Is it appropriate to continue marketing – even something as worthy as solar – when your customers are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis?
COVID-19 is more than a national disaster – it is a personal crisis for many. Yet while nearly every state has implemented some form of quarantine through the end of April, many people are already yearning for a return to “normal.” When this crisis is over (and it will be over), demand for solar will likely surge as homeowners and businesses alike seek to bolster their self-reliance.
Pandemics have a way of focusing our priorities. As human activity pauses and the planet takes a giant gulp of air, we are all doing our share of reevaluating. When we finally get to leave our houses again, perhaps we will realize that while the world may not have changed, the way we live in the world has.
My hope is that people will continue to be more caring and considerate. We will check on each other more often. And we will start to finally see the connection between our actions and the health and well-being of those around us.
This brings us back to the question at hand:
Is it right, is it appropriate, is it even effective to continue marketing solar in the midst of this crisis?
Common sense says no. People are not going to be responsive to a cold call, and door-to-door sales are of course not possible. But it won’t hurt to remind them of the multitude of personal, environmental and community benefits of solar and energy storage.
In most cases, simply letting your customers know that you are thinking of them is enough. So here are some tips for how to continue to reach out with appropriate marketing of solar while being sensitive to the day-to-day realities of customers and prospects.
- Communicate. There is both a compelling human need and a good business reason to continue to communicate with your customers. While it may be difficult to know what to say as you’re grappling with your own business issues, it’s critical to stay in touch, especially if your company is known for personalized service. Consider checking in with your customers by phone or email for no other reason than to see how they’re doing. Ask if they need anything. Keep “business talk” to an absolute minimum.
- Your web site is still the front door of your business. Use it. Address how you’re protecting staff and customers, including installation practices during the quarantine. Remind people of how, where and when they can do business with you. Provide your company’s statement regarding your Coronavirus practices on an easy-to-access page linked from your home page.
- Offer online educational resources about solar and energy storage. Curiosity about energy self-reliance is at an all-time high, and people finally have time to read. Become a trusted source of knowledge about solar and energy storage by posting FAQs, explainer videos, and informational blogs
- Use email marketing sparingly. Keep your customers and prospects in the loop on how to make or change virtual sales calls or installation schedules. If you have a drip email marketing campaign going, keep it focused on information, not sales offers.
- Engage on social media. Remind people that you’re continuing to operate, if even only virtually. Show that you are there for them now AND when the crisis is over. Keep the message light, educational and human.
While many parts of the country are experiencing a slowdown because of COVID-19, solar installation companies in some regions are seeing a different trend. For example, Texas-based solar installer Freedom Solar has seen concern over coronavirus driving interest in residential storage to weather uncertain times.
If this isn’t your experience, you’re not alone: 79% of installers surveyed recently by SEIA are experiencing a reduction in business, while 82% have seen projects delayed or canceled. In this environment, it can be tough to know what do next.
We’re here to help. CPMG can assist with any COVID-19 communications or get your marketing ready to roll for the post-pandemic world. Please contact us if you need help, advice, or even just want to have a virtual happy hour. We’re buying this round!
by Nancy Edwards
President, Clean Power Marketing Group