Capturing Value in Nontraditional Ways

When I grew up in Massachusetts, I remember reading a story about Joe Kennedy. He would go up to owners of older drafty apartments in downtown Boston and make them a unique proposition. Many of the units were poorly insulated and cost a small fortune to heat in the winter. Joe would agree to insulate the building at no cost to the owner if the owner agreed to simply pay Joe the historical heating bill for a contracted period of time. Then at the expiration of the contract, the owner would begin to pay the actual heating bills from that point forward and owe Joe nothing for his investment in insulation.

Joe captured his value in the margin between the lower heating costs he had to pay while the owner continued to pay Joe the much higher historical based cost. Joe capture additional value in the form of tax credits.

Since I live in Colorado where it is sunny for over 300 days per year, last year I contemplated buying a solar panel to supplement my electricity. After doing an ROI analysis, I determined that based on the large upfront cost it would take more than six or seven years to see any kind of savings from the purchase. I recently read an article by clean energy entrepreneur Jigar Shah that got me thinking. There is an opportunity for a solar panel company to look at the Joe Kennedy model and just give away the solar panel in exchange for capturing the margin between the market cost of purchasing electricity from the utility company and the actual cost paid by the consumer with the panels supplementing their electrical need. The solar company could devise a economic model based on a contract period where the margin would provide an ongoing annualized revenue stream for a given number of years that would not only cover its cost, but provide a hefty profit. Rather than carry all the costs, the solar company could unitize the cost of the panels plus their installation and offer the deal to investors who could also capture the subsidies. Have you ever considered giving away your product in exchange for capturing revenue in other ways?

Reposted by permission. View Steve’s original post here. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveImke

Keeping Promises to Your Customer: Marketing Strategies that Work

How to tell your company’s story to inspire trust, remain agile to customer needs

In Seth Godin’s recent blog, he says: “My take for the last 15 years is that marketing is merely storytelling and promise making/keeping, and in fact, everything the organization does is at some level, marketing.”

I couldn’t agree more. But how can a new company or an existing company ensure that they’re telling the right stories and making promises they can keep? Using The Center for Business Modeling Business Planning Framework will help. And the best thing about it is that it is an iterative process: If your story doesn’t gel or your promises start to feel flimsy, using the framework will help you adjust.

Agility is Critical

A post by Margaret Rouse writing on techtarget.com provides an excellent definition of business agility. She outlines the ways that a company can keep changing by “assessing priorities and progress frequently”—not just at the end of a project. Her post mostly discusses agility in the context of project management, however, isn’t your business plan the most important and impactful project you undertake?

Using the Framework has helped me crystallize my stories and ensure my promises are kept to my clients in three major ways:

I Can Do Anything Better Than You

1) Brand integrity- I used to tell the story: “I can do anything you need in PR and marketing” and it’s just not true. I don’t have certain skills but then again, one of my strongest attributes is being clear-eyed about that. If one of my clients gives me a project that’s not in my wheel house and hiring a contractor to fill in the gaps is cost-effective for both the client and my company—it’s full steam ahead. However, I need to be very careful when doing so—most of the skills I need help with come with a pretty hefty price tag. Working with my client to find a more effective partner brings them more value in the long run—and makes me more of a business consultant in their eyes. That’s the new story for me—“I will do what I’m best at and if it’s not my strength, I will make sure I hook you up with quality people.” My product and services roadmap (based on the CBM Framework) was adjusted accordingly.

What No One Wants to Hear About Business Ownership

2) Keep your promises to yourself- As a marketing and PR professional for many years, I spent a lot of late-night hours catching up on work because I made sure to make the evening football and soccer games when my kids were in school. When I opened my own company, I tried to opt out of business trips (when possible) that included a lot of travel, paid awesomely — but would upset my work/life balance.

Sometimes, I just had to leave and do my job—and that involved breaking promises to my loved ones rather than to my employer or client. Today, I walk a fine line with keeping client promises and promises to myself about how present I will be for my grown daughter and my youngest son. I believe that any business plan that ignores an entrepreneur’s personal life will fail in the long run—so when using the Framework, I make sure to adjust my plan to the impact on my personal life. I might lose some revenue, but I gain energy and commitment for the projects I choose to take on—because I know that they are congruent to my values. No one asks for their checkbook balance on their death bed.

What’s the Story?

3) Telling a valuable story- The CBM Framework shows you how to tell your company’s story and also to remain agile enough to change your story when the customer is not responding. This is where content marketing metrics come in—how are you reaching your customers and what are you telling them to ultimately turn them into “paying customers”? Your marketing strategies are always evolving based on their needs and your business goals.

Keeping promises. Telling compelling stories. These are the two core activities of any business, anywhere. I love feeling confident that I’m doing them well. Let CBM’s Framework make you confident, as well.