Wanted: a Scorecard for Consumer Energy Products

Here’s a pretty obvious statement: selling energy management products to commercial customers is different than to the general consumer. Going down the same path, there are a lot more challenges to reaching a large residential market than the commercial.

Let’s assume you aren’t partnering with a utility company and position the product for a direct sale to the consumer. Let’s keep on assuming and expect that you aren’t wanting the super-tech-savvy DIY niche crowd, you want a significantly larger chunk of the residential market. Regardless of the product coming directly from you or OEM’d through some partner, that sales pitch better work for the consumer as the ultimate buyer.

We’ve seen plenty of products that are a little too complicated for the average buyer, and energy products are no different. There are quite a few consumer options out there that do a decent job of explaining the situation to you, though. Take two of our recent examples: TED and PlotWatt.

It would be nice to have a scorecard – a simple checklist – for making sure you aren’t going off the rails in explaining your product to the world. I can’t say I have one in my back pocket, and it surely isn’t all that different from statements you could make about most high-tech gizmos and gadgets for sale today. Some examples:

Change jargon to common language

  • How about not bringing up kW, kWh, and metering resolution? Instead, talk about simple terms like power and electric usage. (i.e. they shouldn’t need Energy 101 to buy your product)
  • Discussing the communications protocols is a little silly. Keep the discussion at “it talks to that”.
  • Avoid acronyms at all cost. Remember SMI (smart metering infrastructure) and HAN (home area network)? Yeah, neither does grandma.
  • I think the video from the folks over at PlotWatt does this very well.

Give a basis for interaction

  • What are we going to do with “energy” here? Am I buying a product in a box or is it software on the web?
  • Avoid calling something “flexible” or a “solution” when it really doesn’t need to be. Vagaries in the offering get confusing. The package the consumer is interested in is the “save energy” product or “make my house more green” box-of-stuff. A field engineer is not required and we’re not installing a new enterprise SAP integration.
  • Check out the folks at TED, you know they sell a box.

Use an anchor that is both common and important

  • Get specific. I’m interested in concrete things I can do now.
  • Keep to simple needs. I’m out to save money not lower my average daily demand because of my bracketed rate.
Written by mackay on September 23, 2011 Categories: Energy Tags: ,
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