» Regulation, Marketing and Managing Growth
This Marketing and Sales Executive Think Tank was hosted atMaxxam Analytics by Jon Hanthro.
1. Best practices for managing within a changing regulatory environment
2. The role of marketing as you manage growth?
What we learned
- Test marketing
- Partnering with customers to commercialize products (government provides R&D funding, then what?)
- Accessing private capital (for small firms) or supplying capital to new downstream businesses that evolve core business (larger, established firms)
- Participating in trade shows (but selectively; consider vertical markets)
- Cultivating OEM relationships
- Distributing direct mail
- Investing in website and website refreshes
- Authoring placed magazine articles
- Building relationships through CEO (board memberships, for example)
- Closely tracking activity with all prospects
- Executing seminars with outside science-based experts that are perceived as high value (people pay to attend)
- Supporting key customers in highly visible ways to build awareness
Companies operating within the clean technology sector face a range of challenges with respect to the regulatory environment. Some of these challenges are commonly held across all the companies represented, for example, all report spending significant amounts of time trying to influence public policy; while other challenges reflect the relative size and maturity of the companies and the markets in which they operate.
“At the beginning you can fly under the radar, but then rules begin to be imposed that you need to be able to influence,” said one executive. Awareness building among bureaucrats is a key occupation of these technology players, particularly early in their lifecycle. Later, issues management and ongoing education become more prominent activities.
Regulatory challenges faced by clean technology companies include:
- Shifting policy players, especially with minority governments
- Bureaucrats who are ill-informed on latest technologies or entrenched in their positions
- Government adversity to risk
- Impact of emerging U.S. policy on Canadian regulations – difficult to influence
- Inherited regulations from other industries that fail to accommodate emerging technologies
- Inadequate enforcement of regulations (in mature industries)
- Policy that fails to effect appropriate changes in consumer behaviour
Some strategies deployed by these companies to influence the regulatory environment are:
- Participating in the development of relevant codes and standards (be at the table)
- Understanding the evolution of regulations and what competes for ministers’ and bureaucrats’ time
- Approaching government through a consortium or trade association (power in numbers)
- Organizing within the industry, identifying the most promising markets and developing critical messaging around them
- Timing efforts with the public mood (the “perfect storm” when policy setters are receptive)
- Advocating enforcement of regulations
- Investing considerable time in getting the ear of bureaucrats – they remain even as elections change the ministerial ranks
- Partnering with a powerful company in your supply chain (customer or supplier) to support your communication efforts with government
- Leading with science; even if you can’t affect the regulation in its purest form, you can affect how it’s applied and win profile with your customers (be the thought leader)
Companies report that the transition from a technical/engineering orientation in early stages of development to a more sophisticated marketing focus for go-to-market can be exceptionally challenging. To reach stakeholders, it’s essential to ask and answer: ”Why does this technology matter to me?”
Brand development is at early stages for most companies.
Because of its innovation, this industry is particularly sensitive to speed to market. “By the time you’ve jumped through the hoops to commercialize, the product may be obsolete,” said one executive.
While a few companies are focused on lead generation, many are not equipped to handle sizable demand and therefore choose to target their marketing efforts narrowly.
Executives generally agreed that marketing should and often does lead sales – setting strategy for markets, products, pricing, investments etc. – though this is by no means always the case.
- Azure Dynamics
- Biorem Technologies
- BOC Canada
- Fielding Chemical Technology
- GE Energy
- Hydrogen Village Project
- Hydrogenics Corp.