It is almost the end of the year. Most of us are already thinking about Christmas time, hurrying up to close projects before the deadlines and slowly planning the New Year’s resolutions. It is a great thing to sit down for a moment with a cup of coffee in this busy time and indulge in reflection about this year’s achievements and lessons. Psychologists keep telling us to be grateful for what we have and appreciate every little success. That keeps us motivated and filled with positive energy. But also, the deep reflection triggers an insightful analysis, that may become a foundation for your company’s strategy for next year!
We have decided to share with you our thoughts about the busy and full of challenges year 2019. We hope you will find here many useful tips and pieces of advice for your business!
Take-away 1: Transformation – know your audience and know their needs
As Alectris, we are mostly known for our excellent (pardon our modesty) services of asset care, and innovation for the global solar industry. This includes our integrated suite of operations, maintenance and asset management services, award-winning software ACTIS, and retrofit technologies. All these elements are empowering the owners with full control of their portfolios to realize worry-free, high performing solar assets.
We have decided to put a big emphasis this year, on our asset management software ACTIS. It has been recognized numerous times globally, however, we had the impression that our audience knows Alectris more for our services than for the innovative and most importantly, FIRST (!) in the world ERP (Enterprise Resources Platform) and asset management software for renewable assets. We wanted to introduce to our potential clients the powerful resources that ACTIS has, and we took some efforts to build the Brand Recognition of our unique product. It is just the beginning of our exciting journey, but we believe it will take us far!
During the first half of 2019, we had only the Alectris’ website containing information about all our services and our software ACTIS. We have changed that to meet the market requirements – we have dedicated an individual, resourceful website to the ACTIS ERP. Currently, our audience can find all the needed information in one place, categorized in a logical order. The website includes information about all ACTIS functionalities, and pages dedicated to specific stakeholders, like asset managers, O&M service providers or IPPs.
We have been listening to our users. To their concerns, requests, and comments. Respecting their needs, we created the eBook – a comprehensive guide to the ACTIS ERP software. It is an excellent introduction to our software, allowing the audience to understand if this is the solution they are looking for.
We also observed a high interest in the content referring to the fundamental definitions – like what is the ERP? Why do I need it? How can I benefit from it? Since our users want to learn, we have created the informative and explaining blog postings, resourceful infographics, Friday’s FAQ series and Videos series (launching soon). And we are not stopping. We are going to undertake new, unique initiatives next year!
Tip no 1:
You are here to help your potential clients gain knowledge and decide if they are interested in your products or services. They need time to get ready to purchase, so don’t be too pushy. While they are positioned in the awareness or evaluation stage of the buying process, awe them with the usefulness of your content and entertain them with amazing, educational and resourceful materials!
Take-away 2: Prestige – prizes speak for you
Of course, we want to speak about our services and software in superlatives – who doesn’t? But let’s be honest, in the world where everyone speaks high about own products, we need an objective opinion, recommendation or tangible proof for the quality of what the company offers.
As we are members of SolarPower Europe we took a chance to highlight our services and ACTIS ERP. For the second consecutive year, our Operations and Maintenance services were recognized with SolarPower Europe’s O&M Best Practices Mark. Recognition with the O&M Best Practices Mark is an honor as it proves reliability and excellence of services. It also increases credibility, as we can always provide a client with the checklist and technical dossiers certifying compliance with SolarPower Europe’s O&M Best Practices Guidelines.
A similar thing happened with ACTIS ERP – at the beginning of this month, our software has been certified with the Solar Monitoring Best Practices Mark. This is a tangible proof of our commitment to always deliver outstanding monitoring services and prioritize the clients’ satisfaction. The Mark improves the competitiveness of solar monitoring services, its consistency, and quality level in the industry. Thanks to the Mark, solar asset managers, owners, investors, and other stakeholders can seamlessly choose a trustworthy partner (us! ?).
Tip no 2:
If you provide high-quality services and products and you care about your customers, you deserve to be noticed. Ask around or dive in Google to find contests, rankings and quality checklist marks. Get awarded. Prizes speak for the quality of your services, and as a side effect, they build the prestige for your company.
Take-away 3: Recognition – build valuable and less profitable connections – people matter
Everyone knows that events are the most popular offline B2B source of new connections. We also remember about it; therefore, we took part this year in 17 conferences and assemblies. Calculating, we have been somewhere at least once a month: from European capitals to Baku in Azerbaijan, New Delphi in India, Mexico and the United States. Numerous events were organized by SolarPower Europe, and as a member of the O&M Task Force, we were traveling with them around Europe. All the events were an amazing opportunity to get noticed by the renewable industry, as we often participated as speakers, chairmen, panelists or specialists. We were and always are willing to share our expertise and listen to valuable insights from other key players in the market. However, we consider the most profitable part for the business as networking, as new social connections and communications are the core of the well prospering business. Not all new acquaintances convert to the leads, that’s obvious, but businesses who got to know us may recommend us to someone else in the future.
In most of the events that Alectris attended, we shared our extensive expertise about the Digitalization of Asset Management processes, its benefits and the development opportunities for the solar projects. We talked about the digitalization in the solar market positively affecting the transparency and efficiency of solar business operations and the increase in profits for PV portfolios.
Constantinos Peonides as the Vice-Chair of the O&M Task Force of SolarPower Europe, discussed numerous times the O&M and Asset Management Best Practice Guidelines and the newest trends in the solar market. He highlighted the opportunities of the best practices’ implementation at Emerging Markets, ways of accelerating the adoption of digital cost reduction and solutions of performance optimization.
We also arranged our small event in Milan in June to showcase to Italian market players the ACTIS ERP – our innovative asset management software that we are extremely proud of, and MoreSun® – the world’s most advanced Anti-Reflective and Anti-Soiling Solar Coating. This very interesting experience encouraged us to undertake more similar initiatives in the future.
We enjoyed being in the control, showcasing our products, allowing the audience to get more familiar with what we offer and understand better our business. Most importantly, extensive interactions with guests and our absolute focus on them were the biggest benefits of the event.
Tip no 3:
Attend chosen top events in the market to build your brand recognition (as a speaker, specialist) and create new connections (networking). Talk to your potential clients, but do not ignore acquaintances that seemingly may not matter to your business. Don’t avoid your competition – use these meetings as an opportunity to discuss the newest market trends and to simply ask how it is going. Keep a good relationship with them. Don’t forget to announce the world that you are attending the event – there may be many companies interested in scheduling an appointment with you.
Undertake new initiatives, organize your events. That involves a lot of effort, but benefits outweigh the costs and time spent on the arrangement.
Take-away 4: Achievements – flaunt your successful projects, show the numbers
We accomplished several successful projects this year, including:
signing contract for O&M services for the 10 plant – 70 MWp portfolio of NextEnergy Solar Fund – the largest listed solar infrastructure owner in Europe,
77% of operations and reporting improvement for Nautilus Solar Energy using ACTIS ERP,
signing contract for 10.000 domestic rooftop solar assets of Empower Community – UK based developer and asset manager,
signing contract for solar portfolio in India and implementation of ACTIS ERP by Mytrah – one of India’s largest Independent Power Producers,
signing MoU for O&M services for the portfolios in Vietnam with Artelia Vietnam – international, multi-disciplinary consultancy, engineering and project management group.
We have been asked many times about the exact numbers illustrating the effectiveness of our solution – ACTIS ERP. Of course, the results can differ depending on the nature of the business and the complexity of operations. Also, the outcomes are subject to the choice of implemented functionalities of ACTIS. However, we understood the message – our audience expects to see some examples of benefits coming from the ACTIS deployment. This encouraged us to prepare a case study of Nautilus Solar Energy describing in detail the project objectives, solution, implementation phases, and outcomes. We observed a high interest in published content; therefore, we are planning to prepare similar statistics-based documents in the future.
Tip no 4:
Do not hesitate to highlight the outcomes of your successful projects (unless your clients do not wish so) and present the effects of implementation of your high-quality services and products. Publish testimonials, case studies, and press releases. Do not forget to use numbers. Simple benefit phrases like “improvement of services efficiency” and “reduce of costs” are not convincing anymore. Use specific information, statistics, numbers, and data. Be factual and specific – this way you build trust towards your brand.
Take-away 5: Mission – be part of something bigger
Constantinos Peonides, Director of Alectris was elected a Vice-Chair of SolarPower Europe’s O&M Task Force in March this year. Alectris was actively contributing to the development of the Best Practice Guidelines for O&M and Asset Management aiming in improving the quality of services in the solar industry. We are now a part of the mission of promoting the growing market opportunity for solar in Europe.
SolarPower Europe’s aim is to ensure that more energy is generated by solar than any other energy source by 2030 and to lead our members to make solar the core of a smart, sustainable, secure and inclusive energy system in order to reach carbon neutrality before 2050.
Being a member of the O&M Task Force brings a lot of responsibility but equips us with tools to build a better future and have a real influence on the solar market. This is also an incredibly beneficial move for the business, as it builds brand recognition, positive PR and most importantly, cultivates respect.
Tip no 5:
Find impactful organizations in your industry, learn about their mission and join the one you feel the most connected to. Also, implement CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in your business – undertake philanthropic, activist or charitable initiatives. Be dedicated, honest and real in your activities. Be a leader and build a better future (and brand recognition and respect will be side effects of your actions ?).
Take-away 6: Brand Exposure – be expert in your field & engage with your audience
Constantinos Peonides, Director of Alectris, joined in April this year the SolarPower Europe Emerging Markets Task Force Webinar and talked about “Digitalising solar asset management in emerging markets”. Hundreds of attendees watched the live-stream presentations and listened to the discussions of the webinar guests on the newest possibilities in Solar Market and new innovations facilitating Solar Asset Management.
Webinars, especially the ones where we can interact with the audience, are an excellent opportunity to share expertise and introduce to the viewers, the innovative solutions on the renewable market (including ours, of course). Webinars can deliver tremendous value as they position us as an expert in the field and increase our credibility as a brand.
We are in the process of discovering new marketing initiatives and trends. Our observations and analysis based on the market research, showed us the necessity to arrange some webinars next year and implement new, unique ideas. We hope you are looking forward to it as much as we do!
Tip nr 6:
Webinars are becoming easier to organize nowadays: there are social media platforms where you can live stream for free like LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube. Also, plenty of organizations and companies can professionally manage this for you. Getting your brand exposure while building trust of your audience is very important nowadays, therefore webinars should be part of your marketing strategy.
2020: Here we come!
It has been a busy year and we expect 2020 to be even busier. We are very excited to continue our journey to developing ACTIS ERP and increasing our brand recognition. We have plans and we are not afraid to dream big. We are constantly learning, and most importantly, we are grateful for everything we have achieved so far. Lots of interesting challenges are ahead of us, so please, keep your fingers crossed!
What about you? How was your 2019?