Part one of a three-part series on Solar Marketing and Branding.
Why does the solar industry – which is filled with smart, well-intentioned people – keep trying to talk people out of solar?
I am constantly mystified by our industry’s predilection for over-complicating the solar sale.
We can’t help but talk numbers: kilowatts, panel efficiencies, IRR, ROI. It’s not that numbers aren’t important. But over-explaining technology differentiation or financial options while losing sight of the customers’ aspirational interest in clean energy is a sure-fired way to leave prospects cold.
Maybe that’s because the solar industry is still in adoption infancy after 30-odd years. Maybe it’s because we’re the teenager who loves to talk big about his technology.
But whatever the cause, we need to remember: We have about three nanoseconds to get the consumer’s attention. Let’s not squander that time being propeller-heads.
At an SPI general session on the future of the solar industry, David Kaiserman, CEO of Lennar Ventures, warned that the industry should take advantage of this unique moment in time – when consumers are still excited about solar – and not let solar marketing efforts get stuck in speeds and feeds.
“A lot of products require explanation. Solar isn’t that way,” Kaiserman said. “If we do our jobs right, we will appeal to the innate sense of understanding that solar has with consumers. That’s a huge advantage.”
Through its subsidiary SunStreet Energy, Lennar is a leading national builder who now offers home buyers a solar option.
“We have done lots of research – people ‘get’ solar,” he continued. “What’s most important to continued proliferation in the eyes of the consumer is that solar maintains its relevance, that it continues to get people excited. Technical discourse cannot dominate the conversation.”
The truth is, we couldn’t be at a better time to leverage a Big Brand Moment in solar. With companies like Apple and Google embracing renewable energy, and Tesla trying to make solar + storage a concept as tightly coupled as PB&J, we are on the cusp of a quantum shift in how people think about, consume and interact with energy.
Already we’re starting to see the shift, with new campaigns for companies like Exxon Mobil and GE who are working hard to reposition themselves as leaders in the energy revolution. Residential solar brands like SunPower, NRG and Solar City are doing their part to jump-start consumer brand awareness for solar with national ad campaigns of their own.
Whether you’re serving the residential or the commercial markets, now is the perfect time to align your solar marketing arrows in the same direction – toward brand elation and inspiration versus technical wizardry and consumer confusion.
Next up: “Making a Brand Connection with Solar.”