The Customer Loves Me, The Customer Loves Me Not, The…

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...
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The emotional benefits that your product/service provides to customers determine buying behavior. If your product does not pull at your customers heart strings, regardless of the economic or functional benefits, you will fail to convert them into paying customers. This will happen 100 times out of 100.

Services or products provide an Economic, Functional or Emotional benefit to customers. What is oft overlooked is the fact that the economic and the functional also have to trigger emotional reactions before you can sell said product or service.

Economic benefits: your product/Service must either cost the customer less than the next viable alternative (groceries from Jewel & Osco compared to Whole Foods) or cost more than the alternatives (thereby providing a personal feeling or a perception of quality). The economic benefit triggers an emotional reaction. It’s the only reason why we sometimes pay more for a product when we know we can get a product with similar functionality for less (Can you say Mac Air?).

Functional benefits: your product has to work well, be cutting edge, be reliable etc. Essentially it must do what you say it does. And it must do it well. But what does it mean to ‘do it well’? It’s all about the customer’s context and what ‘well’ means. The Galaxy Tab might be a better tablet than the IPad but more people ‘feel’ that the IPad is a better machine (and my statement on which of the two is better is totally my own ‘emotion’). Your product must do what it says on the package but customers must agree with you. You must deliver quality service but the measure of the quality of your service is totally the customers’.

 

Emotional benefits: The daddy of the three pronged benefits any company can provide to its customers. Despite being the most important, emotional benefits are the hardest to measure. You can determine your price in relation to your competitors and measure how many features your product has compared to the competing products. But you cannot predict how customers will feel about your product. The best market research methods will enable you project how customers will feel about your product. 100 times out of 100 those predictions will be wrong.

You have to deliver on all three benefits to the best of your ability. But you have to make sure you listen to the customer to get as close as possible to delivering a product or service that they will ‘feel’ good about. Does the customer like your product, or trust your brand? Does the customer identify with your message or like your company? I don’t know much but one thing I know is that you won’t be selling much if customers have no emotional response to what you’re selling..

Thoughts? Disagreements?

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US Electricity Consumption, Generation and Price: EIA

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

U.S. Electricity Consumption: EIA expects total U.S. consumption of electricity to fall slightly during 2011 and then grow by 2.6 percent in 2012 (U.S. Total Electricity Consumption Chart).  EIA estimates that retail sales of electricity to the residential sector rose by 6.1 percent in 2010 as a result of a relatively cold winter in the Southeast and a very warm summer east of the Rocky Mountains.  Based on the forecast return to more normal temperatures, residential electricity sales fall by 2.1 percent during 2011.  Forecast growth in manufacturing output should lead to increases in industrial sector electricity sales of 1.5 percent this year and 2.2 percent in 2012.

U.S. Electricity Generation: Projected total electricity generation decreases by 0.3 percent in 2011, following a 4.0 percent increase in 2010.  A forecast 6.0-percent increase in conventional hydropower generation during 2011 (due to an assumed return to near-normal precipitation levels) and a 13-percent increase in generation from other renewable sources, mostly wind, lead to a 2.4-percent reduction in coal-fired generation and a 1.0-percent decline in natural gas generation.  During 2012, EIA expects a 2.6-percent increase in total electric power sector generation, which will be fueled primarily by increased generation from coal, natural gas, and non-hydropower renewables (U.S. Electric Power Sector Generation Growth Chart).

U.S. Electricity Retail Prices: EIA expects the U.S. retail price for electricity distributed to the residential sector during 2010 to average 11.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, about the same level as in 2009.  EIA expects the U.S. residential price to increase only slightly over the forecast period–by 0.6 percent in 2011 and by 1.0 percent in 2012 (U.S. Residential Electricity Prices Chart)

 

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5 Small Business efficiency tips

January 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

There’s a lot of doing things all by yourself when you’re starting a business or running a small one. As a small business owner/starter (as defined by Jason Fried) you have to wear multiple hats.

Image courtesy http://bit.ly/gpIlPa

So the key is to find tools that help you along as you become a better marketer, lawyer, graphic designer e.t.c. until you can’t wear all those hats yourself (hopefully because your business has grown and you need to hire to maintain the great service/product you provide). I list four websites that help with efficiency below. The last tip is less about a tool and more about a way of thinking that makes the startup/small business journey bearable

  1. Blogging/Writing: Want to write riche and more search relevant blog posts/articles? Download the free content enrichment tool from www.Zemanta.com: it enables you use the right keywords, provides links to relevant content for you to add to your blog/article and generally makes your posts more awesome.
  2. Customization: Spending hours customizing your WordPress theme will not bring you customers. Neither will creating a fancy background for your Twitter page. But they do add something to how people see your business. Head over to www.Fiverr.com to find someone who’ll do it for $5. Yes. $5. What’s the most you can lose if it’s not done well? $5. A lot less than it would have cost spending your own time.
  3. Legal: Legal fees are no joke. Our single biggest expense at Power2switch is legal. It’s been the case from day one. A resource I wish we’d had is the legal forms templates you get from www.lawdepot.com. It’s a good resource that provides your business a base level to work from until you eventually bring in professional legal counsel.
  4. Billing/Invoicing: Have you ever been on a customer site and wondered how you could send them an invoice on the spot? www.Billonsite.com might be the solution for this. We don’t use this at Power2Switch (our invoicing needs do not fall under this) but I hear the tool, which is now free, is quite nifty
  5. Read Linchpin and Rework: I once sat through a talk by Jason Fried of 37Signals while I was at Booth. I got the impression that he was sitting there talking to a roomful of b-school students thinking ‘they have no clue’. I didn’t like him for seeing through me and my desire to start a business. Now I’ve been working on Power2Switch for close to 2 years, growing the business and we’re making our mistakes. Reading ‘Rework’ and Seth Godin’s ‘Linchpin’ have reminded me of the inevitability of these mistakes but, more importantly, to see them as learning experiences. It helps to keep a learning mindset..

Any ideas? Tips? Tools?

And yes, the list based title is our attempt at improving SEO (we’re told it’s good practice).

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How to request quotes on Power2Switch

January 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

75% Savings on I-Go Cars courtesy of Power2Switch!

January 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Power2Switch is partnering with I-GO Cars to give you 75% off the cost of signing up for Car Sharing!. It’s cost effective and is a surefire way to claim sustainability cred. Don’t say we don’t love you our friends and customers who read our blog/have taken up our service etc

It’s Simple: Go to www.igocars.org/join/ and enter P2SCHI to get your discount.

or you can read the message from our sponsors below and then go sign up for the service:

I-GO, Chicago’s local, non-profit car sharing company, is offering Power2Switch customers a special membership rate of only $25 for the first year with $25 in free driving (a total savings of $75!!!)

You can join online at www.igocars.org/join/.  Just enter P2SCHI in the promotion code field to get your discount (promo code expires 3/31/10; must use driving credit within 30 days of joining).

I-GO’s 14,000+ members have hourly access to a fleet of over 200 eco-friendly cars conveniently located in 35 Chicago neighborhoods and 4 suburbs. Rates start as low as $6.75 an hour and $70 a day (rates vary by driving plan, day of the week and car type; tax is extra).  All rates include:

  • gas
  • insurance
  • reserved parking spaces
  • vehicle maintenance

Reservations can be made minutes before you need a car or up to a year in advance from your computer, smart phone or by calling I-GO’s 24-hour reservation line.  I-GO cars can be picked up and returned any time of day or night and any day of the week (including sundays and holidays).

Businesses and organizations of any size can also save with I-GO.  What a great way to encourage your employees and staff to walk, bike or take public transportation to work and use a nearby I-GO car when they need to make a sales call or a last minute delivery. For more information on business memberships contact I-GO Corporate Relations Manager Richard Kosmacher at 773-269-4021 or Richard@igocars.org .

Members may choose either a standard I-GO smart card that accesses every car in I-GO’s fleet or the new Chicago Card Plus/I-GO Card, a joint initiative between I-GO and CTA that accesses I-GO cars, CTA trains and buses, and Pace buses—effectively expanding the range of public transit.  You can learn more at http://www.igocars.org/chicago_card_plus.

Car sharing helps individuals and families reduce their automotive costs (by up to $4,000 per year off typical transportation costs of $7,300) and reduces urban congestion and greenhouse gas emissions by lowering car ownership rates.

You can learn more at www.igocars.org or call 773-278-4446.  Happy Car Sharing!!!

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EduVideo 2: Cash and Sustainability benefits of Energy Saving light bulbs

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Energy saving light bulbs cost a fair bit more than regular light bulbs, about $8 for an energy saving bulb against $4 for a regular bulb. The research says the energy saving light bulbs last longer (almost 10 times longer), produce more light (if that is what you want) and use less electricity. The incandescent bulbs do generate more heat (which isn’t really a bad thing during the winter here in Illinois).

But business owners like numbers and how it affects the bottom line: So, about 15% of your monthly electricity bill is lighting. So if you pay $1000/month you pay about $150 for lighting. Energy saving light bulbs use about 75% less energy. So the savings would be $112/month and $1350/year. Multiply that by 10 for some of our clients…Much more than you thought right?

So it makes sense, cashwise and for sustainability to switch to Energy Saving light bulbs.

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Take the Chicago Green Office Challenge!!

January 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

We realized that the list of companies that have been recognized in the Chicago Green Office Challenge is wholly made up of big companies. Really big ones. http://www.chicagogreenofficechallenge.org/pages/take_the_challenge…

But there are more small companies/businesses than big ones and we’d love to see more small companies on this list.

So what are we doing about it? We’re sharing these easy and, in most cases, free steps to greening your office/business. We think the deck is pretty awesome (usable content and simple effective design) so feel free to email/forward and share with every business owner you know.

After implementing any number of these steps, take the Chicago Climate Action Plan challenge and see how much you’ve saved. http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/savings_challenge/39.php.Or just apply to be listed and get your ‘green’ cred here http://www.chicagogreenofficechallenge.org/pages/take_the_challenge…

Download here http://www.slideshare.net/SeyiFabode/power2switch-how-to-green-your-business/download

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