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Allies: Check. Customers: Check. Market Influencers: Who?

How well rounded is your Outreach strategy and are you leveraging all the players in your market?

In this blog series, we have been exploring the dynamics of proper execution of an integrated strategy and the DNV GL 9 Box Model, which takes a considered approach to the energy efficiency implementation market and focuses on segmentation of the market actors and differentiation of offering and service levels. It ensures that the outreach and marketing strategies are highly integrated and working from the same model, sets of data and assumptions.

In this blog, I want to focus on Market Influencers, their role, and understanding their potential. When assessing the energy efficiency market and its players, the tendency is to focus on end customers and trade allies. Utilities and implementers have honed their understanding of these segments, what to expect of them, how to communicate with them, and have established robust playbooks for engagement.

Market Influencers are organizations that, through their actions, can influence the market your program operates in, and  can, with or without intention, change the dynamics of the market or your service territory. Examples of Market Influencers are trade associations, professional bodies, economic development bodies, local or state government, and local business associations.

Not all Market Influencers hold equal value when  considering your program and its objectives. And just because an organization exists, does not mean it is an organization that will help deliver your goals. Fundamentally, a market influencer is a multiplier – they multiply your reach to their constituency or member base. That can be in terms of outreach or marketing, or in wider awareness and education. By tapping into their infrastructure and network, you can strengthen your reach and presence in a market.

At DNV GL Energy, when we are assessing the potential value of a Market Influencer and its ability to effectively impact our 9 Box Model, we scrutinize several characteristics, and of chief importance is their reach (the scale of their membership), the mission and objectives of the organization, and the organization’s infrastructure. These are good indicators when looking for organizations that will align with our 9 Box Model from a strategic and tactical level.  We then scrutinize them considering your objectives as a utility-based energy efficiency program – can we work together; do we have complimentary objectives, and how can we positively influence two or more communities within the nine box.

Most programs engage Market Influencers, whether or not they realize it. However, casual (or accidental) engagement is not effective engagement. And make no mistake, the same Market Influencers who can help you improve your program can work against you if you are not making informed decisions about them and their ability to contribute to your program.

A well-constructed Market Influencer strategy will allow you to tap into resources that are otherwise unavailable, strengthen your marketing and outreach efforts, and extend your network. Your Market Influencer strategy isn’t that different from any other business strategy, the primary challenge here is to know what you want out of the relationship. Because it is very easy to engage and receive little in return within the Market Influencer space. For each organization you engage with, you will want clarity of what you want from them, what you are willing to invest in the relationship. This sounds easy however you also need to be clear on whether you are looking for a return from them, as an organization or from their member base. Otherwise, your time invested in them can be a squandered opportunity.

Karen Germain is a Business Direction Principal with Program Development and Implementation (PDI), DNV GL Energy Services USA Inc. She leads the Outreach strategy for PDI’s energy efficiency program implementation teams. Ms. Germain was previously the Head of External Relations with The Carbon Trust (U.K.) where she oversaw relationships with more than 3,000 market influencers including trade associations, professional institutes, and the trade unions. She has held various positions in consulting in both the UK and North America. She holds an MBA in International Strategy and Management and a BS in Organizational Behavior. Further reading from Karen can be found at trade ally success, excel at outreach , and you can explore DNV GL’s new Energy Transition Outlook.

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