While solar PV equipment costs continue to plummet, customer acquisition costs have not – putting solar companies at greater risk than ever before for wasting precious marketing dollars. One reason why is customer fatigue: Solar marketing prospects today are so worn out from cold-calling and overly aggressive sales tactics that they’re becoming much harder to reach – and even harder to convert.
Here’s a typical approach:
Solar Company A, an installation company, wants to increase sales. They know how ineffective door-to-door sales can be and decide to use PPC advertising to generate more qualified leads to their web site.
The result? The PPC campaign delivers a 25% increase in web traffic, but no increase in sales. What’s broken? The web site? The sales process? Or is something deeper going on?
Here’s another scenario:
Solar Company B, an equipment manufacturer, wants to ramp up sales of its newly announced solar solution to solar installers and contractors. They think if they stage a multi-city roadshow they’ll create good buzz across the industry and orders will naturally follow.
Ten cities and $100,000 later, orders have been minimal. The sales team is complaining that follow-up is far more time-consuming than they thought.
What’s wrong with these approaches?
In both scenarios, the solar companies hit on a marketing idea that had the potential to deliver great results — but did not. While there could be myriad reasons for this, at the end of the day the results were due to a phenomenon we call Branding + Digital Failure.
Solar Company A has an ill-defined brand strategy and a lackluster web site that’s short on content. When highly qualified visitors arrived at their “front door,” there is no introductory content, no solar calculator, and no mission-focused branding that makes prospects want to work with them. There’s an About page, but no bios or personal information, so visitors don’t know who’s behind the company or why. There may be a Why Solar page, with a complicated explanation about incentives and net metering but no discernible call to action.
Add to this the fact that Solar Company A never tested their PPC campaign before rolling it out, and the result is that prospects came to their site, looked around a bit and left: branding + digital failure.
Solar Company B has a more sophisticated web site and has put some thought behind their brand. They’ve got a message platform that they’re trying to teach their sales team to deliver in follow-up calls, but it’s not quite there yet. The web site brand message is confusing – it’s a new product category and it takes a few too many clicks to understand exactly what the product’s value proposition is.
How to get solar marketing right
In a world where digital is king, branding is all about the online customer experience. You can’t afford to miss a single step in the online conversation.
Savvy solar companies know that up to 60% of the solar decision is made online. Yes, there is still a need for a kitchen-table conversation, or in the case of B2B marketing, a face-to-face meeting. But more and more, these discussions are for closing the deal only. As awareness of solar grows, and marketing for solar becomes more sophisticated, customers will be much more informed before ever talking to a rep — and will take less time making up their minds.
That’s why you need a bullet-proof digital solar branding strategy. It’s not enough to have a well-defined brand strategy and value proposition, or a well-targeted online ad campaign. You must have an integrated strategy and solid execution. And you’ll need to follow up: with reinforcing nurture emails, a tantalizing offer, and a sales process that provides a seamless transition to the real world. It all has to be mapped out in advance, tested, and refined – so that it works like a well-oiled (solar-powered) machine.
Want to learn more? Watch our on-demand webinar: How to Energize Your Digital Solar Marketing, Build Your Brand and Win More Customers. We demystify what it means to get digital branding right in the solar marketing world. Better yet, every attendee is eligible for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation to brainstorm your next steps for marketing excellence.
Contact us for your free phone consultation today!