Marketing is an essential tool for any climate tech startup. You can have the most ground-breaking technology on the planet but, if no one knows about it, then you’re missing a trick! Marketing can help to build a strong foundation for your business and assist with attracting investors and new customers. Marketing forces you to pinpoint who your potential customers are and how best to reach them.
If you’re an early-stage cleantech Founder yourself, you’re likely to be working as part of a small team. You may feel bogged down covering the roles of Engineer, Sales, HR and Marketing all in a day’s work. As a venture capital fund investing in early stage UK innovations that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we see this every day and understand how hard it is to get a climate tech business ‘off the ground’.
Marketing in practice is very broad, and budgets often tight. This article talks you through some key marketing tools to get you started. You’ll learn tips and tricks of marketing actions that you can put into practice right now.
Some ideas mentioned are free and require very little time, and some require budget and slightly more of your time. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your business…
You may not feel ready or have the budget yet to have professional branding created. There are plenty of free tools out there, such as Canva, that you can use to help create yourself a set of unique branding including logos, backgrounds and brand colours. Creating branding gives you a suite of images that you can use consistently across your website, social media and any marketing collateral, so that you can begin to be recognised as your business grows.
If you do have budget, talk to our sister-company expert cleantech incubator Carbon Limiting Technologies, who have worked on numerous branding and website projects for early stage cleantech companies.
Develop 1 – 3 meaningful and concise statements that capture the essence of your technology. Again, consistently use this language throughout all marketing touchpoints to ensure that your messaging is coherent. Defining your value proposition is an really helpful tool to guide you through this part.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool to help reach your target audience – and it requires little to no budget.
Whilst Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform, there are plenty of other social media platforms out there that may be more relevant for an early stage cleantech company. Carry out research into which social media platforms you feel will work best for your business and sign up to them – usually settling on 2 to 3 platforms works well so that you can focus solely on these. Consider researching: LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Reddit.
Post regularly (at least 1 – 2 times per week) and consider sharing posts about:
- your latest news
- events you’re attending
- media coverage
- new hires/team members
- new customers
- trials carried out
- grants and awards received
- your expert opinion on topics within your sector
Ensure to engage with other relevant accounts to gain traction and consider creating a social media plan where you note down a calendar of times that you’d like to share certain posts, helping you to plan ahead. As a busy cleantech founder, you may also find it helpful to use a scheduling tool to automatically post your social media posts for you at a chosen time, like hootsuite.
Other helpful platforms for social media include bitly, which shortens long website links for you, making it easier to fit posts into the restricted number of characters that social media allows.
A website is an essential tool that cleantech startups can use to shout about their business and technology in detail – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth! There are many affordable website builder platforms out there (like Squarespace) that allow you to create a website without the need to write or edit code. With no technical knowledge required, you can customise it yourself and use your branding and messaging right throughout.
If you intend to sell product on your website, an e-commerce website is slightly more advanced but still achievable with a DIY website builder platform.
Content marketing involves creating informative content that provides viewers with interesting, engaging and educational information. Whilst it’s an informative piece, the underlying goal is to make the reader aware of your technology/company. You must ensure it isn’t a ‘hard sell’ though and that it gives readers genuinely helpful or interesting information.
A piece of content marketing could be a:
- blog post
- advice piece
- technical explanation of your technology
- opinion piece
Design tools like Canva can, again, help you create some of these types of content.
Relevant and original content that you share via your website will also help you to appear higher in google rankings, meaning your website is more likely to appear in relevant google searches.
The latest smartphones can act as a good alternative to a professional camera and produce high resolution (quality) images. Photos taken landscape can be easier to use on social media and websites.
Consider taking images of your lab/offices, your products/technology, staff members, customer trials, events attended and anything else that can help to portray your company’s benefits and personality.
Video receives 20% more engagement than images. You can create videos using your smartphone and cut and edit them using free video editing tools out there, like the InShot app. Whilst a smartphone and video editing app cannot produce a video like an expensive videographer could, you can still add music, cut and crop videos, add voiceover and save them in high resolution ready for use.
Most social media platforms give you the option to add subtitles to a video too, which can help to drive higher engagement.
If you need an animated video to, for example, help to demonstrate your technology, then video agencies like Science Animated can help with this.
There are lots of free climate tech events that you can attend to network and meet potential investors or customers. You may consider investing money into having an exhibition stand at an event, if you feel the event really fits your target audience.
Consider signing up to Pitching competitions where you’ll get the chance to pitch your innovation to a set of cleantech investors.
Also, enquire with industry events as to whether there’s any speaker opportunities available, if you feel that your expertise/experience would be of interest to them.
You don’t necessarily need a PR Agency to be able to get in touch with journalists if you have an exciting piece of news to share – do your research and find media that would be interested in hearing about your technology. Ensure to only get in touch with journalist with news that is ‘newsworthy’ though, for example if you win a significant grant or investment, sign an important strategic partnership or open a new plant/lab.
Use your website to collect data for a newsletter. Email editing tools like Klaviyo are perfect for creating engaging newsletters or emails to send to your new database. They’re a great way to keep potential customers informed of your business and to stay front-of-mind.
Whilst marketing can feel overwhelming as there’s so many options to choose from there are some fantastic cost-effective starting points that you can put into practice now. We hope you have found these tips helpful and they help to catapult your cleantech startup to success.