Archive for April, 2012
Want to see how much money is seeping out of your home in the form of energy waste? Essess, a startup in Massachusetts, is working to make it easy.
Essess is building a huge database of building photographs using multi-spectral thermal cameras. Similar to Google Street View, you may eventually be able to see your house – or any building you are considering buying – to assess its energy efficiency in full color…in fact the brighter the color, the bigger the energy waste.
Essess has also developed applications that will provide energy reports
pinpointing areas of concern and calculating the financial and environmental cost. The ultimate vision is to build an ecosystem within real estate databases like Zillow that will connect you with professionals and contractors who can help you improve energy efficiency.
Only about 10% of US addresses will be in the database by the end of the year, so it may be a while before this service is promoted. After the launch, will Essess also come out with proprietary marketing services and tools that will be attractive to contractors, energy efficiency specialists, utilities and retail energy providers alike? Time will tell.
Consumers flocked to Zillow and Google Street View when those sites launched, and people couldn’t wait to share their experience with others. We would expect just as much buzz around the launch of this service. By helping to build a collective culture of energy conservationism, while also growing demand for energy-related services, Essess has hit upon a brilliant and potentially lucrative concept. Congratulations, and good luck to them!
Whenever someone travels to my hometown, I always make sure they take a bag of almond chocolates for my Dad. Why almond chocolates? It’s because my father can’t resist his sweet tooth nor can he live without the crunchy texture that comes with almonds. He’s so particular about that crunch that, if I forget almonds in his gifts, I’ll get an email reminding me to “shop better” next time.
Such is the wisdom of fathers and, apparently, the American Heart Association (AHA) agrees.
This February, AHA has certified almonds with its signature Heart-Check mark to signify their approval of almonds as a heart-healthy food. AHA’s Heart-Check mark is one of the most consumer-trusted nutrition symbols on packaged foods. One study found that more than half of shoppers use the Heart-Check mark when purchasing a new product. If consumers haven’t already been swayed by the nutritional tributes of almonds, they can now easily identify almonds as a smart choice.
Nearly two decades of research have shown almonds to be one of the most outstanding nuts available to consumers. In fact, since 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved a strong health claim regarding almonds: “Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as a part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Jenny Heap, MS, RD Health Professional Marketing Manager at the Almond Board of California agrees that the AHA Heart-Check mark is a positive step. Heap says, “Now consumers will be able to more easily identify almonds in the supermarket as a heart-smart food, helping take the guess work out of shopping.”
Likewise, Al Greenlee, North American Retail Marketing Director at Blue Diamond Almonds, the world’s biggest almond supplier and a CBD Client, couldn’t agree more. Greenlee believes that it’s important to communicate to consumers where and how they can substitute healthier options in their diets: “By featuring the mark on our Blue Diamond Almond packaging and citing the certification in our advertising, we will help the AHA to communicate the importance to eating smart and becoming active to consumers in North America.”
In my opinion, Blue Diamond’s AHA Heart-Check mark couldn’t have come at a better time. The National Center for Health Statistics lists heart disease as one of the leading health concerns affecting baby boomers. I’m looking forward to AHA Heart-Check mark to remind me to choose healthier eating options – both for my father and myself. With almonds on my mind, I know Dad will be glad to know that I won’t forget to get them with his chocolates.
Post 1 of 4: Developing legitimate followers
You’ve created your Twitter account and now you’re wondering what to do. Obviously, you want to gather a following, but that’s easier said than done. Some users make it a habit of unfollowing. Others pretend not to know the meaning of the word “participate.”
Naturally, the question arises: how does one develop a social network and make it, well, social?
The first step is laying down ground rules. In your Twitter description, tell others “how it is” without sugar coating it. Say that you only follow those who follow back or that you will block users who spam. The more open you are, the more others will be open with you.
The second step is figuring out who your target audience is. No doubt you know of Twitter’s #Discover button (If you haven’t, this would be your cue to take a look!) and how it recommends accounts you might like. Take a look around. Visit some pages. Note their last post, and get in the habit of constantly asking questions.
Were their posts recent? Did anybody respond?
If the answer is “Yes,” great… but don’t give in to clicking that follow button immediately. Start a conversation with the user. Let them know that you are the type of person who cares about his or her audience. Only then will clicking result in a mutual action.
Now, I know some of you may not have the time. And that’s what social media often boils down to -investing hours. So, if you’re the type of person who wants to develop fans quickly without actually becoming a social media manger, then perhaps you should look into different practices.
One suggestion is that you follow all the accounts you like, and keep a record of them. At the end of each day, give a “shout out” to those users. Tweet something like “@cbdmarketing Loved your tweets today; hope you follow back,” and you might find yourself surprised at the results. By simply following the users who respond and unfollowing those that don’t, your fan base will increase.
Sometimes, it really is that easy.
But regardless of which route you choose, keep in mind that the takeaway is always the same. If you give users publicity, they will return the favor. That’s the truth. Users love being mentioned online. I mean, don’t you?
Quick Tip of the Day: Some of you may be managing or participating on social media platforms for your company. Having your own Twitter account and learning how to navigate that platform will help you appreciate why Twitter for business can be such a great tool.
At last week’s DNV KEMA Retail Executive Forum the spotlight was on the customer as the industry works to create new experience strategies and value propositions aimed at competing beyond price.
As smart energy products start to be consumed, the industry concedes that the impact is game changing. Customer conversations, owning and managing more dynamic relationships and developing more relevant products and services are just a few of the opportunities that illustrated the theme of the conference, Sustaining Momentum.
While there wasn’t much disagreement in a discussion among the Big 5 (Reliant, FirstEnergy, TXU, Direct and Constellation), there was diversity in their approaches to harnessing opportunity and achieving success. Bruce Stewart, CMO of Constellation, wants the kind of stickiness with his customers that the financial services industry enjoys through its online banking initiatives. He is keenly aware that we are all “one click from death,” which is how he articulates the ease and speed at which customers can switch.
Being easy to do business with, solving customer problems and delivering different levels of customer care were the key issues being addressed at TXU Energy according to its COO, Scott Hudson. He explained how TXU defines these levels by segmenting customer needs into two categories; those looking for either control or cruise control.
But it was Steven Murray, President, Residential Markets, of Direct Energy, who presented the industry’s biggest opportunity for offering the customer more value and expanding the relationship. “It’s time we owned the bill,” said Murray. “If you don’t own the bill, it’s impossible to offer new services, let alone cross-sell to our customers.”
It remains to be seen whether or not energy providers are ready to make the investment in customer billing systems, but Bruce Stewart did offer the best method for getting started. His advice: just take the leap. Trial is the best way to advance and the only way to get the best customer feedback.
Everyone in the industry has their opinion on the “pink slime” phenomenon that has been an unavoidable part of media coverage for the past month. Or rather, “finely textured lean beef” as those in the meat processing industry (especially Cargill and Beef Products) are now asserting. Last week governors of three states (Iowa, Kansas and Texas) plus two lieutenant governors (Nebraska and South Dakota) toured one of the processing plants, tasting the “lean, good and nutritious” burgers made with the product.
What’s interesting from a consumer marketing perspective is how social media fueled the rage in the first place. From its moment in the lime-light last year courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s reporting from LA school lunch rooms to the decision last week by multiple retailers and fast food outlets to “ban” its use, the social media trail ran deep and wide.
Seems that on March 6, Betty Siegel of Houston, the author of The Lunch Tray blog posted a petition on change.org for signatures in support of removing pink slime from school lunch programs due to the ammonia treatment and the general overall health impact of the substance. The number of signatures (258,632 when the petition closed) surprised both Ms. Siegel and the folks at change.org.
As the petition gained momentum, other online activity surged. Nearly 1,500 videos have been posted to YouTube. Check out a #pinkslime on Twitter for interesting point-counterpoint dialogue. Posts from the Meat Institute and WSJ stories defend the substance. Then there’s Wendy’s tweet: “Wendy’s has always had high standards for our beef. We’ve never used what they call “pink slime.” Details at http://Wendys.com.”
The back and forth is rather amusing. But when politicians and industry associations get into it, more fuel is on the fire. Check out www.pinkslimeisamyth.com for all the value that lean beef trimmings bring to the world in addition to food safety — greater sustainability, lower food costs and jobs for America.
Social media can make or break a business – and change an industry. As evidenced by the backlash a couple years ago against High Fructose Corn Syrup, once an issue gains steam fallout is often rapid and intense. For companies that live or die on consumer preference – such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks – controversy presents an opportunity to take the high road and disassociate with the demon ingredient.
Consumers hate thinking that Big Food (with the political machine in tow) is putting one over on them. Whether the “lean beef trimmings” are the devil’s doings or whether they are keeping hamburger safe from e.coli, the shots have been fired and the result to the industry is devastating. And so quickly.
Proving the enormous power of social media.
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