If you’re a B2B or B2C solar or storage marketer who’s struggling to build reputation, referrals, and brand loyalty beyond race-to-the-bottom $/watt pricing, this tip is for you–and it could also be a lot of fun.

The idea is to create some kind of non-solar content that is relevant to the other interests of your target market. Those words in bold are the key to the success of this strategy. In terms of the content platform, it could be a blog, podcast, video series, or webinar series. Either way, it’s not going to be about solar, but another hot topic that appeals to your customer demographic.

For example, if you’re a solar equipment manufacturer, it’s likely that your solar contractor and EPC audiences are interested in beer, golf, and sports. With that in mind:

  • Create a weekly or monthly podcast, webinar, or at least a blog series about the best microbrews, golf tips, or the week in sports. Imagine two solar pros cracking open a beer, pouring, describing the taste, and giving it a rating. The same steps go for golf tips or a show that reviews the week in sports.
  • Be visual and have a brand voice that reflects your target customers.
  • I recommend hosting it by a sales or marketing team member who’s passionate about these hobbies, but also knows solar.
  • Create some kind of sponsored content in between your beer tastings, golf tips, or whatever. 95% of the content should be about your chosen topic, but you’ll be the program’s exclusive sponsor.

As another example, let’s say that your target market is residential solar customers in California. Given the recent PG&E blackout and always-present earthquake risk, create a podcast, or hosted video series, or a blog series about disaster preparedness.

Disaster preparedness is certainly under the solar topic umbrella, but you could go even farther. If your residential decision-makers are parents with kids, why not create content about parenting, curbing distractions, or kid carpooling? Once again, your solar company will be the exclusive content sponsor, and you’ll be able to build brand recognition and brand equity for leads and referrals.

Yes, it would be easier to sponsor an existing program about these same topics, but it will also be more expensive. Plus, you won’t have control over the content and how it’s publicized. By hosting the program on your own site, you’ll build a loyal audience that loves your content. 

With the hosts recommending your solar product or service, customers may also be willing to pay more and become repeat customers based on your likable host’s weekly shoutouts and recommendations.

Here are some final tips:

  • Create social media accounts for your new content and brand with your solar company
  • Create a unique, branded landing page for your non-solar content. Be sure to include a lead-generation form.
  • Design a banner on your home page that links to the episodes.
  • Be prepared to get traffic and non-solar business questions from the show’s fans. It may be distracting at first, but you’ll also get great (free!) word-of-mouth referrals.

So… what kind of non-solar content program are you going to create? Whatever comes out of it, please send me a link! I’d love to see how it turned out. As always, be bold for solar. Stand out, educate, and UnThink Solar.”

Tor Valenza aka “@SolarFred” is the founder of UnThink Solar, a solar marketing, public relations, and communications firm for B2B and B2C solar and energy storage companies.