Beginnings: Solar Fred, Impress Labs and our New Solar Marketing Think Tank

I’ll tell you the awful truth about why I began my solar marketing career—and it wasn’t to make money. Making money is a result of doing great work, not a goal. In 2007, I was bored with the blockbuster movies at my local theater, so I walked into a double feature of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Who Killed the Electric Car?” What I saw in the theater that night was both inspiring and depressing. Read...

From a Marketing Perspective, Solar’s Growth Has Never Been Due to Lower Prices

At first glance, solar pros and policy advocates are going to totally disagree with the title of this post, but before you submit your comments below, let me fully explain what I mean. You’re probably thinking that lower pricing and subsidies have everything to do with the last 10 years of solar industry growth. Without a deep drop in solar manufacturing and installation prices and low upfront solar PPAs, leases and generous FiTs, and net metering, the global solar industry would not be where we are today, right? Right. I agree. Thank you for all those efforts. But here’s the nuance that I want to drive home—especially if your solar business is feeling like a commodity these days: From a marketing perspective, lower costs, subsidies, financing, and technology innovations are all really marketing tactics for making it easier for people to install or buy a solar product or service. This concept may seem obvious, but I think many solar CEOs and their marketers miss or downplay its significance for shaping their solar products, services, and messaging. Whether the goal is to help someone to switch from utility power to solar or to switch solar racking brands, getting people to change a long-held belief or product choice is challenging. On the other hand, staying with a familiar product—or utility service—requires no effort at all. Since that’s the case, the most important goal for solar marketing, solar product development, and solar advocacy can be summed up in three words: “Make solar easier.”   In this context, everything the solar industry has collectively accomplished in the last 10 years can be seen...

Enphase Survey: Trust and Ratings Trump Price in Residential Solar Sales

At what price would you buy solar from this guy? You probably wouldn’t, would you? And that’s one reason why building trust and conveying quality can trump price, even in a highly price competitive residential solar market—and that’s not just me saying that. I just did a very informative webinar with Judy Ash, Enphase’s Senior Director of Global Marketing about this “quality vs price” topic. Among the information we presented was a survey that Enphase recently did with around 2000 of its residential customers who purchased solar with cash or a loan (no lease responders). When these solar homeowners were asked, “Why did you select the installer you chose? (check all that apply,)” a huge 69% said that they chose their residential installer because they were the most trusted or highest rated installer, while just 56% of responders selected price. So price is certainly important, but trust and ratings are a much more common factor.   And if you think that people are shopping around and getting multiple quotes, think again. A third of solar owners got a single quote, and another 28% received two. So, one or two installers built enough trust to close the deal in 62% of the 2,093 people responding.     And where did people find installers? Not too surprising here. It’s mostly from a family or friend, internet search, or a trade show.   Pretty clear that strengthening the trust of prospects and customers leads to solar sales and referrals, and reviews and other information found on the web are also important for acquiring and converting residential solar sales. That was the topic...