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we can help your business…
Give your business the edge
How to safeguard your
Easy ways to increase
Digital marketing secrets
to help increase sales
As the nights draw in and we prepare to celebrate the festive
season and approaching new year, now’s a great time to give
your business the edge.
Energy market view 3
npower news 4
Protect Business movers:
Support when relocating 5
If your business produces anything unique,
safeguarding your intellectual property is important. Hot topic:
However, knowing how best to go about this can be Protect your intellectual property 6
challenging, so read our guide on page 6. Energy efficiency:
Cut costs this winter 8
Save Green spotlight:
As we enter the season of larger fuel bills, implementing The EV revolution 10
some simple efficiency measures can help you reduce How to:
your business energy costs. Find out where to start on Make the most of digital marketing 12
Internet-based marketing can provide smaller
businesses with low-cost opportunities to better
target customers. A digital marketing expert offers
some tips on page 12.
Elsewhere in this issue, you can read about the
latest news from npower (page 4), find out
why electric vehicles could become a more
common feature on our roads (page 10).
Wishing you the best of the season,
Customer Service Manager
Editorial content provided by Susannah Lawson & Associates (www.slcommunications.co.uk).
npower is a registered trademark and a trading name of Npower Direct Limited (registered in England and Wales No.3782443) and associated companies.
Registered Office: Windmill Hill Business Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon SN5 6PB.
Energy Market View
Energy market view
Getting the balance right
Expect a heated debate from politicians as the UK decides how best to meet our future
energy needs, and watch out for incentives for businesses that can help to reduce fuel
bills. Janet Wood reports.
The prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle in September
brought a new face in to the energy sector: Janet Wood is editor
John Hayes, who took over as Energy Minister. of Utility Week.
Hayes, and his boss Ed Davey, the Secretary of
State for Energy and Climate Change, have to
shepherd a new Energy Bill through the legislative
process at top speed, if the government is to
meet its aim to have it in place by early 2013.
Getting the mix right
In terms of how best to meet future demand, The other side of the generation coin is consumption
the broad consensus is that with fossil fuel costs – and already, consumers are being offered incentives
increasing, we will be best – and most economically to reduce energy demand. The forthcoming Green
– placed if we have a mix of sources. That will Deal will enable you to offset the cost of improving
include gas and nuclear, plus some renewables. energy efficiency against future savings, so negating
But because so much investment in new the need for capital outlay. And investing in
generating infrastructure is required, it’s crucial renewable energy such as solar photovoltaic panels
to get the market framework right. The tension is or a biomass boiler can also pay dividends via the
around the right mix – can we drive forward our Feed in Tariff and Renewables Heat Incentive.
renewables investment faster, or should we invest
more in gas? But in any version of the portfolio we Rewards for flexibility
will have both.
In future, further options to reduce bills are likely
npower, in fact, demonstrates the change. via payments for ‘demand-side response’. The idea
The company announced in September that is to harness the flexibility that energy users have,
it will shut down its old coal and gas plants in to help run the system better. For example
Oxfordshire (Didcot) and Southampton (Fawley), refrigeration units, which cycle on and off anyway,
and it has started up a new gas-fired power station can be timed so they aren’t drawing power at
at Pembroke. It has also brought on line wind farms peak times.
and converted an old coal-fired station in Kent to
It’s not clear yet exactly how this would work
burn biomass instead. This all results in cleaner
– but it’s certainly worth watching the Energy
power generation, and the mix of sources allows
Bill to see how those proposals develop.
the most efficient use of each.
Taking a break to raise Your views make a difference
A new customer survey is gathering input to help
£90k for Macmillan npower identify areas for improvement. Businesses
calling for help are being asked to participate in a
npower employees across the country joined post-call automated survey.
thousands of other businesses and groups taking
part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning at “We are looking to gauge customer
the end of September. “Staff from nearly all our
sites took a break to come together for coffee and
satisfaction, find out how well
cake, raising £90,000 for our corporate charity queries are resolved and hear any
Macmillan,” explains Ruth Worton, Charity ideas for improving our service,”
& Volunteering Delivery Manager at npower.
“We also held a Great RWE npower Bake Off explains Chris Watson, Contact Centre Manager
event to uncover some hidden baking talent for SME Customer Service.
– and get some great cakes to enjoy. This helped
to boost the money we raised and provide further “Each month we analyse the data and are delighted to
funds for such a worthwhile charity, which offers find that so far, 89% of callers rate the behaviour and
such fantastic support to those living with cancer.” skills of the advisers they speak to highly.” Satisfaction
in npower overall has been rated at 79%. “We are
To find our more about fundraising for Macmillan, particularly keen to learn how we can improve on
visit macmillan.org.uk this,” says Chris.
Support when moving premises
Relocating your business can be a big job. But
when it comes to sorting out your business gas and
electricity – finalising bills and ensuring supply in your
“To save time, it’s a good idea to assemble all the
information you need in advance of calling our
team,” suggests Diane Buttle of the Business Movers
Team. “That way, it only takes one call and then we
can handle the rest.”
As a guide, Diane recommends gathering together
the following information before your moving day:
• ustomer account number (this will be on any
• orwarding address for your final bill – or refund
if you are in credit
• ontact details for your landlord or letting agent,
• New occupier’s details, if known
New blog to benefit your business Then on the day you move, call the Business Movers
A new online service has launched to provide team on 0845 166 3360 with this information,
business customers with access to helpful plus a final meter(s) reading. Taking a closing meter
information and advice that could save you reading is easy, but if you’d like to arrange for an
money. “The new npower blog will cover all things npower representative to do this, then you’ll need to
energy-related – from how you can benefit from call a week ahead to arrange.
Green Deal funding to accessing tax breaks for
energy-efficient business equipment,” explains “It’s useful to remember that if you don’t let us know
Emily Stagg, a member of npower’s online team. you’re moving out, you’ll continue to be liable for
all charges.” advises Diane. “When you close your
“We’ll also be featuring customer case studies, account, you can also arrange to set up a new one
sharing information on how businesses can cut and ensure supply at your new premises – just have
their energy bills, and exploring new technologies the details ready when you call.”
such as cloud computing.” In addition, customers
can propose topics they’d like to see. “Our aim is To contact the Business Movers Team, call
to create an interactive service that provides
businesses with valuable information they want 0845 166 3360
to read about,” says Emily. Or visit
Visit npower.com/blog to find out more.
How safe is your intellectual property?
The recent high-profile court case between Apple and Samsung, which saw the
former awarded some $1bn in damages, reminded businesses great and small of
the importance of intellectual property. But what is it and how do you protect it?
Patents and copyright
As the IPO website explains, patents protect new
inventions and cover “how things work, what they
do, how they do it, what they are made of and
how they are made”. It gives the owner the right
to prevent others from making, using, importing or
selling the invention without permission.
Patents must be registered and protection can last
for up to 20 years. You can only patent an invention
that hasn’t already been patented. Patents must be
registered on a country-by-country basis and UK
Rosa Wilkinson, patents are granted by the IPO, or by the European
IPO Director of Innovation Patent Office when patent applications are filed
under the European Patent Convention.
According to a survey by the Intellectual Property Copyright protects written, theatrical, musical
Office (IPO), the government body responsible for and artistic works as well as film, photographs,
intellectual property rights in the UK, a staggering book layouts, sound recordings and broadcasts.
96% of SMEs don’t know the value of their Copyright is an automatic right, which means
intellectual property (IP). you don’t have to apply for it, but you must prove
creation date in cases of infringement.
“Every business should have an IP strategy,
which identifies what they own and whether
they wish to protect it,” advises Rosa Wilkinson,
Trade marks and design rights
IPO Director of Innovation. “A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish
your goods and services from those of your
“All successful businesses are underpinned by competitors,” Wilkinson explains. “It can be words
a portfolio of IP rights – trade marks, designs, – brand names, usually – logos or a combination of
patents and copyright. With the right strategy – the two. You register your trade mark by applying
and the right protections in place – an IP-aware to the IPO. Trade marks must be registered in each
business can exploit these rights to generate the country, although you can obtain a Community
income needed for growth.” Trade Mark to cover Europe.”
If you are responsible for the way an object
looks, you will automatically have design right Protective measures
protection, but if the design is infringed and SnoozeShade® is a handy sleep and sun shade for
you want to take legal action, you must prove prams and pushchairs designed to help babies sleep
your design was copied. “That’s why it can be during the day and its inventor is Surrey-based Cara
wise to register your design, which will protect Sayer. “I was out walking my baby daughter in her
it for 25 years and enable you to sue in cases of pram when her naptime came,” she remembers,
infringement,” Wilkinson says. “but the sunlight kept her awake. I couldn’t find a
solution in the shops or online, so I invented my
Sources of further information own and started my business in 2010.”
Obviously, you also must make sure you don’t
Sayer says you must make it difficult for
infringe other people’s IP – even unintentionally.
others to exploit your hard work and creativity,
“Many businesses lack basic knowledge about IP
but doesn’t necessarily see patents as the answer.
and it’s not until something goes wrong that they
“They’re expensive and take a long time, while
feel the need to find out more,” Wilkinson says.
competitors can launch products that serve the
“Businesses can find a wide range of free same demand, but are different enough to not
information on our website ipo.gov.uk, infringe on your patent.”
which is a great place to start. However,
Having a patent pending is cheaper, she says,
nothing is better than tailored advice from an
while providing some protection and time to test
expert, and many patent lawyers, trade mark
your invention’s commercial potential without
lawyers and IP specialists will offer initial advice
having to pay for the complete patent process.
for free, then you can decide what to do next,”
she concludes. Sayer says money can also be better spent
establishing and trade-marking your brand.
“I’ve trade-marked the word SnoozeShade®,
so no one can use it in relation to similar products
in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and Europe.
I’d also recommend registering your designs,
because it safeguards your product’s appearance.”
If you lack knowledge, Sayer recommends
contacting the IPO or seeking advice from a
“commercially aware legal adviser” with experience
of businesses like yours. “Becoming the leading
brand certainly helps, while trade-marking and
design registration might be a much better,
cheaper and quicker way to protect your products
Cara Sayer, than patenting,” she concludes.
Inventor of SnoozeShade®
Help to reduce your heating costs this winter
Heating your workplace is essential during the colder months, but you could
save on the cost by taking some simple steps to increase efficiency and eliminate
unnecessary waste, and with some investment, you can save even more.
Five steps to a warmer 1. If you have a centrally-controlled heating
system, check that it’s set to come on and go
workplace for less off at appropriate times for the working day,
A few no-cost and low-cost measures can and that these are amended once the clocks
make a big difference to both comfort and go forward or back. Also check that you are not
energy consumption: heating your premises on days it’s unoccupied
– for example at weekends.
2. Check temperature settings. The optimum
setting for most workplaces is 19˚C. For labour-
intensive activities this can be reduced to 16˚C,
and for sedentary work (ie office work), you may
need to increase it to about 20˚C. Every 1˚C
above the ideal temperature could mean you
are using up to 8% more energy than necessary,
so simply adjusting your thermostat could
save you money.
3. Only heat occupied areas. A walk around
your premises to switch off radiators or turn
down room thermostats in areas that aren’t in
common use – for example in storage areas or
empty offices – can help to ensure you’re not
wasting money on heating unnecessarily.
4. Fitting insulation or reflective strips behind
radiators also saves on energy wastage,
especially if they are fitted on external walls
or next to unheated areas. This can save up to
90% of the energy that would otherwise be
wasted through the wall.
5. Aim to ensure doors and windows are kept
shut when space heating is in use, particularly
between heated and unheated areas.
Insulate to save up to 75% Running at the right temperature
When you consider that up to 25% of heat However you heat water for your business,
lost from a building is through the roof, overheating or storing it in poorly-insulated
with a further 35% leaking out via walls cylinders can mean it costs more and wastes
and 15% escaping through gaps in draughty energy. Check the temperature and adjust
doors and windows, you can begin to see your water thermostat where possible – for
the business case for investing in insulation. every 1˚C reduction, your energy costs could
Roof insulation, cavity walls or dry-lining drop by up to 15%. 60˚C is usually optimum
solid walls and sealing up gaps where heat unless you need hotter water for catering or
can escape can produce significant savings on specific commercial purposes.
energy costs, as well as making your working
environment warmer. As with your space heating controls, ensure
your water heating timer is set to meet your
Zero-interest loans are available through requirements and not for times or days when
the Carbon Trust, while the government’s hot water isn’t required.
new Green Deal initiative finances the cost
of energy efficiency improvements, with the Finally, if hot water is stored in a cylinder,
money recouped via the savings then made. lagging this can reduce heat loss. And aim to
get your boiler regularly serviced as this will
You can find out more at carbontrust.com help to increase efficiency. If it’s very old,
or calling 0800 085 2005, and visiting it may be worth considering an upgrade as
decc.gov.uk and searching for the latest on this is likely to dramatically cut running costs.
the Green Deal. Your local Business Link will
also have details of loans and grants available For more money-saving tips visit
– visit businesslink.gov.uk to find out more.
Source for energy-saving figures: The Carbon Trust, September 2012
The EV revolution
Advances in technology now mean electricity-powered vehicles offer many
advantages – from being much cheaper to run and easier to charge, to providing
impressive environmental benefits.
Electric vehicles hit the news in late September npower – and its parent company RWE – has
when Nemesis, a modified Lotus sportscar, broke already installed more than 1900 charging points
the EV land-speed record, reaching 151mph. It across Europe. “The vast majority of charging will
helped to dispel the often-held belief that electric- be at home or in the office, but if you urgently need
powered cars are slow, Noddy-style vehicles that to recharge on a longer journey, there will also be
are impractical for most drivers. places on the street,” says Jonathan. “The cost is
also significantly less than filling up with petrol
In fact, a report by Deloitte^ predicts that electric – for example, if you do 12,000 miles a year, a petrol
cars will make up one in every ten car sales by the engine might cost around £1500 whereas an electric
end of the decade, with 30 models from the likes of car would cost about £150 to charge.”
BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan, Renault and other
leading manufacturers expected to come to market
in the UK within the next two years.
“Range is the first concern most people raise about
electric vehicles (EVs) – but the average distance
travelled in the UK by car and van drivers is just
8.4 miles per trip – and some 98% of all journeys
are less than 50 miles,” explains Jonathan
Woodthorpe, Head of e-mobility at npower.
“Most EV models today also offer a typical
range of around 90 miles between charges.”
Testing out the latest models
The other frequently asked question is how – and In a recent test drive, npower employees tried
where – can you charge an EV. “At npower, we’ve out the electric Mercedes Vito E-Cell van,
been developing charge points for EVs and are the which was driven 352 carbon neutral miles
first energy supplier to offer an EV tariff – Juice-e – from Swindon to Sunderland, powered by
which offers off-peak rates that can charge a vehicle npower’s dedicated electric vehicle chargers
for around £1.20 from home,” explains Jonathan. en-route. Using the Juice-e tariff, the journey
cost just £7.54 compared to £57.55 in an
equivalent diesel-powered van, with zero
tailpipe emissions compared to 310g CO2
per mile for a diesel equivalent vehicle.
^Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL)’s Global Manufacturing Industry group, Unplugged: Electric vehicle realities versus consumer expectations 2011.
EVs: the benefits for business
Electric vehicles can offer significant
environmental and cost benefits to you
or your business:
• No road tax
• ignificantly reduced running costs,
costing around 1p per mile to run
compared to approximately 14p per
mile for an average standard fuel car*
• usinesses also benefit from no company
car tax and showroom tax
• No congestion charging costs
• he government currently offers up to
£5,000 as a grant towards the purchase
of your EV
To find out whether an electric vehicle
could reduce your fuel costs, why not visit
and use the fuel calculator.
*Costs range and usage will vary and depend on factors such as model, number of passengers, driving style, battery age and road, battery, vehicle and weather
conditions. (Source: npower.com/EV)
Make the most of digital marketing
Using the internet and online devices to promote your business provide a low-cost way
to better engage with your audience and help increase sales, as digital marketing expert
Peter Fealey explains.
“Digital marketing is the use of internet-enabled digital marketing is less intrusive and holds consumers’
devices to engage with customers and promote attention for longer.”
your products and services,” explains Peter Fealey,
founder of north Somerset-based digital marketing Crucially, Fealey says, the success of digital
agency Feel Digital. “Your message can be delivered marketing is usually built on a sound offline foundation.
via the web, social media, email, mobile devices, “Your brand must be solid and you must know what
‘apps’ and even games consoles.” messages you need to communicate – and to whom,
of course,” he stresses.
Digital media may still be a relatively new
concept to many businesses, but more and more Net returns
small firms are embracing it to help boost sales. Fealey says your website should be one of the most
“The rise of sites such as eBay means even the valuable tools in your arsenal. “Make it search engine
smallest enterprise can sell online at little or no friendly by keeping your content fresh and relevant,
cost,” says Peter. “Those who don’t have a solid and ensure it looks good and is easy to navigate.
web presence will lose out. For example, most Add a blog, because it can help you engage customers
consumers now turn to Google when they need more personally, while encouraging their participation.
something, so if you’re not ranking, you won’t And make the most of Google Analytics. The more
get the business,” he warns. you understand about your website visitors, the better
placed you’ll be to meet their needs. Your website also
Key benefits needs to be optimised for search engines. Quite simply,
“Word of mouth has long been the friend of small the more frequently your site appears in search results,
businesses, but these days conversations are the more visitors you’ll get.”
increasingly happening online,” Fealey continues.
“One of our clients – a café owner – increased her What about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising?
footfall by 25% in one month by running a simple “It’s the most targeted form of search marketing,”
competition, spreading word through Twitter and Fealey replies. “Research suggests that 95% of
blog posts. It cost her nothing, except some time.” Google users view paid search results at the top of
the search results page, while 31% view the ads on
As Fealey points out, digital marketing can not only the right-hand side. Because you only pay for the
be much cheaper than offline options, your success ad if it’s clicked, PPC can provide excellent reach.”
can be measured and analysed more quickly,
conveniently and accurately. “Tracking response Other key digital marketing options include email
enables you to learn and get better. You can also marketing, which Fealey describes as a low-cost,
target people most likely to buy from you, while effective way to reach a large audience. “I swear by
email services provider mailchimp.com. “Social media provides an opportunity to constantly
Creating your own professional-looking email interact with your followers, so when you do let them
or email newsletter is simple; the interface is very know about an offer, they’re more likely to look at it.
intuitive and the software can hold your hand as Make sure you have a LinkedIn and Twitter account.
much as you like.” Add a company Facebook page if you’re selling B2C
more than B2B. They are all free to setup and you can
Social media spend an hour a day on them.”
Fealey views social media (including such sites as
Does Fealey have any final words of advice about
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) as an inexpensive
digital marketing for SMEs? “Keep it simple and
way to interact and build relationships with potential
user-friendly. Digital marketing enables you to reach
and current customers.
out to your customers on a one-to-one basis – locally,
“Keep things friendly and relaxed, don’t just post nationally and internationally, 24/7. Make the most of
promotions and products all the time,” he advises. it – the world really is at your fingertips,” he concludes.
“Social media provides
an opportunity to
constantly interact with
your followers, so when
you do let them know
about an offer, they’re
more likely to look at it.”
Peter Fealey, founder of digital marketing agency Feel Digital
Rupert Youngman, MD of online women’s
wear retailer Hush, explains how his
business uses digital marketing
“We’ve always marketed ourselves digitally, but it’s
something we’ve given greater focus more recently
because more customers are spending more time online.
Our catalogue still drives most of our sales, but as our
offline marketing principally drives people online, it’s
important to have a strong digital presence. Probably up
to 40% of our sales result from digital marketing.
“We started our email newsletter in 2005, but because we
don’t tend to offer discounts nor promote new products
every week, we needed something else to talk about to our
customers. That’s why our newsletter focuses on things we
like and things we think our customers would be interested
in, rather than Hush. Not only is our newsletter well
received, but it also drives a lot of website traffic and sales.
“Our website also features a blog, which is almost
exclusively about things to do in your downtime – book
and film recommendations, music, recipes etc. I’m not sure
whether it has any direct impact on sales, but it’s more
about building a brand and enhancing customer loyalty.
We’ve also done pay-per-click marketing since 2006.
We have a social media presence and we’ll do more going
forward, but we remain sceptical. We don’t want to do it
for the sake of doing it.
“What final words of advice do I offer about digital
marketing? Don’t expect miracles. Be realistic about what
you hope to achieve; measure results against projections;
and don’t be afraid to innovate. Marketing is essentially
some basic psychology combined with common sense.”
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