Custom Applications to Save the Environment

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First we developed the concept for a rebate program to get homeowners to install safer, more efficient heating systems; then we developed the custom applications needed to process, track and analyze the results for thousands of customers across the country.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, some of the biggest changes come from individuals using less energy. Our Upgrade & Save Rebate Program put cash in homeowners’ hands when they replaced old, inefficient boilers and furnaces or potentially unsafe storage tanks, helping each one to use less energy.

We are going to start at the end. Since we launched the first program in 2015, rebates have been distributed to more than 10,445 homeowners in 7 states. Those new boilers and furnaces have cut more than 8,700 tons of CO2(e) from the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 1,676 cars off the road.

We get a little choked up every time we see these stats. This is green marketing with direct results.
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OK – now that you know where we are, let’s talk about how we got here.

Many of our association clients had funds available through a national check-off program, the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), to be used to promote energy efficiency and safety. The idea of offering consumer rebates had been bandied about, but no one had figured out a way to streamline the tracking of available funds, authorized rebates, processed payments and long term efficiency gains. The amount of paperwork and cross referencing and more paperwork was such an obstacle that most groups simply decided it couldn’t be done.

Challenge accepted. We looked at the processes that had been tried. We talked to the association leaders and NORA to see what was needed. And then we did what we do best. We made the impossible possible. Our applications developers built a custom platform that took the rebate process from funding allocations and pre-authorizations to data collection, project confirmation and payment. The platform needed to meet the needs of three different stakeholders (dealers, associations and NORA), and the scalable app was flexible enough to manage different rules for 18 regional rebates.
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Our idea needed an identity, so our branding and graphic design teams did their magic. The Upgrade and Save Rebate name was self-defining, and lent itself for easy modification for each program: Upgrade and Save NYC, Upgrade and Save Connecticut, Upgrade and Save Virginia, etc.

To help the individual dealers promote the Upgrade & Save Rebates, we created regional consumer websites; multi-use content for newsletters, blogs, direct mail, social media and company sites; and insert stuffers and other marketing materials.

We made the program as intuitive as possible, but with all the moving parts, region-specific rules and values, and more than 600 individual dealers accessing the system, there needed to be an educational component and lots of ongoing service. Our support includes annual training webinars for each group, and a dedicated Rebates Assistance team which is called on daily to help dealers process or track rebates, association leaders pull reports or re-allocate funds, or NORA provide efficiency reports to Congress.
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Our program was developed to put as much of the available funding directly into the consumers' hands. Organizations have the option to expand with marketing campaigns, but it is not a requirement. Most let their dealers provide rebates to the homeowners who need them most. Others, however, choose to promote the program to the general public with regional or statewide campaigns that include social media, digital advertising, radio and billboards.

Creating custom software for complex data processes is one of the things PriMedia does best. Creating the pieces that go around it, the design, features, educational and sales materials, ad campaigns and more, are a few others.

Do you have an idea that needs some nurturing to grow?

There's nothing we like better than figuring out how to make the impossible possible. Bring us your great idea, and we can help find a way to make it viable and easy to use. Let’s talk it through and see what we can come up with.

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