How a Buyer Persona Can Help You Write Solar Power Blog Posts
In a crowded marketplace full of solar contractors well aware of the usefulness of blogging it’s important to use targeted information to differentiate yourself. Buyer personas help do that.
In this post I answer three main questions:
- What does a buyer persona have to do with my solar power blog?
- How can buyer persona data help me write posts?
- How can I apply this data to particular prospect profiles like homeowners, facility managers and CEOs?
The Buyer Persona and Your Solar Power Blog
A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal prospect. It’s a description of a hypothetical person that includes things like demographics and background, needs and concerns, and favorite ways of using the internet, having fun and shopping. It also has information on opinions about solar energy, keyword searches and, for the business buyer, responsibilities at work and who they interact with around buying decisions.
In solar there can be multiple personas: urban and suburban homeowners, business owners, facility managers, CFOs and government and educational administrators, etc. These profiles can be further segmented based on level of interest and depth of knowledge. Philip Hall of Borrego Solar also suggests considering factors like viability around financing and ability to service them based on where they live.
What does this have to do with your solar power blog? Well, the more specific and comprehensive your profiles, the easier it is to create blog content that speaks to them. And the more closely you address the needs and problems of each of your prospect types, the more they’ll see you as a trusted source of industry knowledge who really understands them. As a result, they’re more likely to turn to you when they’re ready to make the jump to solar. Overit calls developing your buyer persona the process of connecting “at the right time, in the right place, with the right message in the right place.”
The more closely you address the needs and problems of each of your prospect types, the more they’ll see you as a trusted source of industry knowledge who really understands them.
Rocket Fuel For Your Solar Power Blog Posts
Here are a number of tips for using buyer persona data to enhance your blog writing.
KNOW WHERE THEY ARE IN THE BUYING PROCESS
Each stage of the buying process requires particular content. Beginning or awareness stage buyers need things like introductory information about basic facts and stats about solar and its benefits. You can debunk myths, give energy efficiency tips and and offer news about the industry.
Middle or consideration stage buyers want information on the various features of your services, product comparisons and case studies raving about your company. And later stage buyers are interested in more heavily technical explanations that show your expertise and perhaps the lowdown on what a consultation with your company entails.
KEEP SELLING BUT KEEP IT SUBTLE
Your solar power blog content is largely for educating and helping prospects solve problems. It’s not the place to heavily pitch your services. However, if you include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post that directs the prospect to take the next step it can be a way to gently move them further along the buying process. And the most effective CTA is suited to the persona profile you’re targeting in the post. It could be an offer for a consultation if this is someone at the later stages of buying or, for the prospect who needs more educating, it could be a download for an enticing special report that captures their contact info. Or you could include more than one CTA to give them options.
SPEAK TO WHAT BUSINESSES NEED
Your content for commercial prospects can address factors separate from those of most homeowners. For example, SunPower does a good job of offering blog posts targeting particular industries like schools and certain regional issues like state incentives.
Also, business buyers in larger companies tend to make decisions about something like solar based on committee. So the operations manager may need to consult with the CEO who needs to check with the board. That same operations manager needs information that shows management he can keep operating cost down and make large purchasing decisions methodically while the CEO needs material that addresses issues around company-wide vision and strategy in relation to other investments.
The operations manager may need to consult with the CEO who needs to check with the board.
USE FORMATTING THAT ENGAGES
Your blog post should be formatted in a way that entices you chosen buyer persona:
- Title – This should align with a long-tail keyword this prospect would search for. It could directly answer a question
she wants answered like “Understand Your Solar Financing Options.”
- SEO headers and subheaders – These break up the post, make it easy to scan and should be specific enough to keep your persona reading. It’s the difference between “Going Solar” and “3 Reasons Why Universities are Commiting to Solar.”
- High-quality images or videos – Visuals enhance your text and drive home your message. Sometimes a generic image of a solar panel works but more specific ones can be even more effective. Examples are a carport photo at an auto dealership you’ve worked with, a short infographic on solar warranties or a photo of the CFO you interviewed for the case study.
- Block quote – Quotes can be used to either highlight a terrific testimonial by an actual person or draw attention to an important or thought provoking concept. These can range from a case study quote from the impressed CFO, insights about the latest trends in solar from industry authority Barry Cinnamon or the current stats on homeowner financing from a GTM report. Or it can pull some strong blurb from your own text in that post. Just make sure that the quotes are specific to the buyer persona you are targeting for that particular post.
- Language – Consider the kind of language and style that speaks most directly to that buyer persona. Homeowners seeking solar have been shown to prefer a casual tone that lacks hype while a C-suite professional wants a more professional sounding tone. And using industry specific terms for the industries you are targeting works as well.
- Keywords – Do the research to integrate persona-specific short and long tail keywords in your posts. Auto dealers will be searching for information differently than the way a rural farm owner searches. Have a list for each persona (they can overlap) and, according to HubSpot, update it about every three months. Two good tools to use are Google AdWords (free) and SEMRush (for a fee).
Profile of Three Solar Buyer Personas and Your Solar Power Blog
Below are three examples of crafting content that use the insights from building a buyer persona. While they aren’t exhaustive, they give you an idea of the power of using these kinds of data.
- Obstacles – Look at obstacles homeowners face, whether real or perceived. An ideal prospect tends to be financially responsible and have good credit but have particular concerns about high upfront costs. Information about loans, leases, PPAs and the ITC, particularly tailored to your region, will help lower that barrier. Many worry about reliability and functionality of a solar system over the long run so educate them about things like warranties and PEGUs, impact of weather, panel quality comparison or highlight a case study profiling a long time client. City dwellers wonder if they even qualify for solar given the crowded layout of urban living so tell them about community solar or going offsite.
- Motivators – Address what drives a homeowner to consider solar. Data show that many do it for financial reasons first and a concern for the environment second. Also, the ability to be self-reliant and exercise control over their energy sourcing is a factor for some. Include these factors in your blog posts. Of course, all of this may be different for your particular region or city, so adjust for that. For example, if the politics for folks in your area tend to be more middle of the road, heavily appealing to issues around the environment may not resonate. Finally, many people who go solar have already invested in making their home more energy efficient so discuss ways to do this or how to assess their carbon footprint at home and elsewhere.
- Retirees – Older retirees worry about locking down their energy bills for their fixed income and are often influenced by the idea of having their home be something they can pass on. Discuss the impact of solar on home value, how it can function as a retirement vehicle and ways to qualify for state solar subsidies for those on a fixed income.
- Target the gatekeeper – The facility manager tends to be the one in the company with intimate knowledge of how to conserve energy and cut costs around it, one of the reasons he is a strong persona to target. He is a main gatekeeper to solar, someone held responsible for watchdogging operational expenses and understanding trends that affect it. Industry specific, data heavy posts that talk about energy savings, incentives and tax credits are vital.
- Support his efforts – Given that he may be looking to recruit a member of the company C-suite to champion his push for solar, that industry specific, data heavy info on economics can serve a number of purposes here. Hall puts it, “appropriate content helps [a] person communicate the benefits of an offering to various department heads” such as a post titled a “Guide to Evaluating the Economic Benefits of Solar” that could enable the FM to persuade the CFO who is looking closely at the bottom line. Or you could discuss the benefits of going green to help facility managers who are sometimes tasked with figuring out how to adhere to a company’s eco friendly policy or anticipate changing environmental regulations. This is information they can bring to the company president.
- Ease the headaches – One of the biggest concerns for facility managers is vetting and interacting with vendors, so blogging about issues like how to identify qualified contractors, assess their competing bids or even what questions to ask would be useful. This applies to helping them understand (and feel less daunted by) the bureaucratic aspects of the process like permits regarding regulations and compliance standards with government and utilities.
- Know his struggles – FMs considers issues related to their buildings like aging structures, equipment and grounds and are the ones responsible for preventative maintenance. Information about how to assess your facility for solar or what to know around O&M can go a long way. An FM also tends to have a considerable workload and struggles with being burdened with extra responsibilities and staff shortages due to cost cutting. Even just mentioning these kinds of concerns in your posts would help him feel you understand him.
OWNERS AND CEOs
- Big picture concerns – Business owners and CEOs set company strategy, define its values and look at how a company differentiates itself. You can address solar’s role in these considerations. For example, some owners know that their customers and shareholders are concerned with being green. Help them shape company stance on sustainability and the environment by discussing the business benefits of solar, including the advantages around marketing.
- Financing – Of course owners and CEOs also address issues around capital allocation, budgeting and rising operating costs. They want to make sure that large purchases like solar meet investment criteria. SEPA found that: “For all their interest, businesses still see many barriers to solar adoption, from pricing and contract terms to concerns about the technology, whether they have a physical location to install panels and how these installations will be maintained and problems fixed.” Blog content that offers detailed information about these specific concerns would be essential.
Businesses still see many barriers to solar adoption, from pricing and contract terms to concerns about the technology, whether they have a physical location to install panels and how these installations will be maintained and problems fixed. – SEPA
- Decision making – Also, depending on company size, structure, and industry execs may loop in other departments to make decisions, consult with a board or simply make the decision on their own. All of this can shape your blog content. Your posts can appeal to the needs of various departments in your target industry, like the facilities director, the board of governors and the VP of Finance at a university. Or they can speak directly to the overworked business owner who values her ability to make decisions herself but needs information that can help make that process as expedient as possible.