Energy Management Services in the Age of IoT

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Feb, 23, 2018 @ 08:02 AM



There’s been a lot of news about using IoT devices to reduce costs; however, uptake has been slow due to the expense of implementation and the dearth of data scientists and analysts. There are 14 states, primarily in the Northeast and Atlantic Coast, including Washington D.C. with deregulated electric markets.


Energy management has been around as long as deregulation. Small, medium, and large enterprises can benefit from the economies of scale that can be gained by buying energy in bulk across multiple states.


If you are buying energy for your business in a deregulated market, an energy management consultant can help you reduce your spend by 20 to 40%. The consultant will begin by obtaining your utility bill and analyzing how to improve the price you are paying. This includes evaluating market conditions, discovering risk tolerance, and determining your real business needs.


When energy markets begin trading, your consultant will arrange a competitive auction to determine the most competitive price, the best supplier, and the optimal terms which will result in the best energy solution for your organization.


Having worked with hundreds to thousands of clients, energy consultants are able to identify efficiencies that those not dedicated to energy management are aware. You remain active in the energy market determining the best times to buy for the optimal efficiency and cost savings. All of this is tracked versus your budget with ongoing reports of budget versus actual.


Taylor Consulting and Contracting have been providing energy management services with impressive results:

  • A collection of Dunkin’ Donut franchises in six states have saved 15 to 20% annually for six years over what they were able to buy electricity for individually.
  • More than 4,000 Boston SMEs have joined Boston Buying Power (BBP) and enjoyed 50% savings during the 2014 polar vortex, and more than 100% versus the market-based price of electricity.
  • Independence Blue Cross of Pennsylvania has saved 50% on their electricity over the past five years since Pennsylvania deregulated electricity.


Technology, and data, is enabling companies of all sizes to reduce their energy spend. You don’t have to wait to employ IoT to enjoy the savings.


Tags: CX

VIZIO's M50 Home Theater Display is Quite Impressive

Posted by Tom Smith on Sun, Dec, 10, 2017 @ 18:12 PM




Thanks to VIZIO for letting me preview their new M50 home theater display.

Consistent with how technology is changing daily to make users’ lives simpler and easier, the Visio M50 is an incredible upgrade over our three-year-old VIZIO:

  • There is no “warm-up time.” When the TV is turned on, the picture appears immediately.
  • The picture quality and color fidelity at an angle is remarkable.
  • The TV synchronizes to our cable box (ATT U-Verse) faster than any TV we’ve ever had.
  • “Smart TV” features are more intuitive and easier to use. We’ll see if I can finally convince my wife to “cut the cord.”

More technical highlights of the 2017 M-Series include: 

  • SmartCast: VIZIO’s connected ecosystem, powered by Google's "ChromeCast built-in". It’s like having a Chromecast Ultra built in to the display. As a result, the display’s “SmartTV” interface is primarily centered on your phone or tablet, where you can have access to thousands of apps (that are always up to date), and does not require that you access a separate on-screen interface to cycle through content. Pull up the apps you use now, simply swipe to find the content you want, and press the Cast button to send it to the screen. 
    • VIZIO’s SmartCast Mobile app helps aggregate content in one place to make searches on your phone or tablet even easier. Smartcast Mobile will even let you change display picture settings.
    • New for 2017, VIZIO has added a new on-screen "SmartCast TV” interface that allows you to use the new IR remote to launch top apps directly from the screen (including Amazon!). The remote even has hot keys for access to the top apps (Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, 
  • An Ultra Color Gamut (aka Wide Color Gamut) panel, increases the color gamut for HDR content that reaches 96% of the P3 standard. P3 is the standard for Digital Cinema and is the current standard for HDR content.
  • Significantly increased peak brightness, a key component in HDR, as measured with an industry standard 10% window, which emulates peak highlights in an HDR signal.
  • Compatible with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR content! No need to worry about format wars. Enjoy both.
  • Full array local dimming with 32 individual LED zones means the backlight can dim for very small dark portions of the image, improving black levels, while increasing for bright portions at the same time, increasing overall contrast significantly over edge-lit displays.  

The price on the M50 is currently only $499, which seems very reasonable to me based on what I see for inferior displays at BestBuy and Costco. I know that VIZIO is offering even better prices during the holidays.

The TV was easy to unpack and set-up. I had to call AT&T U-verse to connect to our cable box. When they heard we had the new TV, they immediately wanted to send a service tech to see the TV so they would be able to help their other customers that will buying this TV for the holidays.

Just ensure you place it where you’ll be looking at it because the picture is much better when you are looking directly at the TV versus being off to the side.

My wife is very impressed with the quality, depth, and richness of the picture of the movies and TV shows she watches. SmartCast is easy to access and the picture quality of HDR movies and shows is remarkable. I enjoy watching football and look forward to watching basketball. VIZIO is giving the fan another reason to watch the game from home rather than going to the event since ticket prices keep going up while TV prices are coming down.

I highly recommend the VIZIO the M50 home theater display.

What kind of Customer Experience are you providing?

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Nov, 10, 2016 @ 08:11 AM



According to Gartner, 64% of people say customer experience (#CX) is more important than price in their choice of a brand.

According to American Express customers are willing to pay 17% more for a good customer experience.

Forrester found that 80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service. However, only 8% of people think these same companies deliver customer service worthy of a superior rating.

What kind of customer experience are you providing? Have you asked your customers? Have you asked your employees? Engaged customer-facing employees have a better idea of the customer experience than non-customer facing employees. Disengaged employees don't care.

How do your customers define an acceptable, unacceptable, and outstanding customer experience? Ask them. That's the only way you'll ever know. 

Talk to your customers to let them know you care about what they think. They'll be amazed that you care about them as individuals.

Recognize employees who provide an outstanding customer experience so other employees will know what you value - beyond revenue.

If you address a customer's concern, they're more likely to stay with you than a customer who never complains.

Save a customer time, make their life easier and you'll earn a customer for life - and probably reduce your marketing budget.


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Tags: CX

Are You Easy To Do Business With?

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 13, 2016 @ 09:07 AM


Have you asked your customers this question?

First, what do you think they'll say?

Now, ask them. You'll be surprised what you learn.

Customers are looking for products and services to make their lives simpler, easier, and save them time.

Show the consumer that you understand their needs, put them first and you'll have a customer for life. Do not assume all customers want the same thing. Have a 360-degree view of the customer for all your employees so everyone in your company can let your customers know you're concerned with their needs and wants and committed to providing them with a great customer experience.

Providng a great customer experience and earning customers for life needs to be a core value. If it's not you'll just be driven by this month's sales goals. If you put your customers first, sales will take care of themselves and the time and money you spend on marketing will go down because your customers will do your marketing for you by becoming advocates and sharing with their friends and colleagues how easy you make it for them.

Please be clear when I say "provide a great customer experience" that this isn't that hard. It's meeting customers' basic expectations. It's easy because so few companies are doing it. Ultimately this will be how your company can differentiate itself from the competition. However, it does require a change in attitude and focus.

Remove the distractions (a.k.a. "friction") for your employees and customers. Employees want to make customers happy. Happy employees make happy customers. Engaged and empowered employees have passion, pride, and confidence in their ability to provide a great customer experience and customers call tell it.

Think about the companies you go to on a regular basis that make it easy for you to do business with them. They've likely earned your loyalty, gratitude, and repeat business.

What can you and your employees do to make it easier for your customers to do business with you? Ask them.

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Tags: customers for life, customer satisfaction, customer engagement

Integrated Marketing Is More Important Than Ever

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jul, 11, 2016 @ 08:07 AM




When I started in marketing and advertising years ago, I learned the importance of integrated marketing - ensure there's consistency of message across TV, radio, print, direct mail and out-of-home. Today, integration is more important than ever given the addition of web, social, email, mobile, and SEO/SEM.

Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust.

Given the number of channels across which our messaging is disseminated, it's easy for marketing communications campaigns to fail.

  1. Message are fragmented, or incongruent, across media channels.
  2. There's little to no strategic planning, let alone messaging planning.
  3. The campaign process is slow, or non-existent, and uncoordinated.
  4. Companies are unprepared to share information across the organization (i.e. silos) and the information is frequently inconsistent.
  5. There's a lack of transparency and cross-channel communication.
  6. There's no on-going dialog across the organization, sharing insights, how the customer interacted with tthe communications, what worked and what didn't.

Integrated marketing today menas collecting all customer information from all channels and integrating it to provide a 360-degree view of the customer so you can meet their needs and wants without asking them to tell you what they've already told someone else in your company.

Incorporating all online and offline data provides you the opportunity to personalize your communications with customers and ensuring you are providing information of value that's relevant to them and where they arein the buying cycle. You can answer the customer's question before they ask it. You will save them time and become easier to do business with, thereby earning their trust.

More knowledge, greater segmentation, more consistent and relevant will lead to more conversions in shorter sales cycles.

In addition, tracking the customer experience (CX) after the sale, across multiple touch points, enables your to build an ongoing relationship with the customer and gives you a better opportunity to create a "customer for life" rather than a single sales event.

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Tags: customers for life, customer experience, consistent messaging, integrated marketing

A Great CRM Is Critical For A Great Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 06, 2016 @ 09:07 AM



Moving forward I believe successful companies will positively differentiate themselves versus the competition by providing an outstanding customer experience. Zappos started the trend online and Amazon was smart enough to acquire them and learn from them. Ritz Carlton continues to lead the way in the brick and mortar world.

The key to providing a great customer experience is by giving everyone in your company a 360-degree view of the customer - their wants, their needs, what they've bought from you in the past, what they've returned, what questions they've asked, what issues they've had.

In order to provide this holistic view of the customer, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) database that captures this information and lets your employees access it in real-time. 

The benefits are myriad:

  1. It's a great central repository for all of your customer data that all of your employees can access and update across all devices.
  2. All team members can see what actions have taken place with a particular customer in the past and know what actions need to take place in the future based on your sales process and customer relationship management process.
  3. All team members can see all of the interactions with the clients enabling them to provide more relevant help thereby making the customers' lives simpler and easier.
  4. Your CRM can be integrated with calendars and marketing automation software for appropriate follow-up after the sale or lead nurturing marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads.
  5. The CRM provides real-time metrics so you can see where prospects and customers are in the sales, post-sales follow-up, or problem/resolution cycle.
  6. You can scale your business in an organized way. In order to do so, everyone needs to be encouraged to keep the data clean and up to date.

Having worked with a number of companies over the course of my career, it's interesting to see the lack of emphasis put on the CRM, its adoption and use, and the cleanliness of the data, given that it is a keystone to providing an outstanding customer experience.

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Tags: outstanding customer experience, customer experience, CRM, customer relationship management

Recent Guest Post for

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jun, 22, 2016 @ 15:06 PM

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Tags: insights from analytics accelerate sales, consumer insights, marketing automation

5 Questions to Ask to Begin Mapping the Buyer's Journey

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 18, 2016 @ 10:05 AM



A lot has been written lately about the need to map the buyer's journey. I concur with the importance of doing so; however, I think this needs to be done by talking to customers rather than gathering sales and marketing team members to "hypothesize" about the buyer's journey.

I recommend you begin the process by talking customers.

Here are five questions to get you started:

  1. What first led you to consider our brand?
  2. What problem were you trying to solve?
  3. Who was involved in the decision to consider it?
  4. What other solutions or brands were considered in your evaluation?
  5. What made you decide to start looking for a solution to this particular problem?

 Answers to these questions will lead to follow-up questions. This conversation will result in greater insights and a more accurate buyer's journey than trying to handle the creation process without customer insights.

If your customers are interested in the success of your company, they'll happily provide their insights. If not, you have a bigger issue.

Let me know if you need help with the process.


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Tags: buyer's journey, mapping the buyer's hourney

Optimize Lead Nurturing to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 17, 2016 @ 11:05 AM



A lot of companies I work with treat all leads the same. This slows the sales process and wastes salespeople's time.

When a lead first comes in, regardless of the amount of research the prospect has done on the internet, it's a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and not a sales qualified lead (SQL). I strongly recommend sales and marketing get together to map the customer journey and score leads based on where they are in the journey.

Once you've mapped the customer journey, make sure your run it by a few customers to validate the assumptions you made in the mapping process.

Optimizing lead nurturing is not dissimilar to content marketing to generate leads. Provide information of value and work on answering customers' and prospects' questions to help them through the buying process rather than selling to them.

By providing information of value, you establish the credibility of your firm and your product or service and one that is focused on solving the customer's problem rather than making a sale. Do this consistently and you'll establish trust and people will begin sharing the information of value you provide.

Consider that everything everyone in your firm creates is a form of content that can be reused in content marketing and you need to think about the opportunities to reuse every piece of content 10 times. Great content is the result of everyone in the firm collaborating by providing information of value that marketing and sales can use with customers and prospects.

You will need different content at each step of the journey. Content is either building consistency and continuity or eroding it. Consistency and continuity build trust. Inconsistency and lack of continuity results in confusion and distrust.

Shorter content tends to be more effective at the top of the funnel while longer content is more relevant and appreciated as you proceed down the funnel.

Provide information of value by ensuring what you are sharing is:

  1. timely;
  2. unique;
  3. answering a question or clarifying complex issue; and,
  4. providing insight to the prospect or customer.

Create trustworthy content by:

  • Investing in a journalist or writer from outside the firm to remove bias
  • Let research and customer insights inform a real business problem
  • Gather different points of view
  • Include statistics from credible sources
  • Be industry specific
Top-of-funnel strategies may include:
  • Asking clients and prospects what's driving their interest in your product or service so you know their information needs and wants and providing that information.
  • Asking clients and prospects about the problems or pains they want to solve with your product or service.
  • Asking clients and prospects what kind of budget they have for your products or services.
  • Understand who's responsible for the purchase decision - the individual with the buying authority, as well as the other influencers involved in the process.
  • All of this information will serve to inform the next content.

Middle-of-funnel strategies may include:

  • Building trust
  • Including objective statistics
  • Webcast with an industry expert or thought leader
  • Provide cutting edge content
  • Customize for the audience
  • Create titles that lure and engage

Bottom-of-funnel strategies may include:

  • Solving a specific problem
  • Telling a complete story with quantified results
  • Quotes or testimonials
  • Quick and easy to read and share with others
How are you nurturing leads with relevant content? 

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Tags: marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, lead nurturing

SEO "Best Practices" Today

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, May, 12, 2016 @ 07:05 AM



Great presentation by Phil Frost, Founder of Main Street ROI (@mainstreetroi), "SEO is Dead: 5 Rules for Winning in the New World of Search."

Given the changes in SEO, and all of the rumors about what you should and shouldn't do, I thought it would be useful to share the thoughts of an SEO professional.

Phil suggests approaching SEO the same way you should approach content marketing - be transparent and provide information of value. Do not try to fool Google. Help Google provide information of value.

Phil reviewed Google's four major updates:

  1. Panda rooted out websites that provided poor user exeperiences (UX), poor design, and poor navigation.
  2. Penguin removed over optimized websites where users were trying to beat Google's algorithm by key word stuffing.
  3. Google+ used social media signals to improve search results by ranking sites based on social media credibility.
  4. Hummingbird interprets the context of a search and provide semantic updates.

As long as you're trying to provide information of value to users, Google updates are an opportunity to improve the performance of your site in search results.

Three things Phil recommends avoiding in order to avoid being penalized by Google:

  1. Over-optimized web pages
    1. Write naturally for your customer do not write for search engines.
    2. Do not stuff keywords on a page.
    3. Aim for 500+ words per page.
    4. Provide information of value.
  2. Self-created links
    1. Do not buy links - you will be penalized.
    2. Do not add links to irrelevant sites.
    3. Do not use the same anchor text on all, or most of, your links.
    4. Focus on sharing information of value to get links.
  3. Unnecessary "SEO" webpages
    1. Do not create multiple pages for similar keywords (e.g. plurals or similar intent).
    2. One page per keyword or theme.

Three predictions for 2016:

  1. Google will continue to fight manipulative SEO tactics.
  2. Local and mobile search will increase in importance; as such, your site needs to be mobile optimized.
  3. Social signals will become more important.

SEO is about partnering with Google to help users.

SEO should resemble and reflect real world relationships where you share information of value with people so they are talking about you and sharing your information with others, as well as providing positive reviews about your products and services.

Here are Phil's five rules:

  1. Research keywords.
    1. Use the Google keyword planner tool to look for long tail keywords.
    2. Look for search volume greater than zero.
    3. Look for words that reflect "buying intent" versus "research intent."
    4. Ask yourself if you really deserve to be ranked number one - do you actually offer the product or service you are promoting?
  2. Website relevance.
    1. Match your message to the market.
    2. Think in terms of target personas.
    3. Pick one page per target keyword and similar phrases.
    4. Use the target keyword in the title, headers, and body copy. Google looks at "titles" of a website like the chapters in a book.
    5. Create the webpage you'd want to find based on what you typed into Google (i.e. long-tail keywords).
  3. Website reputation.
    1. What's your "real world" reputation?
    2. Make sure the websites you're associated with are credible.
    3. Your friends say good things about you in social media.
    4. Focus on attracting links - do not buy or create them.
  4. SEO revenue.
    1. Write for your customers.
    2. Have social proof.
    3. Have clear calls-to-action.
    4. Do your keyword research to find words that generate sales.
    5. Use Google Analytics to track SEO traffic, leads, and sales.
  5. Responsibility.
    1. Identify who is going to be responsible for SEO on a day-to-day basis.
    2. Do not "set and forget" SEO. It must be managed on a daily or weekly basis.
    3. Delegate SEO work only after you understand.

Tactics for getting ranked in 30 days or less:

  1. Piggyback SEO
    1. Piggyback on high authroity websites like YouTube, PRWeb and Webwire
    2. Publish content with keywords in the title.
  2. Local SEO via Google and local listing (20% of searches are local; 40% of mobile searches are local; 97% search for local businesses)
    1. Research = Google Keyword Tool
    2. Relevance = keywords in you profile on local listing sites and relevant online directories
    3. Reputation = citations and reviews

Create a  "search console" (formerly webmaster tools) account in Google to receive alerts if your site is hacked and get advice from Google on the next steps to take to get your ranking back. 

Stay abreast of SEO changes for long term success and don't try to game the system. Establish a set of best practices for sharing information of value and you will be following the SEO "best practices" of the times.

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Tags: SEO, keywords