Tap water has a great origin story. In the early 1900s, public water systems began routinely disinfecting drinking water supplies. This turned out to be critical in the reduction of waterborne diseases.
Water has always been an innovative industry. Imagine if routine disinfection of drinking water had been met with resistance, or hadn’t been thought of at all! At Master Meter, Inc., we know innovation is necessary to solve challenges.
Unfortunately, water utilities have long relied on the marketing strategy of less is more. We tell ourselves that as long as we continue the legacy of providing safe and reliable water services to our customers, we don’t need to be out front telling the story of water. We make the assumption that customers will believe that the water coming out of their taps is safe and reliable. More and more, we’re realizing this assumption is faulty.
As internet wisdom will tell you, if you don’t tell your story, someone else will. Sure enough, in the 1970s, bottled water companies started selling the story of drinking water to our customers. Look at any large bottled water company’s website, and you will see statements about the purity and the delicious taste of their water. You may also see background images of lush forests, beautiful mountains, and happy families.
Early on, bottled water companies seized the idea that they weren’t just selling water; they were selling a healthy lifestyle, convenience, and high social status. Bottled water executives knew they had a fierce competitor because nearly all people could access tap water in their homes. One executive went as far as saying, “When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes.” Some bottled water companies have used knowledge of failing infrastructure and particular communities suffering from higher levels of lead in their water as opportunities to call into question the quality of water provided by public water systems in general.
Bottled water companies use scare tactics to sell their products. By planting a seed of doubt, their marketing campaigns hurt relationships between utilities and their customers. In the 2019 AWWA State of the Water Industry Report, two of the top six concerns brought up by utility professionals were public understanding of the value of water systems and services, and public understanding of water resources.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to combat misinformation and increase public understanding of the value of water. We can provide frequent water quality reports and remind the public that tap water is safe to drink (in some cases, safer than bottled water). We can mend our public image, tell an incredible story, and develop positive relationships with our communities.
Customers have high expectations for advertising campaigns and marketing strategies, whether ads are coming from their favorite tech companies or their local utilities.
When utilities take a proactive, modern communications approach, customers trust not only the value they are being offered, but also the opportunities they have as individuals to cooperate with their water providers. As smart water technology innovators, Master Meter understands firsthand the mutual value that is built from within these relationships.
Get out there and build those relationships by sharing your story: the challenges your utility overcomes to provide the public with reliable, high-quality tap water at the lowest possible cost. Your customers, your community, and your utility will thank you for it.