This article was updated in January 2021 to reflect the most recent industry updates.
One of the great things about my job is talking to cleantech companies with cutting-edge technology, data-driven execution and great management.
But it’s surprising how many of those companies build legacy marketing communications into their approach for engaging customer prospects.
Discovering the Ultimate Marketing Paradox
For an industry that’s transforming the way we power our economy, too many companies are still having sales staff carry most of the burden for customer engagement. They’re leaning on traditional marketing efforts to supplement one-on-one sales contact.
Print ads, trade show booths and unsolicited emailed newsletters all have their place, but they interrupt what customers are doing to get their attention. And, they are doing this at a time when B2B customers are relying on search engines and educational content to make more of their purchase decisions online before they will take or make seller contact. The marketing research is clear that buyers are going to greater lengths to screen out traditional marketing tools, decreasing their efficiency.
Cutting edge companies reliant on traditional marketing create the “Cleantech Marketing Paradox.”
This Paradox is good for firms like ours because it grows the pipeline of companies that are frustrated by increasing lead times, less phone contact with prospects and lots more unreturned emails. But the Paradox is not good for cleantech companies who aren’t trying to align the way they engage customers with the ways customers want to be engaged.
4 Simple Steps to Solving the Cleantech Marketing Paradox
Whether you are looking for guidance in solar energy marketing, community acceptance for wind, or increasing your number of clients in renewables, you can use these steps to ensure your renewable energy business plan is ready for the fast-changing realities of the cleantech industry.
Survey Your Existing Customers
Existing customers chose you for a reason, and they are sticking with you for your products and services. They’re not just your revenue stream. They’re a research asset for sales and market-intelligence. Surveying customers is a way to enhance sales contact because it’s not just another follow-up on a query that a prospect hasn't answered. It’s an opportunity for customers to talk about themselves and inform vendors on what they want from the marketplace (and what they don’t want).
Inventory the Collective Experience of Your Sales Staff
We see plenty of companies where their sales team members informally compare notes on customer objections and sales challenges they encounter. But we see a lot fewer companies that tap this collective experience by inventorying sales team intelligence in a systematic way. Cleantech market research combined with the systematic gathering of anecdotal sales experiences makes for a really potent stream of customer insights.
Creating Content vs. Giving Insights
But those customer insights are only as good as they are used in content that customers find interesting, and that's deployed through an organized calendar. This content isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s the life blood of ongoing lead nurturing, and that’s why cleantech market research and aligning marketing and sales is so critical toward driving success. In other words, an insightful blog post makes for a much more compelling value add to send with your sixth base touch in two months than the same, “can we jump on the phone?” email that prospects are training themselves to avoid.
Create and Maintain a Feedback Loop
It’s been hinted at over and over, but once again: Marketing, communications and sales are integral to each other. If you’re set up appropriately on digital platforms, your company will be able to collect prospective clients' contact information and your marketing team can track prospects’ progress through the sales funnel.
- Generate leads by attracting them to your products and services through an inbound marketing program.
- Track prospects through the sales journey that solar energy or wind marketing should support.
- Educate prospects sooner so your sales team can focus on selling rather than educating.
- Save overall staff time by increasing efficiencies and overall success.
These steps can support a strong renewable energy development plan that uses the best of cleantech market research. In fact, we’ve helped America’s biggest IPP successfully do just that. Read about it here.