branding, Bright Ideas Blog, Content Marketing

AHA! How to Use the Element of Surprise in Your Clean Energy Content Marketing

In clean energy marketing, as in other realms of marketing, content is king. But to attract more qualified prospects to your web site and ultimately lower your customer acquisition costs, not just any content will do. You must consistently publish content that informs, satisfies and sometimes surprises your prospect base. To illustrate this point I’m going to take you back to a place you might not want to visit again: middle school.

Even if you disliked school growing up, you can probably remember at least one teacher who inspired you to think outside your comfort zone:  to ask more questions, to seek better answers.  This is what the best content marketing strategies are:  a form of inspired teaching.

Clean Energy Content Marketing Lessons from an Eighth-Grade Science Teacher

Recently, my eighth grader came home from school very excited about science. She likes science more than many, but she’s not really a science kid. On this particular day, though, her teacher (we’ll call him Mr. A.) taught a lesson that changed her world view.

Mr. A. held up a candle and asked the students to write down their observations — the color of the candle, its size, shape, material. He then lit the candle and asked them to observe the smoke – its color, its odor, its movement. They dutifully wrote down their observations, expecting a perfunctory lesson on the process of scientific observation.

But then Mr. A. did something they didn’t expect. He blew out the candle, and popped it in his mouth. He ate the whole thing, right then and there. Imagine the response this got from 22 angst-ridden middle-schoolers. The kids go ballistic. They clutch their bellies, recoiling.

The point he made is one we could all learn from: Should we believe everything we see?

Was it a candle? Or was it something edible, deftly carved?

She still doesn’t know. But she’ll remember this lesson for the rest of her life.

Surprise is a great teacher. When you’re selling a product that most people would really rather not think about (electricity) you’ve got to think like Mr. A.

We are in the business of changing world views. Surprise helps. It tells your audience you know they’re not asleep at the wheel. You’re going to ask them to think. Because you believe they can think for themselves.

How to Develop Surprising Content Marketing

To illustrate the point, allow me to share an example from a client of Clean Power Marketing Group, Quixotic Systems of New York City.

Quixotic Systems installs solar systems in the five boroughs of NY and surrounding areas. While there is no shortage of rooftop space, the geometries of tight urban spaces do not always lend themselves to optimal roof space without shading from roof obstructions or other buildings. And there is no available ground space.

So when Urban Health Plan (UHP) approached Quixotic about installing solar on the roof of their facility in the Bronx, Quixotic pulled a Mr. A. They questioned the premise: Was there anywhere else this system could be installed?
UHP just happened to have a south-facing vertical wall that was perfect for solar. To the surprise and delight of their customer, Quixotic designed a custom rack that would adhere to the wall, and mounted four stories of high-efficiency SunPower panels to the rack. The system is expected to generate more power in the winter than the summer.

Surprising? Absolutely! It was so unique that Solar Power World developed a cover story on solar walls featuring guess who? Our friends from Quixotic. Now they’re making a name for themselves for designing solar skyscrapers. That’s the kind of brand definition that comes only from delighting your customers.

So the next time you sit down to write a piece of content, ask yourself one question: What have we done lately that might surprise and delight our customers?

Audiences want to be entertained. Customers want to be celebrated. Pull a Mr. A. and put an element of surprise in your clean energy content marketing and you’ll achieve both.


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