In the last decade, the environmental consultancy landscape has fundamentally changed. What was once a niche market, operating behind closed doors, has grown into an industry both challenging and attracting the largest professional services players. This new found maturity has been accompanied by an explosion in competition – high-profile consolidations, the emergence of new international players and the expansion of service lines by established firms.
At the same time marketing approaches don’t appear to be keeping up. In a sector like environmental consultancy, that is risk-averse by nature, it seems firms are stuck in a vacuum of old ideas and methods, telling stories with annual reports, case studies and CSR initiatives, and offering little to differentiate themselves other than a race to the bottom on price.
Our recent research into the state of ideas across B2B marketing shows how widespread these problems are. Three-quarters of the marketers we interviewed told us that the majority of their marketing campaigns fail to capture the imagination, while four in five argued that B2B marketing is facing a full-blown crisis of creativity.
More than nine out of ten CMOs agreed that to be more creative B2B brands require a radical new way of working. So, if we’re all in agreement that this new state of affairs deserves a fundamentally different approach to marketing, how do we inject environmental consultancy with the creativity it needs? What is at the core of great campaigns that connects with individuals and drives profitable conversations for partners?
Our research shows that 95% of CMOs believe that big ideas are the X factor that can differentiate them from competitors. And this differentiation is the ammunition consultants and business development teams need to engage prospects – with nine-in-ten arguing that creative content based on a compelling idea is their single most effective sales tool.
This focus on ideas should not be underestimated – it is a fundamental change in how we engage prospects – offering insight and providing a compelling platform to engage prospects emotionally, rather than focusing on experience and cost.
This should be a remarkably busy year for global environmental negotiations. We can expect international commitments – be they the Sustainable Development Goals or legally binding carbon targets being agreed at the Paris COP – to cascade down into a multitude of new national legislation and regulation. Whatever these requirements may be, they will undoubtedly mean a growth in work for environmental consultancies.
With this growth in work meeting an expanding market and increased competition, it will be harder than ever for environmental consultancies to stand out from the crowd. Current approaches to marketing simply cannot offer that differentiation. Rather, we now need focus on drawing people into the sales funnel with the big ideas and fresh insights that seize their attention and compel them to act. We need to harness the incredible wealth of knowledge held in the heads of partners and scientists within the environmental consulting world and turn them into something tangible.
We believe marketers are well placed to take on that challenge and want to help find the ideas that will allow them to grow their practices and define their industries. To prove it we’re launching our Creative Challenge: if you have a marketing or PR challenge let us know and we’ll present you with our best creative solution.
Will Lock manages the Science, Sustainability and Policy team at Man Bites Dog