Xeed and the environmental market
6 years ago, I got a call from a client in the insurance sector. By strange coincidence he was also the CEO of an environmental consultancy, a subsidiary of his, which, he said, needed help with its sales and marketing strategy.
It was an area I knew nothing about but I quickly learned about the very real risks and threats from pollution spills – fuel oil, chemicals, fertiliser, even milk – and the damage they can do to both the environment and the finances and reputation of those who cause the pollution.
Over the last 6 years I have learned a huge amount about the risks and rewards of how business interacts with the environment and I have worked with some excellent businesses who supply the environmental market.
At the same time, I have developed a lot of respect for the dedicated and caring people who work in the environmental sector, especially those who are employed by large corporate organisations that are governed by return on investment and share price. It is easy to dismiss environmental issues as peripheral and nice to have, when it comes to the balance sheet, but the people I know work tirelessly to protect their employers from huge fines, massive clean up costs and brand reputation damage.
If they are guilty of anything, it is underselling their contribution to business. In my humble experience the environmental sector needs to shout more about its achievements and demand a “seat at the table” when it comes to business influence and if Xeed Marketing can help in any way we will.
We have some exciting plans lined up that will hopefully do just that!
OHES was my first foray into the environmental market. The business is a consultancy that provides services to the insurance industry and commercial organisations based on spill response, remediation, contaminated land surveys, ecology and water quality monitoring.
OHES was, as mentioned above, owned by an insurance business and a large percentage of its work came from a scheme which revolved around the response and clean up resulting from oil tanker delivery incidents. However, to grow and balance its portfolio the business needed new commercial revenues that came from corporate clients outside of the insurance backed scheme.
At the same time the business lacked any brand identity or supporting marketing communications material. It had little, or no, external presence in the commercial environmental market and could claim little brand recall.
With a wholly supportive CEO and Board we set about defining the services the business could offer, the sectors it could offer them to and how we would deliver them, whilst also identifing, what we called “the Big Dogs”, a number of large organisations that we felt should be clients.
The corporate identify was enhanced, a new web site created and a range of supporting brochures were designed and printed, ensuring that the business looked ready to pitch to the big players in the market. We also began to engage, through sponsorship, with industry bodies including CIWEM, British Water, the Country Land Association and CIRIA. This raised our profile and enabled us to meet and win clients such as Kier, Tarmac, Biffa, Heathrow Airport and Thames Water.
The end result
OHES went from strength to strength and, with its profits reflecting its growing reputation and position of authority in the market the owners put it up for sale in order to dispose of a business that wasn’t core but one which was highly attractive to the right buyer. That buyer was Adler + Allan and OHES sits comfortably and successfully within that bigger group.
Having worked on a joint bid for both Tarmac and Kier with Darcy we were approached by the CEO to suggest that we work with the business to help shape it for the future and to integrate the many divisions and products it owns.
As with any clear market leader people make assumptions and they think they know exactly what a business delivers and what it can do. In the environmental spill/pollution sector Darcy is well known for the manufacture, assembly and distribution of spill response kits and absorbents. However, it is a far bigger and more sophisticated business than that and we had to explore how we could create a “group sell” so that its whole product range could be marketed to potential customers. Of course, they wouldn’t buy everything that Darcy sold but, with better sales integration and internal product structure, we could be sure they would buy more than they were doing.
Before we took any new messaging to the market we had to ensure that the internal systems and sales structures were fit for purpose. Darcy has a huge number of products and they were grouped in structures that didn’t necessarily make sense to the market. This was especially true where acquisitions had been made as some product lines were doubled up.
To combat this, we created a series of new categories which, in turn, housed the appropriate products and we appointed dedicated Category Managers, charged with growing their own area. Financial reporting fell into line with the new categories to enable the Board to have better visibility of what was selling well and what needed greater effort.
At the same time a lot of effort was put into retraining the sales team to sell across categories answering customer needs and this bore fruit as the team grew more confident in cross selling. To reflect a new group approach, we created the Darcy Group web site which was marketed with a superb pictogram of a typical industrial environment showing risk and where Darcy products and services were appropriate.
The end result
Darcy is now ideally placed to capitalise upon its market leadership and, more importantly, it is able to offer clients of all sizes a range of pollution prevention products and services which will reduce environmental risk and improve efficiency in dealing with the challenges of interacting with the environment.
Seed Environmental (and its sister consultancy Tergeo) is a relatively new business, having only been founded in 2013, and as such it faces a different set of challenges to OHES and, the very long-established Darcy Group. Full of energy, ambition and self-belief Seed needed to let a few processes and systems catch up with the growth of the business.
Every new business that survives the first few years, experiences growing pains as new people, clients and ways of working need to be on boarded, and Seed is no different. However, with an unshakeable belief in its brand values and a determination to deliver to its Loss Adjuster clients, defining the market position and the sales value proposition for Seed Environmental was easy.
What was always likely to be a tougher challenge was building greater brand awareness in the commercial markets outside of the insurance sector, where they had little experience.
As much about direct selling, leveraging of contacts and reacting quickly to opportunities, as about building the right brand image, we set about the task with relish. Business was won from commercial organisations as diverse as Kier and Keltbray and the Jockey Club and some momentum has been gained.
At the same time the original brand identity was redesigned as we brought in a professional creative team for the first time and a completely new look and feel was created using illustration to create differentiation. Merging Tergeo into Seed Environmental has caused minimal disruption but has given the business a much clearer focus and sales value proposition to take to the market
The end result
Seed Environmental has been successful in growing its market share in its core insurance-led market whilst also making inroads into new commercial markets. With expansion and the hiring of a number of talented people who have opened up new territories the business is financially strong and well placed for continued expansion.
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