Consumers today prefer companies and organizations that operate with a social purpose. Marketing today must have a heart.
The evolution of technology has had a hand in the changing landscape of marketing. Data and mobile capabilities have entitled consumers to expect the things that once excited them, like personalization. Consumers today don’t care about what you (the company or organization) want; they need something or someone that will give them an added value. They need engagement, experience, exclusivity, and emotion.
So how can we apply this to Dig Safely New York, and damage prevention as a whole?
Naturally, Dig Safely New York has a tie to emotion with its mission – To prevent damages to underground facilities and protect the public through education and quality communication with excavators, underground facility operators, and designers in an efficient, courteous, and cost-effective manner, while complying with governing regulations.
Who doesn’t want to go home to their loved ones each day and night? We can appeal to emotion through this premise, getting more people to contact Dig Safely New York before their planned excavations, educating professionals, and property owners on the proper best practices of safe digging around facilities, and thus, preventing damages to underground facilities and potential risk to the safety of individuals. We want their hearts, not just their heads.
This is why we have begun our newest campaign – There’s a Reason They Call it Dig Safely New York. We are appealing to the public, to dig safely for safety, for family, and for their own community. You may have begun to see aspects of this campaign in 2017. Keep an eye out in 2018 for more multimedia assets like billboards, digital ads, changes on the website, new t-shirts, and other promotional items.
Emotion is a way to draw people in while building support for the organization and associated cause, but we still need to engage consumers and create an exclusive experience. We need to build our own network of what I will call, safety ambassadors. This takes time and a grassroots collective effort. As a small nonprofit organization, Dig Safely New York provides a broad spectrum of programs and services to further damage prevention efforts on behalf of our members. The Promotion and Education (P&E) Department has a staff of nine (9), including myself, working to promote and educate safety. Everything the P&E Department executes fits into a comprehensive strategy that will eventually lead us to the ultimate goal of 0% damages.
From education to sponsorship outreach, every penny is strategized and calculated into a Return on Investment (ROI). In 2017, the P&E Department raised more than $271,000 in offset funds for educational and outreach opportunities, which was 58.7% over target. Offset funds assist the department in providing more for members and customers alike, a main example being the 2017 Excavator Safety Seminars. This seminar series is held annually each March. In 2017, Dig Safely New York saw record attendance at the collective nine (9) events, with 3,672 attendees. The seminar series was also offset by 78%, which was 5% more than 2016, a direct result of sponsorships from industry stakeholders. These educational events are full-day training opportunities with meals. Thanks to the offset funds, we were able to host nearly 3,700 people through the program at only $9.12 per person. For the entire year, five (5) of Dig Safely New York’s P&E staff members were able to train more than 14,000 excavators through these seminars and general Code Rule 753 presentations. The training totaled 2.8% of location request volume, which also set a record at 500,039 location requests submitted to the contact center via phone or web services.
The Painted Logo Program, our unique brand awareness strategy, also took off in 2017 with more than 45, 16’ x 24’ logos painted across the state. More than one (1) million impressions were tracked on these logos at major com
munity events and roadways, giving us an estimated at $0.0014 ROI per impression. Continuing to grow our awareness efforts, we utilize a mobile “billboard” that competes with these static “billboards,” the Dig Safely New York truck and trailer. The branded truck and trailer traveled approximately 8,066 miles. According to the Department of Transportation, on average you pass 173 people per mile traveled on a highway or street surface. That means these mobile “billboards” gave us an additional 1,395,418 impressions last year alone.
Since we live in a marketing age fueled by establishing relationships, Dig Safely New York Field Representatives began laying the groundwork for code office relationships by visiting more than 450 of these offices in 2017. Code officers were met and materials were placed to share with the public, setting the stage for recruiting these relationships to promote our message of safety. The program yielded a higher ROI at $12.93 per visit, with known longer-term investment potential.
Digital marketing has also seen this significant shift in the last half decade. Fading are the days of business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C) marketing; it’s now human-to-human (H2H). With digital marketing rapidly growing and evolving, we have an opportunity to engage with the public and damage prevention advocates in a different, more meaningful way. Information is now at anyone’s fingertips with the Internet being a central part of the average person’s daily life. Now, more than ever, a digital reputation is one of the most important things an organization can focus on.
In 2017, the P&E Department focused on personally connecting with stakeholders and the public through its various social channels with contests and general informational posts, and vlogs to disseminate important information. The website has a planned rewrite to mirror these strategies in 2018.
We also integrated a new online learning management system into the organization— 4iQ Solutions. While the system is a cultural shift for our customers, the functionality that it provides more than makes up for its challenges. This software allows users to create self-serving accounts that can last a lifetime. Users can take advantage of the services and education Dig Safely New York offers within an online platform on their own. Additional highlights include the ability to track individualized event attendance and the ability to register for events, meetings, and courses. By the end of 2017, more than 4,000 accounts were created in 4iQ, and more than 100 events were facilitated using the software.
These programs and services offered through the Promotion & Education Department are meant to build on 48 years of past programs, enhance ties into communities and associations, assist members, provide necessary education, fulfill needs within the industry, and reach new audiences. All programs and services are implemented with only the essential staff — nine (9) members of the P&E Department. I am always amazed at what my staff can accomplish each year and the strides we have taken since I arrived at Dig Safely New York four (4) years ago. Still, I can’t help but wonder how much more we could successfully execute with a larger staff, getting us closer to our goals sooner. In reality though, we all don’t need to work at Dig Safely New York, we simply need to work together. Even if we all have different industry perspectives, we’re certainly on common ground when it comes to damage prevention and keeping our communities safe – so why are we all working independently to achieve this common goal?
Dig Safely New York has been diligently working to foster the collaboration between ourselves and our members to achieve these common goals. We know that we need to work together and transfer knowledge to collectively get a better understanding of our target markets and also focus on the associated marketing. Together, we have an opportunity to do more with a customer’s experience and further education. We have the opportunity to know the moment of need for a customer and service that moment.
This is another reason we are continuously working to improve our technologies, and diligently integrating our members into the enhancements. We are attempting to make not only the one-call process, but other services offered, an easy, fast, and efficient way for customers and members to get what they need. This results in the creation of a personalized, engaged, and positive experience for everyone in the one-call process.
We are a very unique nonprofit in the way we are structured. Our core mission revolves around keeping the communities we serve, the people in them, and the underground facilities that make our entire world work without a thought, safe. I am looking forward to the big plans we have in store for 2018. The goals we are looking to implement, the relationships we are looking to build, and the tough conversations we are looking to facilitate. All will combine as a catalyst, to propel us into our 50th anniversary year (2019), as a strong, valuable, and progressive community organization.
Marketing & Public Relations Manager