Smart Irrigation Month Spotlight

July 16, 2013

Irrigation professionals in every industry sector–from manufacturer to distributor, to contractor and water provider–continue to feel pressure to become more efficient water stewards and help their customers do the same. As drought conditions continue, spreading the message of efficient irrigation and raising awareness among customers and end-users means uniting behind a common message–smart irrigation means smart business, saving both water and dollars.

Since its launch in 2005, the Smart Irrigation Month campaign has gained much traction. Focused on July–the peak month of water demand in the United States–Smart Irrigation Month gives industry professionals a platform to showcase how their efforts are part of the solution to water use issues by promoting water use efficiency to business partners, customers, and water end-users. Smart Irrigation Month also seeks to:

  • promote irrigation practices and technologies that can minimize peak water use and reduce demands on infrastructure
  • advocate water restrictions and licensing requirements that are based on proven best practices
  • educate the public about the quality of life and ecosystem benefits of community greenscapes
  • communicate the role efficient irrigation plays in long-term sustainability of water resources

The Smart Marketing Contest is a yearly competition to highlight the best efforts of irrigation professionals in their promotion of the Smart Irrigation Month initiative. Winners are recognized at the Irrigation Show and Education Conference and across Irrigation Association (IA) communications throughout the following year.

Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), the 2012 affiliate winner, shared some insights into their company, the contest, and how others can help promote efficient irrigation. Their company, a wholesale water supplier and resource planning agency in California, works through 28 retail water agencies serving nearly 2.2 million residents.

IA: How did participating in the Smart Marketing Contest affect your business?

MWDOC: By participating in the Smart Marketing Contest we were able to increase the reach of our marketing efforts and generate a higher level of awareness of efficient irrigation practices among Orange County residents.

In the months immediately following Smart Irrigation Month, we saw a significant uptick in the number of individuals applying for our rebates on irrigation devices, such as smart irrigation controllers and rotating sprinkler nozzles. We also noticed a marked increase in the number of visitors to our website, especially on pages related to landscape water use efficiency.

IA: Why did you enter the 2012 Smart Marketing Contest?

MWDOC: Being a relatively small organization with limited staffing and resources, having access to the IA’s sample water bill inserts, press releases, and children’s activity handout helped. The free Smart Irrigation Month materials enabled us to quickly and easily implement a comprehensive cross-platform marketing campaign featuring digital and social media, direct mail marketing, and printed materials.

Orange County has always been progressive in water use efficiency. In recent years we’ve focused our efforts on landscape water use efficiency opportunities where water savings potential is very high. The Municipal Water District of Orange County viewed the contest as the perfect opportunity to jumpstart our irrigation marketing efforts by utilizing many of the wonderful materials that had already been developed by the Irrigation Association.

IA: How did your employees respond?

MWDOC: The campaign was very well received by our employees. Our staff was so energized by the campaign that it quickly evolved into a collaborative effort between our public affairs and water use efficiency departments. One of our staff members has a Ph.D in agricultural and biological engineering with a focus in irrigation water use efficiency, so we involved her as much as possible in the development of the campaign’s technical content.

IA: Do you see any trends helpful for 2013 contest participants? Any tips?

MWDOC: Strategic partnerships will continue to play an important role in marketing to new and varied audiences. Public agencies should consider partnering with government organizations as well as non-profits and businesses with similar goals. Potential partners that can be very valuable are irrigation supply manufacturers and retailers. These companies have a shared goal of helping customers install water efficient irrigation devices, and they can tap into water agencies’ rebate programs to promote these devices to customers.

Also, try something new! Utilize the sample materials created by the IA as a foundation of your marketing campaign, but augment them with your own ideas and methods.

For more information on the Smart Irrigation Month initiative and the 2013 Smart Marketing Contest, visit www.smartirrigationmonth.org.

About the Author

Eric Horvath

Eric Horvath is the communications manager for the Irrigation Association.

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