest passion outside work is the arts… music, dance and theater. She enjoys Broadway as well as community theater, where she has been active for several decades, as a performer, producer, choreographer and costumer.
Dan Montero Director of Digital Marketing Strategy
Self-admittedly fixated with the marketing industry, Dan looks to tackle our clients next digital, print and multi-media marketing endeavors with a fresh perspective no matter the challenge. He puts a dedicated focus on building strong client relationships, and believes ‘Lol’ should somehow find its way into (most) emails. As a devoted globe-trotter, he’s always looking forward to which stamp will be the next in his passport, and while his beard may turn many shades of grey as a long-suffering Mets fan, at least this George Mason University graduate will always have that 2006 NCAA Tournament Cinderella-run to look back on.
Liz Ravelo Senior Account Manager
Liz is a skilled marketing professional based in Georgia with over a decade of experience in digital marketing, content strategy, and project management. She is known for her exceptional ability to build strong relationships with clients, understand their needs, and she takes great pride in helping them achieve their business goals through effective marketing strategies.
When she's not working, Liz loves crocheting, knitting, painting, and spending time with her family, which includes her husband Marc and daughter Fiona. They enjoy attending concerts, exploring the outdoors, and finding new and exciting ways to have fun together.
Tammi DiMartino Operations Manager
Tammi possesses all the right ingredients to keep our print production, resource management and scheduling, and trade show logistics baking at just the right time and temperature. Previously she worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and was the winner of a Gold Quill Award for Production Management from the International Association of Business Communicators. Her favorite sports teams are the ones her kids are on, including baseball, football, basketball, softball and soccer. Tammi claims her superpower is humor, which is a good thing since she once unwittingly was featured in a bit by David Letterman, “Top Ten Things You Don’t Want to Hear from Your NYC Cab Driver,” when Letterman, posing as a cab driver, didn’t take her where she needed to go in a timely fashion.
Paola Umana Social Media Manager
Paola lives and breathes social media – helping our clients increase followers, improve engagement, and generate goodwill and community connections. She loves the interactive, fast-paced nature of social media. Outside the office, she’s also keeping pace with her dogs – all 5 of them – a German Shephard, Maltese, Cattle Dog Mix, Border Collie/English Shephard Mix, and a Golden Retriever, Chanel (pictured). An avid traveler, she loves exploring new parts of the world, especially Bali and Colombia. She’s always looking forward to adding a new stamp to her passport – with a good cup of coffee in hand!
Kristen Karam Social Media Specialist
I love helping businesses realize the potential of social media. I create and curate content for my clients to help them grow their online presence and expand their audience.
On the weekends, I perform as a stand-up comedian in NYC. I also enjoy taking my motorcycle out and exploring new sights. When I have downtime, I enjoy hanging out with my cat, Theo, playing Grand Theft Auto + Call of Duty, and reading Stephen King novels. My goal is to read every single book Stephen King has written!
Erin Smith Social Media Specialist
Erin loves working in a fast-paced environment, so social media is the perfect fit for her. She’s great at staying on top of trends and helping our clients grow their online presence.
Outside of work, she enjoys reading and running local 5Ks. On the weekends you can find her watching Notre Dame football or trying new baking recipes to keep from stressing about the game.
Robert Wahlers Senior Copy Writer
If one of our clients’ customers is reading it, it’s likely that Rob wrote it. Rob started with Warm Thoughts 18 years ago after working as a reporter. He has a terrific way of making technical things easy to follow, and understands how to make energy and home comfort interesting to homeowners. He’s written bill inserts, newsletters and direct mail that have reached literally millions of people, and now supervises a team of other Warm Thoughts’ writers. He gets special satisfaction from helping fuel companies—many of them family owned—communicate effectively during crises that seem to pop up every few years. He is also our songmeister, and updates his Warm Thoughts’ version of the “12 Days of Christmas” each year to many laughs, but no recording contract- yet. Rob loves looking after his granddaughter and his favorite quote is by Mark Twain: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
Melissa Hebert Copywriter
Melissa comes to Warm Thoughts following an award-winning journalism career that included sportswriting and later feature writing with a focus on home and garden stories. She loves the challenge of finding the right words and arrangement of them to make our clients’ sites even better. Away from the office, Melissa takes in Broadway shows and art exhibits with her husband, visits family and friends in her native Connecticut and Ohio, and bakes treats for her Warm Thoughts coworkers.
Paul Deines Copywriter
Paul loves writing and copy-editing engaging content, both digital and print. He enjoys getting to know the history and voice of all Warm Thoughts’ clients. Before joining the WT team, Paul was a freelancer writing about many topics, like travel, men’s grooming, real estate, music, film and – most importantly – craft beer. He twice covered Denver’s Great American Beer Festival as a beer journalist. In his free time, Paul enjoys woodworking, barbecuing, reading great books (like the 100-year-old Shakespeare anthology in his photo) and day-tripping with his wife and daughter.
Kahyo Eguchi Marketing Manager
Warm Thoughts does a lot of marketing work for our clients – but we need to market ourselves too! Kahyo develops the company’s marketing plan, content calendar, and promotions, to share with our clients and prospects. In her free time, you can find Kahyo hiking, exploring a new town, or trying whatever cuisine you put in front of her.
Johanna Coxeter Digital Art Director
When she’s not using binoculars to see long distances, Johanna is envisioning ways to create engaging websites for our clients. During her time at Warm Thoughts, she has become an expert at balancing our clients’ needs to communicate their messages—not only through words, but with visual clarity that increases their sites’ overall impact. She previously was an art director at Book-of-the-Month Club® so she knows the value of a good cover. Johanna’s favorite exercise is lifting a glass of white wine, which may explain her creative bent.
Lauren Zintz Art Director
Before joining Warm Thoughts, Lauren almost gave up her life as a graphic designer to become a zookeeper. We’re glad she didn’t, as she adds design flair and impact to our many client print projects including newsletters, flyers, websites, direct mail and ads. For now, her love of animals is fulfilled through more domesticated pets: a long-haired orange cat named Bubba and a lab mix named Bailee. But you will have to wrestle her like an alligator if you want her to share those potato chips with you.
Todd Scott Graphic Designer
Whether building the perfect newsletter layout, designing an eye-catching ad or making a client’s website burst from the screen, Todd has the sharp skills and discerning eye to tackle any project. He has over a decade of graphic design experience. When he’s not creating awesome work for Warm Thoughts’ clients, Todd enjoys kicking back with a video game, enjoying a movie or cooking a delectable new recipe. On sunny days, you might find him taking a jog or playing with his dog Bowie.
Jake Woodbury Digital Technology Manager
Jake specializes in creating responsive, modern websites for our clients while developing new tools and custom scripts to meet their needs. He’s completed dozens of them in recent years. What else would you expect from somebody who used to develop online games with millions of users? In his free time, Jake does strength training, plays paintball, bass guitar and claims his superpower is ripping phone books in half. Of course, those books are getting thinner and thinner thanks to guys like Jake who are making them obsolete.
Josh Hong Web Developer
Josh is our resident web developer who is especially proud of his computer geekdom. He’s scratching his head because somebody just told him he can take his eyes off the screen and he’s not sure what to do. Off hours, he’s either browsing Reddit or sleeping.
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Peter Kang SEO Manager
A self-proclaimed SEO warrior, Peter works to find the best keywords to target and coordinates with our team of copywriters to develop a winning content strategy for our clients. He keeps up to date with the constantly changing Google algorithms and trends in search marketing so you don't have to. When he's not at the office crunching data, Peter can be found honing his photography skills. And although he’s a Jersey native, his favorite state is California – whether it’s taking in scenic views of the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge or trekking throughout Yosemite.
Jason Mittleman SEO Specialist
Jason is an SEO Specialist who is constantly a student in the everchanging field of search . He’s always looking for new ways to help our clients grow, whether it be their google business profile or ranking for your target keywords for your website. He’s in constant communication with the digital team to ensure success with SEO for Warm Thoughts clients. When he has free time, he enjoys watching the next trending show on Netflix, plays games with his friends and wife or hangs out with his family's dog, Dino.
Harriet Carlin AR/Executive Assistant
Harriet is our jack-of-all-trades and master of them all. She manages our accounts receivable and coordinates our client Breakthrough Groups, meetings and training sessions as well as several other administrative tasks. When Harriet greets you at our front desk, you can feel her energy. She claims her superpower is nudging, which is especially handy in her position. She leads our office “Take-a-Walk Tuesdays” and away from work you’re likely find her touring museums and historical houses.
Emerlita Paguiligan Accounts Payable
Emerlita is a perfect fit as our Accounts Payable person. Like her photos, you’ll likely find her smiling as she makes sure our vendors are also kept in a good mood but she can be tough when she needs to be. Previously, she worked at a hospital, so she knows what a real emergency is. Off hours, she’s happy watching Filipino telenovelas or taking Zumba classes and takes special pride in her four grown boys.
Katy Woodbury SEO Assistant
Katy optimizes, formats and posts the many blogs written each month by the Warm Thoughts writers. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom for some time, she was Safety Administrator with USF Holland/YRC Worldwide trucking company. With three energetic kids, she loves to find new family adventures. Katy enjoys being out in her garden or in her workshop. Country life suits Katy—and her love of nature—quite well. Her favorite motto is 'Variety is the spice of life.'
Melissa Sullivan Administrative Coordinator
As Administrative Coordinator, Melissa coordinates our Breakthrough Groups, provides support to our PRO$ program, and administers our rebate program. Supporting the Warm Thoughts team comes naturally to Melissa. She’s raising three great kids and coaches both her daughters’ cheer squads. She is also a Certified Make-up Artist, helping people look their best for 13 years. In her free time, she enjoys concerts with her husband and friends.
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After years of focusing on growth principally through acquisition, Bottini engaged Warm Thoughts to help aggressively grow its business organically.
Warm Thoughts refocused the Bottini brand, and helped the company put together a sales and marketing plan that emphasized growth in customer count and quality. We executed a new digital strategy, including a new website, SEO, social media and pay-per-click for both full-service and discount brands, which dramatically increased leads and web visits. We helped overhaul sales compensation, implemented training and invigorated customer communications efforts with newsletters, e-blasts, and more. We managed merger communications to maximize retention,drove a surge in budget and auto-pay accounts, and helped increased delivery fees on propane accounts with little customer pushback.
Highlights: Exceeded growth goals in propane and sales accounts, dramatic improvement in customer quality and lead generation, 500% increase in social media engagement—all within client's budgets.
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Warm Thoughts manages over 150 websites and digital campaigns for propane, heating oil, and HVAC-related businesses across the country. Access to proprietary data shows us what works best to create experiences that drive leads and communicate your brand in a way that resonates with customers. Data guides us to create impactful “websites that work” with measurable results. Our services include:
Search engine optimization
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Wilson Oil & Propane has evolved from a small oil delivery company to a mid-size diversified energy and home services company that sells oil and propane, HVAC services, duct sealing and discount fuel (in their separate Lawman’s division). Over the years, Warm Thoughts provided strategic and tactical support in the evolution of both the Wilson and Lawman’s brands, engaging a multifaceted modern marketing approach that utilized digital, traditional and social media, sales and customer service training, and coordinated customer communications. We helped pioneer their Homeshield offering, a bundled approach that has supported better new customer retention. They also extended the brand with creative use of truck wraps highlighting their auto-gas and charitable giving programs.
Highlights: 300% increase in customer base, successful launch of propane and discount fuel division, bundled selling approach which has resulted in substantially higher than norm program enrollments (service plan, budget, auto pay, price cap).
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Sail Energy is a new consolidator that so far has acquired five propane and oil companies in New England. Sail faced multiple challenges as it sought to create a consistent brand identity while preserving or transitioning local acquisitions. Working with Sail’s executive team, Warm Thoughts crafted a brand strategy for integrating each acquisition that has facilitated significant retention, introduced new product lines and positioned each for growth.
Warm Thoughts executed a complete overhaul of the company websites, launched SEO, PPC and Facebook initiatives, repositioned service plans for profit, utilized direct mail and ambitious customer communications programs and PR.
Highlight: Exceptional retention of acquired customers, cost-effective leveraging of creative across all locations, 300% increase in social media presence, increase in service plan profitability by over $100,000, TV coverage of “spread the warmth” campaign.
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Social media is an inescapable factor in our lives, and businesses who fail to tap its power are missing out on a significant opportunity to build their brand, engage with customers, and generate leads. On-line reviews are increasingly influential in attracting new customers. Warm Thoughts has generated tremendous success for clients by understanding how to attract more followers to them, and, even more important, engage . We manage your social interaction, with creative posts created just for you, and strategy honed by our success with dozens of fuel companies. We manage your reputations 24/7. We can also help you tap into very effective advertising opportunities on Facebook and elsewhere. We’ve increased our clients’ effectiveness by over 700% . We have over 300,000 people liking the pages we manage, including the most successful in the propane and oil industry. And we can make your social media presence a source of pride and strength for your company- whether we are doing all the work, or coaching your team.
It is much harder to manage your social presence in a way that impresses your audience and gets them to interact with you. That’s not something your typical customer service rep, or “salesperson who is always on Facebook,” or even marketing director necessarily understands. . It is easy to post items that make you feel good.
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Located in southern California, Hyde’s began as a family-owned appliance repair business. Now in its third-generation, Hyde’s has managed to grow their business year after year and continues to celebrate the opportunity to give back to their community with their annual “Celebration of Giving” program.
By partnering with Warm Thoughts for nearly two decades, Hyde’s has improved profitability through service plans, communicated with customers via newsletters, bill inserts, and door hangers and entered the digital marketing space. As a result, they’ve has grown to become one of the region’s largest and most diversified HVAC companies.
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Since forming in 2015, Meritum Energy has expanded and diversified to become a leader in the energy industry. Its entities deliver propane, fuels, oils and lubricants from the Southwestern United States to the East Coast. Meritum has been a WTC client since 2019:
We began working with Warm Thoughts a couple years back when we purchased a group of propane/heating oil companies in the Northeast. As a Texas-based energy company, we had no marketing experience in heating oil and HVAC service, or in the customer demographic of that part of the country. The Warm Thoughts team was able to quickly get us up to speed and help us develop a strategy to market these businesses. After successfully building out a series of websites and social pages, and managing all of our digital campaigns and customer communications, it became clear to us that they were a true asset… so much so that we invited them to take over all of our marketing including our large propane business in Texas, and for all of the acquisitions we are moving forward with throughout the southern region. We consider them to be a true partner and a key to our success.
- Casey Wuan, Vice President, Meritum Energy Holdings
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This 70-year-old company has doubled in size in just the past six years, with nearly 1,000 five-star reviews online. A full-service industry leader delivering Bioheat SuperPlus™ fuel out of Wilmington, Massachusetts, Cubby has been a client since 2017.
The difference between Warm Thoughts and my previous web company is like night and day. They are driving phenomenal traffic to our site. They do what they promise, are exceptionally responsive, and completely get my business. – Charlie Uglietto, President, Cubby Oil & Energy
Family-owned for over 60 years, Lakes Gas is among the largest propane providers in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and parts of South Dakota. Each of their 48 locations operates with a small-town feel. Lakes Gas came on board with Warm Thoughts in June 2020.
Parker Gas is a second-generation family business with 5 locations in North Carolina, and a cylinder exchange program called “Rapid Exchange.” As the propane market has come under pressure from heat pump and natural gas conversion, Parker looked to Warm Thoughts to amplify its marketing effectiveness.
Warm Thoughts identified key areas that would be important to improving Parker’s competitiveness. We completely overhauled its website and digital promotional strategy, which has led to a dramatic increase in visits and leads. We substantially improved customer communications by sending a newsletter several times a year to build relationship and positioning with customers to cross sell appliances. Warm Thoughts also helped Parker implement a delivery fee, first testing the concept to give them more confidence, and then managing all customer communications. We also developed a new website with a promotional campaign to significantly increase traffic to their Rapid Xchange business.
Highlight: Helped implement a delivery fee that has netted them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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For over 15 years, we’ve helped facilitate this family-owned and woman-run business’s offline and online success. Our efforts have used virtually every tool in the traditional and digital marketing toolbox, including organic social media, PPC, Facebook advertising, eblasts, highly targeted direct mail, TV and radio advertising. We’ve built multiple websites and supported their brand’s transition after their HVAC company was acquired.
We’ve worked with Warm Thoughts for years. They handle our customer newsletters and our online marketing. Our newsletters have been a great reminder about what Needham provides, and it keeps the Needham brand on the top of their minds! They are always adding new content and blog posts to my website, keeping it fresh and making sure we stay on the top of the search engines. They really do a great job.
The oil and propane industries are under attack in many states by those who want to “electrify everything.” This approach is flawed and counterproductive. Warm Thoughts is helping to lead the fight to keep your fuel in the energy mix going forward.
Warm Thoughts Breakthrough Groups™ offer the opportunity to learn from our industry’s leading strategists and from top fuel companies as well.
Volatile prices, pressure from conversions, changing customer behaviors, aggressive competition, fewer gallons per customer… Our market is changing as never before. We need to find real breakthroughs that will allow us to thrive in a new world. Breakthrough Groups provide an opportunity to cut through the noise and work one on one with your peers to solve your biggest challenges.
We meet three times a year to share ideas, benchmarks and explore new opportunities in a supportive, confidential and industry-focused environment. Unlike other groups, participation is limited to non-competitors so substantive discussion occurs and honest relationships develop.
Tap into the extensive experience of your facilitators, peers and other experts associated with the program and gain the chance to expand your own horizons and gain valuable insights into the issues you’re facing and achieve real breakthroughs.
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Warm Thoughts leads the way in developing and executing state association programs that generate strong results for association executives and members. Considered the leading marketing and communications provider for heating oil and propane associations around the country, Warm Thoughts is:
the number one provider of NORA-funded programs in the heating oil industry, working with more than a dozen associations
the choice of the most proactive propane associations who are exploring how best to grow gallons
But don’t take our word for it, read what they have to say:
“Warm Thoughts has been a fantastic partner in helping us maximize our NORA funding. They have developed innovative programs that have exceeded our expectations.” - Eric DeGesero, Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey
“Warm Thoughts hit the ball out of the park for us. They basically reinvented our approach to rebates, and in so doing, invigorated my membership, grew gallons and opened our eyes to a new way to approach marketing.” - John Jessup, North Carolina Propane Gas Association
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For companies that offer products and services to the propane, oil or HVAC industries, Warm Thoughts is a tremendous strategic ally. Twenty-five years of experience in the space gives us a unique window into how these companies make choices about vendors and allies and the best ways to reach the right players. Our creative team works wonders to get your products and services to market with the best possible positioning.
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Poore’s Propane and Oil in Delaware is principally a propane marketer, which also delivers oil and equipment service through a subsidiary, Service Energy. For years, Poore’s focused on growth through community propane projects and diversification. It is the largest Blue Rhino supplier in the country, offers tank refurbishing, septic system replacement and more. When Poore’s decided to refocus on residential growth, it replaced its agency with Warm Thoughts who put together a new brand strategy, bringing Service Energy under the Poore’s banner to reduce market confusion. Warm Thoughts diagnosed substantial underperformance in its SEO and PPC programs and developed a new website and social media campaign that substantially outperformed its previous efforts. It provided sales and customer service support. Warm Thoughts also designed Poore’s successful service plan and budget program, and supported its tank refurbishing business.
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5 Reasons Your Fuel Company Needs a Content Marketing Strategy (and what you need to know to get started!)
Posted on September 9, 2019
If you’re familiar with today’s marketing, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “content is king.” But what exactly does that mean – and more importantly, what does it mean to retail energy companies?
Contrary to popular belief, content marketing is not new – it’s actually been around far longer than the Internet itself! Rooted in storytelling, content marketing has traditionally been a way for brands to introduce themselves, share their history and expertise, and ultimately, set themselves apart from competitors. And thanks to advancements in interactive technologies and evolving media consumption habits – content is proving to play an increasingly important role in how today’s consumers get information.
Defining Content Marketing The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
That’s a pretty loaded definition, right? Now, let’s break it down a bit.
Content marketing is strategic. This goes far beyond just posting the occasional blog, or sharing a photo on Facebook whenever you get around to it. Careful, deliberate, and well thought out planning provides companies with a clear sense of what they need to accomplish. Need to generate more leads? Schedule more tune-ups for the off-season? Whatever your goals may be, mapping out your content can help get you there.
Content marketing is all about delivering value. What are the interests, pain points, or even some of the most frequently raised questions among your prospects? What types of content could you deliver to help inform, entertain, and engage them? You can create tons of content, but if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience, it ultimately won’t guide them through the sales process. Make sure that the people who take time to engage with your content are truly getting something out of it.
So now that we know the importance of content to your prospects and customers, let’s talk about why a content marketing strategy is important to your retail energy business.
Improve Brand Reputation In today’s bustling digital marketplace, competition is at an all-time high – which is why it’s vital for fuel companies to work to build trust with their leads and customers. And the more valuable content you can provide, the easier it becomes to build this trust. When prospects read your content, they begin to develop an opinion of your company. If they find your content to be engaging, educational, and valuable, they, in turn, start to associate these same things with your business as a whole. Better yet, content is a way for you to get your business in front of your prospects without the hard sales pitch that some other tactics employ. The more content you put out, the more brand recognition you gain – and ultimately position yourself as the local expert.
Set Yourself Apart from Competitors When a prospect searches online for “heating oil Worcester,” or “propane delivery near me,” odds are, your business will not be the only option. So how can you separate your business from the others and make sure you get the call? Content is proving to be a solution.
The topics and perceived value of the content you provide can be the difference between a prospect choosing your business over a competitors’. For instance, if a prospective buyer is researching the different types of hot water heaters, and your business has a blog about selecting the right water heater for your home, a guide to tankless water heaters, and an FAQ page to address any remaining questions or concerns, they’ll be more inclined to work with you than other companies lacking this helpful information.
Beyond the types of topics you cover, you can also differentiate your business from competitors through your content’s language and personality. Does your content have a serious and professional tone? Informative and fun? Somewhere in between? Establishing your business’s voice can help you create unique content that your audience comes back for.
Feed the Search Engines When it comes to search engine rankings, there is no substitute for great content. The more digital content you have, the more likely you are to match what your prospects are searching for. And the more matches you have, the higher your rankings will go!
For example, creating blogs and articles that address the questions and topics your target audience search for gives you more chances to rank for those corresponding keywords. And with every new page of content resulting in a newly indexed page on a search engine, more content means more chances for ranking.
Influence Conversions Can content = conversions? The answer is a resounding yes. With 74% of consumers preferring to get to know a company via articles rather than ads1, content provides endless opportunities to connect with and educate your audience. And beyond working to build trust and relationships, your content can encourage conversions by giving consumers the information they need to make an educated purchase decision. In fact, content marketing boosts conversion rates nearly 6 times higher than other digital marketing tactics2.
People Like Content! Recent research shows that 80% of people like to learn about a company through custom content. Better yet, 20% of internet users’ online time is spent just reading great content3. The numbers don’t lie – your leads and customers want to read quality content. Whether it be entertaining or educational, leverage your content to speak to your target audience, provide some type of value, and shoe consumers what your business is all about. Give the people what they want!
Getting Started: Tips for Creating Great Content
Create with your audience in mind. One of the most common mistakes businesses make is creating content just for the sake of creating content. Regardless of the tactic – content, social, search, etc. – any marketing campaign needs to be directed toward a specific target audience. And when it comes to content marketing, the key is to be strategic in making sure the topics you choose and content formats you use are relevant to your audience’s needs, interests, and challenges.
Use different formats Videos, infographics, podcasts – while we often think of “content” being written pieces such as blogs and articles, it’s important to remember that content can take many forms. And with people consuming information in so many ways, you want to make sure you have strategies in place for each channel you’ll be using to communicate with them. Consider some of the following formats to kick up your content.
Video Who says content has to be all text? In today’s digital world, more and more businesses are leveraging video to share content with their customers and prospects. In fact, 87% of marketers have already integrated video into their strategies4. Consider giving a behind the scenes tour of your offices, a short Q&A session with your CSRs, or even a quick “how-to” style video. 85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands they follow5 – give the people what they want!
Infographics Nobody wants to read a block of text all the time. In fact, on average, website visitors only see about 20% of the text6. With dwindling attention spans, infographics have become a particularly valuable medium to translate complex data and/or topics into easy-to-grasp illustrations. Combining the best of text, images, and design, infographics are more likely to be shared than text-based content – so you can reach even more of your potential audience.
Case Studies When a homeowner is in need of propane, heating oil, or HVAC-related services, they’ll either A) Ask a friend for a recommendation or B) research local companies online for themselves. And with 9 out of 10 people now researching companies online before making a purchase decision, case studies are proving to be an invaluable asset in establishing your business’ reputation and expertise. While there are several content formats you can use to tell prospects how good you are at what you do, case studies show potential customers how you’ve actually done it, complete with results. Think of these are built-out testimonials. After all, there is no better endorsement than a happy customer!
Be consistent with your updates Content marketing can be compared to a gym schedule – if it’s not performed on a regular basis, both cases will yield fewer results. To be successful in content marketing, you have to publish on a regular basis. Consider creating a content calendar where you can map out the next several weeks or months of the content you wish to publish. When you have a set plan, it becomes easier to keep your content efforts up-to-date.
Digital marketing starts with content. Not sure where to begin? Call in a professional! The writers, designers and developers at Warm Thoughts are here to help.