Marketing guru Seth Godin thinks companies need to stop doing things that no longer work well in the Age of the Internet.
That means marketing needs to stop interrupting people with ads and cold calls. Instead, marketers should seek buyers’ permission to share useful and interesting content.
Recently, Godin put this advice into one of his short, pithy posts on changes in marketing. Here’s what he said:
- Advertising and marketing are no longer the same thing.
- The most valuable forms of marketing are consumed voluntarily.
- The network effect is the most powerful force in the world of ideas.
Though Godin is speaking of marketing in general, his insights apply especially well to solar marketing.
1. Advertising and marketing are no longer the same thing
Many solar companies seem to think that they’re up-to-date with the Internet if they translate their ads in print publications into pay-per-click ads on Google or Facebook.
Ads online are better than print ads in a couple ways. Measuring impressions and clicks lets you track the performance of the ad with your audience. And tracking a visitor who came to your website from an ad lets you see what that visitor does on your site. If he fills out your contact form, they he becomes a sales lead. Congrats!
But online ads aren’t enough. Other marketing tactics, including content marketing, are likely to get you more traffic and online leads than ads alone. To be fair, ads are quicker, yielding results in as quickly as a few days if you’re lucky. Content marketing takes longer to work, perhaps a few months to a year.
But in the longer term, content marketing builds trust with your buyer and thus builds your brand in a way that ads don’t.
2. The most valuable forms of marketing are consumed voluntarily.
Today, whether online or off, people have less patience for interruptions by marketing messages.
So, if you interrupt your buyer while they’re watching a web video or looking at Facebook, your chances of getting their attention are low. It may even backfire, if the interruption is intrusive enough, as in a pop-up ad (which research continues to say actually work but which people still hate).
By contrast, if you attract a solar buyer to your website and then offer her content she’ll find valuable like an e-book on the best way to get solar on her roof for no money down or a checklist on simple energy efficiency fixes to do before getting solar to maximize her energy savings, then you’ll make your buyer happy instead of annoying her. That builds trust.
If your buyer has read your e-book, who do you think she’ll remember more — your company, or your competitor who runs lots of Facebook ads?
3. The network effect is the most powerful force in the world of ideas.
On this point, Godin adds that it’s “based on the fact that culture changes everything about how we live our lives, and culture is driven by the network effect… society works because it’s something we do together.”
Studies have already shown that if your neighbor installs solar on his roof, you’re more likely to want solar too.
The network effect is just good old word-of-mouth. These days, the Internet helps it spread more quickly. That’s how solar companies with a reputation for not returning calls promptly start to get fewer calls. Word of bad service gets around quickly.
Likewise, if your company has delighted a customer with awesome service, a beautiful rooftop array that makes the neighbors drool, and energy savings on the customer’s next electric bill, then social media can help build your good reputation without much pushing from you.
Find ways to make it easy for happy customers to become your solar ambassadors, and you’ll get more solar marketing than you budgeted for.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group