The Transition to Solar Marketing: Present and Future
The Green Box
Out of the Box Innovations decided to offer marketing for solar companies way back in the spring of 2017.
While we originally developed through servicing the digital marketing needs of oil and gas companies, as the global energy mix is gradually changing, so too is OOTBI.
Now that solar energy is cost-effective without subsidy, it’ll continue to gain market share. For companies involved in the industry, a robust solar energy marketing strategy is crucial, and we’re very excited to be involved in helping such forward-thinking business-owners realize their vision and expand their audiences.
We like to think of our green-coloured branding and logo as reflective of our green principles as we move out of the ‘box’ of traditional gas and oil towards a more innovative and sustainable set of niches!
In this article, we’ve encapsulated some of our knowledge and thoughts about solar and packed in some useful insights about how to approach solar marketing. Read on to find out how you should tackle this unique area.
So Is Solar Superior?
We don’t believe that one energy source is necessarily better than any other when viewed through a moral lens. Ultimately, it is down to each household, company, and culture to weight up at the pros, cons, and practicalities of the choices currently available and come to a decision on their energy generation themselves.
The economics, practicalities, and benefits of each energy source need to stack up. The cost-efficiency in solar energy was tenuous for a while, but solar technology is now at the stage where the numbers make sense, even without government subsidies.
Even in an ideal world, we couldn’t completely switch to renewable energy in one immediate fell swoop. Regardless of whether we’re capable of supporting such a transition at the minute or not, it’s a switch that will take many years.
No matter what one’s opinion is on the ethics and obligations of technologies like solar and alternatives, we all know that it’s a fast-evolving area, and it needs agile marketing strategies to keep up with it!
Why Solar is One of the Best Industries to Be In
Fulfilling lives happen when we live in such a way that our values and opinions match our actions. This congruence leads to satisfaction and a sense of happiness. As part of the solar energy industry, you’re likely to understand this fundamental truth.
People often choose professions that seemingly make sense for them (at least when viewed on a practical level, thinking about wage and location) but then end up in an industry that they hate doing work that gives them no satisfaction, and when you think about how much time the average person is spending at work (the majority of their waking hours!), this can have a serious effect on their overall quality of life and mental health.
But it’s easy to see the meaning in jobs that revolve around solar and renewables. Why? Well, being part of the solar industry is something to be truly proud of – it makes you a pioneer of a better future, a flag holder for a peaceful, non-polluted, more abundant world for humanity.
As a solar industry manager or executive, you needn’t be agonizing over whether your job makes any difference and whether you’re wasting your life pushing paper around.
You know the environmental and financial benefits not only for the end consumer, but for broader society and the world at large. You’re also probably up to date on the science behind the recent technological improvements and cost reductions that are being made.
You feel good about what you’re doing, where your company is heading, and the possible future for humanity – you just need to transmit this enthusiasm and knowledge to your customers.
Should You Focus on PR and Sales to Capture the Solar Market?
It’s likely that you have mostly focused on PR and sales in your previous outbound campaigns. Why? Because solar companies are popular in the media, both local and national, so a slew of government incentives and advertising campaigns have already helped to do the marketing for you.
All of this media attention and the government-backed subsidies have done much of the hard work of getting you in the minds of consumers, so perhaps you thought that all you needed were telesales and direct salespeople to attract customers to your company over the competition and close deals.
That may or may not have been working for you, but now that the solar industry is maturing, solar’s marketing needs are diversifying as well. As the economics of switching to solar make sense more than ever before, and customers are well aware of the potential benefits of doing so, your marketing model needs to evolve to address other issues and approach from other angles.
How You Can Stand Out From The Crowd
For any company to grow, it’s vital that it differentiates itself from others and stands out from the crowd in order to attract customers. Differentiation never really happens through telesales, foot canvassers, or general newspaper adverts.
And why not? Because these methods don’t offer real branding or create a sense of identity for the company – they’re just trying to push sales.
These strategies can absolutely be part of an effective marketing mix, but if that’s all you rely on, you can count on being generic if not outright annoying (few people enjoy getting cold calls in their downtime!).
On top of that, we believe that in our bright future, powered ever more by solar energy; end consumers will be savvy. We’re all exposed to more marketing than ever before, and we’re starting to tune out certain tactics or grow suspicious of them. Certain discount offers and freebies can be seen as deceptive or crass, the mark of a bargain-bin service, if not done properly.
The best solar marketing companies of the future will be able to work with their clients to convey a common vision that we touched on earlier:
- We’ll display integrity in our actions, matching espoused opinions and values as companies of the future.
- Be forward-thinking and ethical, but show wisdom and practicality in performing work based on real numbers and best practices
Customers who feel attracted by these principles will become brand evangelists, customers for life.
The section of your competition who are still promoting the fake scarcity stories of a ‘special offer that ends soon’ will gradually be seen with increasing scepticism. They’ll rely more and more on outdated methods to drum up business because their branding is withering.
Meanwhile, your company will be receiving a higher share of inbound emails and phone calls. It’s likely that many of the people who seek you out will have been recommended to you by an existing customer.
Others will have been aware of your brand for a while, based on the manicured image that you have created over the years and the social proof offered by positive testimonials and strong business growth. These people waited until they were ready, but in the back of their minds, they always knew who they’d be going to.
The Potential Utopian Future of Solar: Innovation Meets Storytelling
Don’t you think the possibilities of future technology are incredibly exciting?
The idea of a world in which robots with artificial intelligence not only exist but replicate themselves is something straight out of recent science fiction.
Such self-replicating autonomous robots that could mine the materials needed for the manufacturing of solar panels sound far-fetched, but something like that could well be just around the corner. If this technology really came to pass, then the future solar panels that could be created would be enough to produce electricity to meet global demands.
Or would you prefer to keep clinging on to the past with your head in the sand? Whether we quite reach this ideal world or not, progress will keep happening with or without us. The best thing that we can do for ourselves and each other is to not only keep up but contribute to the movement.
You are in a unique position with the potential to become a guide for a better future, translating advances in solar technology into concepts that your customers understand.
People don’t buy volts, amps, and watts, and they don’t care about BTU’s. They buy stories, life improvements, dreams of a better world. We don’t think that they will care for pressure sales tactics or fake promotions for much longer. You need to market yourself as a vision and an ideal, not an impersonal mass of figures and discounts.
With the next generations growing up and becoming homeowners, your future customers – who were practically born with a smartphone in their hand – will be more internet savvy. They’ll see whether you’re in touch with the latest technology and whether you’re competitive. You need to make sure that your online presence demonstrates this.
We tell a story to our customers about how we have our minds set on the future and how we are harnessing the best technologies available. Through the demonstration of authentic passion and integrity that has always shone through our specialized marketing plans, we paint a picture of how clients and end-users can trust us and the services that we provide, and this is exactly how we intend to continue into the future with our solar clients too.