At this past Water Quality Association conference, I issued a challenge to Larry Deutsch, the director of communications for WQA.

The challenge was to put together an easy-to-use direct mail program for water conditioning dealers to co-brand their dealership with National Drinking Water Week (NDWW) and the WQA. This is not only a great opportunity for dealers to elevate their dealership and become “bigger” than a single entity, but, as I explained to Larry, for a WQA member, it’s a tangible benefit of membership.

I am proud to say to Larry and the WQA communications team came through and this week, all WQA members got an email from WQA with a print-ready, consumer-directed NDWW postcard which can be downloaded, customized with company logo and contact information and mailed.

This is a fabulous first step in what can become a series of educational tools that can help a dealer professionalize the quality of their marketing materials. Now for next year, Larry — new challenge — we have to make a couple of changes to make the card more meaningful to the dealers’ bottom line.

Direct marketing response is built on four key factors:

  • List
  • Creative
  • Offer
  • Timing

List — Mailing to all households in a given area is not the best way to go, rather targeting home owners who can afford to buy a system will give the dealer a better bang for his buck. While we want to be altruistic and inform everyone about NDWW, everyone is not our target when we are footing the bill.

Offer — The goal of the direct mail is to brand, create awareness and drive a response. Branding with both NDWW and WQA is great for an individual dealer and for the consumer, but actual response is driven by the offer, as well as an expiration date to drive urgency in response

Timing — NDWW is a perfect time to promote water treatment systems. Given time, this can become a yearly water system sales week — kind of like back to school in retail.

Creative — I think the verbiage on the card sets a perfect tone for the message that in-home water treatment is the final barrier. I also like the phrase “It’s Time to Think About the Water You Drink!”

Just need to figure out a way to get that offer in there.

One last thought: Dealers can get some great press coverage by contacting their local media about NDWW and how they are playing a part in this national initiative. This is also something to feature prominently on Facebook and LinkedIn pages. The American Water Works Association has a series of press releases that dealers can download and customize here.

Incorporating these press releases into their NDWW strategy gives dealers an integrated marketing opportunity that will bring them great branding exposure in both the general press and social media.