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We told you so!

Art is long, life short,
judgment difficult, opportunity transient.

So the tabloid journalist in me is dying to write the headline: Government in listening to merchant industry shock.

Not only did the Government finally realise that they need to put some serious dosh behind it if the Green Deal is to take off in the way they want it to, but they also realised that they have to tell people about it. A lot of people. And they need to be told a lot.

The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is the Government’s response to the, let’s be charitable and say, disappointing take-up of the Green Deal thus far.

Much of the response so far to the money out behind the GDHIF has come from the heating industry since they figure that they – boiler makers in particular – will be the ones to benefit first.

They are right. The majority of the monies received under the previous Green Deal Cashback scheme have been spent on upgrading boilers. That’s an easy sell to householders who probably find it easier to understand the correlation between shiny new, super-efficient white box on the wall and lower heating bills. Especially so if their plumber or heating installers has been one of those who have taken the scheme to heart and has been going out to promote it on the grounds that it’s all good business for them.

The BMF has been working right from the start of the whole Green Deal to ensure that the merchant distribution chain isn’t excluded from taking part in the initiative. There are merchants out there who signed up as Green Deal Providers at the outset – or who partnered up with Providers – and who have been actively promoting the scheme to their customers on the grounds that new business for a merchant’s customer is new business for the merchant.

There’s now a new opportunity for all merchants to get behind the scheme and make the most of this new money that the Government has somehow found down the back of its sofa. Lots of us – including the CPA, the BMF, the Association for the Conservation of Energy, manufacturers like Knauf – questioned just why the original publicity campaign should have received less funding than the switch-your-telly-over-to-digital-if-you-want-to-keep-watching-Corrie campaign.

The Government was told, time and again, that the only way to get the public to really take notice about any scheme of this kind is to shout about it and spend money doing so. A lot of money. Taxpayer’s money, since that’s all it has at its disposal.

Now, hurrah, it seems the ears those pleas were falling on were not so deaf after all. Newspaper adverts, radio adverts, glossy home improvement magazine adverts and outdoor poster sites will all be used to spread the message that there is Government money available to help you reduce your energy bills and improve the efficiency of your house.

Merchants, especially those in the Government’s key target areas really, seriously need to work with their customers to ensure that this message is taken to the householders.

Here’s why. The sting in the tail of the message about the publicity campaign lies in the siting of those outdoor poster sites. The BMF tells me: It is believed that sites have been picked due to their proximity to large home improvement retailers in an effort to target people who may already be thinking about having work done.

If merchants don’t bother to make the most of this new opportunity you can be damn sure that B&Q will. Just look what happened with CERT.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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