How SCHERMER led GE Ecomagination from relevance to revenue
GE Ecomagination was a business strategy, that became a brand, that created a global movement advocating the business advantages of using clean energy technology. For 12 years, the Ecomagination team created billions of dollars in sales for General Electric, and impressive savings for its customers. Other companies soon followed GE’s lead.
Sustainability spread as a hot topic in c-suites around the world. Competitors spun their versions of the story that Ecomagination had originated. While Ecomagination’s business remained strong and growing, its brand voice was fading into one among many. The Ecomagination team knew it had to act. They engaged SCHERMER.
BACK TO BASICS – AND REVENUE
Schermer proposed taking Ecomagination back to its core purpose, focusing on the issues and commitment that drove Ecomagination to prominence from the beginning. They needed a re-energized brand; one that restored thought leadership and resonated with global businesses. And they needed a better strategy for gaining relevance among business decision-makers—especially those in the c-suite.
But there was a more urgent need. Schermer had to put Ecomagination’s social engagement back on course. We immediately added value by taking over and managing their community. The Ecomagination team was already curating great content, but packaging it together as one post. We advised splitting the content into multiple posts, making them relevant, deploying them on different channels, trying different strategies, and tracking the results. We saw opportunities to generate more engagement and return Ecomagination to center stage.
Ecomagination raises its BRAND voice
Schermer’s strategy work began by talking to stakeholders who represented Ecomagination’s customers. We talked to GE leadership, such as the heads of GE Power and GE Renewable Energy. We asked what was important to their customers. Why Ecomagination was relevant to their businesses. We even asked what social channels they used.
Customers and GE stakeholders provided the insights we needed to re-define the purpose of the Ecomagination brand, and re-engage its audiences. Development of the new brand personality, voice, manifesto, and key messages all brought Ecomagination back to its roots: The Smart Way to Do Business. Now.
Sparking a more meaningful conversation
Ecomagination’s customers work in the digital world, which makes social media a crucial avenue for reaching them. While the brand already had large followings on Facebook and Twitter, it needed to target its social messages to critical c-suite audiences. Customer and stakeholder insights garnered by Schermer drove a new social strategy, including the addition of LinkedIn as the primary channel to senior executives. Once channels to decision-makers were open, they needed content.
Schermer developed a framework that guided Ecomagination’s social interactions. Research revealed that executives wanted relevant, in-depth content like longform articles and data visualization to support their decision-making. We created content pillars—such as news, innovation stories, insider looks, and infographics—that aligned the content mix with top-performing formats and relevant channels. Through more meaningful content, we began engaging more top-level audiences.
Resonating on all channels
The new social strategy produced immediate results, with Twitter engagement jumping 133% and Facebook engagement up 66% in the first month. Schermer improved engagement through messaging cadence and timing. The instance and frequency of posts were spread throughout each month, aligned to the times of day when executives were active on social media. To expand influencer engagement, we amplified social media content through paid and promoted posts, which typically generated 13 to 15 times the reach and six to eight times the engagement over non-promoted posts.
To keep everyone in the loop, we created a social dashboard that showed Ecomagination channel engagement rates and top-performing content. By monitoring performance, the team could continuously refine its social strategy and spend. The work paid off. Over the first few months of 2017, Ecomagination’s average engagement rate rose from 0.6% to 2.3%.
The energy to carry on
Much of our work for Ecomagination focused on re-energizing its brand, and re-establishing its relevance with key audiences. But there was another component: revenue. Schermer’s mantra is “relevance to revenue.” We’re always working with clients to create revenue opportunities; engagements that put the right customers on the right path to becoming buyers.
All of this took on greater significance at the end of 2017 when, as part of corporate cutbacks, GE disbanded the Ecomagination team. Yet the work we did together made a lasting impression. Ecomagination continues to influence business units within GE and their customers in a wide range of industries—selling them on the economic benefits of clean energy technology.