B2B Marketing
5 Mins

Who are the key decision-makers for renewable energy, and what do they need?

Published on
September 26, 2023
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Who are the key decision-makers for renewable energy, and what do they need?

Understanding the buying or customer journey is essential for all markets. However, few are as complex and include as many decision-makers across the entire journey as the renewable energy sector.

A homeowner purchasing an air source heat pump has a more straightforward customer journey - with maybe only one or two decision-makers - than, for example, investment in a Solar PV project on a commercial building that could involve multiple decision-makers with different roles.

It’s the task of marketing to understand and deliver the right information at the right time to guide each decision-maker as smoothly as possible along the path of least resistance. Without this approach, more and more projects will fall foul of delays, oversights, and missed opportunities and deliver a slower energy transition.

In this article, we’ll define the stages involved in the buying journey, who falls into this category and what they’ll need from you.

Types of projects that exist

All projects are different. This means the decision-makers and decision-making process will differ for each of the below. That makes it very difficult for marketing to ‘appeal’ to all of these. So how do we do that?

  • Single residential
  • Large residential
  • Community projects
  • Public sector - for example, education or medical campus
  • Commercial buildings
  • Infrastructure projects - transport, ports, airports, border crossings
  • Events and stadia

How best to consider the decision-makers and what they’ll need from you to take action?

Whether your target audience is the homeowner or an investor for a floating wind farm, the customer journey will move through the same phases:

Discover > Consideration > Conversion

The difference is the complexity and the number of people involved in the decision process.

Discovery: Gateway decision-makers that are going to be involved with bottom-up or top-down action.

No matter the type of project, your gateway decision-maker is going to have:

  1. A priority initiative: The most compelling reason that buyers decide to invest in the solution your business offers vs. staying with the status quo
  2. Success factors: The operational results your buyer persona expects from purchasing a solution like yours
  3. Perceived barriers: Whether it be their own barriers or barriers of others and previous experiences

When you're discovered, it's these elements that are going to need to be addressed immediately.

In renewables, the success factors might be achieving net zero in as little time as possible or with the lowest budget possible. Barriers could be questions about whether this technology is accessible and safe for the specified project.

A major consideration of your marketing content is to break through the noise and handle any initial negative sentiment. It must deliver intrigue, excitement, curiosity, and engagement to quicken the pulse, stop the scroll and shake this decision-maker enough to think: 'I can move a mountain in my business to get stakeholder support to make this solution happen.'

Weak and tame stories will be left behind, as well as your business. Here are a few decision-makers to consider:

  1. Project Owner/Client: The entity or individual funding the construction project holds a significant role in decision-making. They might have specific goals related to sustainability, energy efficiency, or renewable energy integration.
  2. Energy Consultants: These experts provide insights into different renewable energy options' technical feasibility and economic viability. They might conduct energy audits, simulations, and analyses to guide decision-making.
  3. Sustainability Officers: In larger organisations, sustainability officers may play a key role in aligning the project with the organisation's sustainability objectives.
  4. Construction Managers: Those overseeing the construction process must ensure that the renewable energy systems are properly integrated, constructed, and interfaced with the building's infrastructure.

Consideration: The people and departments that are going to enter the conversation to evaluate your solution.

You’ve now made it through the door into the consideration phase.

In a HubSpot (Marketing Platform) report from earlier this year, it’s suggested that 8-12 decision makers are involved in complex B2B decisions. I’d posit that in renewable solutions, this can be higher. Furthermore, each decision-maker will generally review 3 to 4 documents from your business to inform their decision.

So, in the consideration phase, it’s marketing's job to know The Buyer's Journey: the behind-the-scenes story about the work your decision-makers do to evaluate options, eliminate contenders and settle on final suitors.

Delivering the right information - website, blogs, whitepapers, thought-leadership, social content - that addresses priorities, concerns and hopes to smooth the journey ahead is key in this stage,  and your marketing plays a major role.

Here are the many decision-makers that could be involved:

  1. Architects and Designers: Professionals responsible for the architectural and design aspects of the project play a crucial role in determining how renewable energy technologies can be integrated seamlessly into the project's design and aesthetics.

  2. Engineers: Various types of engineers, such as mechanical, electrical, and structural engineers, are involved in designing and implementing renewable energy systems, ensuring they are integrated effectively into the building's infrastructure.

  3. Legal and Regulatory Experts: These professionals help navigate the regulatory landscape related to renewable energy installations, including permits, zoning, incentives, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

  4. Environmental Consultants: These consultants assess the environmental impact of the project and help identify renewable energy options that align with sustainability goals.

  5. Operations and Maintenance Teams: Long-term operational considerations are important for renewable energy systems. Including operations and maintenance teams early in the process can help ensure the systems remain functional and efficient over time.

  6. Community and Stakeholders: Depending on the project's location and nature, involving local community members and other stakeholders can foster acceptance and support for renewable energy integration.
  7. Risk Management Experts: Identifying and mitigating risks associated with renewable energy technologies, such as technological uncertainties or changes in energy markets, is an essential aspect of decision-making.

Conversion: The final sign-off from the project ‘think-tank’ and their buying criteria will define the solution chosen.

The sentiment throughout is that no two projects are the same and similarly so with the final decision process. But, if you’re going to swing the odds in your favour, do as much as you can to understand what the decision criteria is early on.

Decision criteria: The specific attributes of the solution or service that the ‘think-tank’ will use to determine their final decision.

Knowing if an energy system's secure and reliable qualities are more important than affordability or if clean and renewable energy is key to supporting the project's ESG policies could swing a pitch your way.

In a recent report by DNV - energy consumers stated secure, reliable, accessible and affordable energy was more important to them than clean and renewable energy. Is that the case for you?

The role of marketing - get found, be heard, grow

From what you’ve read so far, you can understand the need for different types of content to support multiple stages in a customer journey and decision-maker needs.

It’s marketing's role to ensure each decision-maker receives the best customer experience in their part of the process as possible.

This might be in the form of stronger social marketing comms, up-to-date and relevant blog and email communications, a visual communication that goes beyond stock footage and a brand identity from the 90s.

On a more advanced level, it could be a detailed market report supported by a workshop or a webinar series with automated email flows to guide the different types of decision-makers to the information they’ll need.

If you’d like to know how strong your customer journey is vs. the competition - jump over to our digital customer journey initiative to help you do just that.

Thanks for your time. Do you have any questions or want to discuss marketing for your renewable energy business?

Get in touch