Tag: marketing

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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How To Rock Your Solar Customer’s World

Industry IssuesInterviews

Customer experience is crucial to a solar company’s success and continued growth. Meeting (or exceeding) their expectations is top priority for many solar contractors.

I interviewed Erin, a woman who got her solar panels through SolarCity about 3 years ago, to get her feedback on her installation experience. Erin is a NY suburbanite in her mid 30s who is very Internet and social media savvy (she is a successful blogger at Emma Westchester blog). She is signed up as a “Solar Ambassador” which means she gets cash back for her referrals.

Erin walked me through her experience getting the installation and told me that, overall, the whole process was seamless and professional. Below are some particular insights I found interesting.

The Phone Interviews

The rep’s ability to be patient, clear and detailed throughout the initial interview(s) was key for putting her at ease and helping her make the commitment. It was very important the he could anticipate all her questions and have answers, documents to send and links she could view right away (both on the call and afterwards). Erin’s questions for the rep ranged from technical and financial to questions like “why don’t people use this more?” and “who is using it in my area?”

The Paperwork

The paperwork, which she had been dreading, was “a breeze” because it arrived in a packet with where and how to sign clearly laid out for her and a self-addressed/pre-paid envelope she could use to just drop it back in the mail.

During The Installation

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Biggest Headaches for Solar Contractors

Industry Issues

While solar’s steady growth in the US and around the world is being widely reported on, there reality on the ground continues to be filled with some significant obstacles.

Over 2016 I researched the solar industry and chatted with about forty rooftop solar contractors in the U.S. through emails and on the phone. I asked about the residential solar industry in general and about what was stressing them out the most. Here’s a roundup of the issues:


  1. Expensive, inconsistent and/or time-consuming permitting
  2. Good funding options for customers and installers
  3. Unsupportive or inconsistent government legislation
  4. Repressive or time-consuming utility policies
  5. Customer issues – no ability to vet the right customers that are ready to buy (i.e. have the money); many tend to just impulse buy; some just jump for the lowest price, regardless of quality of the company; many are misinformed or uneducated about it, so they’re skeptical
  6. Disruptive, unpredictable and inconsistent policies for incentives
  7. Staffing/recruiting – Bob Dewitz of American Electric for the Honolulu Advertiser said about staffing: “It’s one of the biggest challenges to support the growth and it’s requiring a huge investment on our part to sustain the quality of people we need to support the growth…[a shortage of qualified workers] is a result of a lack of people entering the field in general. We sort of failed to give value to the trades people in our society so a lot of young people don’t want to go into the trades, although it’s a very good living. They just don’t see it as being glamorous or a lifestyle career so there aren’t a lot of people going into trade and perhaps not the best and the brightest.”


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