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Green or Clean Tech Marketing: How to Cut Through?

Kim Brebach - Friday, August 07, 2015

Green or Clean Tech Marketing | What Works | Technoledge

Often with Tech Marketing, the product is so cutting edge that your customers can't imagine how it works or if the problem it solves relates to them or not. How will you get through to them? We'll show you in this blog post.

You can get more detail about how we do green or clean tech marketing here.

What is green or clean tech?

Green or Clean Technology covers products, services and processes that harness renewable materials or energy sources, or dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, or cut/eliminate emissions and wastes that improve energy efficiency and resource conservation.

It’s a mighty diverse group too, with some companies even hijacking the green clean moniker to hide pretty dirty practices and products. That makes it tough for you – and your audience.

Classic political football

To make it worse, green technology and science have been politicized by all parties, used or abused to suit their agendas. It’s a shame, because the average person doesn’t know whom or what to believe, when the same scientific data are praised by one and condemned by the other.

This creates special challenges for developers of green technologies, from gaining public acceptance and investor funding, to shoring up support from mainstream media and governments. Unlike many technologies, green technology involves everyone, so it’s B2C (business to consumer) as well as B2B (business to business) tech marketing. We didn’t say it would be easy.

The Information war of words

They say that the first casualty of war is truth, and we’ve certainly seen this with green technologies. Those who oppose green technology exaggerate its cost, while its supporters exaggerate its capabilities. This has caused confusion, not just in the minds of consumers but in the media too.

The results are headlines like this one from BRW: ‘Australia is rubbish at green innovation, says Kate Lundy.’ In the USA, Lisa Jaccoma wrote in GreenBiz: ‘We are getting our collective butts kicked in the national conversation. Yes, individual companies did well. Enough good to outweigh the bad. But, the narrative in the media has been relentlessly negative, and it's having an effect.’ It's enough to discourage the faint-hearted.

Clarity is paramount

That makes clarity your number one goal: what you say and how you say it is critical. Your tech marketing, including your website, collateral, presentations, blogs and other communications must clearly:

•Explain the problem your technology solves
•Show why it must be solved urgently
•How your technology does that, exactly.

Clear communication starts with quantifying one or more of these: 1. the cost of doing nothing (fear) 2. benefit of solving the problem (peace of mind) or 3. the commercial payback (greed).

A sample technology: 'LightsOut'

Let’s take a simple green tech concept: software which controls office light systems.  Let's call it LightsOut and it's your  technology: it deploys via building management systems and can turn off all except vital office lights, say between 7.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m.

This problem has been on the political radar, yet neither corporations nor governments have done anything about it. That means they don’t see it as a serious problem. Ergo, they don’t think they need your solution.

Use facts for clarity

Let’s try using some hard facts: a large 30-story office building has 100,000 neon lights, and there are 146 buildings in Sydney’s CBD of 30 stories or more. The cost of running these for 12 hours every night per building is around $3 million per year (or $438 million for 146 of them, if we stop counting at 30 stories).

Considering the number of buildings over 30 stories in the CBD, if LightsOut could eliminate the 12 hours of unnecessary lighting use, it would save over half a billion dollars a year. That's a big number: it's twice what the federal government spends on drought relief across Australia per year.

Illustrate for impact

Another approach for tech marketing is to use illustration: if 80% of the office building lights in Sydney’s CBD were turned off at night, the power saved per year would run the whole city of Wollongong. That makes size very clear.

Once you define the size of the problem, you can grab attention for the solution. Without numbers, it’s a nebulous problem your audience can’t relate to, and so it probably won’t try.

Leverage influencers

If you’re a large company, you might have the money to sell to both end users and influencers. If you’re not, you’ll need to get influencers to do the heavy lifting. To progress our analogy, waste is a big issue for the public, corporations, politicians and the media, and if LightsOut could save $500 million a year in just Sydney’s CBD, that’s of public interest, so capitalise on it.

Simplify for the media

To reach the public and their lobby power, radio and TV programs are obvious targets; their presenters can make real noise and ask tough questions of government and industry leaders. It's not just a handful of high profile shock jocks either; most radio and TV stations operate 24 hours a day with many programs, presenters (polite ones too) and opportunities for your story. Their researchers seek good stories of genuine public interest, and they're harder to find than the average fairy floss. You can make yours fit the bill, when others can't.

The media can open doors for you, but only if your communications are clear. The presenters are anything but scientists, so you need to keep it simple but factual, and the numbers few, but compelling. Use LightsOut’s $500 million a year savings for Sydney, and extrapolate them across Australia and then the world, noting the total equivalent in carbon dioxide emission reduction. Then contrast these huge figures with the tiny investment per building per year. Make the contrasts stark and simple, so the conclusion is inescapable.

Simplify for investors

If you’re a new company, you might be looking for investors for LightsOut too, and media exposure can put you on their radar.

For investors, it comes back to simplicity and clarity too, but they need different figures: the size of local and global markets, the robustness of your technology, the experience of your management team, your company milestones, your projections for capital and how it will be spent, revenue streams and how big, and when they’ll get their money back. As for the media, investors want figures in language they can understand, not impenetrable technobabble.

At the same time, you need to demonstrate that your technology is commercially viable and scalable too, so that growth from Australia-wide to global is logical, considered and feasible. For any external stakeholder – investor, technology buyer, partner, politician or media – clear and concise numbers are key here too.

Showcase with your content 

You must be able to show why your technology is the best solution - in summary for the media and in full on your website and in collateral. With LightsOut, alternatives might be timers that just turn office lights off, but they rely on office workers and cleaners setting and resetting them manually, which means limited certainty. Instead, your LightsOut software turns lights off when no movement is detected for 15 minutes, turning on again when the cleaners or others arrive, automatically.

LightsOut would have extra advantages over timers too, like monitoring the hours off and on, historical analysis of use and savings, multiple building monitoring for developers or managers of multiple buildings, unlimited remote adjustment for authorised users, tracking of user changes, convenient cloud access, executive dashboards for insights and trouble-shooting, and the like. You need to make your technology’s strengths as clear and undeniable as possible.

Support the figures with benefits

These messages must explain your technology precisely, in clear and simple terms that the media, business people, governments and investors can understand.  The key messages behind your figures should position your technology as ground-breaking or industry-leading, and a means to make environmental responsibility easy and cost-effective to do for any high rise building owner or manager.

Focus on the technology benefits of LightsOut: ease of use, reliability, backup, automation, easy access, low cost, high savings, as well as the corporate benefits : environmental responsibility and green credentials.

Build thought leadership

The best place to be in any market is the thought leader, and that's much easier for small, agile companies. You can show your deep industry knowledge and experience, and how quickly you can respond, while the big guys can’t. They have to be 'specialists' in all their areas of interest and that’s just not possible. They’re anything but agile too.

Selling to influencers in the media is a good start but, as your business and industry grows, you must continue to be seen and heard, or you’ll be forgotten. As a thought leader, you need to keep your opinions in front of your audience. When you do this consistently, there’s a spinoff: the media will come to you for comment on news in your patch, which will cement your thought leadership. 

Maintain thought leadership

Once you have a profile established,  maintaining it is easier and more cost-effective. This is both good news and vital, if your plans require say 2-5 years of growth before exit. The elements you need to consider include:

•An authoritative, no-nonsense blog that speaks to the issues of the industry
•Regular, topical blog and social media posts that challenge accepted norms and make people think
•Updates to web content that reflect recent developments
•Serious collateral that supports your thought leadership position
•Speaking engagements at industry events.

Reach for the world

There’s always a temptation to chase opportunities in markets that look more favourable; the US for instance. Every Aussie company wants to win in the States. Sure, the Australian environment for green technologies isn’t ideal right now, but that doesn’t mean sprinting after the biggest global markets before you can crawl. Proving yourself at home may make more sense - or it may not.

Uncontested space

Your initial analysis of uncontested market space will tell you where to start. For instance, the ideal target cities by number of high rises might be Shanghai, Moscow and Hong Kong, but they’ll tough nuts to crack for a small Aussie company, unless you have established connections and a big travel budget. Alternatively, if the political and investment climate is ripe in Mexico City, technology is lagging behind, and your brother-in-law is the Lord Mayor, this might be an obvious place to start.

Test at home

Unless there is a clear advantage to launch overseas, it’s easier to prove your product and its appeal in your local market first. It's also safer and more credible too; if you can't win in your own market, why would others take the risk? Whether we like it or not, Australia is rarely the centre of the world’s attention, other than for sporting events. It’s therefore less risky to experiment here, where the world isn’t always watching. It’s also a much easier place to build relationships, test processes, show market penetration and growth, from which you can make global growth predictions based on fact, not hope.

For your green or clean technology, it comes back to focusing on the markets you can win early, using tech marketing to leverage them for growth, feeding your audiences with content they need, moving them to take the right action, and automating a process for growth, so you can get back to business. 

Read a quick summary of how to market clean or green technologies or get the full details in our ebook The Australian Technology Marketing Blueprint. (Choose the one for Green and Future Tech.)

Good luck.


Kim Brebach
Content Chief

I've always loved people and words. As long as I can remember I've been a story-teller and the team here says I'm good at it. That's probably why I head up the Content Creation team: I create the arc of the story and others add their magic.

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We felt there wasn’t enough material to write case studies. Through the process, we found we’d been focusing just on the technical, but what clients liked was that we ‘humanised’ IT. Technoledge got some exceptional insights and quotes they would never have told us directly. A very useful exercise.
Chris Marshall
CEO, Blue Apache


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