For Organizations and Social Entrepreneurs
Marketing and Sales
Traditional marketing is unlikely to be suitable for PPESCOs. Instead, the nature of the marketplace and the importance of working with projects that are already in planning or development are key factors for accelerating a PPESCO’s entry into the market.
However, there will be a need for branding and identity work, public relations and external communications, a web site, and targeted collateral materials. Accordingly, PPESCOs should prioritize existing networks for projects and capital that can support an identity and attract attention from clients and partners. At a minimum, these activities should cover:
- Networking. Organizations’ existing networks (and their capacity to quickly develop new networks) make this form of marketing a priority, especially given the network-dependent nature of public-purpose markets. PPESCOs should use existing networks of partners, funders, and clients to define relationships and opportunities. Connecting with established networks and building new networks from them are typically very cost-effective for building this new service business.
- Brand and identity. At a minimum, a new PPESCO needs to invest in a name brand. It will also need an appropriate logo that conveys the entity’s identity to its commercial, capital, and social communities. Beyond the name and logo, PPESCOs must also create a tag line that, in a few words, summarizes what clients should know (and why they should care) about the new entity's service.
- Website. A website is the first stop and the first impression for future clients, partners, and funders interested in a PPESCO entity. It needs to leave a professional, industry- and mission-appropriate impression. The site should be designed with both content and interaction opportunities. Especially at start-up, PPESCOs should seek web site expertise to balance cost and functionality in getting messages across.
- Social media. Social media presents an opportunity to create brand awareness and buzz around the PPESCO’s services and activities. Strategic use of social media can be very effective. Social media services used most often by businesses are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. PPESCOs should seek social media experts to optimize this important path to clients, funders and partners.
- Community events. Interest in PPESCOs can be expanded via participation in meetings organized by professional business or community organizations. PPESCO start-up personnel can look for opportunities to talk about PPESCO at local events where the decision makers for the targeted market gather.
- Blogging. An emerging PPESCO can consider building its audience by writing regular posts / blogs both on dedicated blog sites and on social media sites. This will build the PPESCO entity’s business credibility and position as the go-to resource for information about obtaining deep energy savings in underserved public purpose buildings.
How to do it
- Speak at community development conferences to connect with prospective funding partners
- Conduct web and / or live presentations about the targeted market offer, to access prospects both virtually and directly
- Draft an article about PPESCOs, describing local case studies; seek coverage for these case studies by magazines, newspapers, and blogs
- Prepare video case studies of projects that are under way or completed. Promote these videos on web, social media, and blogs
The large scale of an ESCO project generally results in a long sales cycle—the span of time from initial contact with the building owner to project completion. For an ESCO, this can range from 12 to 24 months.
PPESCO sales cycles can be significantly shorter. Effective networking is a key to shortening the PPESCO sales cycle, as is a PPESCO’s expertise in effectively coordinating and managing integrated services on projects.
Effective networking and project management, however, cannot compensate for certain immutable factors that slow down a sales cycle: arranging for a large capital investment, relocating or otherwise disrupting building occupants, and project sign-off by regulators or other officials.
Given this combination of factors, each new project building owner / manager will need to move through a learning curve on the PPESCO project process. Once deciding to proceed with a PPESCO project, a building owner must then work with the PPESCO project manager, who will build the savings and project finance models, secure appropriate financing, and oversee the completion of the project. PPESCO organizations that use their networks effectively and tap into building improvement projects that are already under way (a convenient and effective way to add cost-effective energy improvement measures) will also reduce the length of the sales cycle. Shorter sales cycles reduce financial risk to the start-up.
In addition to using relatively inexpensive marketing methods, PPESCOs can directly approach building owners. This type of prospecting is tied to the PPESCO’s knowledge of its target markets (for example, affordable housing), and relationships to partner organizations and sites (see Resources page).
Consultative sales approach
The PPESCO business model directly offers building owners an integrated, turn-key solution of professional services:
- Project management
- Building energy analytics
- Access to and coordination of capital sources
- Energy performance contracting across the life of the project
Unlike selling a standard product, selling PPESCO services will vary from project to project. Because of the customized nature of sales for a PPESCO, it is critical that PPESCO service offers can be adjusted quickly and efficiently to serve the client. This can be accomplished via consultative selling.
Consultative selling capitalizes on the trust that clients put in the PPESCO as a reliable adviser / consultant. PPESCOs must be able to recommend solutions that respond to client concerns about project evaluation, training in building energy performance methods, and negotiation of project measures and energy performance contracts.
A successful PPESCO strives to deliver a solution that balances the best interests of the client with the most appropriate products and services on the market. As leading advocates for the project, PPESCOs are motivated to enable the deepest possible energy savings instead of maximizing financial return. To fulfill this “bottom line is measured in energy savings” mission, PPESCOs must be unbiased to product choices, technologies, vendors, and installation techniques.