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Don’t Be Intimidated by B2B Marketing

April 21, 2017 Kelsie Festerling

Poring over (or skimming) hundreds of emails, looming deadlines, back-to-back meetings, and chatty Kathy or Larry hovering over your cube wall…there’s only so much time in a day and too many distractions one person can take.

So how do you market to someone who barely has time to refill his/her coffee and snatch the last bagel? How do you make them stop what they’re doing for one minute to read an email blast, direct mail piece or digital advertisement?

Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Before we even get to that, you want to know how an energy efficiency implementer even knows about marketing. Well, marketing is a part of our business just as much as engineering or budgeting. Since inception, it’s one of the reasons our clients reach results, both through residential outreach and B2B marketing. Today, our in-house team of marketing professionals includes 20 employees and spans everything from digital marketing to print production to A/B testing.

Okay, so now that we have street cred, back to those questions about getting business customers’ attention in a sea of swarming technologies and to-dos. Here are some proven tips (outlined in detail) that we recommend, based on our own trial and error.

It’s Called the Business World for a Reason
Businesses exist in their own realm – a world of their own. A business customer is not parallel to a residential customer. They have their own decision making process, their own challenges and their own engagement preferences. The biggest differentiator is the B2B market is more niche, more sophisticated. It’s important to first understand the type of business you’re dealing with before you roll out a marketing plan.

Once you know the type of business, flesh out the profile even further. That will help you target them with the right channels and right communications.  

Determine:

  • Segment
    • Is it a hospital, retail store, restaurant, office building, school?
  • Size
    • How much staffing support is available? Is there an office admin?
  • Main goals and objectives
    • What drives the business? Products? Services? What do they aim to deliver to their customers? What is their profit margin?
  • Daily challenges and even disruptions
    • Is budget top of mind? Employee satisfaction? Resources available? Competition? Space availability? Operational costs? Rent?

Align:

  • Reach the segment and speak to the segment
    • Ex: A direct mail piece may not reach a multifamily property owner in a timely fashion. However, he/she may check email quite often for business purposes and to keep in contact with residents.
  • Who is the decision maker or will spotlight business ideas?
    • If it’s a large business, there may be someone who filters all communications first.
  • Determine the opportunities and barriers for each customer segment, so you can truly speak to their needs and offer real solutions
    • A small business may have less wiggle room to make long-term money saving investments. Get a foot in the door first with direct install, which is no cost and easy to implement. 

Build and Continue Relationships

  • You will likely be working with this business for an extended period of time – every interaction is make or break. First impressions start a relationship. Negative interactions break a relationship.
  • Listen to the customer’s needs and follow-through with what you promise them. Don’t over promise, be honest in what can be accomplished.
  • Form a trusting relationship to instill brand loyalty (piggybacking off aforementioned ‘honesty’).
  • Assess the customer’s feedback when provided and make changes accordingly. Don’t only make changes that they will notice, but thank them for making your services better.

Aside from making your own assessments, there are tools you can use and your own data you can collect that will help you develop a marketing plan.

 

B2B Marketing Click to Download

Customer Co-Pays: Driving faster adoption of new technologies without breaking the bank

April 10, 2017 Jim Heffron

If our industry had a purpose statement, we’d say energy efficiency programs exist to help customers use energy sensibly and affordably. Seems simple enough; yet it’s not always that linear. Through the years, measures and methodology have evolved. New technologies pave the way for greater efficiency and results (but newer and better means a higher cost measure). The aim is to drive the rate and volume of customers ‘buying’ into the program.

That’s where it gets a tad tricky. Energy efficiency programs adhere to a strict budget, spanning resources, marketing materials, products, training and implementation. As much as we’d like to be riding the next wave of technologies, we have to be fiscally responsible. Numbers need to align – cost of technology and services against the savings for the customer and program budget.

Download our eBook to see how co-pays can work for your program.

Co-pays can make up the difference without breaking a customers’ piggy banks or strapping utilities’ program funding. (Tweet it!) Top-of-the-line equipment and technologies can be installed for a flat fee that will keep everyone content. But it’s not just numbers. This program offer needs to capture interest and demand. Outreach done right can help customers see the benefit of upgrading. Help them understand just how much they’ll save.

So far, we’ve seen success with key measures, such as CFLs and programmable thermostats. Both have increased in market share and continue to gain momentum. Newer, and higher priced, measures like LEDs and smart thermostats show significant savings potential but need a co-pay to support initial rollouts. As price tags drop or customer demand changes, the co-pay can be flexible - lowering or even removing the cost to the customer. Still, every market segment is unique. There are many markets untapped. There are also many new technologies rounding the corner to consider…and with that co-pay and outreach must be reexamined.

Download our ebook to see the steps and considerations we recommend when incorporating co-pay options in your programs.

 Co-Pay eBook download button

THE SECRET OF THE PROMISE MAKER

March 27, 2017 Dan Tarrence

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but I have the easiest job in the world. I am a Promise Maker. In leading business development efforts over the past decade, the recipe is fairly simple: meet potential clients, listen to their challenges, understand their priorities, and assure them we can solve their problems and help them realize their goals. The proposals and finalist presentations we deliver to potential clients are just that: promises made.

The making of promises is easy. I don't say this to diminish the effort and skill it takes to build relationships with clients, wow them with an awesome proposal, and then blow their socks off in the finalist presentation. That is all hard work and our sales and proposal teams are great at it. However, in the end when I sign the cover letter, I make the promises to our potential clients.

It's the keeping of promises that is the hard part. It reminds me of a line from the play Hamilton where George Washington tells a young, scrappy, and hungry Alexander Hamilton, "Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder." Promise-keeping hits goals, boosts customer satisfaction, delights clients, and makes the whole process work. Promise Keepers make Promise Makers look good.

So, what does it take to be a really good Promise Keeper? The best in the business share three traits:

  1. Have integrity.

Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

  1. Be an expert.

Confident, but not arrogant.

Efficient without cutting corners.

Responsible, accountable, and willing to learn.

Respectful to clients, customers, each other. Even competitors.

Experienced, but flexible to the ever-changing industry.

Supportive of the success of our clients and coworkers.

  1. Maintain your grit.

My favorite. This description by Angela Lee Duckworth, well-known for her research into links between character and success, says it all:Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.” 

Remember that Promise Makers and Promise Keepers succeed or fail together, since each person holds the others’ reputations in their hands. (Tweet it!) If you are a Promise Maker, the secret is to surround yourself with well-tuned Promise Keepers and listen to their concerns. If you are a Promise Keeper, understand the fine line between a win and a loss. And each person should assess their own integrity, expertise and grit – with clear honesty. Enhancing these traits forms an unbeatable team.

Request a meeting to speak with our expert team to see how we can deliver for your energy efficiency programs.

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Common Area Lighting Solutions: One Big Happy Multifamily

March 16, 2017 Brody Vance

Tenant satisfaction is largely the motivator for multifamily property owners to participate in our programs. Free energy-saving products keep tenants happy…happy tenants keep renting. And since participation is at no cost, it’s business benefits property owners can bank on – nothing to lose, plenty to gain.

Still, I’m pretty sure these property owners wouldn’t mind saving some energy and costs themselves too. Common area energy savings bring savings straight to the bottom line of their business. Common areas are typically illuminated 16 or more hours a day so it helps utilities reach goal even faster. But with limited time and budget, it can’t be complicated, or at a high-cost to the owners.

Common area lighting solutions hit all of the marks – truly being the solution. This package is an easy decision. If property owners are willing to take one step towards participation, that helps utilities get one step closer to goal.

But first, you have to get your foot in the complex door.

CALS packages require a pricing model and smart marketing approach. A co-pay is simple for everyone. The property owner can easily afford it. The contractor has transparency into pricing and services. The utility isn’t taking a large bite from its tight budget. Win-win-win.

The marketing plan is where it gets a little more complex. You first need to reach your audience. Then, you need to generate awareness and interest – usually using the free direct installation draw. After that, you have to keep the conversation going without overwhelming.

We talk about building and implementing a successful CALS component into your multifamily program in our whitepaper: Achieving Common Area Lighting Savings in Multifamily Housing. Check out the paper’s studies and strategy.

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Making the SMART Choice WITH YOUR Smart Thermostat

February 28, 2017 Charlie Richardson

Click on the infographic below to download the PDF.

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Want to discuss how these new technologies can fit into your energy efficiency programs?

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Energy Efficiency and Demand Response: It’s No Longer an Either/Or Decision

February 01, 2017 Kevin McDonough

Historically, energy efficiency and demand response services are implemented as separate programs. For many reasons (engagement, expertise, resources, program design, technology), it seemed like that was the only way. But should we change this way of thinking? We think so. 

Advancements in technology combined with the industry’s focus on customer experience means the time has come for energy efficiency and demand response as the preferable one-stop solution.

Siloed programs are not as efficient, impose on the customer, and more than anything, limit potential. 

Still, overlapping DR and EE programs can lead to increased complexity. What’s the solution? An integrated demand side management implementer that has the expertise to deliver all around:

  • Kwh and Kw from the same customer transferred to the right place
  • Customer experience enhanced by education and an intuitive digital customer journey
  • The foundational improvement in cost effectiveness
  • Program design scaled for future integration of emerging storage and renewable sources

There have been barriers to keep integrating these programs, but we continue to look for opportunities and find better ways for delivering our solutions. That’s why, we’re joining forces.  

Franklin Energy, GoodCents and Resource Action Programs will cover the demand side management gamut as Franklin Energy Group. There’s no better time or opportunity to deliver on our shared vision that EE and DR can work together. Our integrated approach will benefit the utility and their customers in efficiency, choice and results.

Read GoodCents blog: Evolution – It Makes GoodCents®

 Click to learn more.

 

5 Steps to Making Your Event a Success

January 25, 2017 Meghann Goddard

Want to pull off an event? Plan it out – down to the very last detail. Whether it’s a trade show, community event, convention or training, the stuff you miss is likely to be what goes unmissed. As the old adage goes, you have one shot to make a lasting impression. The thing is, that is so true.

But no worries, we have five easy steps to make your event planning a success!

  • Know Your Audience – No matter the nature of your event, it’s most important to understand who you’re communicating to and why they might be interested in what you’re saying or marketing. Every event coordinator has the number of attendees and overall demographic in his/her back pocket. Ask for it. This will let you know what kind of marketing collateral to bring with you in order to effectively get your message across. Knowing your audience ahead of time is key!
  • Don’t Spare the Details – Details, details, details – yes they matter. If you’re wondering what you’re missing as you’re finalizing plans, it’s a good trick to put yourself in an attendee’s shoes. What would you want to know as an attendee? What would you want to get out of the event? Run through your event document. Keep a checklist of pending items to ensure tasks are being met in a timely fashion and nothing is left out. And lastly, don’t be afraid to walk the floor and hear what potential customers are asking competitors.
  • Grab Their Attention! – See what I did there? No, don’t yell at them, but stand out in a good way. Signage, giveaways, demos. Stand out and offer something different than other vendors. In the case of a trade show, you’re up against numerous other companies who want the same time and attention as you. Make sure you have a way to hook attendees’ attention (and keep it). Other than marketing collateral, swag or sweepstakes are effective draws. It can be simple as candy or a large ticket item for a lucky winner. But as mentioned, it should be different, make sense with the environment and promote your business. Take advantage of your space without causing noise and clutter. Banners, signage and brochures should serve a purpose and fit neatly within your spot. Be clear and concise. You don’t want to waste time to get to the point.
  • Touch Base Often – Keep everyone in the loop. There are a lot of moving pieces and plenty of stakeholders involved in company events. Schedule reoccurring touchbases to get in front of issues and plan more effectively. It’s also helpful to have one shared document outlining dates, time, location, booth location, conference map, session schedule and contact information. Go over logistics. Make sure all involved parties have a copy and understand where they need to be and when. Use this as a time to solicit questions and check that everyone is on the same page.
  • Wrap Up & Follow Up – The event is over. But, before you celebrate, collect attendee contact information and follow up with a sincere thank you email (especially for meaningful conversations). Also, send a thank you to everyone involved on your end. Survey your event team to gather feedback for future events. Sites like Survey Monkey can be easily added to your team email, as a clickable link (plus it’s free!). Questions should cover pre-show processes, as much as day-of execution. Send any photos or fun facts from the event to your clients. Determine lead generation and deliver a report to appropriate stakeholders. Finalize all payments and provide your client with a budget report if applicable. It’s also smart to send an email to the show staff to receive their feedback and thank them for their assistance throughout the prep process.

Remember, planning makes perfect. Keep perfecting your skills and improving your success rate by paying attention to detail, taking feedback into account and using proper etiquette.  

NYSEG Event Photo.pngEvent: NYSEG /RGE | NYS School Facilities Manager Conference | Saratoga Springs, NY | October 2016

Outreach: Know Where to Go for Program Growth

January 09, 2017 Zoë Bottger

If general marketing generates program awareness and sprouts possible leads, it is outreach that actually nurtures engagement and pushes participant through the pipeline.

Outreach is organic and intrinsic. It requires face-to-face conversations, along with supporting communication pieces. Making it the dynamic, yet personalized, touch point spurring life into every program and keeping momentum growing with every interaction.
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Hesitance to actual follow through with outreach generally stems from not knowing where to go. Not knowing where to find your potential participants or how to appeal to them. Below we’ve outlined how to get your programs out there (so to speak). Each event has its own demographic and its own influencers.

 

1_RESOURCE_HEALTH_FAIRS.png1. Resource and Health Fairs

These customers are already seeking out resources, which makes them an ideal place to promote direct install programs. Resource and health fairs reach senior citizens who are more likely to be homeowners, have outdated technology and are generally receptive to free assistance opportunities.

 


2_RADIO_STATION_EVENTS.png2. Local Radio Station Events

Radio stations have different demographics. The goal is to align the right station with your target audience. This means you can be more selective in who you chose to target. You should seek out specific stations, depending on your program goals. For example, if you’re running a residential program and want to target homeowners, you may want to partner with a radio station that reaches areas of mostly single family homes. 


3_EVENTS_BY_ELECTED_OFFICIALS.png3. Community Events Hosted by Elected Officials

In many communities, local elected officials are the first place people go for resources. These leaders advocate for their communities and have built trust with their constituents. By partnering with elected officials, you establish legitimacy in your target area almost instantaneously. Additionally, local elected officials have strong networks for spreading the word within their communities, from hosting well attended events to print and digital publications. This should be your bread and butter when approaching any new market.


4_HARDWARE_STORES.png4. Hardware Stores

Hardware stores are the homeowner’s mecca. Home improvement and cutting costs are always bonded goals for these customers. You can capture their interest with free direct install and rebated upgrades, while they are already in the right mindset.

 

 


5_CHURCH_EVENTS.png5. Church / House of Worship Events

For many people, churches or other houses of worship are an important aspect of life in their community. This is another type of partner where trust is typically already established and people will be receptive to your message if you are vouched for. You’ll also find a mix of demographics, including homeowners, multi-family building owners, and business owners, creating a variety of program opportunities.


6_NEIGHBORHOOD_FESTIVALS.png6. Neighborhood Festivals

Neighborhood festivals are a great way to reach individuals that you may not see at the local elected events or resource fairs. These events also provide abundant opportunities for brand presence. This may not be an event where 100% of the attendees are your target demographic but the sheer number of attendees make for numerous of opportunities to engage people.



7_HOMEOWNERS_MEETING.png7. Block Club / Homeowner Association Meetings

Here is where you hone in without question. This is the homeowner homerun. Block club and homeowner association meetings are one of the best foot-in-the-door outreach possibilities for residential programs. With homes on their minds, these customers are open to receiving resources. It is even easier if someone in the neighborhood has participated in your program, a good recommendation from a neighbor can inspire whole blocks to participate! 


8_SENIOR_EVENTS.png8. Senior Fairs / Events for Senior Citizens

Historically, senior citizens are a favorite market when it comes to energy efficiency program participation. They are likely to be homeowners, and they’re likely to have outdated products and equipment. They are more likely to talk to their neighbors about the program – creating more organic growth.

 


9_BACK_TO_SCHOOL_EVENTS.png9. Back to School Events

Family households consume the most energy in residential markets. It’s essential to teach kids the importance of sustainability. These best practices can spark a lifetime of behavioral change and awareness. Even more, parents appreciate the lower water, gas and electricity bills simply installing free energy-saving products, like showerheads. It gives parents one less thing to worry about.

So you feeling pretty pumped to get out in the community and strike up conversations? Just remember a program’s outreach success is only as good as its plan. (Tweet it!) Download our infographic on how to create an outreach strategy that works or reach out to see what Franklin can do for you.

Download Our Outreach Infographic

Safety Knows No Bounds

December 12, 2016 Tim Kaddatz

Safe travels. It’s the sendoff before we board a plane or hit the road. Well wishes so common, it’s almost like a reflex, a saying we utter out of common courtesy rather than assigning literal meaning.

And yet, it’s a sentiment we should stop to think about. Every day, we make decisions to keep ourselves safe and on track of our obligations. A recent flight reminded me just how much safety comes into play at work, in transit and on our own clock.

Soon after lifting off, the plane flew over a long line of thunderstorms.  In anticipation of the turbulence ahead the captain left the seatbelt sign on until we had safely passed beyond the line of storms.  We flew above 35,000 feet, well over the storm, for approximately 45 minutes.  The captain flipped on the plane’s seatbelt sign and announced a safety warning, just as we entered some turbulence.  As we flew through the “danger zone” the crew made several announcements over the intercom. Each message served as a reminder of why the seatbelt sign had been turned on, and detailed the expected timeline of when it would be turned off. 

The captain was also mindful of the flight crew, requesting them to buckle up, instead of tending to meal and beverage service. Grumbling stomachs and comments wouldn’t take precedence over the captain’s evident better safe than sorry mindset.  

The point is this: Safety is not just avoiding or decreasing risk, but rather reminding everyone to be safe no matter what they are doing. (Tweet it!) I found comfort simply in knowing the captain was concerned about our wellbeing and had a plan in place. Whether we realize it or not, plans keep us calm during the storm. They keep us moving forward, instead of panicking or delaying because we don’t know how to proceed.

Whether it be in the office, in transit, at home, or anywhere in between, safety doesn’t stop. Every training we have at Franklin Energy covers it. We educate and adhere to OSHA requirements, but we plan for our specific business and for our employees. How can we reduce accidents from occurring? Where can we increase awareness and put plans in place?

I ask anyone reading this, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, think about safety. Think about what affects it and think about ways you could be better prepared.

Have a plan. Stay well and stay safe!

Pain Free Customer Assessments with Efficiency Clipboard

November 29, 2016 Miranda Smith

In an ever-changing world that demands more, better and quicker solutions daily, it’s essential to have the right equipment. You need a technology solution that supports customers’ expectations, as much as program needs. An effective energy assessment tool should have capacity and flexibility to adapt to the fluidity of the marketplace by design. No add-ons. No missing links.

Energy assessment and reporting tools, like Efficiency Clipboard, seamlessly guide clients and customers through the energy efficiency journey. (Tweet it!) As a part of Franklin Energy’s Efficiency@Work software suite, Efficiency Clipboard allows auditors to electronically assess energy usage at a customer location. Its many customizable features can facilitate more production and more satisfaction mutually for auditors and customers. Simply stated, Efficiency Clipboard takes the pain out of doing more. 

Request a demo of Efficiency@Work and see how the expert suite of technologies easily adapts to your programs and applications.

With Efficiency Clipboard the energy efficiency assessment process can be tailored to meet unique customer interactions with both quantity and quality in mind. Appropriately named, this reporting tool streamlines the assessment process by allowing the auditors to report inventory of energy consuming equipment, recommend incentive saving measures, record energy and cost savings for upgrades, provide annual energy usage data, and summarize next steps to becoming energy efficient.  All of these functionality possibilities can be adapted for ease of use with various program requirements, and work hand in hand with database tracking and reporting, as well as appointment scheduling software.

Let’s not forget customer satisfaction is king for utility clients. Teeing up a product to provide interactive and a long lasting impression on the customer goes a long way. Providing the customer with a canned report does not engage the customer or move the JD Power needle toward greater satisfaction. Efficiency Clipboard gets customers acquainted with their building by enabling them to accompany the auditor during the assessment. Efficiency Clipboard encourages customers to take ownership of their energy efficiency potential, so they can be invested in energy efficiency decision making. (Tweet it!)

Clipboard has benefits for customers, clients, and auditors, with its ability to:

  1. Pre-populate customer energy usage history and account profile details into the assessment report.
  2. Instantly assist with energy management by generating an onsite assessment report immediately after the assessment.
  3. Display customized program incentives specific to each customer’s business processes and building equipment.
  4. Drive customer satisfaction with two-way face-to-face interactivity in the comfort of their own business location.
  5. Quantify immediate savings from products directly installed during the assessment and/or resulting from potential future upgrades.
  6. Track precise customer equipment inventory for pipeline lead potential to consider with future utility offerings.

When it comes to the customer journey, why not take the easy road. Efficiency Clipboard navigates energy efficiency assessment and reporting continuously and seamlessly. 

Request a Demo