There’s long been a successful relationship between beer and campaigns.
Turns out that back in colonial times plying voters with the sudsy stuff was a surefire way to win the day. Even George Washington, our most vaunted founding father knew this, and kept the kegs tapped on elections days.
It all goes back to storytelling, an art that we call blogging in the Internet age. If I leave you with anything over the course of all my solar marketing campaign stories it’s this: Blog, blog, blog. And when you’re done, blog some more.
Stories > Blogging > Traffic
I know what solar marketers are up against. Your boss thinks the best way to sell solar is either cold calls, number-crunching incentives (ACT NOW BEFORE TAX CREDITS DISAPPEAR!), or trotting out lots of jargon with kilowatts and megawatts and gigawatts sprinkled liberally around along with anything else that sounds techy and impressive.
And I know the last thing he wants to hear — and is likely to believe — is that you’ve got to connect with your ideal buyers (in both B2B and B2C) on the human level, through yakking it up on the Web.
So you’e got your work cut out for you. You simply have got to break through the boss’s resistance to anything “soft sell,” and have a come-to-Jesus moment that convinces him that your company’s blog is the hub of your solar marketing campaign, and your social media pages are the spokes that carry your blog out to the world and then back to your website.
And there may be no better way to do this than through beer.
Stories that build culture
In earlier posts I’ve explained that plenty of your blog’s material should come from your firm’s work, with a focus on the people in the projects that you’re doing. But if all your audience hears are stories about you, however awesome you are, there’s a risk they’ll start to tune out.
So you have to pull your stories from the larger solar world. Don’t be afraid to share the successes of other firms, trends in the industry (in plain English, not insider baseball), unique demographics or geographic locations for solar projects, and, whenever possible, stories about beer!
America loves a good beer, and never more so than now when a vibrant culture of small-scale, micro-, and even nano-breweries have shot up across the nation. And when any of those brew houses also include a solar array, either on-site at the brewery or even at a warehouse, distribution center, or secondary brew site, that’s news for solar that the public can, well, drink up and stay thirsty for more.
So here are three ways that beer can fuel your solar marketing campaign.
1. Follow solar news
It was a big announcement earlier this year that SolarCity (the nation’s biggest solar firm) teamed up with MillerCoors to build the biggest solar installation on any American brewery. As reported by GlobalNewsWire, the array boasts,
More than 10,000 solar panels installed across ten acres of the famed brewery’s grounds in Irwindale, northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The solar system is expected to produce enough energy to brew more than 7 million cases of beer annually.
Now that’s a light beer — it’s got a smaller carbon footprint!
Consider yourself a sort of journalist now, and when you see solar stories like this in the news (on anything, not just beer) grab ’em up and crank out a quick blog for your readers bragging about the growing solar industry, that solar is becoming more and more mainstream, and that savvy companies are investing in solar for more than one reason.
If you’ve got the time make a quick call to the source, get a quote, and inject your own take on the story. In the end you’re taking a cultural touchstone and bringing it home to your readers. It’s the kind of stuff people like, and when people like you they trust you, and when they trust you they shop with you.
It’s all about building awareness.
2. Follow the local solar scene.
Just like big breweries putting out massive solar projects, smaller ones closer to home, do the same. You don’t have to wait around for news of your closest brewery (though that is helpful), but just think locally, state-wide, and regionally to source solar projects that you can turn in to fun news for your area.
I mean, beer and solar — amiright? It’s like puppies and cupcakes for people over 21!
The bonus at the more local level is that a brewery is likely close enough for you to visit, take some pictures of the project and taps, and then make your visit part of the story of your blog. Your message:
Hey, we’re just regular folks here at Heads Up Solar and we visit cool breweries with solar on the roof just to geek out. Check out our day trip!
If you can’t make it to the destination, smaller scale usually means you’re able to catch someone by phone, giving you a chance to learn about the project in a mini-interview to feature the project on your website — YES, even stories about your competitors. (This is a really hard one to convince your boss of but in the end, the Macy’s and Gimbel’s approach is so Web 2.0 that if you’re not doing it, you’re not up to speed. (Try to find a nice way to tell that to your solar CEO).
3. Sponsor beer events.
I’m no advocate of traditional print ads. But I do still believe in targeting some marketing dollars toward on-site events as part of your broader solar marketing campaign. And here your boss is less likely to complain because it’s old school and he has a high regard for that.
So this is your compromise point — do the on-sites while pushing hard on the blogging. But here’s how to make it work.
Most festival sponsors make two mistakes. They give away useless schwag cause they were trying to save money and they don’t train their team on how to “work an event.” Often marketers think working the event means being there to tell YOUR story.
Instead, let it be about hearing their story — visitors to your booth. You can even deck your booth out with a banner saying, “Tell us your solar story.” You’ll get everything from, “I really want it,” to “My dad has it,” to “Our business is in the process of putting in an installation.” But tap them for detail and ask if you can take their picture (decide on a decent backdrop in advance). Collect as many stories as you can on a boilerplate interview sheet that includes correct name spellings, e-mails, occupations, and their solar successes, dreams, and visions.
Before your visitors leave your booth, get them to check-in with your QR code, leading them to a landing page with all your social media pages right there for the liking. Capture them as fans and then build that fan base by doing the most crucial thing of all:
Go back and blog about these people, these beer-loving, solar-ready people. This is a trove of human interest that puts the human face on your company’s place in the community. Connect in person, and then keep those connections alive with stories. And don’t worry, shorter is better here — beer blogs of 150 to 300 words are more than adequate to share the beer-meets-solar love.
It’s about building the solar culture. And in the end, that will move many more panels than even the most detailed high-tech PV cross-section graphic could ever hope to.
It goes down easier, too. Like a smooth American pilsner.
— Lindsay Curren, Creative Director, Curren Media Group