Education vs. Marketing in the One Call Industry

So, does our One Call industry sell a
product or educate? Back in 2012, we at North Carolina 811 were in active transition of rebranding our logo, web-site and how the users of the 811 system viewed our services. Our education arm was known as the Marketing Department, along with Marketing Liaisons.

Marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” Education is “the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.” After considering how a liaison performs their daily functions, it was determined that education was the driving force. Our Marketing Department then became the Education Department,
which included months of transition to build that credibility.

We educate about the requirements of the law, best practices for underground safety and damage prevention, resources available to users of the 811 system, and we serve as a communication hub between excavators and facility operators. Through education we are, in fact, marketing safety. At the end of the day, our goal is to keep ourselves and our  communities safe through education.

Putting this into practice began with our webpage, nc811.org/education. html. A well-defined education section was designed and created to supply a wealth of knowledge to discover more about NC811, safe digging practices and use of materials to share with others. Next, consistent PowerPoint presentations were created and used throughout the state to educate those who were attending Utility Coordinating Committee Meetings. Informing and educating about the use of the NC811 app has been a great excavator tool with more than 15,000 downloads. We then added our faces and an educational element to our business cards. Every business card has the photo of the liaison along with APWA color codes and quick resource info on the back of the card. Everyone wants that personal element of a subject matter expert in our industry today.

In 2016, NC811’s Education Department attended 597 Safety Meeting/Conference/Trainings vs. 492 in 2015, an increase of 21.3%. We reached 54,637 potential excavators in 2016 vs. 25,435 in 2015, an increase of 114.8%.

For NC811, the rebranding from Marketing to Education Liaisons has proven to be a powerful catalyst. Companies and associations now reach out to us for training and  education. It is amazing how one word can change our direction and how we are viewed in our industry.

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