The removal of subsidies, by Government, in the UK renewable energy market has been well documented. Onshore wind at both the utility and single turbine scale has seen support slashed in the last year, a move that now leaves the sector unlikely to see any new installations at scale in the near future.
Solar power, too, saw subsidies removed first for domestic installation and then at the commercial and utility scale.
Hydro power has gone the same way, leaving only the offshore technologies of wind wave and tidal as viable energy clean energy technologies with financial incentives still available.
The results of this change have seen some renewable energy firms exit the market entirely, whilst others scramble to adjust to the new reality of falling revenue. Those without the support of wider group companies in other sectors, and with therefore higher exposure, have had to look at diversifying.
This final contingent, in many respects, faces perhaps the hardest challenge of all. Boards and chief executives are forced to look for opportunities in new and unfamiliar markets, which presents a significant communications challenge.
How do you coherently explain to your customers that you can still work for them in other parts of their business, particularly when you might not have obvious experience in that area?
It is, in short, essentially all about positioning, and outlining a clear strategic vision.
You may be a technical wind consultant now suffering from reduced orders following the cessation in new wind farm construction in the UK. Suddenly offering an asset management proposition for existing projects in order to find work in a different part of the project time-line, won’t wash if it’s not something you’ve done before – particularly when there is a large amount of established competition.
If you are going to move into other parts of the market, then it has to be credible.So what’s the best way of establishing credibility?
You can begin by starting to talk about where you see the market heading, and how you intend to capture this new growth through a new business focus. To bolster your credentials, you may look to partner with an existing firm operating in the segment you wish to capture, or propose joint ventures on a short term basis to provide essential track record.
This new strategic focus can be underpinned by tactical activities that help to establish reputation in a certain market – either through press releases announcing new work, or in the absence of immediate contracts, thought leadership pieces that demonstrate that you’re taking the market in a particular direction.
Technology behemoth Apple offers the best lesson. In the mid-nineties the firm was nearly bankrupt as it repeatedly lost ground in the PC market. Adopting a new strategy based on personal consumer technology helped drive the firm to where it is today.
It shouldn’t be impossible to shift the direction of a firm when faced with a decline in its traditional market(s), but it has to be well thought through if it is to have a chance of long-term success.
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