Case Study

Online Kickstart for Sphera

‘From the outset I was impressed with the Adopter team’s knowledge, engagement and expertise. They took time to thoroughly understand our business and clients, proactively finding tailored solutions to our challenges.’
Natasha Boulding
CEO

Services

  • Communication strategy
  • Content planning
  • Expert articles writing
  • LinkedIn content creation

Goals

Kickstart Sphera’s online presence to fill a (then) blank space with content and help the company be seen as trustworthy by potential investors and business partners.

(At the time, Sphera was still developing its products)

Challenges

  • Emerging, disruptive technology in a conservative niche
  • Limited awareness of the target customer group
  • Positioning against greenwashed solutions
  • Complex terminology and shifting regulatory landscape surrounding low carbon construction materials

The client

Sphera is a scaling green technology company that invented the world’s first carbon negative and carbon neutral aggregate concrete blocks.

The construction industry and concrete production are responsible for a considerable part of global carbon emissions. If adopted, Sphera’s technology presents major environmental opportunities.

The Approach

1

Discovery & Communication Strategy

Once we finished the preparation of the website, our work with Sphera focused on creating a ‘big picture’ communications strategy.

During our further research and discovery process with the Sphera team, we looked into the company’s target audience and customers and different parties in the decision-making chain, considering the needs and motivations of these key groups.

We then identified the following goals for the company’s communication strategy:

Educating potential customers

Educating potential customers about Sphera’s solution and the problem it’s solving.

This matters because understanding of Net Zero is still relatively low, and there is a lot of confusion surrounding carbon emissions in the construction industry.

Showing a need for the Sphera's solution

The current regulatory landscape surrounding the reduction of carbon emissions and the UK’s goal of reaching Net Zero by 2050 is dynamically changing.

Therefore, a key part of Sphera’s communications strategy should be highlighting the trends in this uncertain regulatory landscape and positioning Sphera’s technology as a way to futureproof the construction industry and prepare for carbon targets and quotas.

Positioning against greenwashed solutions

Some manufacturers of the ‘typical’ concrete blocks sell their products with unverifiable tree-based carbon offsets and claim that this makes their concrete carbon neutral.

Such an approach doesn’t reduce emissions in a way that’s reliable and sustainable in the long term. It relies on the customer’s lack of specific knowledge and maintains the current status quo.

We identified a need to highlight the differences between such greenwashed solutions and emission reduction through innovation (like Sphera’s blocks) as a way to help potential customers understand the comparative value of Sphera’s products.

2

Content planning

To make the content planning and creation process the most efficient, we used a content repurposing approach.

This meant using articles on Sphera’s website as a core piece of content. These would then form the basis of the surrounding social media posts.

As a first step, we created a detailed content plan. This enabled the Sphera team to engage with the process, ensure the chosen topics were the most effective and efficiently provide wider feedback.

3

Content creation

The topics we covered through the content included:

Explaining the core terminology around carbon emissions

A considerable extent of Net Zero related terminology is new and often confusing, even to those interested in carbon emission reduction.

Therefore, we created resources that explain the key terminology. This included terms specific to construction industry policies and upcoming legislation.

Net Zero 2050 and the regulatory landscape

We explored the UK’s goal to reach Net Zero by 2050 and what it means to the emission-intensive construction industry, including the most likely direction of upcoming legislation.

This allowed us to demonstrate the need for Sphera’s solution and to position it as a long-term way to reduce carbon emissions.

Carbon offsetting and it's role in reaching Net Zero

Forward looking actors within the construction industry are beginning to consider the environmental impact of their work.

This often includes a consideration of short-term reduction methods like carbon offsetting.

It’s a complex topic, so we created resources to clearly define offsetting and summarise its limitations.

We used this opportunity to position Sphera’s technology as the next logical step for the industry to take on its path to Net Zero.

Limitations of tree-based carbon offsetting

Tree-based carbon offsetting has its place in supporting the construction sector’s journey to Net Zero.

However, tree-based carbon offsetting is also used to greenwash high-emission products and effectively maintain the status quo.

An example of this can be a material manufacturers selling ‘normal’ concrete blocks together with unverifiable tree-planting abroad and calling the material ‘carbon neutral’. In reality, however, there’s no reduction of emissions during material production (embodied carbon).

At the same time, a typical customer will often lack specific knowledge to understand the limitations of carbon offsetting.

Therefore, we prepared content that highlighted the shortcomings of tree-based offsetting and helped position Sphera’s products against greenwashed materials.

Innovation in low-carbon and carbon neutral construction materials

We identified that those within the construction industry interested in reducing the carbon footprint of their projects often lacked the technical information that would lead to achieving this goal.

We prepared a guide which included some innovative materials that can be combined to design low carbon buildings.

This list includes Sphera’s products, as well as different structural and insulation materials that can complement Sphera’s offering on a low-carbon construction project.

How different parties within the construction industry can take action to reduce carbon footprint

Reducing the carbon emissions of a construction project involves several different key actors.

This includes architects, who are responsible for the building’s design and specification.

We created resources that show how an architect can take action to reduce the build’s carbon footprint. The article also positioned Sphera’s materials as one of the solutions.

From the project
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Results

Primary goal:

We filled 'the blank' and established an initial digital presence for Sphera that has helped the company be seen as trustworthy.

We helped Sphera take the first steps towards educating its customers and developing a leading voice in its industry.

Additional gains:

+354% Search Engine Impressions

+202.6% Search Engine Clicks

+272.78% LinkedIn Click Through Rate (CTR)

+194.69% LinkedIn Engagement Rate

Some further benefits include search engines becoming the main source of website traffic, an improvement in Sphera’s website ranking in the search results for its niche and industry-specific terms, and a consistent and growing engagement on Instagram.

Some of Sphera’s achievements that occurred during the period of our work together include:

  • Sphera's CEO, Natasha Boulding, was invited to speak at COP26 as a panellist at the Countdown to Planet Zero, Next Gen Debate.
  • Sphera was awarded the Innovate UK research grant.
  • Sphera became a part of Tech Nation's Net Zero 2.0 cohort.
  • Sphera's concrete named as a 'Top 3 game changing product' by Futurebuild.
  • Sphera became Innovative Start-up member of the UK Green Building Council.

In the client's words

‘From the outset I was impressed with the Adopter team’s knowledge, engagement and expertise. They took time to thoroughly understand our business and clients, proactively finding tailored solutions to our challenges. They communicate effectively and promptly, which perfectly matches the fast-paced nature of our start-up.’

Dr Natasha Boulding

CEO

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