4 minute read
As part of a welcome return to in-person industry events this year, our consultant Sam Jackson attended Wind Energy Hamburg and Offshore Southeast Asia (OSEA) 2022 this autumn. He discusses how – as we return to events and meetings – building a strong brand and reputation remains critical in supporting sales teams in the renewable energy segment.
Like many companies BLUE has welcomed the return of industry events in 2022, and I was the envy of many in the office in attending both WindEnergy Hamburg and Offshore Southeast Asia (OSEA) 2022 in Singapore recently. It was great to see the renewable wind market, which is in so many way still embryonic, return to face to face meetings and conversations after an almost three-year hiatus.
As the market remains relatively small, particularly when compared to the broader marine or energy markets, events seem a great way of making lifelong contacts and carving out sales opportunities. Yet, as I was asked on a few occasion, therefore if you have an email and every phone number for every business you’re ever going to target in the sector, why would you need PR and communications?
Notwithstanding the fact that the wind market is growing exponentially, the answer sits at the heart of how a business working in the renewable energy value chain can use the power of brand and reputation to grow their business; at BLUE everything we do has a touchpoint to brand and reputation and the value that they have to any business. The second part to the answer lies in BLUE’s approach to thought leadership communications – married with our network in knowing the right stakeholders to influence – makes conversations with prospects more relevant, timely and specific to their needs.
Setting the context for sales
Truly impactful thought leadership means understanding the markets our clients operate in, and the key issues and challenges they face; yes ‘the energy transition is the greatest challenge of our time’, but what’s underneath that? In the past year we’ve supported our clients in talking about the demand side failures that are hurting wind turbine suppliers, the need for engineering solutions to tackle wind energy’s own carbon footprint, and the real challenges of delivering electro-fuels to heavy industry.
Each of these themes are intimately connected to what our clients do, but indirectly – and, most importantly, they resonate with prospective customers. Ultimately reaching parts that a sales conversation will not reach – at least in an initial event meeting. By helping our clients to talk knowledgeably about these themes, we help them to put their products and services in a context that shows how they can meet their customers’ needs – whether through addressing the issues keeping them awake at night, or positioning them to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
Building brand and reputation
When we talk about brand, our brand practice BLUE Inspire team ask our client’s customers what it is the business does that makes it different from its competitors. We do this to identify a clear visual and vocal identity for a brand. This identity, a way of behaviour and tone of voice, informs and shapes that company’s communications activity. At BLUE, it lives at the heart of thought leadership communications, which helps to amplify a brand with people that might not be so familiar with the day-to-day ways in which it behaves.
Reaching further, covering more
Owners, financiers, regulators and law-makers are really only part of the process when it comes to making decisions, even if they are the ones who make the final call. Owners also listen to their financiers, engineers, and OEM suppliers, and they pay attention to local and national politicians and of course regulators, before making decisions. Each final decision is made after casting around to make sure options have been assessed, and advantages and disadvantages understood.
Companies that think they just need to know the ultimate decision-maker in order to secure their business are risking a lot on their ability to influence one person struggling under the weight a lot of other inputs and insights. Strategic communications allows businesses and their brands to join the conversation earlier, engage with a decision-maker’s wider network, demonstrate their ability to understand their challenges, and show how they can contribute to the solution.
The challenge for wind companies extends beyond the norms of commerce; it is also fighting a battle for hearts and minds. It’s why we were all in Hamburg at WindEnergy, and Singapore at OSEA – to make sure we are back in the room with our colleagues across the industry, reminding them we exist, and reminding them what we do. In a marketplace that is expanding rapidly and simultaneously becoming more commoditised, PR, communications and digital marketing that build a positive brand and reputation both underpins and supercharges the battle for hearts and minds.