While sitting at a coffee shop the other day, I saw a young mother try to explain the Golden Rule to her 4-year-old daughter, and it struck me that solar marketing has its own set of commonsense golden rules that we should all keep in mind. You might have a few more, but here are my top seven to get you started:
1. Thou shalt give before getting. Sometimes it feels like we’re always marketing to “get.” We want to get more solar leads, get more sales, and we want to get as much brand attention as possible. But as the old saying goes, you have to give first to get. So whatever your solar marketing plans, be sure that it involves giving something first rather than just asking for something. It doesn’t have to be an iPad. It could just be a useful explainer blog post, or an extended warranty, or it could be a solar powered six-pack or bottle of wine for getting a quote. Whatever you can give, if it’s genuine, you’ll be surprised how much attention and brand recognition that you’ll get back in return.
2. Thou shalt be helpful in some way. Related to the above, but whatever your campaign, ask yourself, “How am I helping my target customer with this campaign?” With the examples in number one, a blog post helps customers to understand. An extended warranty period helps customers feel more secure, and a solar powered six pack helps people relax—or celebrate getting solar power. Being helpful reflects your company’s commitment to somehow serving your customers. Your mission statement should include some kind of dedication to service. Try to refer back to that stated goal…if you can remember it.
3. Thou shalt be reliable and buggeth my co-workers to be same. Whatever you say, write, or do to market to a customer, consider it a promise made by the entire company, not just you. If your ad says you’re going to give away something, give it by the time you promised it, if not immediately. Keep your contact and landing page download forms as simple as possible. If you get a lead, call within 24 hours, if only to schedule a convenient time. Every public thing you say and do in your marketing and communications builds brand trust…and unfortunately every broken promise ruins that trust. Urge your sales team to think this way, as well.
4. Thou shalt expresseth thanks for every little thing, even criticisms. With every customer contact, express your thanks for their call, for their email, for downloading your white paper, and for their becoming a customer. Shortly after the sale, express your thanks again and ask if your solar product or service met with their expectations. If there are complaints, fix them as best you can and thank them for pointing it out. There are so many opportunities to say thank you, and your genuine courtesy and concern will be noticed and inspire referrals.
5. Thou shalt be surprising or creative. When designing your marketing plans, think about putting in some kind of extra surprise that delights customers. It could be a humorous thank you landing page after pressing a download, or a funny sound. It could be the unexpected gift you give after a sale. Or perhaps it’s some other type of solar guerrilla marketing or surprising advertising campaign. When you include creativity and surprise into your marketing, your target audience can’t help but notice and remember you.
6. Thou shalt showeth as much as you telleth. More and more, marketing is becoming so visual, and more and more, our society is losing its ability to focus on words alone. You need some sort of visual eye candy for every marketing touch point, with the exception of radio. Even there, you can be visual with fun characters or creative sound design. Bottom line, invest in great web designs, videos, infographics, and other visual marketing content, and always stay away from common stock images. (Why you’d use anybody’s generic install photos instead of your own is beyond me.)
7. Thou shalt share everything. If your solar company is not on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube…really? Nevertheless, be sure to encompass social media sharing into all of your marketing plans. Oh, and if you ever have to choose between fitting in an 800 number or a website address into print, web, or radio copy, go for the website url. It’s got all your contact info anyway, right? Right.
Incorporating all of the above basic principals into your solar marketing efforts is just another way… to UnThink Solar.