Marketing and business development are not the same for this industry as they are for shoe industry, athletic equipment, or food and beverage sales.
I learned this back when I first started working for the French Embassy Trade Office. I was working in Marketing and Business Development before but, to sell products, never services. It no longer flew to create flashy ads and sponsor events where we would give away free samples of our product, or measure how many hits we had had on a Facebook campaign.
All of a sudden, I didn’t have a market segment defined by age and likes. I had a very competitive tight knit group of people looking for something that would solve their problems.
I learned that from having a “suspect” client to a signed contract, one has to be very patient. It takes lots of time, people, and work to seal the deal. This was very evident when as a unit, the energy division was evaluated annually against the Automotive, Food and Beverage, Luxury Products and even the New Technologies Divisions. On every chart, our division seemed to be stuck and on the bottom of the curve.
If you can stick with it, one learns to love it. Few things can top the excitement and satisfaction I felt when, after nearly a year of work, one of my clients signed a five year contract with Chevron.
All this reminiscence and thought process comes from a Ted Talk I just watched.
Seth Godin’s – How to get your ideas to spread.
In his talk he touches on the Otaku concept about marketing to Innovators and Early Adopters who by word of mouth spread the word and make things happen; as well as, the example of a cow and how to stand out in a market:
My parable here is you’re driving down the road and you see a cow, and you keep driving because you’ve seen cows before. Cows are invisible. Cows are boring. Who’s going to stop and pull over and say – oh, look, a cow. Nobody.Seth Godin, bestselling author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable
But if the cow was purple, you’d notice it for a while.
“I mean, if all cows were purple you’d get bored with those too. The thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased, what gets built, is: is it remarkable? And “remarkable” is a really cool word because we think it just means neat, but it also means – worth making a remark about.”
I believe that this is so true when marketing to certain products and services, primarily those sold to the masses and mainly to open up new markets; but in the Energy Industry, it just doesn’t work like this. Yet, the purple cow started me thinking about what is truly valuable in this industry: its people. So, I think there is a way to apply the purple cow theory.
I have met extraordinary people in this industry, both men and women who are exceptional in their field. Not by means of “advertising” but with actions, knowledge, experience, innovative thinking and passion for what they do. And by combining their strength into one working unit, they become one very noticeable “purple cow”.
Later when working for Fluor, this became evident when looking for candidates for project teams for proposal submittal. There was always a very strong team that Proposal Managers fought over. They knew that these people were a strong selling point because they brought value to the proposal, or any project.
Therefore, I believe that there are HR people and managers out there who are always looking for the purple cow.