More and more, we find that the questions and challenges clients come to us with are in some way linked to sustainability. Some of these links are direct, and also have potential to deliver commercially in the short term – “how do we better serve the emerging renewable energy space with our existing solutions”, for example. However, for many clients the route to realizing commercially viable, sustainability-led propositions is less clear.
5 tips for building sustainability-led and commercially viable propositions
We’ve put together 5 top tips for businesses looking to understand how they might find some clarity on this, and build some amazing propositions that are good for our planet, but work financially too.
1. Set out your goals
Make sure you have a clear view of your own goals and ambitions (sustainability-focused and commercial) ahead of embarking on this process. Engage with the relevant people in your business, and pull together an overview of where you hope to be at a certain time in the future, including both stated aims and more qualitative and/or speculative perspectives. You’ll need to put this to one side once you start to speak to customers about their wants and needs, but it will be really useful to have this clear outline to refer back to when considering offers you may want to build out.
2. Engage customers
Start engaging with customers and/or prospects, to understand where they are on their sustainability journeys:
- Where does sustainability rank vs. other strategic priorities?
- What do they understand by ‘sustainability?
- What does it mean to them?
You may find that different segments of your customer base are at radically different points on their journeys, which will clearly influence what kind of solutions they may be interested in, and critically to what extent they’re prepared to invest to see results. We’d suggest keeping a careful eye on how companies of different sizes and in different industries respond here, so you can craft solutions appropriately.
3. Support customers’ targets
Get a handle on where they want to get to. What targets do they have? By when? What aspects of their agenda are they focusing on now, and how do they expect that to change over time? We would recommend thinking beyond the scope of your current relationship here, at a whole business level. By capturing their broad views as well as specific targets that may relate more closely to your expertise, you’ll be able to contextualise any offer you may choose to bring to market. And perhaps more importantly, you may uncover adjacencies that are really important to your customers, and into which you may wish to grow in future.
4. Identify customers’ challenges
Uncover the barriers and challenges they face in attempting to reach their goals. This is a really crucial piece of the puzzle. Depending on where customers are on their sustainability journey, they may already have solutions set in place in some areas, or at least trusted partners that they would typically turn to for help. So dig into this – which ambitions are both critical to their broader plans, and are areas in which they feel unsupported, or don’t know where to start. This way, you can start to build a matrix around importance of objective vs. level of support required to solve the problem, giving you a nice model around which to start considering where you might fit as a solution provider.
5. Plan for the short and long-term
Begin pulling everything together, by brainstorming solutions across a range of time horizons. We’d suggest at least generating ideas in two ‘buckets’:
- Quick wins/ short term tweaks to or additions to existing propositions. These should draw on your existing capabilities and be relatively quick and easy to implement.
- Bigger plays that would take time to deliver. Focus on areas where there’s likely sufficient interest and readiness to invest from customers that there could be a significant opportunity, if you can develop or acquire the capability to access it.
Across both of these, consider how your sustainability agenda and broader priorities mesh with your customers’, and the mutual opportunities this could give rise to. Then action plan – what can you bring to market now? With which customers? And which capabilities would you need to buy or build to realise some of the bigger, more elusive opportunities?
Propositions that support your customers as they strive to move towards a more sustainable future hold huge potential. Incorporating these 5 top tips into your planning could see you develop propositions that could have a positive impact both on the planet, and commercially, both now and in the long-term.
If you’re currently putting together a new proposition and would like an external perspective on your plans then speak to White Space Strategy today.