San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has one of the most robust supplier diversity programs of any energy company in the nation. Their success has been well-chronicled: six consecutive years of $2 billion-plus spend, which has accounted for more than 40 percent of the company’s total spend for five straight years.
The company’s more than 800 diverse suppliers have played a major role in helping PG&E meet the challenges of providing safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California.
PG&E believes its success in building the energy network of tomorrow will come from diverse suppliers and line of business champions at PG&E working together as one team. A prime example is how a minority, woman-owned business executed a successful campaign focused on the advantages of switching to LED lighting.
A few years ago, PG&E wanted to make its commercial clients aware of the company’s energy-efficient products, programs and rebates, and also leverage its energy advisors as a resource for additional savings. The challenge was reaching these enterprises in a compelling way.
PG&E Marketing Communications Manager Jennifer Smith presented this situation to one of her suppliers, AP42, a woman- and minority-owned marketing strategy and communications firm based in the San Francisco suburb of San Ramon.
Smith has developed a synergistic relationship with AP42 over the years. She would conduct an annual performance review with the company to review account, creative and administrative services as well, strategy and tactical execution. In turn, Smith asked the firm to provide feedback on her team’s performance and to evaluate PG&E as a client. This 360-degree feedback helped AP42 and PG&E collaborate on an innovative and successful outreach program to businesses.
“We approached this project differently than some of our other work to really engage the audience with highly targeted programs,” said AP42 Chief Executive Officer Imelda Alejandrino.
Part one of the campaign involved emails to small- and medium-sized businesses illustrating the potential savings from switching to LED lighting. AP42 used segmentation and customized messaging to reach 21 different types of businesses with relevant content in an innovative and engaging format. The email engagement rate exceeded industry benchmarks and increased the number of customers researching energy savings opportunities on PG&E’s website.
Part two was introducing “The Year of LED,” an initiative aimed at promoting conversion from incandescent lights to LED technology. AP42’s campaign used a combination of digital communications— including a series of vertically targeted emails, custom landing pages and a virtual reality tour available via a smart phone app or the PG&E website.
PG&E energy advisors delivered the app-based experience directly to customers during sales calls. They used Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers to lead customers through vertical venues so they could see the benefits of LEDs. The metrics have shown this program to be highly effective at reaching PG&E customers, educating them about the benefits of LEDs and motivating them to learn more.
“AP42 helped PG&E communicate with customers through a variety of touch points,” said Smith. “The use of innovative technology clearly resonated with customers. The overall increase in customer engagement and visits to pge.com exceeded our expectations.”
And to think this wouldn’t have happened without the collaborative partnership between an LOB supplier diversity champion and her diverse supplier.