Marketing solar can seem complicated, targeting your most likely buyers, translating your content into the keywords they search for, and explaining just how your financing plan will save them more money than your competitor’s.
But if you take a step back, you’ll actually see that these issues are secondary. Planning a solar marketing campaign is actually simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. But avoiding distractions and starting with the basics will make it easier and more effective to market solar.
Let’s turn to marketing guru Seth Godin as our guide. Here, I’ll adapt his article “Every marketing challenge revolves around these questions” to a solar marketing campaign.
1. WHO are you trying to reach? (If the answer is “everyone,” start over.)
Identify two or three most attractive types of potential customers and then create Buyer Persona profiles for each one. And give them a name and a bit of a life story. For example, for your solar marketing campaign, Ranch House Robert is age 55, he and his wife own a home in the suburbs of a Sun Belt city like Phoenix and the couple wants to become more self-sufficient.
2. HOW will they become aware of what you have to offer?
Find out where your ideal customers hang out online, and then try to reach them there with content they’ll find compelling. For example, Ranch House Robert is active on LinkedIn, so publish an article on their Pulse Network about how solar PV adds to the value of a home. Find out what keywords he uses to search for solar-related information on Google, and then use those keywords in key places in your article, like the title, image alt tag and subheads.
3. WHAT story are you telling/living/spreading?
Make your customer the hero facing a dilemma — how to lower their electric bill or become more green — and then offer yourself as the trusted guide. The hero-dilemma-guide story is a classic plot formula you’ll find in the most ancient stories like Homer’s Odyssey or the tales of King Arthur and in the most popular movies like It’s a Wonderful Life or Star Wars. So, in your residential solar story, Ranch House Robert is the hero, his dilemma is that he doesn’t know how to get solar and of course, your solar installation company is the guide providing trustworthy advice to help Robert prevail.
4. DOES that story resonate with the worldview these people already have? (What do they believe? What do they want?)
Make sure your Buyer Persona profile is well researched enough to tell you whether your customer is more interested in money savings, self-sufficiency or going green. Ranch House Robert, for example, makes a good enough income that he’s not worried about his electric bill, but he’s gotten more into DIY as retirement approaches and he’s started to get intrigued by the idea of making some of his own power.
5. WHERE is the fear that prevents action?
For a outright purchase of residential PV, the fear usually comes from cost: “Can I afford it? Even with financing, can I make the monthly payments for the next ten years?” If the solar installer is able to offer a PPA or solar lease, then the fear may be more about how trustworthy your company is. Will you be around for the next 25 years? If you go out of business, will somebody come and repossess the panels on the roof?
6. WHEN do you expect people to take action? If the answer is “now,” what keeps people from saying, “later”? It’s safer that way.
If you’re selling PV, then the expiration of federal tax credits is an obvious way to create urgency. After that, you’ll need another way to create urgency, such as a time-limited promotion offering a free solar hot water system with 7 kW of PV. Or, maybe it’s just the threat of equipment shortages near the deadline for those tax credits!
7. WHY? What will these people tell their friends?
Homeowners love to brag about PV panels on their roof, and that recognition may be one of the top reasons why people get solar. For his part, Ranch House Robert will want his friends to think he’s smart for getting PV now and through such a good deal.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group