This article was updated in October 2023 to reflect the most recent industry developments.
Though we focused on best practices for any business, we covered a range of common cleantech marketing mistakes to avoid and principles to follow that are especially relevant to clean economy startups.
Digital Transformation in the Renewable Energy Sector
There is a relatively new quality of the purchasing process for prospective B2B customers: 57%-70% of the research process happens before a customer will engage a sales representative.
Think about that: By the time you make contact with a potential customer, they are already over halfway done with their buying decision.
Building different types of content for each stage in the buying process with targeted communication will help your startup adapt to the new engagement environment of the renewable energy sector.
Modernizing Cleantech Sales and Making a Cleantech PR Strategy
Many companies still default to a ‘spray and pray’ cleantech marketing strategy: Spend money communicating to a big, generalized (and often imaginary) audience and hope that a small portion of it will engage.
This strategy has never really been successful. But with a 330 million-person audience of Americans who face a growing volume of online distractions, it will get more and more inefficient. Many of them will be researching your product with no near-future plans to buy. Spray and pray will leave you praying, and that’s about it.
You’ll instead benefit from identifying the smallest possible viable audience (H/T to Seth Godin) and super-delighting them through compelling, frequent engagement. Keep your presence fresh and unique enough to stick in the minds of both current customers and those who might reach out later.
Tips for a Renewable Energy Startup Clean Economy Marketing Plan
Renewable energy startups are market disruptors. Big problems and a small budget come with the territory. Keeping an eye on the reaction of disrupted incumbents to your disruption will help strengthen your cleantech public relations strategy against the predictable blowback – before it happens.
The clean economy sectors face a paradox: People are coming up with brilliant product advancements and engineering solutions, but their public case making techniques lag significantly behind. This is the gap that a strong cleantech PR strategy can fill.
Develop Buyer Personas
Having a smaller customer pool in cleantech is to your advantage. Instead of trying to predict the actions of thousands or even millions of potential buyers, renewable energy companies can create more comprehensive buyer personas of just a few hundred. Persona is an umbrella term for the demo, psychological, and anecdotal information that makes up a fictional character of a customer.
Develop your B2B buyer personas by using a variety of marketing research resources, from expert opinions to polls and surveys to analyzing social media data. Putting in the effort in the beginning of the process will make planning your marketing strategy much easier.
Inbound Marketing Campaigns
Taking back the early stages of a customer’s purchase decision can maintain their attention, even when they’re not ready to buy. Perhaps the best way to do this in a crowded information environment is inbound marketing, which brings visitors in rather than having to spend time interrupting what they're doing with proactive outreach.
Educate the Audience - Nobody is Reading Your Newsletter
If your objective is to create content to generate leads, you must create a value exchange that is worthwhile for prospects. B2B buyers do not suffer from a shortage of information online. They can find out all they want to know about you from your website. A newsletter that only tells them more about you isn’t going to increase your reach or make you more memorable. You want to tell a prospective buyer something about themselves that they didn’t know before – basing your engagement with prospects not on just content, but on a useful insight.
Additional Tips for Public Relations in Cleantech
- Be clear on what problem your company is solving.
- Show off your company’s problem-solving ability through content that educates prospects in ways they find useful at the early-stage of their purchase decision – and when they aren’t ready to buy at all.
- Understand that a successful renewable energy marketing plan requires using insight-based content to establish relevance for the 97 percent of your prospects who aren’t ready to buy from you just yet.
- B2B buyers do not work on Instagram or Facebook. Hone your LinkedIn presence and post a regular schedule of insights as part of your renewable energy marketing plan. If you can provide insights in a short, easy-to-read form, you can demonstrate mastery of a buyer’s needs and potential solutions.
- Find the right fit for your company: A specialized cleantech PR firm can help you find proper channels, audience, media outlets and strategies to bolster your startup business plan.
- Reference the Cleantech Marketing Toolkit for more information on how to boost your marketing strategy.