An article in the Washington Post titled “Your Manliness Could be Hurting the Planet” should make solar sales reps sit up and take note. It cites a recent University of Notre Dame study that found that green products and going green is perceived as girlie!
Who knew? And after I’ve written hundreds of articles on ways to go green specifically targeted to chicks and barely a blip on the radar from eco-conscious women readers the world over!
But my personal angst aside, and without doing a serious review of the study’s methods, I’ve decided that its findings as reported in the Post are worth considering for installers in their solar sales and marketing efforts.
The question is, Why?
Sunny Day Real Estate
First off, if we believe this story — and it seems fairly plausible in a still, and pardon me here guys, but male-dominated society — then you, being in solar are going to want to be aware of that perception and how to use it to your advantage.
I don’t say this to push a cynical Mad Men approach that says, “What you call ‘love’ was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”
I say it because I believe in solar, I believe in a vibrant and powerful clean energy economy, I believe in buffering the worst of climate hell on earth, and I believe in fresh air, sunshine, and little birdies. I ought to, the study says, cuz I’m a girl!
But seriously folks, that means I want more solar sold and I want you to be successful and that means understanding things like the psychology of your potential customers.
If we take this study at face value it gives you two solar sales approaches that are super important because they speak to perception and perception certainly will help you when you’re face-to-face with either men or women — or both at the same time — trying to make your solar sales.
And it will totally help you identify what’s called in the digital marketing world your “ideal customer.” That is, How can I define exactly who I’m trying to reach in my online solar marketing and not waste time trying to sell solar to those who don’t want it or just aren’t there yet?
So the question is, Are men more resistant to solar because they wonder whether they’ll be perceived in the ‘hood as some kind of girlie-man?
According to a theory developed by the Notre Dame researchers and quoted in the Post article,
Men’s resistance may stem in part from a prevalent association between the concepts of greenness and femininity and a corresponding stereotype (held by both men and women) that green consumers are feminine. As a result of this stereotype, men may be motivated to avoid or even oppose green behaviors in order to safeguard their gender identity.”
Well, what do we do with this?
We don’t actually know if this is more about buying Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and grass-fed beef at the grocery store and less about something like solar with its much larger commitment of resources and infrastructure. Either way, there’s still a likelihood of at least some crossover in solar with the belief that being green-oriented is “feminine” and that for some guys that’s a prob.
So back to the two approaches.
And She Was
On the one hand this info offers an opportunity to sell more to all those greenie girls who may totally embrace going solar but actually may be under-targeted by the solar industry as ideal customers.
Hattie Homeowner might just be itching to buy solar but no one is really reaching out to her. No one is blogging about her problems, how she sees her family’s resources, why she would be motivated to go solar, why she’s the best advocate in her own household, what legacy she wants to leave.
Websites for residential solar should already have home pages that show more happy, sunny people to create a warm and unthreatening mood for potential solar customers. But they should go a specific step further and, as Abigail Adams once famously counseled her husband on the rights of all at the Constitutional Congress, “Remember the ladies.”
Put some women on your home pages and inside pages. Write blogs for them. Make social media graphics for them. Learn about women and want they want in their eco-choices and what they feel they can do on solar for their homes. Heck, they may actually be the foot in the door to your solar sales because it’s believed that women make the majority of the buying decisions in a home.
The Notre Dame guys have convinced me that “Girls Just Wanna Go Solar, yes, Girls Just Want to Go Solar!” So let’s bring women more into the solar sales conversation by starting online.
Now what about the guys? Maybe we’ve just got to macho it up.
Men with no feelings of gender threat about buying solar aren’t going to care about your ladies-first solar websites. But if a good many men (and women) still perceive going green as being, er, pussies, then a certain number of men will want you to speak to them in their own language.
No, I don’t mean the “unga bunga” of caveman talk.
Maybe it’s more like what the guys at Model Trainings say in the video below, that you’ve got four solar customers, one of whom is the technophile. Lots of guys like gadgets, (I know, I know, gender police, “the women do, too, blah, blah, blah”) and dudes dig the whiz-bang effect. Perhaps positioning solar for them as less about going green, but more about, as always, saving green, but then also, “neat-o cool, check this system out!”
Use photos to show all kinds of male customers, particularly your stereotype of a he-man! Write blogs that target Hank Homeowner’s inner beefcake, all hyped up over tracking stats on his app or learning the lingo of inverters or getting more kW than his pal. Know who he is, including what he doesn’t like — such as being seen in any way to be “feminine” (however wrong that may be because, you know, women rock!) — and meet him where he is.
The gender police would probably fault me terribly for such blunt talk. Lucky for me I’m not in the ivory tower but rather in the scrappy frontier of the Interwebs where I can say what’s what when necessary.
In the end stereotypes may suck, and certainly aren’t true across the board, but they do offer a pulse on some realities on the ground. And in the case of some dudes wanting a more macho form of being green, what’s the harm if in the end it helps spread the solar love?
Speaking of love, maybe he’ll get more chicks with solar! Now there’s another angle for the guys.
- The chicks are already pro-solar.
- He gets solar.
- What’s not to like?
He seems more manly already! (A little humor never hurts, either.)
Making Lots of Solar Sales
You need to know your customer from the inside out. It totally helps to get insight from studies like these because they can help you make a wider appeal in certain circumstances, and a more targeted one in others. You learn resistance points (the tensions for your customers) and the embracing points (what speaks to them).
It’s like flipping on a solar-powered switch!
— Lindsay Curren, Creative Director, Curren Media Group