Green marketing: Future strategy
Fall is the perfect time to develop and execute a fourth-quarter green building marketing strategy that can feed into complementary initiatives that will meet the test of market conditions in 2013. As a green building and marketing consultant, I’d like to offer some of the most important ideas that we work with everyday that can help you to formulate an effective marketing strategy, one that you can then push into a Tactical Marketing Plan for the end of 2012 and all of 2013. This high-level advice is good for all kinds of green building and professional services firms (architecture/engineering/construction/planning) as well as green building and sustainability consultancies. After all, if President Obama can try to push the Reset button on our relations with both established and emerging world powers, why can’t you review and reset your own marketing strategy, i.e., your relations with established and potential clients in your own line of business?
What is a Marketing Strategy?
A strategy determines the nature and direction of your business, annunciates and fleshes out innovative products and/or services you plan to bring to market. These products/services must provide appropriate value for your customers and reinforce on your brand image. In turn, brand image identifies the value you want to be known for delivering to your clients AND that your clients perceive as representing real value to THEM. Often, what we think of as a valuable service is not perceived that way by the client or those who influence the client’s opinion. Think about discussing new car options with your spouse or significant other if you want a close analogy about how people you think you know actually perceive value quite differently from you!
Too often, strategy falters in execution because there is a strong disconnect between what an architect, engineer, or builder believes represents value to the client and what the client is most concerned about. As someone once remarked, “For architects, design is a verb (it’s something they do), but for clients it’s a noun (it’s something they get.) No client wants to buy a design, per se; they want to buy a finished product that will have more value than it costs. Is your firm delivering value to clients sufficient to stand out from the (equally talented, experienced, etc.) competition, and is the perceived value greater than the real cost? How will you know? How will the client know? When is the last time you surveyed your client base to find out what they really think about your services? That should be the preliminary step to formulating any marketing strategy, painful though it is on occasion.
The STP principles
I have written at length in Marketing Green Building Services: Strategies for Success (Routledge, 2008, Kindle edition available) about the importance of Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning as key strategic steps to take prior to trying to differentiate your services (see graphic). After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, which clients comprise your targets and how you want them to perceive you, your chances of marketing success diminish greatly.