The Advanced Guide to Green Tech Marketing
The global green technology and sustainability market size was valued at $8.79 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to $48.36 billion by 2027. Clearly, there is massive demand for technology that is environmentally friendly. And the demand is increasing by the year.
This presents a significant opportunity for growth for green tech / clean tech companies.
Revenue isn’t the only thing at stake. With global warming, the climate crisis, plastic filling our oceans, reduced volumes of clean drinking water, overflowing landfills, etc., green technologies are now necessary for our planet’s survival.
So, how can your green technology business grow? What’s the most effective green tech marketing for B2B and B2G? How can you market your green tech solutions successfully when your sales cycle is 6, 12, or even 24 months?
Establish Clear Positioning and Differentiation
To capture a greater share of the projected $48 billion market, it’s essential to establish clear positioning within your industry and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Green Tech Positioning
If you want your green tech marketing to be effective, start with your positioning in the market.
Positioning is the place you occupy comparatively in:
- The overall market
- The minds of your customers
To define your positioning, write out a short statement that succinctly describes what you do, your target audience, and the part of the market in which you operate (e.g., high-end, high-cost, and high-value, or low-end and low price, etc.).
- Product: Software to reduce carbon emissions to help manufacturers meet regulatory standards and help slow climate change
- Target Audience: Automotive manufacturing plants
- Geography: Global
- Quality: High
- Market Segment: Premium, high-end solutions
Green Tech Differentiation
Differentiation is what sets you apart from competitors in your industry. It may be particular technology you offer, cost savings you can achieve for customers, unique pricing model, superior customer experience, or any other number of things. Essentially, differentiation is the reason someone should buy from you and not a competitor.
A differentiation statement could look like:
Unlike others in the industry, whose software requires regular monitoring in order to fine tune it for reduced energy consumption, our software uses AI to automatically learn your company’s energy consumption patterns and then make corrective adjustments. Through AI, our software achieves greater energy consumption reductions than any other solution on the market.
Once you’re clear on your positioning and differentiation, look closely at the language you use in your clean technology marketing materials. Do your social media posts, blog posts, emails, website pages, press releases, advertisements, etc., make clear who would be best served by your solutions, what your primary benefits are, and how you’re different from others in your industry?
Positioning and differentiation are the foundation of strong marketing. Jumping into marketing tactics and campaigns without these two elements firmly solidified can lead to a great deal of inefficiency, waste, and marketing ineffectiveness (and frustration!).
Build Audience Personas
In order to effectively market your green tech product or service, know exactly who you’re selling to. You need to know their pain points, goals, aspirations, and what motivates them. Too many companies have a vague, general sense of whom they are targeting, but if you ask 10 different people at the company, you get 10 different answers.
Creating audience personas can help you get a clear picture of who makes up your primary audience and then craft green technology messaging that deeply resonates with them. It also helps you to galvanize everyone’s efforts internally so that your marketing is as precision-focused and hard-hitting as possible.
Some information you may want to include in your personas is listed below:
- Annual revenue
- Pain points / frustrations
- Solutions desired
- Features desired
- Job title
- Whom they report into
- Media they consume
- Biggest frustrations
- What they think about on Sunday evenings heading into the week
- What keeps them up at night
The objective is to thoroughly understand your ideal customers so that you can ultimately craft messaging for them and serve them more effectively. The best way to accomplish this is with documented personas that are easily accessible and shared by all team members, not a vague, unwritten sense of who they are.
Map the Customer Journey
The customer journey is the path your customers take from first learning about your brand, to purchasing, and ultimately using your product or service. It includes multiple touchpoints across multiple channels as customers progress through each stage of the journey: awareness, consideration, decision.
Mapping out the different touchpoints at each stage of the journey gives you a clear understanding of what customers experience at each stage and what hurdles prevent people from moving forward. It also allows you to optimize each touchpoint so that the customer takes the next step in the buying journey.
This mapping exercise will help you create a personalized customer experience that resonates with your customers. Research by Salesforce showed that 84% of people feel that being treated like a real person and not just a number plays an important role in whether they ultimately buy from a company.
Mapping the customer journey allows you to understand what your audience wants, how they educate themselves, and how they explore their options. You can then more effectively create a fulfilling experience for them through every stage of their journey.
Make sure your customer journey map includes the many touchpoints from start to finish, including (but not limited to):
- Their initial research
- Answers to their questions
- Product/service information
- Comparative information
- Information to aid their decision making
The marketing vehicles you may use to connect with them on their journey may include:
- Your website
- Google search
- In-person interactions
- Sales calls
- Live demos
- Live events (industry conferences, etc.)
- Case studies / success stories
- Online tools and calculators
- Blog posts
- Scientific research reports
- Executive briefings
- Social media
- Digital and physical ads
Now let’s talk about specific green tech marketing strategies you can employ to grow both your audience and your bottom line.
Proving the Impact
No matter how impressive your green technology is, buyers ultimately care about the bottom line. Although they may have an inclination towards green solutions, you’ll achieve more sales if you focus on demonstrating the financial AND societal impact.
The more concrete you can be in showing the direct benefits of your technology, the easier it will be to persuade someone to buy. If your product will improve a company’s energy efficiency, calculate exactly how many dollars they will save over a specific time period and how that will reduce their expenses. Be specific! Don’t sell abstract altruistic ideas alone. Back them up with numbers. Sell the bottom line.
Societal impact, though not as concrete, can also be a valuable selling point. In a recent study by IBM, 60% of individuals surveyed indicated that they would be willing to change their habits if it would help the environment, and 80% said that sustainability was very important to them.
When engaging with potential customers, clarify both the financial and societal impact of your solutions.
One of the best ways to separate yourself from your competitors is through truly trailblazing innovation. The more innovative and cutting edge your technology, the easier it will be to market and sell. After all, it’s not hard to convince someone to buy from you if your technology can do something never done before or in a much more powerful and effective way.
What’s more, truly innovative technology tends to generate buzz in the news, among industry players, and on social media, attracting even more potential customers.
A key with innovation, though, is to prove that your innovative green technology is going to stand the test of time. Any company can gain a quick, temporary technological advantage. What’s going to make a difference for you is by proving that your innovations have a protective moat to shield them from the competition for an extended period of time.
An effective way to connect with your audience is to go beyond your products and solutions, and instead to captivate them with thought leadership. Green tech is ideal for thought leadership pieces because so many of the problems being addressed are global in nature, massive in scale, and have far-reaching consequences.
By regularly publishing thought leadership content, you are establishing yourself as an expert in your field and demonstrating that you have the knowledge to solve pressing problems. This, in turn, strengthens your brand, sets you apart from the competition, and attracts potential customers (and investors).
Thought leadership content helps your organization to seize more Google organic search real estate. If you think that because you deal in an industrial area of the market that Google doesn’t matter, think again. There are millions of searches monthly just in the U.S. alone on a range of green technology / clean technology queries. If you extend this globally, the number is obviously much higher.
You can create thought leadership content in the form of:
- Articles in industry publications
- Research reports
- Speaking at events
- Appearing on third-party podcasts
- Blog posts
- LinkedIn posts
- And more…
Achieve Greater Traffic and Leads for Your Green Tech Business
A lot of green technology is newer and innovative, which gives it a bit of an unknown factor in the eyes of customers. In light of this, it’s important to build trust and prove reliability, both in terms of the technology itself and the company behind the tech.
The obvious starting place for building trust is ensuring that your technology actually does what you say it does. Fewer things turn customers off than feeling like they’ve been duped. This is especially the case when it comes to clean technology, which customers often adopt for ethical reasons in addition to the main financial reasons.
If you need proof of this, look no further than the public outrage around the Volkswagen scandal in 2015, when it was discovered that the company had been lying about the emissions from their vehicles.
If problems do arise with your product, acknowledge them and work hard to make them right quickly. Many times, it’s not the problems themselves that break customer trust, but the way a company responds to those problems.
Evoking an Emotional Response
According to Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Gerald Zaltman, 95% of a purchase decision is based on the subconscious. And when looking deeper, emotions play a major role in that decision.
The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio conducted studies on people with damage to the part of the brain that triggers emotions. In other words, these individuals couldn’t feel any emotions. They couldn’t feel happy or angry or sad, etc. What Damasio uncovered was that without emotion, they had an extremely difficult time making any decisions, including purchase decisions. This was because they couldn’t feel strongly enough about one option over others, and they would endlessly waffle.
If you want prospects to engage with you, evoke an emotional response. It doesn’t matter how technical your solutions may be. Emotions drive action.
Some argue that emotions are a critical part of the B2C purchase process, but that B2B is different.
Not true. Google and the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) conducted a study of the B2B purchase process, and found that emotion-based marketing was twice as effective as marketing that did not evoke an emotional response.
Now let’s look at specific marketing vehicles you can employ to get in front of more prospects and convert them into clients. Below are a number of recommended organic growth vehicles. With green tech / clean tech, advertising is not going to get you where you need to go, especially in the case of long sales cycles. Organic marketing will provide you with the type of targeted marketing that supports you throughout the customer journey and cost-effectively compounds over time, something that paid media could never accomplish.
ABM (Account Based Marketing)
When dealing with high-priced green tech solutions with long sales cycles, ABM (account-based marketing is by far the most effective strategy for winning new clients. More than 90% of B2B marketers call ABM “important” or “very important”, and many B2B marketers claim that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other form of marketing.
When utilizing ABM, you target individual accounts or companies that fit the profile of your ideal customer. Then you create customized marketing materials that speak to the needs of those specific accounts. You can then personalize your marketing at the industry level, company level, department level, or personal level. This highly personalized strategy is much more effective at converting leads into sales, as it’s more relevant to the recipients.
It’s true that this process is more labor-intensive and takes longer than traditional inbound marketing. But it’s also more profitable. Mid-market accounts are 166% more likely to close with account-based marketing, and the deal is likely to be 40% larger. For Enterprise accounts, they’re an average of 35% larger, but they’re 285% more likely to close.
Through content marketing, you can publish unique, valuable content that not only establishes you as an industry expert, but also supports your ABM, SEO, and PR efforts.
Content marketing is especially helpful for green tech companies because of the complexity of the issues often dealt with. Whether in the form of explainer videos, long-form blog posts, whitepapers, or executive briefings, etc., content marketing enables you to create content that not only educates, but also inspires.
Through content, you can effectively demonstrate your expertise, going in-depth on the topics you cover. By producing content for every stage of the customer journey, you facilitate your sales efforts. This is especially true of solutions requiring a long sales cycle, which is the case for many green tech products/services. Plus, if a buyer has encountered a number of your content pieces along their journey, there’s a greater likelihood of a conversion at the bottom of the funnel.
Creating content on your site that is optimized around specific keywords and topics is an effective way to attract potential customers at each stage of the buying journey.
For the awareness stage, you can create optimized content around broad keywords that prospects might use when they first become aware of a particular problem or opportunity. You might create a blog post, for example, about how reducing energy consumption can help enterprise businesses save millions of dollars on utility expenses.
For the consideration stage, creating content around more targeted, educational keywords can draw in organic search traffic. You might consider creating a deeper-dive executive briefing about innovative methods companies can use to reduce energy consumption.
In the decision stage of the customer journey, you can target very specific keywords that will ultimately help the customer choose you over a competitor. Things like FAQs, case studies, product comparison charts, and ROI calculators can be effective at this stage.
Some green technology / clean technology companies with large-scale offerings believe that prospective customers in their industry don’t use Google to find solutions and partners. However, what we’ve seen through the proof of IP detection software and actual leads tells a very different story. Those buyers are people, just like anyone else. SEO does drive relevant traffic, even for mega scale solutions and is one of the most cost-effective traffic acquisition vehicles.
Achieve Greater Organic Growth
It’s important that others see your company in the news when it comes to such a new field as green tech, as it conveys weight, reliability, and trustworthiness. Robert Cialdini, author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, names social proof as one of the most effective methods for influencing others’ behavior. Public relations (PR) is therefore a highly useful tool in your overall marketing toolbox to get your audience members trusting you and taking the actions you want them to take.
Consider what strategies you might use to generate buzz around your product and brand. Some to consider are:
- Developing relationships with journalists, reporters, and editors (By far the most important and powerful of the items listed here.)
- Email newsworthy ideas to journalists, reporters, and editors
- Direct mail to journalists, reporters, and editors
- Getting published on relevant industry websites
- Getting interviewed by the media, on webinars, and on podcasts
- Speaking at events
- Establishing profiles on sites like CrunchBase and AngelList
- Working with influencers (depending on your product or service)
Events, whether in-person or online, can be a highly effective way to get in front of your target audience and have meaningful interactions with them.
We recently organized an online executive briefing for leaders in a targeted green technology market, for example, and had close to 100 registrants, with the average attendance time at 39 minutes per attendee. A relatively short executive briefing is a great way to connect with busy executives, who otherwise may have limited time for events.
And as COVID-19 becomes less of a concern in the future, live events have the same potential for helping you develop relationships with potential prospects.
Within your green tech marketing ecosystem, your website is your command central for your marketing and one of the primary places to showcase the impact you deliver. In your website, be sure to focus on your audience, and not you, your company, and your technology. Sure, that’s important. But they came to your site looking for solutions to their problems. That’s what’s top of mind for them. Make it all about them, and specifically, all about helping them.
Showcase case studies and real-world examples of success with your green tech solutions.
Include customer logos and testimonials, if possible.
As mentioned above, prove the value of your solutions.
Don’t get too obsessed with the technology itself, going into too much detail about specs, features, and materials. Yes, those are important, but you first need to persuade them at a higher level.
- What’s the problem that you eliminate for them?
- What’s the business impact of your solutions?
- How can you answer their top questions as quickly as possible?
- What are your differentiators?
- What’s in it for them?
- What’s the measurable and expected ROI from your solutions?
- Why is it so compelling that they should engage in discussions with you right now?
You can always create content on your site where you deep-dive into the tech side of things, but don’t put the technical details front and center.
Finally, remember to construct funnels through your website to guide them to the experience that would serve them best depending on the persona. Lead them to the actions they should take as a next step. With behavioral intelligence software, you can see exactly how they navigate through the site and can then optimize those paths for greater outcomes based on the data.
B2B blogging is a form of content marketing (listed earlier), but I want to call it out here by itself as it’s a powerful marketing vehicle that we see many green tech / clean tech companies either lacking or doing wrong.
In addition to being great for SEO, a blog is where you can let the brand personality shine through and deepen your differentiation. Blogging allows you to give potential customers the flavor of your brand, whether that’s authoritative, innovative, insightful, passionate, funny, etc.
It also allows you to explore topics at a much deeper level than you can on other pages on your website. You have the space to dive into things like your company philosophy, the big problems you’re trying to solve, and the long-term broader impact of what you’re doing. You can easily create mixed media content, including video, audio, and various types of images—from photos to illustrations, schematics, data visualizations, and more. This helps to further separate you from your competition.
The Future Is At Stake
When it comes to green tech marketing, the future really is at stake.
Yes, there’s the potential for your company to make a significant amount of revenue in this ever-growing industry.
But even more important is the state of our planet. We need green technologies that will create clean energy, support renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, reduce energy consumption, address plastic pollution, clean our oceans, and slow climate change.
And this is why green tech marketing is so important. It’s not just about effective marketing for the sake of more sales. It’s about improving the environment and benefiting the world!