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How to handle the current crisis as a geothermal company – Interview with Patrick Hanson

Patrick Hanson of Geo Energy Marketing Services
Alexander Richter 30 Mar 2020

The current crisis brings a lot of challenges. We engaged with Patrick Hanson of Geo Energy Marketing to learn on how to best hand the current challenges by the situation from a marketing perspective.

With the current Covid-19 situation having its grip on daily life, things are currently not what they were used to be. How long this situation will last is another big unknown. As we are naturally all effected wherever we are in the world, a focus clearly has to be on our families.

At the same time, the situation creates a large number uncertainties about jobs, the overall economy, the impact on businesses and the energy market as a whole. We see different approaches to how companies are working through this crisis and dealing with remotely working staff. But how are companies staying on top of things and handle the situation with their clients and the market. For this we wanted to hear from Patrick Hanson of Geo Energy Marketing Services, a marketing specialist on what his experience has been with companies handling the crisis, what works, what does not and what could be done to support the industry while staying on the top of the mind for the time after.

The current situation puts a strain on companies and we all are struggling with a set up that sees us working from home. How has the situation effect you, your family and business?

These are definitely unsettling times.  We live in Washington State, just south of Seattle, the first “hot spot” in the US.  So, proximity was a concern. We also have two young school-age children that were told mid-March that school would be closed for (at-least) 6 weeks (we’re 2 weeks into this closure).  Immediately, my wife and I went from running our own businesses to co-leading homeschool sessions and struggling to find a balance.  My work days are sporadic at best. My hours were already wide ranging with clients in New Zealand, Indonesia and the US, but now it’s even more disjointed.  Thankfully, many of my clients are in the same boat and haven’t put any unrealistic pressure on pending deliverables. That being said, with the Oil Industry in a relative tailspin, it’s only natural for our geothermal industry to want to step in and fill the void.  However, the current crisis, social distancing, office closures etc. have caused several geothermal development delays – due to key stakeholders not being able to make strategic decisions to proceed.  This has an immediate affect on my clients looking to close deals, mobilize equipment and generate revenue.

 

Did you have to adapt your business and approach due to the situation and what are you doing to stay afloat?

I definitely have had to be more flexible. My home office is now a classroom and I’m working alongside my Pre-Schooler and 1st Grader working on math, spelling and arts and crafts. No longer, can I dash out to a Café to work for 3 undivided hours, as everything up here is drive-through or take-out only for the foreseeable future.

I have a strong rapport with my retainer-based clients which allows me to be open and honest with them when our dog starts barking or the kids are arguing in the background while we’re on a call.  Thankfully, I’m able to knock out my social media management services for my clients from 6-8am which then allows me to be present and available to teach my children for a chunk of the morning.  I’ll then get back to it and work on some of my website development projects for a good part of the afternoon and do my best to spend an hour or two in the evening to get to emails or miscellaneous client-work or business development opportunities.  Bottom-line flexibility, mixed with some self-care is the key.

 

We see different approaches of companies dealing with their business, in their communication and handling of social media. Do you see particular patterns in the approaches? 

It’s hard to keep our original Q1/Q2 social media content calendar as-is and continue posting and promoting services as if all is normal.  For two clients – we had a Pre-WGC, Live-WGC, and Post-WGC social media and outreach strategy that we had make a hard pivot on and reassess our efforts and messaging.  Similarly, many of my clients have had to make public announcements, reassuring their customers and suppliers that they are taking all the necessary and required precautions to stay safe and healthy while still working.  Interestingly, several of my US-based clients have been cleared as “essential” and can remain open for business during this time because they are directly tied to electricity generation industry. Therefore, I’ve posted multiple messages about their choices to stay open and why.

 

What do you think works best for companies in the current environment with regards to activities on marketing and social media?

Companies should show empathy, and identify ways in which they can best serve their communities during this time across social media.

 

What would be the top three things you would advise companies to think of right now in handling the situation from a marketing perspective?

  • Don’t pretend this isn’t happening. We’re ALL going through it.  Adjust campaigns, start new ones, be humble, honest and look for ways to help.  This could be through discounting services, extending payment grace periods or offering new services to fit the new-normal.
  • Be transparent and manage expectations. People need to know if you’re open for business and/or if the current crisis is affecting deliverables, service offering, hours of operations etc. People respect transparency.  So be transparent with your marketing.
  • Don’t be afraid to still sell. You don’t want to capitalize or leverage the crisis for personal gain but you can still proceed with strategic marketing initiatives, advertising, social media activity – just be tasteful in your messaging.  Be relatable.

What can we all do to support our peers in the industry to get through this together?

The easiest way we can support one another is to take the time to show it. Theoretically, we are all stuck at home and more captive online than usual.  Let’s show our support on social media. We should all like 10 posts a day from our colleagues and share 2 to 3 posts a day from peers within the industry.  Engage with content that evokes something from you.  Don’t just keep scrolling.

If business is ongoing and decisions are made between contractors, Operators should choose the one with the deeper geothermal roots, regardless is they’re not the cheapest option.

 Thank you Patrick for your take. 

You can find Patrick and his offerings to the geothermal energy sector on Geo Energy Marketing Services’ website.