Category: Solar Marketing

How a Buyer Persona Can Help You Write Solar Power Blog Posts

Blog WritingSolar Marketing

In a crowded marketplace full of solar contractors well aware of the usefulness of blogging it’s important to use targetedSolar family information to differentiate yourself. Buyer personas help do that.

In this post I answer three main questions:

  1. What does a buyer persona have to do with my solar power blog?
  2. How can buyer persona data help me write posts?
  3. 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

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6 Blog Posts That Will Surprise Your Solar Prospects

Blog WritingSolar Marketing

Sometimes you need to change it up. Throw a bit of a curve ball. Give your readers something new solar electric billto chew on. Solar energy blog posts that are slightly unusual can serve as a breath of fresh air for your prospects and can help drive more traffic to your site by being the kind of content that encourages social media sharing.

An SEO solar energy blog is terrific because it allows you to reach your prospects anytime and anywhere. It provides them with something of value before asking for anything in return. Blog posts positions you as a consistent source of interesting information and allow you to showcase your expertise in the industry using your unique voice. There are a number of solar blogs that do a great job of driving traffic by offering technological and financial information about solar and pertinent discussions about its practical applications and advantages.

But it also helps to surprise your prospects, make them think a bit differently or even just make them laugh. Here are six blog types to consider.

1. Use an infographic

Solar energy infographicA blog post that showcases a well-designed, relevant infographic can help readers learn and remember the information about solar more easily, particularly the more complex or tech heavy stuff. Plus an eye-popping visual story rarely fails to grab attention. You can hire a pro to build it or do it yourself with tools like PowerPoint, Canva and Piktochart or with HubSpot’s free templates. You want to make sure the blog post has an SEO title and short paragraph to give the graphic
context, as well as a call-to-action. And infographics can easily be repurposed (whole or in parts) for social media channels like Twitter and Pinterest.

Topic ideas
  • The three main types of solar installations
  • How solar energy works
  • Commercial financing options for solar
  • A rooftop solar installation: step by step
  • Local, state and federal incentives for going solar
  • Four reasons why businesses go solar

2. Make them laugh

Every once in a while (or every week!), give your prospects something to laugh about. Create an ironic or tongue in cheek post, curate a roundup of funny images (the Internet is full of them) or post a funny comic strip or video. These also provide great images for social media. Keep reading

How To Market Your Solar Case Study

Case StudySolar Marketing

Solar Case StudyCase studies are incredibly popular with marketers. The Content Marketing Institute noted in 2016 that: the top goals of B2B content marketing are lead generation and sales and that 82% of them use case studies to reach these goals, second only to social media channels.

Why? Because they’re terrific social proof that your product works. They validate your company and build serious amounts of trust with homeowners and businesses alike. Surprisingly, I have found that very few solar companies use them, or don’t have any residential stories beyond some photos. So to have compelling, well-written success stories that speak to both homeowners and business buyers would clearly separate you from your competitors.

And once you do have a solar case study, how do you use it? Here are strategies for marketing your case studies to prospects.

On your solar website

Have a separate case studies page. You can call it “Case Studies” or “Success Stories” (one solar company calls it “Our Work”). Make it easy to view them in this section with one or all of these tactics:

  • Include a quick summary overview of the solar case study with the option to click further to read the whole document. This summary can be like SunPower’s popup box with a short list and image or HubSpot’s short paragraph summary with image, key quote and stats
  • Allow them to either view all of them or to group them by type: residential or commercial, or by industry
  • Offer the option to actually download and print the study to retain your document design and branding (great for commercial buyers who want to pass it around the company)
  • Use the title and a short paragraph to compel the prospect to click further by highlighting key benefits or addressing  prospect concerns. Solar Design did when they titled their residential case study Protecting Your Home’s Roof When Installing Solar and a commercial case study titled Solar Reduces Operating Cost of a Retail Business, Increases Profitability
  • Include a mix of written and video case studies, giving your prospects as many options as possible to be engaged

Consider putting a solar case study directly on your home page, whether in video form, as a teaser paragraph and image with call-to-action (CTA) to view more, in a tasteful slide-in CTA  or as a customer testimonial. Keep reading

Analysis of a Solar Case Study: 9 Biggest Mistakes

Case StudySolar Marketing

As I take a look at solar cases studies out there I’m surprised to see that, more often than not, they’re missing important Case Study Mistakeelements that are the difference between a customer story that works and one that misses the mark. A solar case study
can be one of the strongest parts of your marketing toolbox, but only if it avoids some of these important errors.

No engaging lead

You want to grab the reader’s attention right at the top with a compelling first few sentences. Copyblogger describes it as, “Leave them begging to know the end in the very beginning.” It’s the difference between something dry lifted from your About page:

“Solar ABC is a leading provider of residential and commercial solar solutions, known for our efficiency and first-class customer service”

And something more bold or thought provoking:

“Few universities in the world are as passionate about environmental stewardship than University of SJ.

“How do you use your home to help secure your grandchildren’s future?”

“What can a retiree do to make her bills more predictable?”

No storytelling

Lift Communication reports that when a story “creates a meaningful emotional connection with your audience…the Case Study Storyperceived value of your products and services increases…[and] they’re often inspired to buy.” A solar case study is the perfect opportunity to use your non-sales type of voice to convey just how much value you bring to your customers. So there has to be a good story. With some drama.

That drama is found when the prospects feel and understand what your customer went through before finding your (utterly satisfying) solution. So they need to hear about the stress of the summer electric bill that capped $600 a month in your customer’s older, less energy efficient home or concerns that a partially shady roof or byzantine town ordinance would get
in the way. A good story doesn’t omit these kinds of details.

A solar case study is the perfect opportunity to use your non-sales type of voice to convey just how much value you bring to your customers.

Poor quality photos or none at all

At least one photo of the client and one of the installation go a long way. HubSpot states that when there is an image paired with content, a reader spends more time looking at it than the text, retains 55% more info three days later and is twice as likely to share it on social media. And ideally these photos should be quality enough to do the installation justice, particularly given that aesthetic is sometimes a concern for home and business owners. You could also include the logo of the company for a commercial installation to add another nice visual and some extra gravitas.

Not easy to scan

A strong solar case study is scannable, as in your busy reader can skim through the main ingredients and get a good picture of the power of this story. This means headline, photos, snapshot, subheads, and bullets. And a nice compliment to this is professional looking design. Whether one page or four the story should be laid out to showcase it in the best possible way, which can include nice quality images and font and sidebars with quotes and tech info. This way the content and design work together to create an easy to scan, sleek looking document.

No quotes Keep reading

New Utility Law, Third Party Ownership and White Papers

Article RoundupIndustry IssuesSolar Marketing

Below is a roundup of info on the power of solar white papers, SunPower’s terrific commercial solar Solar Marketing Newswebsite, and two recent articles on industry trends.

Groundbreaking Law Changing Utility Business Models

By Jennifer Runyon for Renewable Energy World

In Hawaii Takes Historic First Step Toward Creating ‘Utility of the Future’ Now, Runyon reports on the groundbreaking law, the Ratepayer Protection Act, just passed in Hawaii. The law directs state utilities to alter their business models and charge based on factors related to customer satisfaction like affordability, reliability, renewable interconnectedness and efficiency as opposed to something like capital expenditures. The article goes on to assert that the main reason for the law is that utilities have made the process of using solar (plus storage) on the grid so difficult that homeowners may simply begin to defect and go off-grid en masse. If that happened, which is possible given that the state is committed to going 100% solar by 2045, it would threaten the viability of utilities in Hawaii. Runyon then describes the new metrics the Public Utility Commission would consider regarding incentives and penalties and characterizes this policy shift as one that could have global implications. I would also recommend a perusal through the article comments, which are quite interesting.

Key quote from State Sen. Stanley Chang: “At the end of the day the utility of the future has to be one that is performing all of these different metrics. That is the one that is going to survive…Otherwise the death spiral thing is a real thing.”

White Papers for Solar B2B Marketing

What white papers can do for a solar marketing strategy:

  • Help position a company as an industry expert and trustworthy advisor
  • Drive traffic to a company website via keyword optimized text and through uses on social media channels
  • Keep communication open with a lead during their deliberation process
  • Are used by salespeople to add weight to their sales presentations and function as leave-behinds
  • Can nurture a prospect at points all along the sales funnel:
    • Generating leads and educating early on
    • Demystifying the sales process and clarifying the benefits along the middle
    • Locking the sales in at the very end with facts and figures about technical considerations and ROI
  • Are often written for the various business decision makers such as technical factors explained for the lay person, the economics of solar for the CFO, how to find qualified contractors and assess bids for the facilities manager
  • Can be repurposed for blog posts, slideshares, and infographics

A white paper can nurture a prospect at points all along the sales funnel.

White papers fall into three formats: a soft sell persuasive essay offering a solution to a problem, a numbered list of insights about an issue, or a hard sell description of a product’s technical or business Keep reading

How To Sell Solar Without Buying Leads

Solar Marketing

A number of solar contractors have told me that buying solar leads are a waste of time and money. One owner explained “you just get the bottom rung shopper looking for the cheapest price they can How to sell solarget” while several others reported that most for-pay lead gen sites are either way too customer oriented or just plain “trash.”

Content marketing can offer an effective alternative to this frustrating way of generating leads. It operates on the principle that when you look to sell solar you bring leads to you rather than chase them because buyers prefer it that way. The data support this:

  • 81% of shoppers engage in online research before making a purchase
  • 77% of business buyers insist on doing lengthy research before agreeing to interact with a salesperson
  • 74% of B2B customers conduct more than half of their research online

Additionally, evidence shows that content marketing is more cost effective: the average cost per lead drops by 80% following five months of consistent content marketing. Given all this, I’ve rounded up some information about how solar contractors can effectively use engaging content to sell solar.

Evidence shows that content marketing is more cost effective: the average cost per lead drops by 80% following five months of consistent content marketing.

Low Cost, High Quality Lead Gen

Erik Curren of The Curren Group’s free ebook, Stop Buying Solar Leads and Start Making Your Own Better Ones, is a detailed, practical primer for the solar marketer looking to fully embrace the move from traditional solar marketing to inbound lead generation online to sell solar. Curren outlines six steps of the process: building buyer personas (ideal customer profiles), researching for keywords optimization (SEO), publishing highly readable and relevant blog posts, attracting traffic through social media and email, using calls-to-action effectively and capturing a visitor’s info through forms. What’s great about this ebook is that, like the Curren Group website and team, it takes the flood of information on digital marketing available on the Internet and funnels it through a solar specific paradigm. Very handy.

To access the ebook go to Curren Media’s Solar Marketing Resources page and download it at the bottom of the page. I would also recommend Curren’s excellent book, The Solar Sales Leap, for more detailed info on this whole process and more.

Key quote: “…now the only time a prospect wants to talk to your company at all is if he’s already expressed an interest in your solar offering and has already given your his permission for you to contact him about it… Consumers of all big purchases, including residential solar, now expect you to have their permission before you contact them. Without that permission, solar leads are nearly worthless.”

Spice Up Your B2B Content Marketing

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