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Step 3 - Developing an engagement strategy

Once the facilitation team has a detailed understanding of the incentives driving each key actor, they can start devising a strategy for engaging them within the roadmap, including the initial communication messages - “hooks” - to attract them. These are critical as if you cannot attract them at the beginning it may be increasingly difficult to attract them as the process goes on.

  • Initial communication and hooks +

    Hooks are more than the content of your message, and include how your message is communicated and by whom. Each hook needs to relate to issues of real importance and urgency for each key actor, although even then they may need to be communicated several times before the key actor takes them on-board. If time and resources are scarce concentrate on identifying the most common and urgent hooks.

    Every element of your communications with each key actors can attract or detract them, so it is important to be well prepared, have a clear approach and be aware of the main success factors, including the following:

    • What content is likely to attract each key actor?
    • What opportunities are most suitable for communicating the hooks to them (e.g. workshops, out-of-work social occasions?
    • Who is the best person to communicate the hook to the key actor (including a third party if applicable)?
    • Who within the key actor organisation or company should be targeted, and how will you plan to follow up?

    The facilitation team can use the Template in Annex 7 to plan the communication strategy and hooks they want to use to attract each key market actor. The following are some useful ways to initially try and engage the key actors:

    • Ask them for their expertise in strengthening the preliminary market map and analysis.
    • Invite them to be part of the project design process - although be careful their expectations are managed.
    • Take advantage of relevant workshops, conferences and round-tables organised by third parties, where you can network, or obtain a list of registered participants, but be aware that different actors go to different types of events.

    Focus your efforts on identifying individuals who you, or others, perceive as highly influential or open to new ways of thinking, but be aware of invisible or non-hierarchical relationships between colleagues.

  • Future engagement strategy +

    As relationships often take time to develop it may not be possible to ‘hook’ a key actor with a single interaction, so it is important for the facilitation team to keep building relationships with the key actors. This can include keeping in contact, following up as much as possible to supply them with useful information, although taking care to become a nuisance. Building relationship with key market actors is often a circular process, as summarised in Figure 1, with the number of actors being engaged increasing, at the same time as the level of required facilitation decreasing as the engagement progresses continues.

    Figure 1: Circular Nature of Engaging Key Actors

    Engaging key actors often entails 3 distinct phases as follows:

    Phase 1: Engagement of the key actors: During this phase the facilitator needs to have a strong and direct contact with a wide range of actors, who belong to different types of formal and informal organisations or networks, to “hook” them to engage with the roadmap process, initially directly through their own organisations or networks, and then through new groups such as interest forums, market opportunity groups, working subgroups and task forces.

    Phase 2: Engagement of additional actors using evidence of change: In this phase, facilitators rely on the outcomes and successes derived from their engagements with key actors, to provide evidence to actors who have not yet engaged. This phase is especially useful for hooking actors who have been reluctant or unsure about the value of the process. Good hooks and communication are also important in this phase, but it should be easier to hook new actors as a result of the credibility already established.

    Phase 3: Engaged market actors convince others to engage: In this final phase, facilitators shift to providing guidance and support to the engaged market actors, both to raise awareness about the benefits of the roadmap process and to hook an even wider audience. The facilitator can continue to provide guidance and support to market actors including through phone calls and meetings, and providing technical backstopping or background about the process to try and engage actors who have not yet engaged. The facilitator should begin to play an assistance role as the engaged market actors take over.

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